In the past, I've gone over steps you should take when preparing for a Regional Qualifier and a YCS. But even still, there's a bunch of behaviors that I see new judges and veterans repeat that often sabotage themselves before and during game day. Those behaviors are detrimental to the tournament and one's performance as a judge. They're also completely avoidable.

This week on Black and White: Things You Should AVOID Doing When Preparing For A Tier 2 Event. That includes Regional Qualifiers, Official Tournament Store Championships, Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series events, National Championships, and World Championship Qualifiers.

(Yes, it also applies to Worlds. But if you're judging at Worlds, you've already proven you don't do any of these.)

The Weeks Before
Don't act unprofessionally in-person, online or wherever. The judge shirt never comes off. The things you say and do will be perceived as things "the judge" and "all judges" do. This will only sabotage your efforts going forward.

Along those same lines, when you're addressing player questions and you're not sure of something, don't say "it works like this" when you don't know for sure. The only way you can say something "definitely" works is if you have an official source backing you up. What's an official source? The latest rulebook and anything you find on That's it. How your Regionals "ruled it" and how the latest YCS "ruled it" is only good for comparison and consistency when lacking an official source. If there are questions you have, send those questions to the e-mail address that matches the region you play the game in. You can find those e-mail addresses in the specific contact web pages on for your region.

#####CARDID= 6249 #####

Don't neglect reading materials sent to you. For Regionals, this may be a simple e-mail from the Head Judge or the Tournament Organizer saying where to go, when to be there and what to bring with you. For a YCS, the judge pack is sent via e-mail and contains that same info plus oodles more: what team you're on, nearby food and landmarks, hotel information, airport and mass transit info, and so on. Basically, if you think you have a question, the Judge Manager has probably already answered it in the judge packet. So it stands to reason that if you don't read the packet, you're doing multiple things wrong…

1) By not reading the packet, you're missing out on the info you're looking for.

2) By e-mailing the Judge Manager instead of looking yourself, you're requiring the Judge Manager to reply back to you telling you to read the judge packet. While taking a minute doesn't seem like too long, you're not the only judge for that event, and there's more than one event a year. The minutes add up quickly and time is a resource that's more limited than you might think, especially since you're asking someone else to use their time to help you save yours. The implication you're making, whether you intend to make it or not, is that your time is worth more than theirs. C'mon now. Do the work and find the info yourself if it's available without someone else's help.

3) By the time the Judge Manager actually e-mails you back and tells you to RTFC in more graceful methods, you could've found the info yourself. Again, not finding the info yourself is more of your detriment since the info was right there to begin with.

The Night Before
For a YCS in North America, the judge dinner is on Friday night, and this is the best time to socialize with other judges before the event starts up. A Regional is a one-day event that can take place on either a Saturday or a Sunday, so "the night before" could be either Friday or Saturday night. In either case…

Don't stay up all night. If you're at a YCS, it's super-tempting to stay up and play card games with the person(s) you're rooming with. Invariably, this is a terrible idea. Both a Regional and a YCS require judges to be ready to work early and stay until late. Not getting a good rest the night before is the easiest and stupidest thing one can do to sabotage your performance.

Straight-up, go to sleep. Even if you've used to working long days on little sleep, there's no reason to metaphorically shoot yourself in the foot when working events. A poor performance while judging can jeopardize future opportunities to judge.

Don't overindulge. For those of you that are of drinking age, drink responsibly if you choose to do so. I'd personally not even risk it until after the event is over.

Game Day: Morning
So you read the materials given to you, right? You know where to be and when to be there?

Don't be late. Excuses hold no water. There was plenty of time to arrange a ride, and cell phones have alarm clocks. Be where you need to be when you're asked to be there. The Head Judge will need that time to prepare the room and the judges for the day, and if you're not there, you're going to miss out on important information that you'll need for the rest of the tournament.

Don't skip breakfast. This one I'm habitually guilty of in real life, unfortunately. The first meal of the day is the most important since it sets the pace and determines your mood. Rushing out the door and missing food and beverage is like starting your car with the gas light on. You're going to be out of commission really quickly without something in the tank. Eat breakfast, preferably a healthy one.

Don't act unprofessionally. So important I'm saying it twice. This time, you're at the event and you are one of "the judges" and will be treated as such. That means your actions reflect on your peers and colleagues as well. Keep a calm demeanor, answer player questions accurately to the best of your knowledge and deal with less-than-stellar behavior by players as gracefully as possible. Remember, you're the role model here. Players will take your cue from you. If a player is acting inappropriately, sinking down to that level isn't the correct play. Acting more mature in these tough situations is a necessary skill to have as a judge. If you need help, get another judge, but don't lose your cool especially in front of the players.

Don't use social media during an event in progress. That can wait until afterwards when you're not supposed to be working. Even if you're on break, anyone reading your posts won't know you're on a break. Perception is worth more than reality sometimes. Better to avoid having to clarify things later, just stay off the phone until the event is over.

After the Event
As it turns out, there's more to do than just putting in the nine rounds of work.

Don't leave without speaking to the TO or the Head Judge. Potentially both. You can't just peace-out when you think you're done. If you do, you'll probably leave behind the chance to judge future events. In addition, the Head Judge will often use post-event to debrief and give feedback to judges while also evaluating the event as a whole.

Don't forget to fill out the necessary paperwork. Tier 2 events have judge checklists that Konami requires the TO to fill out and send back with a slew of other event-related forms. The TO has to send all those forms at once so getting it all done in one shot is the best way to ensure it's all taken care of promptly.

And the best part of filling out forms is the positive reinforcement! Successfully filling out forms allows the judge to get the compensation for the event! That usually means booster packs for Regionals, Judge Token cards for OTS Championships, and packs plus Game Mats for YCS's. Long story short: if you don't provide the necessary info at the event, the TO will have to chase you down afterwards which delays the entire process. For the TO, this is especially problematic because I'm fairly certain but not positive that the TO's don't get reimbursed for any costs they incur until everything on their end is taken care of, and that includes judge forms. So save everyone some trouble and don't leave without doing the paperwork.

Don't act unprofessionally after the event either. Yes, a third time. That means a few things:

-No gossiping or rumor mongering about penalties given during the event, online or in private, with players.

-No online ribbing or the like on a publically viewable internet forum or medium. Joking with your friends on facebook about how they're scrubs may seem innocent, but it can easily be misinterpreted by observers not in the know. Do everyone a favor and just abstain from it and avoid the drama entirely.

-And this one should be obvious, but no trashing your fellow judges or the TO online, or to others either. If you have a grievance with someone regarding the event, be a professional and address it with the people that you have a problem with, the TO or with Konami's Judge Manager if the issue requires it. The judge forms have three quarters of a page for judges to write feedback for the Judge Manager, and she reads every bit of it. If you don't want to write it on the page, her e-mail address is listed on that form and on the contact page on the official website.

And with this knowledge, you'll know all the things you shouldn't do if you want to judge a Tier 2 event! If you have any questions about this, card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, shoot me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino