First things first I like to thank
Bill for putting this interview up.
Pojo Screen Name:
Ally: Before we get started with the
interview I like to thank you for taking some time
out to do this interview with me. My first question
is what is your full name?
Julia: Julia Hedberg
Julia: Well, I have a middle name but
I only use it for like the bank and what not.
Ally: You won't tell the Pojo readers
the middle name will you? :P
Julia: Pierce is my middle name.
Ally: That’s a cool name! Aye, can
you tell the Pojo readers a little bit about
yourself? Like what made you start Yu-Gi-Oh!?
Julia: Well, actually I started
because I wanted a job on the original mall tour.
Julia: I knew a guy who worked for
that marketing company on the Pokemon tours, and he
mentioned the yugioh gig.
Julia: I figured "hmmm, I can learn
another card game."
Julia: They needed people who had a
tcg background, not just a marketing one, so I got
Ally: How well did that turn out?
Julia: That was a GREAT job...I
started out in the 'learn how to play' area, with
the giant cards.
Julia: And apart from having to wear
a terrible outfit (tour shirt and khaki pants) it
Julia: Originally, they only had two
people in the millennium puzzle, which is where you
went to "duel the experts"
Julia: That was Ian Estrin, who works
at ude now, and Chris Perillo.
Julia: That turned out to be a really
popular attraction, though, so they added more
Julia: And chris left the tour, so
there were several spots open.
Julia: I figured I’d try for one, so
i had to duel a few people from UDE - particularly
Julia: I did well enough that they
put me in the puzzle, and it was great - I got to
wear a skirt and sit down.
Julia: It really was a great job,
Julia: I got a ton of frequent flyer
miles, made good money, and i guess got to be one of
the first "names" in yugioh.
Julia: I even had a thread on pojo
that was all about how to defeat me!
Do you remember where the thread is?
Julia: Wow, I have no idea.
Julia: They had my deck completely
Julia: It was probably in the general
Julia: My sn was just 'purity' back
Awwww do you know what month and
year? Also what did you mean you played with giant
Julia: Month and year...
Julia: Probably early 2003?
Julia: It's all a blur.
Julia: It wasn't long after I’d moved
into the puzzle, so i'd guess early 2003.
Julia: The giant cards were teaching
aids we used in "exodia's training zone"
Julia: I really wanted to keep one
when the tour was done, I wonder what happened to
them...they were about a foot and a half by two feet
Julia: We'd hold them up and talk
about the different kinds of cards, and i remember
there was a full set of Exodia that drove all the
Awww sorry that you didn't keep one.
What happened after that? Meaning you went into
Metagame; how you come of that?
Julia: There were a few of us from
the mall tour who went to gen con to do judging and
booth staffing, and I flew myself out to the first
gen con so cal to judge.
Julia: This was when they were just
getting a judge program going, with the level 2 test
Julia: while I was at so cal I was
approached by the guys putting Metagame together, to
see if I was interested in writing for the site.
Julia: So I had to do a sample
article and send it in, I guess they liked it cause
they hired me.
Julia: And gave me the beginner
Julia: The judge one was my idea, I
pitched it to the editor in chief and he agreed to
try it out, it was popular so I kept writing it.
Julia: I look at my archive list, and
I can't believe I wrote that many articles over the
Ally: What were your goals when you
first started writing for Metagame?
Julia: well, I knew I wanted to stay
involved in the brand.
Julia: And I guess I liked the idea
of being able to educate a lot of players - the game
was still pretty new back then and a lot of people
didn't quite know how to play.
Julia: It seemed like a good
opportunity to me to do both of those, and it was
work I could do in my spare time .
Julia: I don't know that I thought
much farther ahead than that, actually.
Ally: What have you accomplished
since then when you wrote for Metagame?
Julia: Let’s see.
Julia: Well, after with Curtis
Schultz I’m the longest-running writer on the site,
and I think had the most content up per month after
Julia: I did get moved up to doing
coverage, not a lot of the staff gets to do that so
that was an accomplishment.
Julia: And becoming a level 3 was
nice too...I think I was the third or fourth one to
pass the test.
