WGP Rules for Entrants|
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Important Things to Know Before You Go:
0. Your proper conduct is vital to a successful event. Don't break the law, be unsportsmanlike, sloppy, late, unattentive, offensive in odor or behavior, or act out. Be there before the start time of the event. Don't give your Deck an inappropriate name. HotC reserves the right to modify your deck name if they feel it is inappropriate. Extreme violations of this rule can lead to Game Loss and/or Disqualification.
For Regionals and Nationals, if you are not in the venue at the start time of the tournament, you will not be able to enter the tournament. We strongly suggest you arrive early.
1. Know how to play properly. The How to Play has a long, detailed Comprehensive Manual. Read it. Print it out and bring it with you, if you want. This includes knowing how to treat your opponent's cards with respect. No hitting them with your nails, bending or crushing sleeves when you have control of any of them, and so on. Also, you should take care to not skip steps. Activate triggers before moving them to Stock. Clearly reveal triggers by playing them flat to the Resolution Zone (which is any area not touching any other zone, that becomes the resolution zone the moment you move a card to it via rule process) and letting go of them, so your opponent sees them. Playing Damage to the resolution zone, and not directly to clock. This will not only allow for a more easily-followable game, but is crucial if a Judge has to unravel an issue. Also, Closed Zones are Closed for a reason. Looking at Closed Zones is not allowed. This means "looking at your opponent's deck while shuffling it", and so on.
2. Your deck must have proper HotC translations and be legal. This means either A: HotC Translation slips in the cardsleeves or B: The physical reference cards (color or B/W) printed and provided under the individual card pages on HotC (example, under the "Reference Card" link on that card's page), and only translations that directly pertain to the cards in your deck - electronic translations, such as having them on your mobile phone, are not allowed. More info below)
- A printout of all the cardsleeve inserts with the ones you used 'circled' is not legal.
- A printout of the textfile with all the cards is not legal.
- A printout of the textfile with just the cards you are using and images put next to them is not legal.
- A double-sided printout is not legal.
- A printout of reference card without the images, or too faded to read easily, or shrunk, is not legal.
- A thing you made yourself by copying the text off the HotC site and putting it in your own format is not legal.
- A cardsleeve insert made of the reference card and not of the cardsleeve is not legal.
- A cardsleeve insert without the bottom 'chunk' cut out so that you can't see the power without sliding it up is not legal.
- A cardsleeve insert improperly cut out (not along the black lines) is not legal.
- A cardsleeve insert made from another website or a third party program is not legal.
- A cardsleeve insert or reference card made from non-HotC translations is not legal.
- A cope of the card in a different language used as the translation is not legal.
- An application that shows translations is not legal.
- "I only shunk them a little bit so I could fit them on a page" is not legal.
- "I know / Everyone knows what my cards do so I don't need them" is not legal.
- "The person running the tournament says we don't need them" is not legal.
Either A: all of your cards have a properly-cut-out cardsleeve insert printed directly from the HotC cardsleeve files from the HotC site in them all facing the same way, or B: you have printed the Reference Card single-sided directly from the HotC Reference Card Link (or screenshotted the complete card and printed it in another program without making it smaller, or editing it in any way) for each card that you play. No other methods are legal. Failure to follow this rule will make you ineligible for Entry.
We suggest you simply open up the Reference Card page for each of your cards in your browser and hit "Print". Cut those out, and there you go (assuming you actually printed the correct cards, and your printout is readable, and so on).
This isn't hard. Ref card. Print. Repeat. Done.
As long as the cardtext/name/gameplay data is identical, you may use the standard rarity Reference Card / Insert for the non-foil/SP/RRR/SSP/XR/etc. version of a card. Note that this does not allow you to use the wrong Card ID on your Decklist, or the TD for the BP, or so on. This allows you only to use one Reference Card for your 3 RR + 1 SP of a card, or a standard Reference Card for the foil and non-foil version of an EB card. You must alert your openent when you play a card that does not match the picture on the reference card.
CLICK HERE for the current card restrictions. Keep a list with you so you can make sure your opponent isn't using banned cards.
Should you have a legal card that is not yet translated on HotC, please contact us, and we will give you a temporary translation, and contact your Regional saying it is legit. You give the translation of your card to your opponent when A: you play it to the stage, B: you activate its ability, or C: when it is in an open zone or referenced on a card in an open zone, is also in an open zone, and your opponent asks for it. (in case A and B you give it to them whether or not they ask) If a card is not in any open zone, and not currently resolving, your opponent does not require the translation - however, you cannot take back any translation while they are reading it. (It is the equivalent of your opponent asking you to wait while they read one of your cards)
3. Your sleeves / cards can't be marked. Marked means a lot of things. There's more info below on what to look out for.
4. Learn how to randomize a deck. 'Stick your 8 climaxes in at equal intervals and do a five-second overhand shuffle' is not randomizing. Looking at the bottom of the deck during the shuffle or cut is not randomizing. When you shuffle, you should shuffle well enough that it doesn't matter what you started with. To be specific - if you are 'pre setting up' your Waiting Room so you 'shuffle well', you can be called on improper shuffling (which can be taken as a Slow Play issue, if you hold up the game to do pre-sorting), because there is no reason to do that if you are shuffling properly. More info on Shuffling below.
5. You should Pre-register, and pre-fill out a Decklist in pen or typed on a computer (such as with a photo editor). However you make it, you are responsible for the decklist you turn in - if it "prints wrong" or the software you use custs off the end of the ID or Quantity, that is your fault. The person running your regionals is not allowed to look at your Decklist without the Head Judge's permission. Should you win, they will be looking at it to perform a deck check, but they are not allowed to discuss the contents of anyone's deck - as the only people that will have seen it are you, the advisor, and us at HotC. Decklists may be made public by HotC after Nationals.
