This post was originally featured at Derby News Network in October 2013.
WFTDA has announced a short testing period ahead of a planned February 2014 rules update. Changes being tested include shorter penalty times and changes to pack definition with the intent of reducing the effectiveness of current tactics based on disengagement.
Those latter changes look to stop passive offence on power jams, with two variations being tested as a working solution between the current situation and the well-established ‘runaway pussy’ problem.
Two testing scenarios for this are being presented. In one, a new rule is added at 22.214.171.124, indicating that “Slowing or stopping on the track can be penalized if it destroys the pack.” An exception to 126.96.36.199.1 is to be used in this scenario, stating that a slowing team at the rear “must actively move to maintain the pack if their slowing and/or stopping as a
team would create a no pack situation” while the rearwards’ team jammer is being blocked.
The second scenario involves an addition to the rules which specifically addresses the ‘runaway pussy’ scenario while putting the onus on a team slowing at the rear to maintain pack definition:
188.8.131.52 – In regards to 184.108.40.206.2, the front team cannot sprint away from the rear team to chase down an opposing jammer. If the rear team is actively skating and working to maintain a pack and the front team chooses to sprint away, the responsibility then falls on the front team to slow their speed to reform that pack. In this situation the front team needs only to slow enough to maintain a pack. If the front team continues to sprint away, they are intentionally creating a no pack situation or destroying the pack. However, if the rear team slows to a crawl and/or stops on the track, the responsibility falls on the rear group to reform the pack.
These changes would apply at all times, not just during power jams. The full details of the pack destruction and failure to reform proposals can be found in this WFTDA PDF.
Independently of those two scenarios, there are five more scenarios around penalty times to be tested. The first involves all major jammer penalties being reduced to 30 seconds while blocker penalties remain at 1 minute; the second involves all major penalties having their box time reduced to 30 seconds.
The final three involve variations on those base scenarios and add flexibility for jammer penalty time based on the actions of the unpenalised jammer. The first removes all time constraints from the penalty: the penalised jammer will be released once the other jammer has completed a full scoring pass–with the point of pass completion being when the other jammer exits the engagement zone or passes the foremost blocker in a no-pack situation, which will be signalled to the penalty box officials by the penalised jammers’ jam referee.
As the pass must be complete to release the other jammer, if the non-penalised jammer is already on a scoring pass when the penalty occurs, the penalty ends after their next pass. The skater will stay in the box until the opposing jammer has completed their pass; it is unclear if this could extend into multiple jams.
Two related scenarios impose a maximum of 30 or 60 seconds to be served in the event of stout defence or a recalcitrant non-penalised jammer opting to not engage and simply run the clock down.
The testing document, which you can see in full here, also states that “Skaters should be encouraged to try and ‘break’ these rules while playing within them â€“ find an advantage that could be seen as unfair. Feel free to come up with additional scenarios that help illustrate concepts that could help others envision how these changes could affect game play and strategy. Think of these as your starting points. ”
DNN has posed a number of questions to WFTDA about this update and the testing process; we will post the responses when we get them.