And just like that, another year's gone by; four core booster sets, a few smaller boosters, a Structure Deck here and there, and a couple Forbidden & Limited Lists set the stage for the biggest tournament of the year, the World Championship Qualifiers!
The North American WCQ is just days away, with the Public Events – including the Last Chance Qualifiers – all kicking off tomorrow! As is the norm, I'm going to review some last minute prep you can adopt to make your WCQ experience as awesome as possible.
This week on Black and White: we cover a range of issues – some basic, some not – to best prepare you for the experience, on the eve of the North American WCQ.
Where is it taking place? This year, the North American WCQ is beind held in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The rest of the info – of which there is a lot – can be found in the official FAQ page here. But here are some tips that I'm going emphasize as best as I can.
POLICY DOCUMENTS. You'd assume that at the biggest tournament of the year, everyone would know tournament policies enough to not break rules inadvertently. You'd be wrong.
Even at the WCQ, players make the same Mistakes they make at Regionals and locals. Some of those Mistakes are costly, often resulting in penalties for easily preventable infractions. I'm talking about writing the wrong card name on a deck list, having mismatched sleeves on the Extra Deck, not having translations for non-English cards… the list goes on.
Know what the possible infractions are and don't lose to yourself in the biggest tournament of the year. Know what's allowed and not allowed in gameplay. Read the Policy Documents. Don't trust your friend who says he knows the rules; it comes down to you knowing what's in the Policy Documents. Read them.
Register On Friday If Possible. This is so worth it. Registering on Friday means you don't have to register on Saturday morning, which means you don't have to get up super early to prepare your deck list and get in line with hundreds of other people who are also doing this at the last possible moment.
Granted, you have to turn in your list when you register and you can't make changes once you submit it, but hopefully you've adequately prepared your deck and all of the cards you'll need and can avoid the mad scramble that players tend to fall into as the registration deadline approaches.
Have All Materials Needed. The following things are required for the WCQ: photo identification, and age verification if you're entering the Dragon Duel; your deck with card sleeves, and replacements in case some sleeves break or become marked during gameplay; and pen and paper to keep track of Life Points. If you use Tokens, dice, coins for card effects, you need those too. If you use non-English cards, you must have a translation available: the translation must either be an English version of the card outside of your deck box or the written text of the card on paper.
Text in a mobile app or pictures of the card on any electronic device are not acceptable as translations. Everything else is optional; that includes trades, game mats and such. Make sure you have the required stuff before you worry about anything else.
In-Game Communication. This part is more important than you may realize. Maybe you don't say when you're going into your Main Phase when you're playing at your local, because you know when you're going into your Main Phase when you're activating a Pendulum Spell. At this level of play, most of the troublesome, time-consuming judge calls come from not communicating with the opponent.
There's a certain degree of communication that must happen during a game of Yu-Gi-Oh. As the game doesn't maintain itself, it's up to both players to ensure the game state is correct. At the minimum, each player should be verbally stating when they're moving to a new phase and whenever Life Points are changed.
Life Point Recording. SPEAKING OF LIFE POINTS!
Tournament Policy outright says that Life Points need to be kept on paper. That means both players must have paper on them – either a sheet or a small notepad – that has a history of Life Points that can be reviewed at a glance. Calculators and other devices with a history function aren't an acceptable substitute for a paper record of Life Points.
Notepads cost mere dollars, while a TI-83 costs much, much more and is attractive to people looking to make a quick buck by relieving you of your belongings. Paper notepads, on the other hand, have no secondary market value, which means no one's looking to take yours away from you… unless they really, really don't want you knowing how many Life Points you have, which is a strange motivation for a thief.
Save a judge call. Keep Life Points on paper.
Water Water Water. Stay hydrated throughout Saturday and Sunday. It's really easy to just get into the zone of playing cards for the entire day, but your body will wear down and that absolutely affects how you perform in the tournament. You always want to make the correct decisions as quickly as possible and that won't happen if you're dehydrated.
Have a Smartphone (or stick by someone who does). YCS tournaments and some Qualifier events have recently employed "online pairings" where a player can enter their 10-digit Konami Player ID number – also referred to as their COSSY ID – to look up their table number and the first name and last initial of their opponent. This saves valuable time since you don't have to queue up near the paper pairings before knowing where you need to go. It's a great convenience if you have the ability to enjoy it.
The Extra Stuff
Voice Actors: There will be two voice actors from the Yu-Gi-Oh! animates series in attendance at this year's North Am WCQ: Greg Abbey, best known as the voice of Yusei from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds; and Michael Liscio Jr., the voice of Yuya Sakaki from Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. They'll be having autograph sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, and they'll be voicing a live duel on Sunday.
If you want to have your Yusei and Yuya-themed card signed by the voice actors who play them, now's the best time for it! If you're the opportunist, you can trade your unsigned cards to people looking for stuff to have signed. As much as I detest the concept of "value" in trades as it's popularly used, there is in fact greater value for character-related cards at events where the voice actors are present. (Jason's Note: Seriously, the big cards for the featured characters literally sell out from all the vendors, as even the most hardened competitors melt into fandom and child-like wonder. This is a thing that happens. -JDG)
Keep that in mind as the weekend progresses. Yusei cards are well known at this point: Stardust Dragon and its many forms, Synchrons, and so forth. Yuya's signature cards include Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon and its various incarnations, but pretty much any of the Performapals will do.
Public Events: I know it's taboo to think about not being in the Main Event, because that implies that you're not winning or didn't qualify at all, but let's be real here; if we assume attendance is more than last year's WCQ, then there will be around 256 players making day 2. That's a little over 10% of the starting field. But if the turnout isn't more than 2048, then the day 2 cut will only be Top 128 or whoever has 19 or more match points, and that could be less than 10% of the field depending on what the actual attendance number is.
Now again, looking at that realistically, that means about 90% of all of the players who enter the WCQ won't make Day 2.
Just looking at the numbers, there's a good chance that you won't make Day 2. And that means being ready for Public Events when the time comes. You can see the schedule on the FAQ page, but here are a few notes.
Regional Qualifiers for 2017 will be running during the weekend. If you want to get your invite out of the way, now's a good time for it!
The Generation Duel Tournament will be run twice, once on Friday and once more on Saturday. Bring the deck of your choosing from your favorite era with the best cards you can! You can read more about the Generation Duel Tournament here and you can read my thoughts on the format here.
Ultimate Duelist Series Qualifiers run on all three days. While UDS Qualifiers at Official Tournament Stores offer the most points, UDS Qualifiers run as Public Events are the best way to grind points quickly. First place nets you 25 points total – 5 for entering and 20 for getting first – getting you a quarter of the way towards your entry to the UDS Invitational. The Summer 2016 Invitational hasn't been announced yet, but I assume we'll get info about it after the WCQ.
The School Tournament Series continues at the WCQ. If you're currently enrolled in school, team up with 2 friends who are also enrolled in the same school, bring proof of enrollment and an Advanced Constructed deck and play for exclusive prizes for the three of you plus a cash prize that can be donated to your school! You can see the info for the School Tournament Series here.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Day tournaments reward players with Token Cards, with first place getting a Yu-Gi-Oh! Day Game Mat as well. The tournaments are 16-person single elimination competitions, but the Tokens go to Top 8… meaning you win just one match and you can walk away with a Token! Seems good!
If you have any questions about card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question could be answered in a future edition of Court of Appeals!
Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. He's very likely in Pittsburgh as you're reading this right now. You can see Joe during the weekend on the WCQ's livestream available on the official Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG YouTube channel.