Click here for the Blank Deck List.
Print one and fill it out in (via a computer or pen) in advance. If your Deck List is incorrect, you can get removed from Top Cut - it has happened at the National Level before. Yes, we need the whole name and whole number. Yes, you have to put the card down as both the TD and BP versions if you have both in your deck. Yes, SPs are different numbers from the regular versions, as are RRRs, as are SRs.
- Having the TD ID number for your cards when you play the BP version is a Deck List Failure.
- Having more or less than 50 cards in your deck and/or listed is a Deck List Failure.
- Missing a quantity of even a single card is a Deck List Failure.
- Having the non-SP/SR/RRR ID number, for example, (087S instead of 087) for a card when you play that version of it is a Deck List Failure.
- Decklist failures are a minimum of a Game Loss. If it is a Top Cut Deck Check, this will get you removed from the standings completely.
- While you do not have to have the rarity of the card (the letters after the space), you are allowed to, and you do need to have everything that denotes the card ID, so we strongly suggest you put everything down. For example:
The "full ID" of a certain card is, for example, "IM/S21-023R RRR". The following are the only legal ways to write that: 1. "IM/S21-023R RRR" 2. "IM/S21-023R". That's it. "IM/S21-023 RRR", "IM/S21-023", "IM/S21-023 RR" , "S21-023R", "IM/S21-023R R" are all illegal. As such, we are telling people to write the entire ID, so we do not encounter these problems.
Every card must have the proper Card ID for your decklist to be legal. The Full ID is a proper Card ID. Everything listed in the card ID area is the Full ID. Failure to follow this may get you a Game Loss.
6. The National Winner goes to Japan sometime in December-January. We pay flight and hotel for the tournament duration, and will be your guide for getting to/from the tournament and playing in it. You need to handle getting proper ID to get there (passport, for example). Travelling to US Regionals and US Nationals is your responsibility. So we can have as fair a tournament as possible, please don't enter a Regional if you aren't planning on going to the National if you win - regional invites do not 'filter down'. Only the top winner gets to go - there is no WGP travel prize for second place. Should the champion be unable to go, and we find out far enough in advance, the second place player may be able to take their place. Details will be provided if this comes up.
7. Anyone can enter, even if they aren't a US citizen. You must be able to travel to Japan from the US via plane. As a courtesy to players looking to go to Nationals / Worlds, if you don't intend to, we ask that you refrain from entering.
8. Once you qualify for an invitation, you cannot play in any other Regional. Be sure to read the Advisor / Winner Manual to see what you need to do!
9. If an advisor tells you to "Hold", freeze. Do not under any circumstances touch your deck - if after a "Hold" was called because you have been assigned a deck check due to somone saying you had tapped sleeves, and you tap your deck down before the Judge or advisor takes it, you could be immediately Disqualified.
10. The person running your regionals is not the Head Judge. The Head Judge is available via Skype or Cell Phone during the tournament. Ask the advisor to talk to them if you need to. To ask for the Judge / an Advisor, raise your hand and say "Judge". When you win a match, raise your hand and say "Report".
11. If you don't like a ruling that your advisor makes, you can appeal to the Head Judge, available via Skype or phone. This is only if you feel they are in error - if you screw up, and you actually screwed up, the Head Judge is not going to overturn what the advisor said. If the Advisor does not allow you to escalate, or you think the Advisor is doing something sketchy, contact us immediately via email or Twitter.
Tournament Checklist and Procedure:
__ Did you preregister and bring your Confirmation Number?
__ Did you bring your properly sleeved, legal deck, extra sleeves, proper translations, and completed decklist?
(NO textfile / text-only printouts. NO unsleeved slips. NO electronics / apps. In-sleeve Translations, or HotC Reference Cards, ONLY.)
__ Did you read all and understand all of the information in the Manual and on this page?
__ Did you do your Decklist properly?
(FULL Card Id for EACH CARD. TD / BP cards are different. SP/RRR/SR cards are different.)
__ If you use counters (for added Soul tracking for example), are they uniform, and stored safely away from your deck so as to not accidentally mark any cards?
__ Did you get enough sleep, eat properly, and make sure you are properly following all hygiene and clothing rules for HotC and the location?
__ Check in with Advisor
__ Sign Signup Sheet
__ Hand them folded deck list filled out via computer or written in pen with name and Confirmation # showing
(fold bottom up to top, covering all BUT your name and Conf#)
__ Fill Out Player Slip and give back to Advisor
__ Wait to move to seat until all pairings are announced
__ Shuffle up, offer cut to opponent (which can be a cut or shuffle, if the opponent shuffles, you get last cut)
__ Rock Paper Scissors when told to (on the four count - "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot", pumping fist on each word, throwing chosen symbol on "Shoot")
__ Final Five - Each Draw 5, turn player mulligans, then other player mulligans
__ Begin Play when told to
If you need a Judge, freeze, raise hand, say "Judge". This freeze stops your clock
If opponent raises hand and says "Judge", freeze.
If you are not satisfied with the ruling, you may "Escalate" - you will be put in contact with HotC for final ruling
__ When you finish playing, maintain game state, await 20/10/5 minute warning / freeze at-time-over, and raise hand when asked for "Reports"
__ If *you* win, *your* Player Slip (the one with *your* name on the very top) will have a W by your opponent's name, and *their* slip will have an L next to *your* name.
