The new JAR has gone live, and can be found here: Judging at Regular REL
Most of the changes this time around are just small modifications to wording in order to make points clearer or to make a paragraph more concise. We’ve also added a reference and a link to the Magic Tournament Rules in the Resources section, seeing as these still apply at Regular REL. There are a couple of things which merit a bit more discussion, however. The main one can be found in the opening paragraphs:
‘If you feel that the suggested remedy is not well adapted to your particular situation and you can suggest a more appropriate fix which is accepted by both players, apply that fix instead’
Judges having the freedom to use their judgement and discretion in fixing game errors? Anarchy! Cats and dogs lying together!
Well, maybe not. To be honest, this is just making an implicit aspect of Regular REL policy explicit. We invest a lot of time and effort into keeping the JAR at two pages in length in order to make it more accessible to people who are not particularly invested in judging, such as your local Tournament Organiser or Rules Advisor. A two-page document cannot comprehensively cover everything that can go wrong in such a complicated game as Magic. The ‘Common Issues’ section of the JAR provides best-practice advice for the most common scenarios that you are likely to encounter when judging a Regular REL event. However, sometimes something weird will happen, and the suggested fix will just feel wildly inappropriate – or there will be something simple and obvious which would clearly just be better. This new clause is intended to give judges the freedom to tailor your response to the situation.
One word of caution with this: as judges at Regular REL, we want to educate players and keep the game going as naturally as possible. It is not our role to punish players, or to try to seek justice for errors – we just want to correct them. If both players are happy to accept your proposed fix, it is a good indication that you have managed to keep on the correct side of the line between ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’. Note that in most situations, applying the fix proposed in the JAR is still likely to be the most appropriate resolution – there is no sense in reinventing the wheel for every ruling.
The other important change concerns Serious Problems. We have explicitly called out that harassing behaviour is not acceptable and should be handled in the same way as overtly threatening or aggressive behaviour. Tournament spaces should feel like safe environments for all participants, and individuals who will not respect this should be made to understand that we will not tolerate their behaviour. While I generally try to avoid pulling in Competitive REL policy over here, it is worth noting that this philosophy is in line with that used to guide the changes to Unsporting Conduct – Major in the IPG with this update, which is explained further in Toby’s Blog Post
That’s it for this time! Please share this update, and have fun at your Regular REL events!
Edit: Sean Catanase has now written a post over on his blog going into depth on the changes to Unsporting Conduct at Competitive REL. The philosophy behind the changes is equally important at Regular REL, and so I would encourage you all to give that a look, too.