So even though Las Vegas is all the way on the other side of the country, it's freakin' Las Vegas! There's no reason not to go. And I loved the city when I was there for Worlds last year. And this was before I found out about the Travel Assist Game Mat that would be given only to judges who were traveling from far away. And then I found out that the mat has Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight on it. And then any doubt was removed from my mind.
This week on Black and White: YCS Las Vegas 2014! I'll talk about my experiences in the event, and reflect on what I learned and how it will affect my choices as a player going forward.Getting To Vegas
I got into Vegas on Thursday night and crashed at the hotel. Friday morning was spent doing some judge things in the morning, losing money at blackjack in the afternoon, and judge dinner at a buffet. Las Vegas buffets are the best. If you haven't been, I recommend.
But, of course, Friday's dinner was only a preparation for the two 12-hour days that were ahead…Saturday – Day 1
My position this time around was Floor Team 1 Assistant Lead. I'd be helping with the actual running of the team instead of being placed in a zone myself. I'd honestly expected to be zoned if the attendance warranted it, but we were able to simply zone the floor judges; both myself and the other Assistant Lead were assigned to float around the tournament as needed to assist in the running of the floor. If you were at YCS Las Vegas, you probably saw the length of the tournament hall from the stage to the back of the room? I estimate that I traversed that length… maybe ten times per round? And there were nine rounds on Saturday? Yeah, I did some walking on Day 1. Nothing I'm not used to, of course, but if you want to judge, you have to be ready for it; comfortable shoes are a must.
One thing of note occurred in the early rounds. One player asked to speak to me away from the tables and informed me that his opponent objected to a routine procedure during the match and that he was 2-0'd by the same starting hand in each game. I noted the player's information to follow up with this next round. During the following round, I informed the floor judge in that zone to watch that table a little more closely, and that I would be in the zone to watch as well. We were able to resolve the situation with what we observed, and we were able to educate the player as to proper procedures. This was a good experience for all involved; if you ever suspect something is off, don't be afraid to call for a judge. Doing so in this case probably prevented a situation from occurring in a later round where it could've been more costly to take care of.
The convention center was about a mile or so from the hotel and unfortunately the venue was not off of Main Street so there was really nothing within walking distance in terms of food beyond convention center concessions. So my lunch consisted of a convention center chicken sandwich, fries and a water. It was ok, but not $12.50 ok. This exquisite culinary masterpiece took 20 minutes to prepare, so I had 10 minutes to shove it in my face before heading back onto the floor. Such is the life of a judge.
After I got back, my team lead gave me the clipboard he was carrying. I initially assumed this was temporary while he went to lunch himself, but I realized my team lead won't actually go to lunch. So now I was the acting floor team lead. I've done this before, of course, but this time felt a Little Different. I don't know if it was because it wasn't the position I started the day in, or if I was just out of practice, but things continued on as normal (the last time I lead a team was the North American WCQ nearly nine months previous). I made adjustments as necessary, completely re-zoning the floor during Round 8 after more than half of the initial players dropped from the tournament, making sure everyone got word of their new zone assignments, and confirming everyone had taken a lunch break.
In addition, I also had to make up the floor plan for Sunday and pass that along to the Public Events lead so he can plan his portion of the floor. At this point, I was being less and less on the floor, and moreso a manager-supervisor of sorts. As it turns out, old habits die hard; I kept going back onto the floor to make sure everyone was in their zones, and ended up taking a few too many judge calls when they came up around me. The worst part was I didn't even realize what I was doing until I was told this during my review at the end of the day on Sunday.
I've been judging premiere events for four years now, and I'm still learning things. I'm aware that the problems I experienced are almost completely unique and that most of you won't be in that same position, but if you take something away from this, I hope it's "look at the bigger picture". I was too busy seeing two players in front of me waiting for a judge call to remember that I was responsible for the entire tournament floor. I realize it's clichéd, but the phrase still applies.
The judges got out of the venue at 10:30pm. Not terrible, but not the ideal of 8:00pm either.Sunday – Day 2
If you're serious about playing at a YCS and want to win, start drafting Battle Pack 2: Round 2 using the format described in the YCS FAQ and play some games with friends. You need to know how to properly build a deck on the fly using the cards that are passed to you. Having more experience than your opponents in a draft environment will give you a serious advantage moving into the playoffs. If you want to win, there's literally no reason not to do this.
The playoffs and the finals went off with few problems. I had the privilege of watching the semi-finals and the finals matches in person, and I have to say, if you're a fan of good, well-played Yu-Gi-Oh, you need to read the coverage for both of those matches. They were immensely exciting to watch and I hope that comes across in the written coverage. Any prejudices you have about Battle Pack, Sealed Play or Draft Play should be promptly discarded. There's as much skill in Sealed and Draft Play as there is in Constructed, and it's also an alternative to Constructed if you ever find yourself disillusioned with the current Advanced Format.
And then after all that we cleaned up, and I got my review where I learned more about the role I was given and what I need to improve on going forward. I went back to the hotel, went to sleep for a few hours, then woke up at 3am for a flight at 6:20am. From there a thunderstorm delayed my landing in San Antonio, which made me miss my connection in Baltimore, and that same Texas storm made the new connection late as well, so I got home at 10:30pm Eastern Time. The weekend started in ridiculous travel arrangements. It was only fitting it ended in ridiculous travel arrangements.
And so ends the story of YCS Las Vegas! If you have any questions about the YCS, card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!