__ After match, make sure to return to play area by end of round
__ Do not modify your deck without express permission from HotC until after End of Tournament (and Interviews)
__ If in Top Cut / Winner's Circle, present deck for deck check
__ If not in Top Cut / Winner's Circle, standby, in case failed Deck Checks put you in Top Cut
__ After Top Cut / Winner's Circle announcement, get a Promo if you haven't already. If there are not enough Promos, you have a chance to get a promo - if not, the Judge will have instructions on how you get it
__ If Winner, you MUST get your picture taken and submit an Interview Report with HotC before you leave - the Judge will ask you to fill one out
Decks / Sleeves / Mats
Decks must either have 100% translation sleeves, or the player must either have a sheet or set of index cards (or other multi-sheet device) of the Reference Cards (not the inserts, or the raw text file) to allow the opposing player to understand the cards in English. You cannot simply print out the translation of your entire set and circle the ones that matter (you also cannot X out ones that aren't used). You cannot print out just the sleeve inserts and hand them to your opponent. We suggest printing the english translation card (available on each card's translation page) and placing them on 3x5 cards (if it is too long for the card, let it hang off the bottom instead of modifying it). These translations must be revealed for every card as it is first played to the stage, or for any card in an open zone at the opponent's request. Reference cards are available on the individual card translation pages of this site. Should a card not yet have a translation, and you have not contacted HotC for it, an authorized judge will translate it on-the-spot. Note that willingly misrepresenting a card is cheating.
Deck randomization is a serious matter. A shuffle is a randomization followed by an opponent cut. Simply 'fanning in' Climaxes on Deck Refresh and performing a few overhand shuffles is not sufficient - randomization must be done to a point that it does not matter if climaxes or other cards were placed in deliberately prior to shuffling. In fact, if a player "organizes" cards before shuffling, that is considered a precursor to cheating, and can draw a Warning or more - there is no reason to do this if you are randomizing properly. Players must use at least one full table/riffle/bridge shuffle when they randomize a deck, and if the opponent is not satisfied, the opponent may request to randomize the deck themselves (and they are responsible for the safey of those cards while doing so). According to comprehensive rules, an opponent may instead 'shuffle' a deck as opposed to 'cut' it. This opposing player shuffle is not meant to be a full re-randomiation - if you feel that a player did not randomize properly, contact a judge, do not "attempt to fix it".You must be able to randomize a deck without damaging the sleeves in order to enter the tournament. If you cannot due to physical disability, please contact your Tournament Organizer in advance so you can bring someone to help you shuffle. Players must take care to preserve the quality of all cards they touch. The shuffle taught to Judges is a 7x Faro + Bulk (non-single card, over and under) Monhegan, followed by a cut. You may not request a Judge Shuffle for no reason. In cases like this, a judge may choose to watch the opponent shuffle the deck to be sure they do not damage the cards. Damaging cards through carelessness can warrant Game Loss or Disqualification penalties, as well as reporting to proper authorities for destruction of property.
A 'cut' is a single 0-50 card removal as a pile from the top of a deck in order at once, then the remain cards placed on top. It is not a three-pile shuffle, it is not a bridge, it is not anything but a single cut. If you do more than this, you did not cut, you shuffled - which means your opponent then gets to cut their own deck. If you do not trust the randomization, ask them to do it again. If you still are not satisfied, call for a Judge. If all you have is an advisor, ask them to watch you and your opponent randomize the deck, and to be careful. Don't ever hurt another player's cards, you are responsible for damage (this includes hard side-tapping with your fingernail).
If your opponent must choose / view your cards from a hidden zone without you being able to see ( such as Stock, or Library - note that this is exceedingly rare), you must use a capable neutral third-party to show translations for each to your opponent. Use the Advisor. If the advisor is in the match, the two of you must agree on a third party. If you cannot, contact the Head Judge.
The deck you play in a Regional does not have to be the same in any way to what you bring to other Regionals, Nationals or even Worlds. You cannot, however, change your deck mid-Tourney, or between any Swiss / Double-Elim and Top Cut within the same Tourney.
- three sleeves per card max (example: "penny", sleeve, oversleeve)
- must be sleeved
- sleeves cannot be damaged
- all cards must be identically sleeved
- 1 card per sleeve
- sleeves must be transparent over all areas of card text and information (this means no printed matte finish on the face-up side, and any holographic stickers or other opaque areas must not cover any card information).
- cannot use sleeves that unnecessary slow / impede shuffling (if hard sleeving, you better be good at shuffling)
- Note that purchased sleeves are not necessarily uniform. You may buy sleeves that have some that are shorter than others, or have a fold in the corner. In Regional and greater events, it is your responsibility to use uniform sleeves.
- Oversleeves with printing of any sort will be very thoroughly examined, as we have had instances of players hiding marks underneath the printed parts of oversleeves before. We strongly suggest that if you use oversleeves, you only use 100% clear oversleeves, so as to avoid any possible miscommunications.
- These rules are also enforced by the Deck Check. If you make it through an entire tournament with a winning position (a high enough ranking to receive a prize / invitation), you should expect as least one. Decks and their sleeves are checked thoroughly for any evidence of deceit. For example, if all of your sleeves are slightly worn, but the four cards with the most wear in the upper-left corners are the Grade 1 part of your Ride chain (Cardfight!! Vanguard) or your Door Trigger Climax (WeiB Schwarz), you should expect at least a Game Loss. For example, if all of your Climaxes (WS) are at the top of your sleeves (so they can be noted when looking at the top of the sleeve from the side) or perhaps have an identical crinkle on the right side, that is an equal penalty.
What are marked sleeves / cards?
Marked sleeves are cards that someone can identify while they are face down as being different than other cards. This is the most common form of cheating at HotC tournaments, and as such we are very strict on our sleeve rules.
- "My sleeves are scuffed from playing" Change them.
- "My sleeves were slightly different lengths when I bought them I did not shave them" Change them.
- "That is some dirt on the edges from my deck box" Change them.
- "These are just reflective because that is the sleeve material" Change them.