Julia: I did a lot of judging in the
Ohio Pennsylvania area, saw a LOT of the judges I
worked with go on to become level 3's themselves,
and then 2006 was a pretty big year for me judging
Julia: I had a lot of good
Before I get into your judging
accomplishments, do you think your articles helped
Julia: That's the overall feedback I
Julia: A lot of judges said they
found those articles to be helpful, and actually a
wide range of players liked the solid ground
articles - I’ve had everyone from parents bringing a
small child up to say hi and tell me that the
articles helped them with their duels, to more
experienced players saying they liked the chaining
articles, or decided to try out a certain card
because of something I wrote about.
Julia: I mean sure there were haters
too, and people who dismissed my topics cause they
weren't 'pro' enough; but I feel like I accomplished
the goals of the columns.
Julia: Not everyone wanted to read
about a new kind of deck every week.
Ally: Aye, sometimes you just got to
ignore them. What type of decks did you write about?
Julia: I did articles about the
structure decks, mainly.
Julia: I can't remember if I ever did
a deck fix....I did one with my sealed deck once,
from the sneak preview I went to.
Ally: What was the sealed deck you
did an article on?
Julia: Which set had saber beetle?
Julia: Shadow of Infinity.
Julia: It was the SOI sneak.
Julia: I got three saber
beetles...those things are so great.
Julia: Actually Jason Grabher-Meyer
was there too, he was visiting me and we went to the
Julia: I absolutely slaughtered him
with saber beetles.
Julia: I went undefeated then went
home and wrote an article about how to build a deck
in sealed booster.
Julia: I think I’m better at sealed
than constructed, really.
LOL well I'm glad you did well. Which
article do you feel like you accomplished the most
on? I mean what got through to the YGO players that
read your articles?
Julia: I don’t know if there really
was one particular one.
Julia: The 'how to appeal/deal with
appeals' series were popular and I think very
Julia: I think (well, i hope) the
articles that explained proper behavior at events
and the policy documents were probably the best
Julia: I don’t know that anyone else
writes about that kind of thing on other sites.
Julia: Lots of cards of the day and
strategy tips, not a lot of 'how not to ruin the
Julia: And I don’t know, most of the
judge ones were fairly helpful.
Julia: I did get a lot of positive
feedback on the chaining series, I remember that.
Julia: So many articles ;_;
So many articles but really good
ones! So tell the readers a little bit about writing
at Shonen Jumps. What kind of experience is that?
Julia: It’s a harried experience.
Julia: The events are supposed to
have internet, but lately it seemed like no one
really bothered about it.
Julia: So I’d try to sort that out
while Jason did the pre event write up, and I
checked people in for the scrub brush challenge,
Julia: It’s a lot harder to generate
good on the spot content than most people thin;,
especially, when you're interrupted every minute or
so by people who want to say hi, show me a deck, or
ask me a question about the event (I guess I look
like I know what's going on or something).
Julia: And of course I can't ever
lose my temper or come across as irritated at
someone, because that's bad for Metagame, the event,
and ygo really.
Julia: And often the food is just
terrible; I can't stand convention hall junk.
Julia: I did really enjoy it anyways,
I liked talking to the readers, seeing players I
knew and talking to the judges, too.
Julia: Plus it was nice to know so
many people read the content, even if they did
complain a lot about it not being fast enough.
Yeah people do tend to complain too
much, and they need to chill (this goes for the
people that complain :/). You did do feature matches
right and if so what feature match did you like that
Julia: I usually just did them on day
two, although I did some at Atlanta, when I was the
Julia: A memorable feature match....
Julia: I tend to like the ones where
the duelists are enjoying themselves and talking
back and forth, more so than 'famous players.’
Julia: I like seeing new people come
out in the spotlight.
Julia: I think there was one at
Collinsville, let me think.
Julia: Oh yeah! Andrew Fredella vs
Carlo Perez, the semifinals.
Julia: I liked covering that one,
Carlo was a lot of fun to watch and of course I’ve
known Andrew for a while now.
Julia: It was rough beats on Andrew,
but I enjoyed watching them play.
That's great! Can you tell the
readers a little bit about how you like working with
the other Metagame staff please?
Julia: Well I work with Jason a lot,
obviously, and we get along pretty well.
Julia: He knows when I get snarly
that I’m probably hungry, and I know when he gets
snarly that he's stressed about the content not
getting online fast enough.
