Greetings once again! This week’s Judge of the Week is Nicola DiPasquale, L2 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nicola began judging around the Judgement Prerelease in 2001. After taking a year off to live and play in Florence, Italy, Nicola returned to judging. He advanced to L2 in 2004, and he has a judge card to prove it! Nicola became a judge because he had some friends who were running a tournament at Drexel University, and was inspired by his friend, Ray Merz, who was an L2 at the time.
Favourite card: Sower of Temptation
Least favourite card: Sorrow’s Path Not only the most terrible land ever, but by far the most terrible card in general. “And 2 to you.”
Favourite format: It used to be Vintage, but it would have to be Draft now.
Commander General: Bosh, Iron Golem, though I very rarely play Commander.
Favourite non-Magic Game: The Legend of Zelda series. My favorite within the series is A Link to the Past. My least favorite is Zelda II. The 3DO games do not count.
Best tournament result: 13th place at a PTQ. Just missed out on top 8 with a loss in the last round. Interestingly enough, I was already on staff for that Pro Tour.
Random fact about yourself: Despite having been to 30+ Grand Prix and above level events, I have never played in one.
How did you get involved in magic in the first place?
A friend of mine introduced me to the game in the summer of 1994. From 1998 until 2001 I did not play much, but still collected somewhat. After that I started judging and the rest is history.
How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
It has in so many ways, it is really hard to enumerate. I am a very different person from when I started judging. From organizational skills to communication skills. The people around me when I started judging (Ray, Carter, and our TO, Mike) were very dedicated people and more often than not provided me with fantastic insight on what I was doing and how it impacted things around me. Ray used to talk often about the big picture and that goes with just about everything you do in life. If I take this action now, what are the consequences of that going to be? While I am still known as a fiery individual, that is just the passion which drives me.
What motivates you to continue being a judge?
It is my way to contribute and give back to the game that has given me so many fond memories over the past 20 years.
What is one tip you have for other judges?
I would leave them the same advice that Rashad Miller gave me at Nationals in Chicago in 2008. Anecdotally, I was talking to him about how I felt my weekend went. I mentioned I felt as though I had not learned as much as I could have that weekend, he turned that right back to me and asked, “what did [I] give back?” For me that was a turning point in my career as a judge. I had never before considered that I could give back, especially at large events like that. To me back then, large events were for learning from the masters, where I had the most access to L3+ judges from whom I could soak up the wisdom and knowledge of all things. Perhaps with the atmosphere of the program now, it would seem preposterous that one would not consider this, but back then the program was very different. Just know that everyone has something to contribute.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
Being in the Northeast with everything so centralized and the area [being] so dense, we have a glut of players and places to play. Everywhere I go there is something different and unique. I have traveled to many of the different stores in and around the area and there is always a great community built around them. Many of the stores in the area cooperate with one another, which benefits the players as much as it does the stores. Also, there is a wonderful judge community built here in Philadelphia. While we may seem decentralized without some group web-page or other social media front, we quite often communicate with each other by other means. One of the pillars of the community Mike Noss (whom has had much recent press) and I are always working with our (now) RC, Shawn Doherty.
What is your favourite non-magic hobby?
Martial Arts. I have been studying martial arts for about 15 years now and I love training.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
This is more of a series of events rather than a single specific event. However, after prereleases back in the Gray Matter days of regional prereleases, some judges and some vendors would all go out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant downtown. It was always a fun time discussing the day’s happenings or other random thoughts. Occasionally after PTQs or other large events that happen in Philly (looking at you Eternal Weekend) we still do this from time to time, and I really enjoy it.
What has been your favourite magic event that you’ve judged?
There are so many, I will have to go with a recent one, GP Kitakyushu. The staff there was so welcoming and friendly, it was an amazing time, despite the fact that my linguistic skills were not the greatest. There were several players from the US there whom I had conversations with, as well as a Russian player who did not speak English very well but always wanted to speak with me for some reason. My team lead for the event was the wonderful Christian Gawrilowicz who is always a treat to work with. Saturday evening the TO took all of the judges out to dinner to a Japanese style barbecue restaurant. In general I was able to meet some wonderful judges that I would not have otherwise had an opportunity to meet.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Most likely just working, being with my family, and training. As a side note, my wife is super awesome as she is the reason I am able to travel and work so many events.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
Probably the Warp World deck when that was an actual deck that saw play, with the Warp World player owning the tokens and getting permanents for tokens that their opponent controlled. This strangeness does not work anymore and the game is more sane for it. Of course there always will be a special place in my heart for the Wall of Boom.
How do you have fun during events?
I like to tell stories, mostly about rulings that just happened or past events. If you see me you will most likely find me talking about something. When not actively engaged in conversation I find it exhilarating to watch games, there has been many a time where I would find a match that looked interesting and watch the game. It might be more enjoyable for me to watch than to actually play now that I think about it.
If you were a creature what would your creature type be?
Is the correct answer for this not Human Judge always?
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
As I mentioned before I train in Martial Arts. Also I enjoy playing video games from time to time. Beyond those I love writing software, even though I do that for a living (you are supposed to enjoy what you do, right?).
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
This would have to be combined with one of my saddest moments too; passing the L3 exam, which was then followed by not passing the interview. That exam is not easy and passing it was a happy moment for me. As for the other end, it is what it is, and I have had some great support.
What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Chandra, maybe? Fiery personalities? I have never given this much thought…
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
1) I speak Italian, Japanese, and Spanish
2) In college, my group won an award for working with Legos
3) I have read and watched all of the Harry Potter series.
Thank you for your time, Nicola, and thank you, judges, for reading, as always! We’ll reveal last week’s two truths and a lie next week, so stay tuned!
written by Ryan Hoffman and W. Matt Williams