This week’s rockstar is a judge known for his expertise in rules. He is a comics and miniatures lover, a beloved father and a World of Warcraft passionate! Known as Salvo by his friends, we present you Italian L3, Salvatore La Terra!
Name: Salvatore La Terra
Location: Catania, Italy
Judge start date:
L1: November 2002
L2: July 2005
L3: July 2013
Why did you become a Judge?
When my friends and I started to play, we were obsessed with this game: we’d pull all-nighters every other day, and I avidly read about all the rules interactions I could find on the fledging internet. Since judge coverage in our area was severely lacking at the time, I wanted to help my favourite game succeed, so the natural next step was to become a judge – which at the time meant traveling all the way to Lucca Comics, hundreds of kilometers from home.
Occupation: Electronics Engineer
Favourite card: Opposition
Least favourite card: Grip of Chaos. Don’t bring this to our Commander night, please.
Favourite format: Extended. Oh, you meant a real format? Multiplayer Commander with plenty of coke and chips.
Commander General: Zur the Enchanter
Favourite non-Magic Game: Pokémon Go
Best tournament result: Top 8 at several old-style PTQs
Random fact about yourself: I founded a judge-only guild on a Wrath of the Lich King private server.
Tell us your favourite Judge story.
My favourite judge memories all share the same setting: old-style Italian Nationals. Nationals was the Magic event that no-one wanted to miss among both judges and players, and was a sort of annual party where everyone was invited. They were a particular important event for me, because I live in the extreme south of the country and couldn’t meet the other Italian judges (that I have daily contact with via e-mail) very often. They used to take place in the reigning champion’s city, but after Manuel Alvisi from Rimini won two years in a row they would always take place there. Rimini is the most famous location in Italy for Summer holidays, so it was full of people to see and bars to visit. There are so many stories to tell from Italian Nationals, but the dearest to me are the nights spent in the hotel porch playing Elder Dragon Highlander or just chatting with the other judges, through the periodical interruption by the hotel concierge who tried to get us to shut up because the other guests wanted to sleep. SHHHHH!!!!
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I used to see advertisements for it in the videogame magazines I read circa 1996, but there was no place that sold boosters in my hometown; the only thing I could find was the Armada Comics, that I avidly read. I forgot about it for some years, until I saw another ad (the glorious one with Mark Zug’s Rhox, IIRC) in 2000, that included a list of shops. I had moved to a bigger city to attend university, and one of the listed shops was close to me! When I passed the last exam of the summer session I decided to treat myself with some Magic cards, and I somehow found a Mirage starter deck. Mirage was the expansion hyped in the aforementioned Armada Comics, so I snap purchased it. The incredible art found in Mirage immediately resonated with me. Incidentally, this means that I learned to play with the already obsolete Fifth Edition rules.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
The level of quality and professionalism that we strive to achieve in this community is astonishing, as is the constant push to improve oneself and others. I’ve always tried to apply these tenets to my non-Magic activities as well, and it makes me sad when I see “serious” activities tackled with less care than we pour into a “kids game”.
You were nominated for being a rules guru and one of the pillars of the Italian community. Can you tell us more about your amazing work in this community?
Thanks! I try to be as present as possible on all communication channels to pick up questions and doubts and give them a proper closure. I’m particularly proud of the project I’m leading, the Judge Candidate Textbook, a complete rewrite of the game rules meant to act as a bridge between the scant rulebook we give to new players and the intimidating Comprehensive Rules. It’s targeted at players who want to test for L1, but I think it can be useful for anyone who needs a refresher. Check it out!
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
The first thing that keeps me hooked are the incredible friends I’ve met in this community. When I’m with them I really feel at home. Another strong pull of my judge activity is that, thanks to my constant efforts and integrity, I’ve gained a massive amount of respect from players and judges alike, which feels incredibly good and rewarding.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
The year is 2009. I just got married, and ended my honeymoon in Rimini for Italian Nationals. I was excited to introduce my wife to all the amazing friends I talked about so much, and the highlight of the weekend was the closing speech Cristiana Dionisio gave at the judge dinner. Her passion and her love for our community really struck a chord, and at the end my wife told me: “Now I understand why you’re always so happy when you travel to events.”
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
“[-9]: Shuffle all cards in the game together and deal them into three decks. The game continues with a new player.” You may tell this ultimate echoes the card Richard Garfield used to announce the birth of his daughter, Splendid Genesis. I made this choice because becoming a father really changed my perception of the world and of my role in it – at least as much as a planeswalker’s ultimate changes the course of a game!
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
I love reading Italian comics and I used to play miniature wargames, but I packed them all when I got married and changed houses and never felt the urge to unpack them. However, I have some minis on a shelf that inquisitively look at me, and I always answer: “One day, my old friends…”
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- My favourite book is Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco.
- I was terribly sick during my L2 exam.
- I gave an incorrect answer to a rule question only once.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!