Julia: I like working with Jerome,
Julia: Matt's done some feature match
coverage; I haven't worked on one with many others
Julia: There's a lot of good writers
on there, and the new guys coming on will work out
really well, if think.
Yeah they do. Oh! Can you tell us a
little bit about the Kuriboh stuff toy you made?
Julia: Oh! yeah...jason brought the
original Kuriboh back from an event he covered in
Julia: He took it to nationals, and
it turned into this funny photo gallery.
Julia: He had no idea it would be so
Julia: So when I started doing the
blog, I thought 'let's bring the Kuriboh but the
original one was...well, it was kind of not very
Julia: cheap fur, etc.
Julia: So I thought I’d make a new
one, and upgraded it to winged kuriboh.
Julia: I’ve still got a lot of the
fur left over, and Kevin Tewart is still waiting for
his plush kuribandit.
Julia: It took a day or so to make
and people really seem to like it, but I have the
pattern somewhere...people keep asking me for it.
Julia: Metagame might be running a
contest soon to pick a new plush mascot.
Julia: The Winged Kuriboh now resides
on top of my computer in my cubicle.
Julia: Its like, pirate kuriboh.
Julia: He looks AWESOME.
Julia: Kevin showed me a screen shot
from the anime, kuribandit has fangs and a bandana
Julia: And an eyepatch, i think...i
can't really remember
Julia: I wonder if kevin forgot about
Sounds cool! Well to stride away from
metagame for a while. What made you want to try out
judging for Yu-Gi-Oh!?
Julia: Well, the first judging i did
was sort of part of the mall tour, at gen con indy.
Julia: Then I went out at so cal, to
try and get a feel of what the program was going to
Julia: But I guess the defining
moment when i switched from player to judge, was the
first new york regionals...I’d heard they were going
to start running these, as a qualification to win
nationals then go on to worlds.
Julia: And at the time, i was a
pretty good player just from the amount of practice
i had on the tour
Julia: I thought, 'hey, I bet I can
qualify for nationals' and what do you know, the
first regional was going to be held in New York.
Julia: It seemed like fate!
Julia: Then Alex Schwartzman, who
owned the store in question, was introduced to me at
the first gencon so cal, and immediately said 'oh,
we're having a regional in January, we really need
Julia: I thought about it a moment,
shrugged, and said 'i'd be happy to come judge'.
Julia: It was all downhill from
Julia: Or uphill I guess, depending
on how you look at it.
Wow interesting! How was it like
judging worlds and what year was it?
Julia: well i actually judged at all
the worlds after the first one - the first one they
had was judged by ude staff
Julia: But I was there as part of the
side events, they put a smaller version of the mall
tour in as an attraction for the public.
Julia: But I went out to Anaheim to
floor judge the next one, then went to Tokyo to
floor judge the one after that, then actually got
picked to head judge last year's.
Julia: It’s an interesting
Julia: Konami was pretty much running
the show for those two events, so there was a lot of
double checking to make sure everyone was on the
same page as to what we were doing,
Julia: The big challenge of worlds
really is making sure that the different players can
communicate with each other and with the judges and
tournament officials....and it gets tricky because a
lot of them aren't used to UDE tournament policy.
Julia: We've never had a really
serious problem though, to the best of my
Julia: it is weird to see such a
small event, though.
Julia: We had 32 competitors last
Julia: Deck checks are a challenge
too, since the card lists are in all different
Oh maybe you can clear on thing up.
What if Japanese people can't speak English or read
the English YGO! cards? How do they do get across
Julia: Well, we did have several from
Japan and other countries who didn't speak english,
and with alternate card art sometimes it was a
Julia: I found that for the most
part, no one had many problems with knowing what
cards were which and what they did - the few
instances there was an issue, we'd get one of the
translators over to read the card .
Julia: Players did pretty well with
gestures, and a lot of the japanese players (even in
the card shops i went to) use English phrases like
'go' 'set' 'attack' 'draw', etc. when they duel.
Julia: There were reliable
translators for all the asian competitors, and
several of them spoke very good English anyways.
Julia: All the European competitors
spoke English too.
Julia: One of the guys from South
America’s English was rudimentary, but everyone
managed to make them understood.
Sounds like a lot of fun. How much
fun did you have in Japan when you spent your time
Julia: Oh, I love going there. i went
early this time, because indy was right afterwards
and i like to do some shopping and sightseeing.
