If you ever want to confuse me greatly, just yell that particular phrase in a place where absolutely no Yu-Gi-Oh is being played. Chances are I will look around for you anyway, because that word is tattooed on the back of every good judge’s skull.
A few weeks ago, the Australian National and WCQ (Oceanic) tournament took place in Brisvegas. I had the extreme pleasure of being the Head Judge for the event, and I wanted to share a few stories, rulings and some advice from the event.
Disclaimer: A ruling at an event is only really valid for sure at that event. The internet has a habit of saying “The Head Judge at X YCS said it works like this” but that Head Judge has zero authority over say, a local tournament happening in another hemisphere. Although it was my call to make at the time, please do not extrapolate my rulings to be true forever and ever no matter what anyone else says.
To start with, a few interesting ones for you people playing at home.
One of the most common rulings of the weekend was to do with Card of Demise in Kozmo decks, much like the one piloted to success by Isaac Stott. Card of Demise requires you to discard your hand during the End Phase of your turn, but it is entirely possible to resolve the effect of Card of Demise, discard your hand, and THEN activate Kozmo Tin Can in the same End Phase to add a Kozmo card to your hand.
The twist? You have to declare that you are resolving Card of Demise. Never assume your opponent “just knows what I meant to do” because that isn’t their prerogative or their call. You will notice this trend through a few of these rulings, if you communicate well with your opponent you can probably avoid 60% of judge calls.
Another decent gamestate I came across involved one person having a single monster and Kaiser Colosseum and their opponent trying to tribute their monster using The Monarchs Stormforth.
Long story short, you can’t do it. “But Kaiser says you need monsters!” Which is true. At the time you would be attempting to tribute your opponent’s monster, Kaiser is active (because they have at least one monster.) So because Kaiser is active, it “looks” at everything you try to do and counts how many monsters both players would have at the end.
Normal summoning a monster? That would put you both at one, which is fine. Activating Dark Hole? Now you both have zero, also fine. Tributing using Stormforth? You would have one and they would have none. Since one is more than zero, Kaiser says “Nope, no Stormforth for you”
It’s a neat trick.
Now some general advice from a Judge with a reasonable amount of experience. I tell you these things because Judges don’t want to penalise you, but if you break the rules we have to.
Decklists – Check yours. Check it against your deck, check it against each card in every sleeve. Most of the Game Loss penalties handed out over the weekend were for tardiness (not showing up to games) and errors in Deck Lists. We had players with extra cards, missing cards etc etc. Really simple stuff that is easy to catch.
On that note, foreign cards. Make sure you have translations for every non-English (but still TCG) card you play. No card is too simple or too common to not require a translation. If your Dark Hole says “Destruye todos los monstruos en el Campo”, I am still going to ask you for the English text. Trap for young players (and one experienced judge!) – Some non-English cards have identical or similar names to their English versions. Did you know German for Full House is Full House? And Instant Fusion is Instantfusion. Always check everything.
I wanted to finish off with some general advice. People, at least in Australia, are far too reluctant to call judges. I had to hand out at least two Game Losses to people who had messed up while playing, tried to “fix” the situation and made it much worse by doing so.
I also had plenty of reports from people about opponents doing things that were either dodgy, or an accident. The Procedural Error Minor (PE-Minor) exists so that if you accidentally do something wrong (Attack after Soul Charge, Special Summon after Duality) the Judge team can keep track of it. Realistically, I would expect that almost every player in a 10+ round tournament would receive at least one PE-Minor. We are, after all, human.
People feel bad calling a judge for something small like that, but what you have to realise is that if you let little things go, your opponent might do it intentionally to the next guy and the next guy and the guy after that. Eventually one of them might not catch it, and if no one reports their attempts they will get away with it consequence free.
If it is truly an accident, it won’t happen again, let alone three times. If you are ever in doubt, please don’t hesitate to call a judge. You have to make them earn those fancy mats anyway.
As a fun example of this, one my friends shuffled his opponent’s deck, while his opponent shuffled his. They swapped, cut, swapped back and only realised after my friend drew a Kozmo Forerunner, which is an odd card to play in a Monarch deck. Sure, obviously an accident, but how do you know he wasn’t intentionally fishing for information. For the record, he called a judge on himself, because his opponent didn’t want to.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. Hopefully my reports and stories have left you with something worthwhile.
Are there any other questions you would like to ask a judge? Why not drop a comment below, it might just make it into my next article!