- "My cards just happen to be tapped in at different lengths from casual play" Tap all cards in to the same depth.
- "How do people cheat" We have personally seen the following at events: Climax cards put in slightly shorter sleeves. L0s tapped to a higher sleeve depth than the rest of the cards. Well worn sleeves with crumples in the corner for L3s, side for climax. Patterned sleeves with tiny scratches to show climaxes. Reversed oversleeves on climaxes. Players with tapped decks 'tapping them back to normal' when a judge asks for them to check / at the end of a game. Players putting their climaxes in their WR upside down so they are reversed on refresh. Players heating their deck so the RRR climaxes bend slightly more so they can tell which is which. And so, so much more.
- "So does that mean I should have extra sleeves on me just in case" Yes.
- "But I use all RRR climaxes and they naturally bend I can't help it" Flatten them or change them.
- "So what do you officially recommend for the WGP" Sleeving your tournament deck in new sleeves with new oversleeves, and bringing a pack of extras of each layer. Before the tournament 'deck checking yourself' to make sure that it doesn't just happen that all your Climaxes are in shorter sleeves. Making absolutely sure your cards look the same from all four sides, flattening any cards bent due to foiling, or simply changing them out for the non-foil versions if you cannot.
- "That is crazy, no one would do these things, that is silly" It happens in every card game, all the time. The judge team for HotC has a combined thirty years of official TCG judge experience, and we have seen everything here happen so many times it isn't even surprising any more. While we strive to have a fun and engaging experience, and we have found that WS players are some of the most friendly and welcoming players in the TCG world, there are bad apples in every competition where prizes or pride is on the line.
Marked cards are cards where defacement covers an active area of the card, or allows it to be picked out while face down. The only non-active area of a card is the artwork. So, if someone has signed your card, and it is covering the card text area, or the trigger, or the power, or name, or soul, or anything like that, it is not allowed. Regarding teling the card as different face down, this includes but is not limited to a dark marker 'inking' the edge of a card, or a hard press pushing through to the back, leaving an impression that can be seen through sleeves.
JUDGE RECOMMENDATION: either single-sleeved in new opaque solid color sleeves or double-sleeved in new character sleeves and new oversleeves, 'tapped' in to the same level, individual reference cards for opponent translations, and extra sleeves ready for the possibility of a 'busted' sleeve. Please note we take marked decks very, very seriously, and a player who does not take proper care of their deck in a tournament environment is only hurting themselves. Things that can get you penalized: shaved sleeves, certain cards 'tapped to the top of the sleeve', crumples that allow us to pick out any individual cards / tech combinations / level 0s / etc, certain combinations of sleeves reversed in a deck so they can be recognized (reversing climaxes, etc).
Note that printed matte finish (screentone) is different than matte plastic (which is just non-shiny clear plastic). See-through matte plastic is fine for the front / back of cards, and is considered 'transparent' for ruling purposes.
- cannot be bootleg (if character picture / logo / etc., must be from legitimate rights holder - printing copyrighted designs / images on mats is not allowed. If you bought a mat from an auction site and it did not come in official packaging / official logos, or sent someone a custom picture to print that includes copyrighted images, it is probably no good)
- cannot be reflective
- if not official bushiroad WS/non-specific product (points mat, paper mat from trial deck, universal Bushiroad rubber mat without any game markings, Bushiroad mat with WS markings etc), opponent must approve of mat for you to use it
- If the judge decides for any reason that your mat is inappropriate, it is inappropriate and cannot be used.
- all cards must have official HotC translations made available by the player - either inserts or Reference Cards
- inserts, if used, must be identically sized and oriented within sleeves
- translations must be presented to the opposing player upon the card being chosen as a target for an effect or played / activation of an effect on them (for example - when targeted for a Bond, or played to stage).
- translations must be provided on request for any card in an open (temporarily or otherwise) zone. (for example, your opponent sees a card in your clock, and asks what it does)
Language and Card Legality (Applies to US WS WGP Regionals and Nationals only):
Decks must be built according to the Tournament Deck Construction and Restriction List, available in our How to Play section. Only Japanese-language cards may be used at all Regionals and the Nationals. Please bring all proper translations. Japanese Edition (Japanese Language) cards only.
Closed zones (stock, deck, etc) must have face-down cards stored in a uniform matter. This means no 'flipping around' climax cards in your deck so you can tell when a Cancel is coming up, no turning them in Stock so you know which ones in Stock are Climaxes, etc. This is ruled in HotC-run events as 'Notetaking' or 'Marking Cards', both of which are against the rules.
Moving cards from Open to Closed Zones must be confirmed. As such, when you Refresh, your opponent must confirm it before you put the cards into the Closed Zone that is the Library. This does give them the opportunity to review the cards. Note that if multiple cards are moved in a specific order simultaneously ("put two Characters from your Waiting Room on top of your Library in any order"), you do not need to confirm the order that they are placed, but you do need to confirm which cards are moving.
Mandatory actions cannot be 'skipped'. Should you draw before you stand all of your Characters, you must go back and stand them. Players should call a judge if they feel their opponent is pressuring or 'sharking' them.
Non-mandatory actions can be skipped. If you move a Gate Trigger to Stock before salvaging, you have chosen not to use it. If you attack with another character after your Level 0 Reverser loses a battle without saying anything, you've passed on activating that ability. If your opponent attacks one of your characters that has a "when this is attacked" ability, asks if you want to do anything, you say no, and they trigger, you don't get to use that ability. (Note that if they just say 'Front' and flip the trigger, you can still use the ability - they were rushing. If you counter or start taking damage, though, you've passed on any optional actions up to that point). If it says "may", and you don't do it, and you keep going, you didn't do it. This is a very specific rule in the Tournament Floor Rules, and we have to keep to it.
