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Restoring First Edition, Part 2 - Announcing OTF

by Nick Fancher, First Edition Rules Master

8th June 2010

Official Tournament Format (OTF) is a new format designed by the First Edition Rules Committee, with the assistance of members of the Design Team and many other hard-working volunteers. OTF will be in public beta-testing starting today, and will become official on July 1st. This makes it an official event for the Continentals season. In fact, the Australian Continental Championship is already scheduled to be in Official Tournament Format, as is this year’s World Championship. OTF is The Continuing Committee’s format of choice for high-level First Edition games. (Those of you worrying can relax a bit. Open, Revised, and Standard Formats are all still sanctioned, and will be available for local tournaments and side events.)

The focus of OTF is not in fixing all of the cards in the game. Instead, OTF is designed to repair all of the cracks in the rules foundation of Edition. (What am I talking about? See Part 1 of this series.) OTF is also designed to provide the Rules and Design teams with all the tools available to fix the many broken cards that exist in First Edition. So with OTF as a framework, we can look at all the problem cards one at a time, and fix them using the tools that do the job best. No more limits only doing half a job; no more strange rules to memorize.

One thing you will notice is that we did our best to keep the rules of OTF simple. Simple is not always short, but it is easy to understand. We chose not to limit ourselves to one page like other formats. Making rules clear is better than making rules short.

Another thing to notice is how hard we worked to keep the feel of First Edition alive in OTF. We only added rules that dealt with specific issues, and we did not add any rules that add to the game. Most of the rules actually take away unnecessary baggage from the game or your decks. This way, you are free to have fun, instead of worrying about having every card to counter every bad deck. In fact, OTF works to make referee cards completely optional. They are not all going away, but you will not be forced into stocking 20 referee-based cards in every deck. You might even be able to stock no referee cards in a deck.

A couple of the rules in OTF are a bit controversial. There is a ban list. It is a specific ban list, though, naming cards instead of banning sets. The ban list is not the end of the road for bad cards, but instead the first step in the process of fixing the cards. I will get into this in more detail, as well as another big announcement in Part 3 of this series, titled “Eliminating the X-list”. There is also a converted card rule, where backwards-compatible cards cannot be used once they have been converted.

The batch seeding and the pair of dilemma rules are part of our attempt to clean up tournament play. These rules will increase the amount of time you get to play in a round by speeding up the seed phase. They will also reduce the cleanup time between rounds, meaning you get to the next round quicker. This means you get home on time (or have time for one more round). There is more on this and the rest of OTF’s impact on organized play in Part 4 of this series, “Cleaning Up Tournaments”.

One last thing about OTF is that it is designed to be an evolving format. As we fix broken cards and shrink the ban list, we will ban more overpowered, overused, or undercosted cards. We will then fix those cards. As we fix more cards, many referee cards will become obsolete. We will then adjust these cards accordingly, possibly even promoting a few more to rules once the other portions of the cards are not needed. When we are done, we will have restored balance to First Edition. It is not an overnight process. It is not an easy process. It is the most effective process, and it will cover everything. We will have our great game back the way we remember it.

OTF beta testing version


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