Jun 6th, 2012 by Terence Jason Dorman
by Terence Jason Dorman, Awesome Manager of Inspired Writings
Due to some miscommunication between myself and Michael (my fault), this month’s Rescuing the Spoils will be featured on the third Tuesday of the month instead of today. To fill the gap this week, I will be filling in with this month’s edition of From the Judge’s Chambers.
This month I want to discuss the answer to a question that I’ve been asked a few times over the years, “how do you know all the rules?” The plain is boring answer is “I know them because they’re in my brain,” but I tend to avoid giving that answer as it makes me look like an ass.
So how is it that I’ve come to know the rules so well?
The easiest way to explain it is that I have been involved with The Spoils for six years and I’ve learned a lot of them over time. That is certainly true, but there are plenty of players at my local store who have been playing the game for as long as I have and don’t know the rules as well as me.
You may not want to hear this, but it actually takes some effort to learn all the rules as well as myself, new Judge of Great Justice Kettil Brochman, and some other judges do. It isn’t a lot of effort, though, so do not fret.
The smallest effort you’ll have to make is to pay attention. This goes for judges and players alike. I’m sure you’ve all experience games, whether casual or in a tournament, in which a rules question came up and somebody, friend or judge, answered it. All you have to do is pay attention to the answer and, if you have just a little bit of memory, you learned a new rule!
This ties into my second step in learning the rules of The Spoils: play the game whenever possible. The best way to learn the rules, in my opinion, is to play the game over and over and over again. This will create more situations in which you’ll have to ask questions and find answers, increasing your knowledge base and giving you experience with looking in the rules for answers.
If the rules seem a bit complicated for you, though, there is a solution. Ask questions! The forums are a wonderful place to talk to other players and judges about rules questions. They pop up pretty often, from new and old players alike, so there is no reason why you can’t post a question. Don’t be afraid to ask a question, no matter how stupid or rare the situation is.
On the off-chance that you or your players don’t ever have questions about the rules, you can continue to learn about wacky card interactions by browsing the Q&A and Judge forums for fun. If your players aren’t coming up with the strange situations that sprout rules questions, somebody else’s play group definitely is and they want answers.
During my early months as a judge, this was the main way in which I learned the rules. The game was new and fresh and players all over the country were confused by some of the mechanics. All of their questions were answered promptly by the Tenacious staff at the time, and by extension I learned a ton about the game.
If, somehow, all of these methods fail, then the only option you have left is to go into school mode. By this I mean the horrible and excruciating act of studying the rules. They may be long and a little awkward to read, but studying them like any other document will definitely help you commit them to memory and, hopefully, recall them at will.
Lastly, and possibly most important, is to keep up with the rules. Occasionally, but not often, a rule needs to be amended or added to fix a really rare problem or make new cards work properly. Knowing these rules is obviously a part of being a master judge, so be sure to check the rules or forums every so often to see if any changes have been made.
Personally, I used a combination of all these methods to master the rules and become the first Judge of Great Justice. I know that you call can do the same (well, maybe not ALL become Judge of Great Justice) and become rules masters. It won’t happen overnight, unless you’re a genius, but it is definitely worth the effort. Plus, knowing the rules can only help your abilities as a player, so you may even pick up a couple more wins along the way.
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