Judges! This week’s rock star has been keeping Magic going in his local area even after the only local game store shut down. He also helped coordinate a well-received judge conference for Latin America. Say hello to Carlos Vega!
Name: Carlos Vega
Location: Maracaibo, Venezuela
Judge start date: September 2014
Occupation: Right now I’m doing my internship and research for my thesis, working towards my Psychology degree.
Favorite card: Olivia Voldaren
Least favorite card: All of the flavors of Counterspell,
Favorite format: EDH and Modern
Favorite non-Magic Game: Cards Against Humanity, Portal and Borderlands
Best tournament result: Top 8 at my LGS Khans of Tarkir Prerelease
Random fact about yourself: I taught myself how to play the guitar, both by ear and by looking at videos of other people playing the song.
Why do you Judge?
The love of the game comes in many shapes and forms. Truth be told, I started as a TO while I got my certification, but having been able to oversee and nurture the regrowth of a community that was long lost was what drove me to take the black.
In your recent Exemplar recognition, you were praised for keeping your local Magic community going even after the closure of your store. How have you been pulling people together after what seems like a tough loss?
The short answer, as one of the guys in my playgroup said, is EDH and friendship.
The long answer is really having reached out to many players, both experienced and new to the game, long before the store was even a reality. A year and a half before the store opened, I started posting public Facebook events, non-sanctioned tournaments with prizes in packs that I bought from a store out of my state. This gave me a chance to train my skills as a judge and, most importantly, re-sparked the local community. New and lasting friendships were forged, making playgroups that lasted through the storm of our LGS closing. We’ve gone back to non-sanctioned gatherings sans the pack prizes, given the critical situation in my country.
As I’ve come to learn, shops breed playgroups and teams, and these survive even if the shop is gone. My job now consists in getting these groups together from time to time.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
Definitely Saturday night dinner at the Colombian/Venezuelan Judge Conference in August 2015. Sharing stories of how each of us became judges, our biggest blunders and favorite judge calls between honestly the best pizzas I’ve ever had was an amazing moment that I’d love to repeat.
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
Jorge Avendaño, who actually mentored and certified me. He gave me the confidence to achieve my goals, and helped me throughout the training process.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
The biggest challenge right now is the lack of events for me to judge. No LGS means I don’t have local events, so I have to travel out of state. Hyperinflation and schedule constraints sometimes make this really hard. In order to overcome this, I’ve been in contact with both my mentor, Jorge and my RC, Adrian Estoup, who have offered me all the help they can give.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I started as a YuGiOh player (Yes, burn the heretic!) when I lived in a small town outside the capital of my state. The brother of a very close friend of mine played Magic, and my friends and I got interested in the cool card game that looked like YGO but wasn’t.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
-7: You get an emblem that says “Whenever an opponent taps a land for mana, he or she may lose 2 life. If they don’t, they sacrifice that land”.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
I think passing my L1 and getting an Exemplar recognition are tied right there.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
First of all, it’s an honor to have been nominated for the Judge of the Week. The program has given me so much room for growth and development that I feel like working towards bigger goals is a must when I place myself in a better situation.
I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone who’s been there for me, starting with Jorge of course, and also mentioning other Judges I met along the road: Ezequiel Zambrano, Carlos Rada, Mary Angel Davila, Jorge Yukio Victoria, Barry Swan and everyone else at that conference. A big thank you as well to my personal playgroup: You guys have been my training, my teachers, and as close friends and supporters a guy could ask for.
To all of you, many, many thanks.
Two Truths and a Lie!
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
1. I gave away my old binder, collection and decks to a friend as a birthday present, since I was moving to Argentina and taking a hiatus from Magic
2. I have a pirate flag in my bedroom
3. I’m a very skilled Limited player
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!