Rules Enforcement Levels (REL) are a means to communicate to the players and judges what expectations they can have of the tournament in terms of rigidity of rules enforcement, technically correct play, and procedures used.
The expected mindset and attitude of the average player as well as the standard of behavior judges are different at each Rules Enforcement Level. From the most casual to most stringent the Rules Enforcement Levels are: Regular Rules Enforcement Level, Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, and Professional Rules Enforcement Level.
The Rules Enforcement Level of a tournament generally reflects the prizes awarded and the distance a player may be expected to travel.
Typically the higher the stakes for the tournament, the more rigidly the rules are enforced. For example, FNM is run at Regular Rules Enforcement Level, draws from the store’s local player community, and often offers one or two booster packs per player as the prize pool. This type of event is more laid back and casual, so a less strict Rules Enforcement Policy is appropriate. However, an SCG Tour event, is run at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level, can draw players from several hours away, and often have significant prizes. For those events, where players are more incentivized to play competive, a stricter Rules Enforcement policy is appropriate.
The appropriate Rules Enforcement Level for specific programs is listed in Appendix F.
Regular tournaments are focused on fun and social aspects, not enforcement. Most tournaments are run at this level unless they offer sizeable prizes or invitations. Players are expected to know most of the game rules, may have heard of policy and what is “really bad,” but generally play in a fashion similar to the way they do casually. Players are still responsible for following the rules, but the focus is on education and sportsmanship over technically precise play. Infractions in these tournaments are covered by the Judging at Regular Rules Enforcement Level document, located at http://wpn.wizards.com/document/magic-gathering-judging-regular-rel.
Regular Rel events are often players introduction to Magic tournaments. As they are often coming from playing at home, it is expected that they bring that style of play with them. Playing at home is fun and low stakes, and Regular tournaments should strive to capture that same vibe. Note that the IPG does not apply at Regular Rules Enforcement Level. Instead, we use the Judging at Regular Rules Enforcement Level (JAR) document, which lays the groundwork for a fun, casual atmosphere where only repeat offenders and serious problems —like cheating, aggressive behavior, bribery, and theft— are punished. Instead of punishing players for innocent tournament and play errors, it’s our job as judges at Regular Rules Enforcement Level to help them learn the right way to play so that they can succeed at higher Rules Enforcement Level tournaments.
Competitive tournaments are usually those with significant cash prizes or invitations awarded to Professional tournaments. Players are expected to know the game’s rules and be familiar with the policies and procedures, but unintentional errors are not punished severely. These are tournaments that protect the interests of all players by providing tournament integrity while also recognizing that not all players are intimately familiar with Professional-level tournament structure, proper procedures, and rules. Infractions in these tournaments are covered by the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide, located at http://wpn.wizards.com/en/document/magic-infraction-procedure-guide.
One thing to clarify here is that there is a difference between “Competitive tournaments” and “competitive tournaments”. Any game of Magic you play, where you are trying to win, is a competitive game. However Competitive Tournaments is a class of tournaments where players begin competing for significant prizes. This is the Rules Enforcement Level at which many large magic tournaments are run. Grand Prix Trials, Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers, Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, and the first day of Grand Prix are all run at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level. Tighter technical play and clearer communication are both important at this level, and tournament and game play infractions are penalized according to the IPG.
Competitive tournaments have more expectations of players. For example, decklists are required at Competitive events, which they are a discouraged option at Regular.
Professional level tournaments offer large cash awards, prestige, and other benefits that draw players from great distances. These tournaments hold players to a higher standard of behavior and technically-correct play than Competitive tournaments. Infractions in these tournaments are covered by the Magic Infraction Procedure Guide, located at http://wpn.wizards.com/en/document/magic-infraction-procedure-guide.
This is the strictest Rules Enforcement Level and is correspondingly rare. Day two of Grand Prix and the Pro Tour are both run at Professional Rules Enforcement Level. Its also very similar to Competitive REL, with most of the difference in the rules managing spectators.