The Early Bird Catches the… Wurm?

Don’t get confused with the title. For sure, we all know that Judge’s Familiars can’t catch a big Armada Wurm, for all its size and glory.


(I don’t know about you guys, but this is one “worm” this bird can’t catch…)

Rather, what I want to talk about is one common thing a lot of players (at least from what I know) has: being tardy.

As outlined in the “Infraction Procedure Guide”, this is what Tardiness means:

A player fails to comply with announced time limits.

The definition is very self-explanatory, but someone might still not understand it. Let’s see some examples then!

  • A player arrives to her seat 5 minutes after the round begins.
  • A player hands in his decklist after the time designated by the judge or organizer.

In tournaments, being able to start immediately is a good thing. We don’t want to wait for people just for the tournament to start, as it’ll be unfair for all of those who were in the venue early. In the ongoing game’s cases, we don’t want to wait for people for each others matches to begin. When the tournament official says that the round has begun, each player should be expected to be in their seats. If you took a smoke break in the previous round, then you should know that it’s your responsibility to be able to get back to the tournament area as fast as you can, before the next round starts.

In my experience, a lot of players that I know are very prone to being tardy. Not just during tournaments, mind you. I think it’s becoming a habit for most of them. We can’t really force them to be early every time, but at least we can train them to “break the habit” of doing so.

The penalty for being late in competitive REL tournaments is a bit harsh, mind you. Depending on your tournament (which can be zero to ten minutes or three to ten minutes), each tardiness penalty is equal to a game loss. No questions asked. Let’s say the head judge of the tournament elected for a zero-ten limit for start of rounds. If the head judge says that you may begin the round, and you’re not there, then you get a game loss. If you don’t show up within the next ten minutes, then you lose the entire round. Your opponent will probably be dancing in joy.

But wait, I included a decklist portion in the example! Now, some of you new to tournaments might wonder why submitting a decklist past its deadline is still considered “tardiness”. For one, it might been an official announcement your head judge made. And we should clearly follow all official announcements made during tournaments. They’re not being announced because the head judge wants to, but they announce it in order for the tournament to have a direction. So submitting your decklist ahead of time given by your head judge is a good thing. Submitting it after the allotted time limit can be quite troublesome, as we don’t know if you already modified your deck after your first round had begun.

So there are ways in order to eliminate tardiness from your system. But I’ll probably list the easiest things that you can do:

  • Prepare for the tournament beforehand. If you know that you’re playing in a big league tournament, then you should probably have gotten some preparations like hydration, extra sleeves and things that you’ll use all throughout the day. We don’t want to waste precious time wandering off to look for sleeves or lost cards, and we want that time to just rest after games.
  • About the decklists, it’s a good idea to bring a prepared copy before you go to your next tournament. It’ll save a lot of time to scour through your entire deck to write everything that’s there. If you will need to make modifications, at least the list will help you cut the thinking time in half, or even more.
  • Be attentive! What the head judge might say can affect your entire day. So listen to what your head judge might say, as it may have an impact to you. Stuff like, “we’ll start at <insert time here>”, or “there are no lunch breaks…” blah blah…
  • Above all, be positive in all the things mentioned above. Those things are not meant to hurt anyone, rather, they’re there to help everyone. The sooner the tournament finishes, the sooner people can rest. And so are you.

Tardiness can be quite troublesome, as it can’t be easily eliminated from everyone. But a bit of focus and a work-around can definitely eliminate it from your system.

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