While you judge, you will encounter lots of situations at which an infraction occours and a penalty has to be given out. The following inofficial guide gives you some examples on infractions and the appropirate penalty. All examples rely on your knowledge of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Penalty Guidelines.
Differentation of Infractions & Penalties
Lots of judges have problems to understand that an „infraction“ is something else than a „penalty“:
- Infraction: A situation or action that is against the official guidelines. It’s always one or more players that cause an infraction. An infraction also might occur if a player does NOT take an action when needed (Slow Play, Randomizing the Deck, …), or prevents a guideline-conform playing by not acting (Procedural Errors, …).
- Penalty: This is the easy part. If you find an infraction, just check the Guidelines for the matching penalty.
Always remember: „Always two there are….no more…no less.“ An infraction and a penalty.
Why handing out penalties for infractions is important
Most penalties do not influence the game, because they are Warnings. They are meant to remind the player to play according to the guidelines and to inform your judge team about the infraction that happened. If you encounter an infraction that needs harder punishment (meaning a Game Loss or Disqualification), always consult your Head Judge. Judging does NOT mean to penalize players, but to care for a friendly environment and fair games! That also means that if an infraction is not listed in the official Penalty Guidelines, you won’t give out a penalty.
On the other hand, if you find an infraction, make sure to handle it the correct way. Most players don’t cause infractions deliberately. Deliberatley causing an infraction (other than tardiness) means a disqualification penalty. If you think a player does deliberatley act against the guidelines, directly get your Head Judge. In all other cases, make sure that the player knows what infraction he just caused, and make sure to write it down on the result slip.
Always remember: It is the player that is causing the infraction, not you! It needs your active judging to correct the game and to apply the penalty. If you don’t do it, it means no one can track if a player (maybe intentionally!) repeats doing infractions. Also, some infractions need to be penalized accordingly to maintain a well-working tournament, e.g. Slow Play and Tardiness.
Common infraction scenarios and appropirate penalties
As mentioned before, some players might try to win on different ways than playing a good game. The following is a list of the main points that you as a judge will encounter at bigger events. Here are some possible questions and hints that will lead you to a good conclusion:
- A player accuses his opponent on having marked cards: Let yourself get explained the so-called markings. Check the markings and if there is a pattern in a way that non-public cards remain non-public to the players. When did the opponent notice the markings? If he answers something else than „right now“ get the Head Judge, it means that the player waited (maybe until he was in a disadvantage to win an elsewise lost game) instead of caring for a legal game! If there is a pattern, get the Head Judge.
- While patrolling the floor, you notice a card that looks marked: Stop the game, and check the marking in a way that neither player sees non-public cards. If there is no pattern, let the player change the sleeve(s) and apply „Marced Cards -minor (Warning)“ for the marked card. If there is a pattern, get a Team Lead or Head Judge.
- Player B accuses that Player A did not present the Side Deck/Extra Deck: Is it on the table? – Every card on the table (even in the deck box!) counts as your deck. Did player B ask for it? Most likely, this „calls“ are rule sharking. That is an Unsporting Conduct infraction, which warrants a Warning.
- Players disagree on where a certain card should be: Usually, you either repair the Game State or decide on a fixed Game State. Game Losses are quite rare and subject to the Head Judge. If you feel that either 1) a player intentionally played wrong 2) intentionally changed the Game State or 3) the opponent did not inform anyone until it was too late intentionally, get the Head Judge, because that is Cheating! Otherwise, make sure that you noted down the Procedural Error infraction, and give out a Warning to both players (because it’s both players responsibility to maintain a clear Game State).
- Differences in the noted down Life Points: Just quickly check for the cause of the difference, e.g. a forgotten attack, or decrease of the life points for the wrong player. Do not try to reconstruct too much! In more complicated situations, players will appeal anyhow. In directly getting the Head Judge, you’ll save us quite a lot of overtime.
- Player B accuses Player A that he did not announce a phase: Did Player B do what he now wants of player A? Did Player B ask for clear communication previous to a situation where it might be important (e.g. Drastic Drop Off, Effect Veiler before entering battle phase, …)? Most likely, he did not care for that until now.
- You see that a deck is shuffled in a way that a player might look into it, but he doesn’t at the moment: Explain to the player what you just saw, and explain to him that this way of holding the deck is used for cheating. Teach him shortly how to properly shuffle a deck. This is recorded as Procedural Error at most tournaments, as the player wasn’t able to schuffle in a recommended way.
- Spectators refuse to leave the area: Spectating is not a right. At bigger events, you will end up with no overview of your judging area and uneccessary stress if you let spectators stand in your way. Officially, it would mean UC minor for not following a tournament official’s (you!) instruction. Practically, most spectators are either not playing or have to few points to enter tops anyhow, so anything less than a DQ or throwing them out of the venue won’t work if they do not care to follow your instructions. Get the HJ or Tournament Organizer to handle that.
- You just arrived at a match. After 20 seconds, you still don’t know whose turn it is: This means no player did anything, a classic Slow Play Scenario! Check who is causing the infraction. It might be the turn player doing nothing, or the non-turn player who stopped the game in order to „think“. No matter how complex the situation is, after 20 seconds of nothing, you have to note down the Slow Play infraction.
- A player checks a graveyard more than twice in the same turn, without doing much: Another Slow Play situation.
- A player does make an attack move, but when asked, does insist that he did not announce it: This is at least a Procedural Error minor infraction. If you have the feeling that the player did the infraction to check out if it opponent would react to it, that would mean he tried to get an unfair advantage. A Head Judge has to investigate on that.
If you feel there is anything important missing, let me know! I am looking forward to talk about your additional points!