Julia: I buy stuff there bring it
back and sell it in an ebay store.
Julia: We did take a big group of the
players out to one of the malls on Odaiba,
Julia: In the summer there's a shonen
jump shop that sells a lot of merchandise for the
Julia: So we took them there, and to
the toys r us which is a great place to buy Japanese
Julia: And to lunch at one of my
favorite places to eat there, gonpachi.
Julia: They had a good time, I think,
and got to see a bit of Tokyo and do some shopping.
Julia: Tokyo is a lot of fun; I need
to go back sometime.
Julia: The first year i went, i
stayed longer and took a side trip to nagoya, where
they were holding the worlds fair.
Julia: And spent a day at the
Julia: Apart from nearly being
broiled to death by the weather, that was a once in
a lifetime fun day.
Did you see the Angry Kuriboh at all
while you were there, and I mean the card?
Julia: Oh, the rare one?
Julia: There’s a card shop we go to
Julia: They've got one in the front
case...it was REALLY EXPENSIVE.
Julia: Hehe, they had a 'world
championship' lanyard there too.
Julia: It was like, over a million
Julia: 11 grand?
Julia: About that.
Julia: Isn't that crazy?
O_O wow! Yeah it is.
Julia: But yeah, they had one and i
got to see it...i feel so special
Hehe lucky! Well are you going to be
at USA and Canadian Nationals this year?
Julia: I should be at us nats, as far
as I know.
Julia: Canadian nats, I don’t think I
will...Jeff Piroozhad is going.
Julia: He's with premier events so
it's more his job than mine.
Julia: If there was a good airfare
I’d probably go, I’ve been to all the other Canadian
What countries have you been to that
Julia: Just the US and canada...if I
was still with metagame i'd probably pester someone
to send me to the european nationals this year.
Is metagame allowed to cover worlds?
Julia: I don’t know.
Julia: I think they might try and get
permission to do so this year, I don’t know if it
Aye hopefully they do. Well I have to
ask this did you play in a lot of regionals or just
Julia: I’ve actually only ever played
in one sanctioned event in my life...SJC Boston in
Julia: Unless sneaks are sanctioned,
I don’t think they are.
Julia: Well the tournament parts are,
so I guess that’s two sanctioned events
Julia: I just always end up judging,
i play casually with friends sometimes.
Julia: Now I can't play in sanctioned
Awwww :<. Alright were almost done!
Can you tell the readers a little bit about your new
job at UDE?
Julia: let’s see, I’ve been in the
office about a month, and still learning how
Julia: There are a lot of departments
and a lot of different things going on there...I’m
mainly focused on revamping the demo team program,
but I get pulled into other team's work too.
Julia: Like the judge program, and
different OP programs.
Julia: So there's always more work to
do than time to do it in.
Julia: it’s a nice work environment,
though, but a bit of a shock to me since i've been
self employed for so long.
Julia: It'll probably be a few months
before I’ve gotten all the ground work put in for
the demo team, but I’ll still encourage people to
join if they're interested - I’m working on a lot of
new ideas to promote the games to new players.
Julia: And putting in my input on
programs for our current players, too.
Julia: Demo team members will get
some interesting opportunities as the year goes on -
for example, right now I’m looking for some people
to do some training programs on basic Yu-Gi-Oh!
concepts to Los Angeles area libraries
Julia: The volunteers we pick are
actually going to get to come spend half a day or so
at UDE, so we can get them up to speed on what they
need to do.
Julia: who knows what might come up
in other areas!
Sounds like the Demo team is working
out for you. Hopefully you come over to my area haha.
Anyways I like to thank you Julia for doing this
interview with me. Can you please give some last
minute advice to new players out there and a closing
Julia: Advice to new players...hmm….
Julia: I guess I’d say trading card
games are just that – games.
Julia: So play at the pace that's
enjoyable for you - if you like the really
competitive events go for it! If you would rather
just build decks that entertain you and kick back
with your friends, don't let anyone tell you you're
not really playing.
Julia: It’s a game; don't let it get
to the point where it isn't fun.
Julia: Closing statement…..
Julia: Join the demo team! Read the
policy document! Please shower before attending the
tournament! Thank you very much for listening.
Julia: Oh yes and please keep an eye
on your personal possessions.