Do not adjust your radio…

As we kick off 2013, it is time to reflect on what 2012 brought us – or in some cases, didn’t bring us.

According to the WPN site, there hasn’t been an update to the JAR since 22nd March, 2011. This isn’t quite true – there have been many updates, however none of them managed to get published. There are many reasons for this, however they are not within the scope of this article.

The subject I would like to discuss here, and follow-up on the forums afterwards, is “Deviate like Hell”. As a huge fan of puns, and with some small awareness of the difference a punctuation mark can make, I noted that this statement was applicable to both Regular and Competitive REL – however at Comp+, it was “Deviate? Like Hell!!” ūüėÄ

Like any pithy catchphrase though, even this great line doesn’t capture the true sentiment or philosophy behind Regular REL. Though we can’t formally codify DBAD, as much as we might like to, this is closer in sentiment to the core of Regular REL. We want our players to have as organic a play experience as possible, gently correct and educate where appropriate, while protecting them as much as feasible from the sharks of the gaming world.

Not to say that DLH wasn’t valuable – it really was! But like “Ruling by Intent” (and other similar articles) before it, the phrase has a danger of outliving it’s usefulness. “Ruling by Intent” was a marvellous article, which lead to other articles that caused us to re-engineer policy, address conceptual flaws and completely change the way we dealt with Penalties Infractions.

Now, however, I hear “DLH” too often – Regular REL, and the documents that support it, aren’t about rogue judges or house rules. Sure, the JAR is written in a loose format that doesn’t lend itself to multiple-choice exams, but it does generate a world of “Good to Great” rulings and gives judges a chance to actually Judge! There are good rulings to be made, and better rulings to learn – but none of this is actually deviating. A deviation occurs when a HLJ¬†finds an area not truly covered by the philosophy of the IPG or the MTR and makes a ruling that may appear¬†contradictory¬†to the written policy.¬†For a deviation to occur at Regular, you would need to go against the written policy – and given how much the JAR is a set of guidelines rather than rules, we should be hard pressed to find opportunities to do this. Instead, we should recognise that at Regular REL we have the best chance to let players play, find rulings that make everyone happy and allow games to come to the most natural conclusion.

And speaking of conclusions, I feel that this is as neat a place to finish as any. Please feel free to follow-up with any questions you might have in the forums!