You can be penalized if you fail to follow appropriate 'manner' rules. This includes, but is not limited to: hygiene issues, inappropriate dress or actions, threatening your opponent, grabbing your opponent's collar, taking insufficient care of their cards (tapping on them strongly with a pointed nail, bending them, etc), making excessive / annoying noises (loudly flipping through the cards in your hand while they are thinking, talking to them, etc), rushing them (if you feel someone is slow playing, call a judge), and so on. These rules exist to make sure everyone at the tournaments has a fair time.
If a player asks for the Power of their opponent's characters, that opponent must give the powers, where any bonuses due to effects that modify that power come from, and any on-stage abilities that may change that. For example: "What is the Power of this character?" "6500. 5000 base, +1000 from this, and +500 to things in front from that. Should I use a Startup, this over here gives 1 character +500 for the turn. If a character is reversed, this lets me give 1 character +1000."
If a player asks for effects of their opponent's characters, all abilities must be explained. Therefore, asking for "Powers and effects of your characters" covers all open game state abilities and information. While players do not hve to reveal things that are not asked for (as long as they are properly on translations that the opponent has because the player has given them), players cannot, through strategic ommission, mislead another player. Examples: Telling a player that asks for "powers" that a card is 4500 power, but not "this gets +1500 for every time you attack.". Not telling a player that asks for powers and effects that a charcter has an auto-reverse ability.
No spectating. We have found through speaking with players and advisors that there is no appropriate penalty to a player who gets useful information without requesting it from a third party (someone watching saying "That is their 8th Climax" for example), and as such dishonest players may use that to their advantage. Persons not directly involved in the judging of the match, or who in any way are involved in playing, may not watch other matches.
Notetaking / Equipment
Players may not create any record of information gathered in-game during game, nor reference outside information gathered other than official rules and translations. Note that this covered using your cards and play area to store data (turning cards in your clock upside down to denote Climaxes remaining, etc). No outside equipment, electronic or otherwise (paper, pencil, watch, clock, phone, timer, etc) may be used during or for your match. Should outside equipment or an assistant be required, contact HotC in advance so we can accomodate you.
I lost my confirmation number!
Use the confirmation to email your number to you. Can't get to that email / used a throwaway? Register again, and write it down this time. Your new number is your new 'place in line'. If you don't have your confirmation number, you aren't registered, and are treated as such by the Judges when it comes to promos and whatnot.
I never got my promo at my event!
If the event did not have their promos in time (customs issues are a continual issue in overseas Organized Play), the person assisting should have told you about the WGP Promo Promotion. Make sure you know your Player Number, and then read more here.
(the following is subject to change)
Regional / Last-Chance Tournaments are Best-of-1 Swiss, with (minimum 3) rounds until there are one or less X-0 players (or 6 rounds maximum). At this point, Strength of Schedule determines the Top Cut, equal to the number of invites, into an unseeded Best-of-1 Single Elimination. Strength of schedule is based on wins, losses via Slow play, opponent's win percentage (minimum 1/3 wins), opponent's opponent's win percentage (minimum 1/3 wins), and playoff. Nationals is a Swiss Double Elimination with a specialized Top Cut selection to a randomized Top Cut - more information is available here: Nationals Tournament Format.
WS Best of one matches are 30 minutes. This includes time taken to present translations to the opponent. Time starts when the round starts, which is after the "Final five" (which is 1. shuffle and cut 2. RPS, winner is the turn player and goes first 3. both sides draw five 4. turn player discards up to five and draws to five 5. opponent discards up to five and draws to five). You are told when 20, 10, and 5 minutes remain. In WS, games that go to time without Slow Play calls are Double Losses, there is no sudden death. In the Swiss format, a Double Loss is worth zero points (the same as a loss), so it is in both players' best interests to play expediently and watch for slow play. Should you believe your opponent is playing in a manner that will not allow you to reach a match conclusion, notify a Judge of Slow Play immediately (during game). That Judge will view your actions, tell any players that are playing too slow to speed up, and grant your match additional time to offset the Slow Play. Should your opponent continue to Slow Play after the second warning, no more time extensions will be given - and if the game goes to time, the Slow Playing player will lose (and the non-Slow Playing player wins). In the Top Cut, games that go to time are wins for the turn player - however, the non-turn player should have called Slow Play by then. Doing so is their responsibility. Note that if you make it to Worlds, the time limit there is 30 minutes, and in the many years we've gone, we've never seen a match at the Worlds level come even close to time. Matches that include an active Advisor are given a 10-minute extension post-timecall. When an Active Advisor's match is interrupted for tournament business, their clock is stopped.
Why this format? This is Bushiroad's official format.
Why Best of One?
Apart from it being the official format, we support Best of One tournaments for multiple reasons:
1. Tournament time limits. A Best of Three Tournament takes three times as long as a Best of One. This may limit venues from running tournaments for large numbers of players, and allows for three times the available rounds, which is three times the number of matchups, and three times the number of opponents.
2. Players need to counter decks as they play them, not after they lose to them. Best of Three, for example, is "play a match, then hand your decklist to your opponent for the next two". Single matches lower the focus on "oh now I know how to win" and raise the focus on "I need to figure out how to win now". Instead of losing to a deck, then adjusting their play, they must adjust their play within the bounds of the game they are playing. This leads to a different skillset of skills required to succeed. The rules don't say "look at your opponent's deck list, then begin the game," which is what games 2 and 3 of a BO3 are.
3. It preserves the Japanese game design format. In a Best of Three, for example, tournament structure, techs that work two out of three times are much more potent overall. It allows players to 'get away' with more variance, as they will have a free 'loss' in every matchup. As such, certain builds are more powerful in a Best of Three structure - perhaps in a way that differs from the original imagining of those cards in the overall game.
