Ferrett keeps getting on me about writing opinion columns instead of Judging ones. (Only ’cause YOU get bored sometimes, Sheldie – ) I swear I’ll do that soon – as soon as I run out of fascinating (*cough*) Judge stuff to talk about. Oh, what the hell. Let’s skip the Judge stuff for a week….

Ferrett keeps getting on me about writing opinion columns instead of Judging ones. (Only ’cause YOU get bored sometimes, Sheldie – The Ferrett) I swear I’ll do that soon – as soon as I run out of fascinating (*cough*) Judge stuff to talk about.

Oh, what the hell. Let’s skip the Judge stuff for a week. I want to talk about the players in my area a little bit. They’re a great group of folks. Alaskan Magic players are easily the most well-behaved bunch I’ve ever had at tournaments. They’re polite, listen to instruction (for the most part) and almost always on time (right, Ben?). In casual play, they’re fun, interesting, and have a great sense of humor. I’m quite happy I found them. As I talk about them I’ll throw in some rules stuff along the way, just to keep my job. And I’ve hidden a small contest within. The first one to send me the correct answer at [email protected] will win.

The first Alaskan player that I met was Jeff Moeller, host of the Magic in Alaska web page at http://members.xoom.com/mtgalaska/. Jeff is an immigration lawyer. It seems that there are scads of Burundians trying to get into Alaska, so he has his plate full most of the time. Jeff emailed me when he found out I was coming to Alaska, and we met up at Pro Tour Chicago last year. Jeff has the best theme deck I’ve ever seen, called simply "Poe." (And I keep trying to get him to write about it, and he never does… *sigh* – The Ferrett) He has an open challenge to any other literary theme decks. It even does okay even in multiplayer. Jeff is the most experienced Alaskan Pro Tour player. He also plays in my Sunday RPG group.

Jeff ruling: The active player can effectively keep you from Disenchanting his Recurring Nightmare. After he plays it and it comes into play, he still has priority. Part of the cost of using RN’s ability is to put in back in its owner’s hand. Since it’s already out of play by the time the non-active player gets priority, it’s not a valid target for a Disenchant (or whatever).

The next Alaskan player to come along was none other than Star City CCG’s The Ferrett. He and his wife also play in my "Four Kingdoms" game (using the Ars Magica rules system, by the way – best rules set out there). To say Ferrett is eccentric is to say that bovines have gastric troubles. Ferrett’s eccentricity extends to his deckbuilding; who else would make a deck called "Bouncing Weasels," eh? He’s the antithesis of the tournament player, but some of the others have corrupted him. This past Sunday, he invalidated himself for his own team. (By this, Sheldon means that I won an unsanctioned tourney last week against the Alaska State Champion, and the details will be goin’ up soon – The Ferrett)

Ferrett ruling: If Stampeding Wildebeests is the only creature you have in play, you must return it to your hand (unless it’s no longer green). And its ability is not targeted.

Another of the best local tournament players is Rob Weimer. Rob is the reigning State Champion. Rob is also the slowest player I’ve ever met (Dominic Symens not withstanding*). This past weekend at the PTQ, he went undefeated but failed to make the Top 8. How? Three draws.

Rob ruling: There are 50 minutes in the round.

Joseph Whitney is one of the best young players we have. He’s seventeen, and recently qualified for Pro Tour LA and won our local Block Party tournament. A founding member of Team Big Dice (easily identified by their… um… big dice), Joseph has developed a fondness for Invasion’s gold cards. He’s also the team’s best-dressed, having started the suit coat/athletic shorts craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Joseph ruling: A card is the color or colors of the mana symbols in its mana cost, regardless of the color of its border.

Aren Martin is a Team Big Dice member and the first Alaskan I certified as a Judge. He could join almost Ferrett’s old team (because he has a job and a very nice girlfriend), but alas, he’s won a tournament (the GP Dallas Trial). I noticed that he has no particular play style or deck design style, and therefore nothing to ridicule. Damn him.

Aren ruling: There are two opportunities for you to do something before your opponent declares attackers; one is in their First Main Phase, one is during their Beginning of Combat step. When they say "I’d like to attack," be sure where you are.

Genesis Garcia is the final member of Team Big Dice and the youngest player in our Friday night group. He’s also one of the best. All of sixteen, Genesis shaves twice as often as I do. He’s one of the few ‘net deck mavens we have, but he’s also a solid deckbuilder. Unfortunately, he always falls back on crappy blue decks for constructed tournaments.

Genesis ruling: You can put Tangle Wire’s ability on the stack first and then its Fading. If you do, the Fading will resolve first (removing a counter), then the ability; you’ll tap one fewer thing than your opponent (and if one of them is the Tangle Wire itself, you effectively tap two fewer).

You know David Phifer as one of our own Featured Writers. David is a relatively new tournament player, but has been doing extremely well. I predict that he will also soon invalidate himself for Team AWWLAJOM. David is a clever deckbuilder and always brings something special to Friday night multiplayer. He’s also earned a reputation as someone who listens to good sense (meaning ME) most of the time. (Sorry to interrupt again, but I really can’t let this slide – David’s nickname in the area is "Sheldon’s B**ch" thanks to one game where David, two life away from dying, attacked whoever Sheldon told him to for seven turns in a desperate attempt to survive. Then Sheldon killed him. – The Ferrett) David certified as a Judge the same day as Aren, with the best score yet in Alaska.

David ruling: When you sacrifice Yavimaya Elder to draw a card, you choose first whether or not you’re going to take lands, then draw the card. This is because the first thing that happens when you announce an ability is that it goes on the stack.

Mike Cook plays about half the time. Mike doesn’t have an immense collection of cards, but he makes the best of what he has. He also trades to me all his foils, making him one of my favorite guys to see on Friday. Unfortunately, Mike has a penchant for getting mana-screwed two out of three games.

Mike ruling: Voracious Cobra will kill any non-First Strike creature it blocks or is blocked by.

William Bishop also only shows up about half the time. The other half of the time he’s up on the slope (I’m not sure what that means, but all the Alaskans seem to know what he’s talking about when he says that). William is an excellent player and with Rob and Jeff members of Team Dino (named for their relative age). Apparently I qualify as a member of Dino, but I’ve still never gotten my shirt. William doesn’t much like multiplayer, preferring head-to-head, mano-a-mano competition. Nonetheless, he’ll play at least one game with us before convincing someone to duel with him.

William ruling: Survival of the Fittest is broken even before you discard Squee.

Last but certainly not least is Lisa, my wife. Lisa introduced me to the game way back when I was convinced it was a fad. She’s just recently picked up the game again after a long hiatus; she didn’t like combos at all. She has a penchant for showing up with unsleeved Alpha decks and riffle shuffling like mad.

Lisa ruling: Always attack Joseph!

There are other players that join us as their schedules permit, to include Adam The-So-Completely-Eccentric-As-To-Make-Ferrett-Look-Like-Johnny-Sixpack and Steve the Opera Singer. These folks make the game thoroughly enjoyable all the time. I couldn’t be happier.

And that’s my Final Judgement.

Sheldon K. Menery

* – Identify Dominic Symens and win something from my ever-dwindling box of foreign cards