Ian Cross, Worlds judge, here. @GiledPallaeon directed me to what was being discussed here.
I love seeing threads like this because I enjoy seeing the collective logic of rules interpretation. ?
For those who don’t want to read an essay, I will say that according to my judgement and everything that I know from actual talks with Developers and Organized Play, and everything that I know of their thought process: The way in which the Semi-Finalists were maneuvering their squadrons is not considered to be against the rules (appreciation for Mogrok pointing out that if it had been, I would have called it during the game or during Swiss).
Now, onto some thoughts:
First off, I know that there is a contingent of people who will never take any line of reasoning, even if it comes from someone with my credentials, as “proof enough”, but will accept a simple “Yes” or “No” from a Developer, because that’s the word of god. If that’s how you feel, that’s fine. I’m not going to try to change your mind, because it’s not worth my time.
And if a Dev ever did say “You know what? We haven’t been enough of a stickler with the rules.” Then I would adjust my rulings accordingly. FAQs and Errata change the game constantly, and if I couldn’t change the way I make individual calls for new information (or wasn’t allowed to), I would be a bad judge. Occasionally though, I have to do the very best that I can with my own… judgement (see what I did there?)
As a preface to everything I’m going to discuss, I want us all to keep one simple thing in mind: The rules tournament play are intended to balance 2 things against each other: Precision and Ease-of-Play
I have word direct from Organized Play that the “one-tool rule” was always intended to be something to ease play, and avoid situations in which players were laying out 2, 3, or more rulers on the table in order to acquire maximum precision for their turn and future turns. Attempting to keep to the rigorous letter of the rule is good, but keep in mind that its intention as stated by OP was simply to rein players in from taking multiple minutes to maneuver a single ship or squadron. As long as players are moving along quickly, even in their precision, the “goal” of the “one tool rule” has been reached.
But enough about intention. That gets murky quickly, so let’s look at some hard rules.
The question here is whether a range ruler during the “Move Squadron” portion of a squadron’s maneuver step may be in any position other than flat on the table (where it was placed during the “Determine Course” step) or: “If the range ruler cannot be placed in the play area due to other ships and squadrons being in the way, hold the range ruler above the play area and estimate the squadron’s final position.”
Move Squadron: “Pick up the squadron and position it anywhere along the center of the ruler up to the line that marks the end of the distance band matching the squadron’s speed value. The squadron’s base cannot be placed beyond that line. Then remove the range ruler and place the squadron in the final position."
Let’s get super granular with that last little bit.
“Then”. What does that mean? If we look at the FAQ entry relating to a ship that would ram for final damage but ends its maneuver on a station still being destroyed, we know that a “then” effect can be considered as identical to a “when” effect. i.e. “At the moment that the specified event occurs.”
So, since “Players can measure with either side of the range ruler at any time.”, the obvious argument is that so long as the squadron does not violate that portion in the rule of “The squadron’s base cannot be placed beyond that line.” , one could follow the timing of:
>> Position squadron >> Remove the range ruler >> Use range ruler (at any time) to measure >> Place the squadron in the final position
This of course begs the question of whether that final paragraph of timing during “Move Squadron” is considered the same as Dual Turbolaser Turrets. i.e. “You cannot resolve other effects… until you have completely resolved this (rule’s) effect.” And then we’re just left to arguing, aren’t we?
Because if it isn’t considered the same as DTT, then everything the players are doing is 100% allowable.
So, since we appear to have hit a dead end in terms of what may or may not be allowable absent the specific attention of an FAQ, let’s take a look at what would unquestionably be allowable within the context of Rules As Written.
>> Player measures with any side of the range ruler at any time >> Player positions range ruler as close as they physically can to their squadron in order to measure range without “locking in” their maneuver. Even though there isn’t a bullet point on what that means as we have for Ship Movement, we’ll consider touching the tool to the component to be the “lock”; same as ships >> Player makes a mental note (or using stars on the playmat: a visual aid that is not a second tool, token, or other component) and measures with the range ruler at any time in order to estimate where from their final position will be most optimal for their final placement >> Player double and triple checks their measurements, as they are not allowed to use the range ruler once they have touched it to their squadron base, but so far everything they are doing is within the context of Rules as Written.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a nightmare to me. And I don’t even have to guess, because I have seen games play out almost exactly that way. The harsher restrictions you place on players who are attempting to maintain whatever maximum precision they can, the more obstinate they will become in their efforts to maintain precision.
You may think that by locking down the ability to make small measurements at the “end” of a squadron’s maneuver, you will encourage a slightly more lax playstyle, but that will never be the case.
In the end, it comes down to the portion in the tournament regulations which states: ”Players may measure distance and/or range while moving squadrons. Once a player removes his or her hand from a squadron in a new position, the squadron is considered to have moved and cannot move any further during that activation.
Whatever arguments you care to make regarding the Dual-Turbolaser-esque timing interaction of a moving squadron and the range ruler, the extra inclusion of that tournament regulation makes it very clear what is allowed during a squadron’s movement, and when that movement is considered to have ended.
There. That is my official “By the rules” judgement.
I will circle back around to the mention I made earlier of balancing “Precision” with “Ease-of-play”. All Armada players want both of these things, and even the argument against how squadron's are being used at top tables is precisely this.
People want the players to maintain a precision to the rules as written, and as an added benefit, to cut the type of granular squadron placement that slows games down.
It’s a commendable thing. And for the record, I appreciate your attention to the rules.
The beauty of this argument is that these two needs are actually served equally by the status quo. If we attempt to lock players down tighter, games will just take longer for the reasons that I already listed. While the highest levels of play often see a granularity that doesn’t exist in more casual games, the fact of the matter is that it will exist in some form no matter what is done. And while I don’t advocate leaving something that is broken or against the rules “just because people have always done it that way”, I truly believe that we have reached the best compromise that we can hope for.
That may chafe some people, but it is an important thing to realize.
We are not computers. If we were, this is the sort of thing that would cause errors in code and make our game crash.
We, as humans playing a non-digital game are capable of looking at a problem and applying the tiniest leeway of non-restrictive thinking to it. Rules are paramount, but common sense is just as important.