4. It prepares the eventual winner for the World level. Players who build and are victorious in a Best of Three structure will not fare as well with similar deck and playstyle in a Best of One tournament. We want our National Representatives to be as well-prepared as possible - and as a Heart of the Cards Representative won Worlds against dozens of other international qualifiers, we feel this shows that our format works.
5. WS is a win-or-lose game. Someone who wins when they are at 3/0 isn't necessarily better than a player that wins at 3/5, the deck and playstyle could be build around surviving a Level 3 attack. A player at 3/4 isn't necessarily losing if his opponent is at 3/3. 'Partial points' formats don't accurately represent play.
Why are some sets not allowed to be played?
The list of cards and sets (officially known as "Titles") that are not allowed to be played in North American Regionals/Nationals is given to us directly by Bushiroad. We are bound by those rules. Note that the eventual winner may play all cards and titles that are allowed in Worlds, which may include cards and/or titles that are not allowed in the North American WGP.
What sort of judging do you perform?
We perform Passive Judging. This means that our judges are not responsible for pointing out flaws in player games without a judge being called to that game. Now, this does not mean that judges are not constantly on the lookout for cheating / incorrect play - they are, and will call them accordingly. It means that if a player makes an in-game error and a judge does not see it, it is the opposing player's responsibility to actively call a judge over to rectify the situation. If someone slow plays, call them on it. If they told you a card's power was X and it was Y, call them on it. If they are intimidating you or otherwise being unsportsmanlike, call them on it. If you think they stacked their deck, call them on it. It is a player's responsibility to keep an eye on the state of the game. After a game is almost always too late to get a ruling that will change that game's outcome (for example, there is an exception for verified cheating - all directly-run HotC events are often recorded).
What if I skip an optional effect?
You have passed on that effect. If you trigger, and reveal a Gate, and move that trigger to Stock without taking the appropriate card, you have passed on that ability, and are then not allowed to do so.
What can get me a game loss?
A non-exhaustive list of things that could get you a loss: Decklist mistake. Illegal deck. Giving advice to a seated match. Asking for advice while seated in a match. Giving information about the match next to you. Being 5+ minutes late to your match. Looking through your deck/stock when you aren't allowed. Failure to maintain game state to such a level that the game cannot be redeemed. Looking at cards in your non-empty Library before adding cards to it from Waiting Room (such as during a "free refresh" ability). Bullying. Mocking. Intimidation. Making closed zones indistinguishable (shuffling your hand and Stock together, drawing extra cards and shuffling your hand, etc). Marked cards. Slow Play. Failure to randomize properly.
That's really strict!
Yes, it is. That is the rules. They exist so that players cannot use sloppy play as an excuse to take advantage of other players, and to keep the possibility of staff giving different penalties based on personal feelings.
What can a Judge do?
In some cases, a Judge may determine an outcome that will remove advantage for an error made. For example, if a player was supposed to give power to a character at the beginning of a turn, and it is mid-attack, they may be told to give the power to a character in the back row. A player that reveals a single stock that was put into stock by a blind method may have their opponent asked if they want that card in the stock, or shuffled into Library and a new one given. If color wasn't met on a character play, and the players are on the second or third attack, the game may be rolled back, but if backups were used, those fights must be re-matched as possible, so that the turn player does not move matchups around so the backup is worthless. Note: due to rampant abuse in previous years, "freefreshing into the WR" (playing a card that allows you to shuffle your WR into your Library, but instead revealing your deck and putting it with the WR (which is looking at your deck) will be ruled Game Loss unless the player can name all cards in closed zones (which shows that they knew what was in their deck at the time, and thereby not gaining any advantage).
Why no spectating?
Because spectators can intimidate or annoy players, reveal information about the game the players may not realize, give indications to things that happen in closed zones, signal, cheat, take advantage of being able to play faster than others to 'review the field', and on and on. No spectating means no spectating. If you are watching a game, or the players in a game, or their sleeves, or their mat, or anything at all, you are spectating. Don't. Note that streaming can also open up a lot of problems, and you do not ever have to agree to be on stream to play in a Regional Event.
Why is the only pairing software for Regionals allowed from HotC?
- Most pairing software does not account for certain things (like avoiding double-pairups and downs), and the Head Judge cannot guarantee that the pairing software used is not compromised in some way. Pairing software is provided to Regionals due to multiple incidents of Tournament Organizers failing to follow instructions, and in some cases willingly editing tournament structure to some players' benefit. Tournaments in Japan are paired and ranking calculations are all done by hand (Bushiroad Japan does not use tournament software, while Bushiroad USA does, our tournaments are under the Japan tournament organization, not the US). We regularly pair 60-80 person tournaments by hand with less than 10 min downtime between rounds, including Top Cut calculation - It is simple math and proper record keeping. It is not difficult, provided the instructions are followed. However, Regionals are to use the HotC Tournament Software, as it disallows T.O.s from modifying the pairings. Regionals must have verifiable, repeatable results that can be researched by HotC, and Nationals must have repeatable, verifiable results to report up the chain, and as such are paired according to those specifics.
Why do you run the National tournament manually?
We do this because we strive for openness, all possible fair actions are done by hand and then checked by all judges present. We realize this takes a slightly longer time, especially during topcuts, but we feel the openness leads to a better tournament experience. The only thing we do via computer is the pairing shuffle, wihch is done via an atmospheric random shuffle (such as one from random.org). During this shuffle, should an illegal pair arise (previous matchup, double pair-down, etc), the two are set aside and the first legal pair is then matched with the first set aside player, second with the second, and so on. Should this not be possible due to all legal matches paired, that entire section of pairing is re-randomized. While there are a number of great pairing systems available, there is always a chance that someone may create a flawed / loaded version of that program unbeknownst to all tournament persons. Our manual system has multiple layers of checking and redundancy, and all information is easily viewable.
