Business before pleasure: I’m awarding two prizes in my "Who the Heck is Dominic Symens?" contest. The first to respond was Dom’s friend Pierre Cools – who also identified what I was really looking for, namely that Meneer Symens finished third at the first World Championships. I’m also going to award a prize to Jeff Ungurean for being the first person who doesn’t actually know Dominic to identify our friend. What validates Jeff’s entry is that he knows that Dominic is a friend of Carl Devos.
Second business is a slight clarification. Voracious Cobra will destroy any non-First Striker that it blocks or blocks it THAT IT DAMAGES (the card says that, so I left that part out for the sake of brevity, which is the soul of wit*). In the case of Protection from Red/Protection from Green creatures, or Callous Giant, the Cobra doesn’t do its dirty work. It’s clear that the readership is quite astute and rather demanding. Again, if I ever want to know just how many readers of "Final Judgement" there are, all I need do is omit a niggling detail.**
Part of the point of this column is to help you learn the rules of the game better; part is to help you become a better tournament player. Today’s effort is the latter. There are numerous things that players do to sabotage their own efforts. Let me hit a short list:
DO NOT bring your emotional baggage to the tournament. If your girlfriend wants to break up with you or your mom just found your stack of "Heavy Hooter Honeys," maybe you have a better place to be today (in the first case, with your girlfriend; in the latter, at the 7-11). If you do decide to come, leave it all behind. You need to focus on your game, and no one wants to hear about how you’re going to have Betty Lou’s initials tattooed on your eyelids.
If you have a girlfriend, leave her home unless she also plays (meaning that she’s still going to play after she dumps you for the idiotic eyelid tattoo). She’ll be bored stiff most of the time, leaving her nothing to do but find out what a great guy the Head Judge is. On second thought, bring your girlfriend every time.
DO NOT make your decklist minutes before the first round begins. Come prepared. Generate it on the computer the night before. If you make last-minute changes (which I do not recommend), get a Judge to sign the list sanctioning your changes. Play what you know and what you like. Listen to your own head and heart when it comes to choosing a deck, not your friend Spanky who has yet to crack the Top 64 at any tournament (save that one Prerelease where he got the god deck and finished 58th).
DO NOT regale the staff with the story of how you topdecked Sanctimonious Ostrich twice in the same match to beat some guy who we’ve never heard of and you happen to worship because he made a PTQ Top 8 once. When Jenny the Scorekeeper looks at you bleary-eyed in the middle of your tale and says "Really?", what she means is. "No wonder his girlfriend left him."
DO NOT argue once the Head Judge has made a final decision. A good Judge will remind you gently the first time. Unfortunately, you may run afoul of one with a shorter temper and find yourself watching the rest of the tournament. If you don’t understand the ruling, ask for an explanation you can understand, but please, don’t argue.
How many times can I say "come prepared?" Bring money to get snacks/lunch. Bring a pen and paper to keep score with. Leave the Duelist Life Counter (otherwise known as the Duelist Life Counter of Cheating) at home. Bring extra sleeves. Know the Banned and/or Restricted Lists for the format in which you’re playing. The "I didn’t know Sengir Vampires aren’t allowed in Standard" defense has yet to be successful.
DO NOT try to win games with rules cheese. Smart Judges see right through you, and you’ll end up on the wrong end of the penalty stick (the technical term is "Unsporting Conduct"). If your opponent does something incorrectly, don’t hesitate to call a Judge, but don’t expect to slime a game win out of something minor.
DO NOT be late. Timeliness is your friend. It will keep you from losing games. It will also keep you from being hurried or flustered. If, for some legitimate reason (I can think of only one right off the top of my head), you’re going to be late, tell a Judge. We won’t hold up the tournament for you, but we’ll give you match some extra time.
DO NOT be a fool and an ass and a prating coxcomb.*** Leave your "playa" mannerisms back at the trailer park. There’s actually not much a Judge can do about this; it’s just a little kind advice from an adult.
Finally, I’d like to say "Shame on you!" to our editor for spreading such vile gossip about our own David Phifer. David is a kind, gentle human being who knows the true meaning of friendship. I should know. He’s kind to me the most.
And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery
* – Tell me who said that, and I’ll be grateful. I’m not going to send you any random foreign junk, but I’ll spread around to my Featured Writer friends just how whip-smart you are.
** – I’m surprised there hasn’t been a huge flood of "You’ve spelled ‘Judgment’ wrong, moron!" emails. Perhaps all my readers are British (insert your own rude editorial comment here).
*** – Reference time! This one’s worth a Blazing Spectre, but since I don’t have any, you’ll have to settle for some random foreign junk. As always, first correct response to [email protected] wins.