What is Tiebreaker priority?
In descending order:
Largest Number of (Wins + Byes)
Smallest Number of Rounds played with a non-Slow Play Timeout
Strength of Schedule: All players have a 'Personal Strength' (PS) of (Number of non-Bye Wins / Number of non-Bye Rounds played), minimum 1/3. Strength of Schedule is the average of the PS of all non-bye opponents you have faced.
Strength of Strength of Schedule: Strength of Strength of Schedule is the average of the Strength of Schedule of all non-bye opponents you have faced.
Previous Head to Head Winner: If two players are tied at this point, and have played each other previously, the previous winner is ranked higher.
1-Game Single Elimination Match (this game does not affect any other schedule)
Coin Flip (Player registered first in the lineup is Heads, selected player is ranked higher)
Please note that Ties are, for all scoring purposes, a Loss for each Tied player, it is vitally important you call Slow Play.
Click here for the Event Advisor / Invitation Winner Manual.
Why did X get more/less Invitations than Y?
Once again, this year, due to the shorter Regional Season, we only had room for about 50% of the applications. Properly-submitted applications were ranked on previous Regional performance, ability to follow instructions, available dates, play area size, and distance to other regionals (same city / driving distance) as a function of playerbase size. We strove to give the greatest number of players the greatest opportunity to play. To our knowledge, no properly-requested regional more than 3 hours away from another Regional was declined.
We only had so many invitations, and we had to pick them based on how many other Regionals nearby, how many of the tournaments are done simultaneously, previous turnout, tournaments that may draw players from farther away, and sales levels (and therefore players) via US distributors we have information for. We can't make everyone happy.
- "I didn't qualify at any of my Regionals, so how am I supposed to qualify?" For players that are confident in their abilities, we suggest you simply come to the Last Chance Regional the day before Nationals - if you truly are a Nationals-Level player, if you have any chance at winning Nationals you should have no problem qualifying there. The Last-Chance is designed for everyone across the country who is confident to come and play at a National Level - players should not assume it is 'another local regional', we get people from all across the country. The Last-Chance has spots based on the number of 'empty' spots from all other regionals, minimum 4. So far, over 50% of people who have come to a Last-Chance Regional have qualified for Nationals.
Why don't Invitations pass down?
Passing down invitations allows players to bargain with them, play to support other players to the detriment of solo players, increases overhead and opens the door to double-booking. Should an X place player not intend to go, that does not mean that the X+1 place player is the next strongest, and would allow players 'just outside the bubble' to influence those who are going. To avoid all of these complications, invitations do not pass down. Do not enter the regional tournaments unless you plan on going to the National event if you qualify.
- You arrive there before the event, with your sleeved deck and proper translations. When the Advisor begins taking signups, you go to them, hand them your folded decklist (folded so that only the player name and info shows), give them your name and confirmation number. They take your decklist without looking at it and put it in the decklist pile, and enter your information in the system. They fill out a Player Slip for you and place it in the Player Slip pile.
- The time of the tournament arrives. The Advisor announces the final call for signing up. The last players sign up. Signups are closed.
- The advisor announces a few things, including how to contact the Head Judge. They then begin the tournament. Should anything seem out of the ordinary or incorrect, you ask the Advisor. If you are unhappy with their answer, you contact the Head Judge.
- The advisor announces the pairings. After all pairing are announced, you take your seat next to your Player Slip, confirm your opponent's name with them, and shuffle.
- You RPS with your opponent to determine starting player. Use a four-count: "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot", throwing your chosen symbol on the "Shoot". Repeat until a Turn Player is chosen (by winning RPS).
- You "Final Five": Starting with the Turn Player, each player draws 5, discards 0-5, then draws back up to 5. Both players then hold, and wait for the Advisor to start the round.
- The Advisor starts the round, and play begins.
- You and your Opponent play. Should you have a question or believe your opponent to by Slow Playing, you raise your hand and say "Judge". If your opponent does this, you immediately freeze. When the Judge comes over, you resolve the situation with them. If you are unhappy with the resolution, you ask to Appeal to the Head Judge. The Head Judge's ruling is final.
- When someone wins, both players freeze, and the winner waits for the 20/10/5/0 minute time call, and raises their hand when asked to "Report". The Advisor will come over (this may take a bit of time) ask them who won. They reply with their name. The other player is asked if this is correct, and if it is, the other player says "Yes". The Player slips are filled out - the slip of the winning player will have a "W" written on it to the right of their opponent's name, and the other player will have an "L" on their slip to the right of the winner's name. Both players confirm that their slips are correct - at this point, the match results are set, and the players can clean up their cards. The Advisor takes the slips back to the head table.
- When time is over, the Advisor will say "Freeze", and everyone freezes. Players that have not had time added onto their match due to Advisor interruptions lose. After this is taken care of, Players that do have time remaining will be unfrozen to play the remainder of their match.
- At any time after their match, but before the beginning of the next round, a player may Drop by telling the Advisor.
OUTSIDE OF ROUNDS:
- Deck checks are performed randomly. The Advisor will be notified by the Head Judge if a Deck Check needs to be done randomly.
- The event continues until A: at least three rounds have finished and there are one or less undefeated players, or B: six rounds have completed. At this point, The Top X Players (where X is equal to the number of Spots this Regional grants) will be deck checked, and if they pass, they will receive an invite. Should they fail, the spot drops down to the next highest-ranked player. Note that players that resleeve or modify their deck post-tournament but pre deck-check may be considered cheating.
- Players that receive spots must get their picture taken, and fill out a short interview and contact sheet prior to leaving the event space. They will be contacted by Heart of the Cards via the information on this sheet - mistakes could cost them their invite. Should players who earn spots not hear from HotC within 1 week, players should contact HotC to determine the problem.
- Players that leave collect their promotional material. Should there not be any available, the Advisor will instruct them on how to obtain it.
Note that cards from damage / Brainstorm / trigger are moved to the
Resolving Zone in full, with Deck Refreshes done immediately upon
having 0 cards in Library; then only after the current complete effect is applied is Refresh Point
Resolution resolved. Revealed cards not moved via these effects ('revealed' as opposed to 'flipped over') never leave their zone. As a few full examples:
A player has 4 cards in Library, 2 of which are Climaxes, 1 is an Event, 1
is a Character. They use an ability that states "Brainstorm 4 cards: for
each Climax, choose one character in the Waiting Room and move it to
- they activate the ability.
- one card at a time is moved from Library to the Resolving Zone.
- when the fourth card is moved, the Waiting Room is shuffled and made
into a new Library.
- the number of Climaxes (2) is counted.
- the 4 cards in the Resolving Zone are moved to Waiting Room.
- the effect goes off, and now the player is compelled to move 2 Characters from
the Waiting Room to hand.
- as there is only 1 Character in Waiting Room, only 1 is taken. (if there were 2 or more Characters, as an extenstion of this example, the player is forced to take two of them)
- Refresh Point Resolution occurs (move top card of deck to clock)
A player has four cards left in their Library, and the last card is a
Climax. They take four damage.
- the cards are moved one at a time to the Resolving Zone.
- the fourth card is moved to the Resolving Zone. The Waiting Room is
refreshed into a new Library.
- the fourth card, being a Climax card, stops the damage.
- all cards in resolve zone are moved to WR.
- Refresh Point Resolution occurs (move top card of deck to clock)
A player has four cards left in their Library, no Climax, six cards in
Clock. They take four damage.
- the cards are moved one at a time to the Resolving Zone.
- the fourth card is moved to the Resolving Zone. The Waiting Room is
refreshed into a new Library.
- damage is moved to Clock.
- Level Up occurs (moving 6 cards to WR)
- Refresh Point Resolution occurs (move top card of deck to clock)
A player has one card left in their Library - a Climax Card with a Door
Trigger, and six cards in Clock. They Front Attack.
- The player reveals their Trigger. It moves to the Resolving Zone.
- The Waiting Room is refreshed.
- The Trigger activates. There are no cards in WR, so no Character can be
- Trigger card is moved to Stock.
- Refresh Point Resolution occurs (move top card of deck to clock)
- Level Up occurs (moving 6 cards to WR)
Note that cards that move cards directly from the top of library to Clock
- no resolving zone - allow the activating player to choose the order of
effects. (this is exceedingly rare)
A player has 1 card in Library, 6 in clock. They play a Character that
says "when this Character comes into play from Hand, move the top card of
your library to Clock."
- The character comes into play.
- the top card of the library is moved to clock. Now the player may choose
the order of the next two steps (A and B).
A: - Level Up occurs.
B: the WR is shuffled and made into a new Library.
- After both A and B are done in the chosen order, Refresh Point
Resolution occurs (move top card of deck to clock)
A player has one card in deck. Their reversed Character with "ENCORE: move top card of library to clock" moves to Waiting Room. They activate the 'clock-encore' effect.
- the effect is activated, and the top card of library is moved to clock.
- the library is refreshed.
- the character is not returned to play, as it is no longer in the waiting room.
- refresh penalty is applied.
various Brainstorms with similar outcomes have different effects. If a brainstorm says "for each CX, search for 1 card and shuffle your deck", you would not shuffle on 0 CX. If it said "for each CX, search 1 card. shuffle." you would shuffle if 0 CX. (note the comma-vs-period).
all targets are chosen before any outcomes is determined. If a brainstorm says "search for X cards, where X is the number of CX", and you get 2 CX, and 1 card is in deck, you'd only get 1 card. If it said "for each CX, search for 1 card and shuffle your deck", and you had 1 card in deck, and you hit 2 CX, you'd search for 1, find and take, refresh, shuffle, search for another, find and take, shuffle, refresh penalty. Please note the difference.
As a final note: "Shot" Trigger Damage happens *after* Refresh Point
Resolution. Shot is a separate activated Auto ability, so Refresh penalty happens before it. The entire act of Cancelling, Refresh, move cancelled cards to the Waiting Room
is considered "Damage Cancelling". During this single, entire Damage Cancelling process, both Refresh Penalty and Shot primed. Refresh is a Rule Process, and Shot is an Auto Abiltity. All primed, waiting Rule Processes are resolved before any Auto Abilties, so the Refresh Point is paid before the Shot resolves and does 1 further Damage.
Are BACKUP abilities color-restricted? Climaxes?
The BACKUP abilities on characters (not to be confused with Event cards with the punching "Counter" symbol)
are being activated while they are in your hand, and one of the costs of that activation is to discard that card.
As such, they are not being 'played to the stage', and do not need to match color. Note that the ability itself
has a Level Restriction on it, which must be followed. Events with the Counter symbol are, however, played to the stage,
and must follow all color and level restriction rules, as do Climax cards (which only require color restrictions).
An event has a Counter symbol. Can I play it on my turn?
You may play events with Counter symbols at the same time you can play regular events on your own turn, assuming the ability itself does not restict you. A Counter event that gives a character +2500 until the end of turn can, for example, be played during your Main Phase, or when your character is Front Attacked.
My opponent Side Attacked. Can I play a BACKUP/Counter?
If an attack is declared as side attack, then the counter step is skipped and thus the defending player does not gain a play timing in order to play BACKUP/Counter. Please check Comprehensive Rule 126.96.36.199, which advances the game to damage step if it's not a front attack.