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Old 01-15-2009, 06:36 PM   #1
Razor Raven
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: The Library in Ponyville, Equestria
Posts: 106
The Dummies' Guide to Reffing: By Chozo


Update History
2/20/2008: Initial post. On "if/or/buts" (aka conditional) orders added

On the purpose of this Guide

For those of you who don't know me, I am the trainer formerly known as Blastoise, formerly known as Prince, formerly known as talented. According to the ASB timeline I first appeared in the early generations of the ASB, where I was apparently popular enough to warrant a mention. It was a golden era where the streets were paved with A-rank mods, matches were reffed within minutes of their trainers posting, and Pokemon had totally awesome signature moves, or at least that's what my rose-tinted nostalgia goggles tell me.

During one of the down periods and due to various happenings in my life, I lost touch with the ASB. Fast-forward a few years and some coaxing from Muyo later and I'm back to kick ***, chew bubblegum and ref matches, and I've never really liked gum. One of the greatest challenges the current ASB faces is its reffing core: it's not terrible by any means, but the few remaining old fogeys of the league will no doubt recall the golden era when Knobert, Murgatroyd and Archaic were familiar faces in the referee queue.

"tl;dr you're a pretentious egotistical fargot" you're probably saying, "why is this important?"

Because ultimately, refs make or break this league. With no game masters, you don't have much of a game: oh sure, you can play a game, but anyone who's ever been a 10-year-old knows that such games inevitably boil down to I shot you, nuh uh I shot you, nuh uh I have magic armor that repels your bullets, well screw you I have the goddamn Death Star.


I'm sure plenty of people would like to ref, but are too daunted by the prospect to try. I'm sure there are also other refs who are looking to improve their game and move up the ranks. Personally, there's no point in talking about how refs were great back in the old days: it's time to gird up my loins and see if I can help make some new legends.

What this guide is NOT

The immutable word of God. I'm not an LO and so any rule changes by league officials supersede what I write here. Also, if you haven't realized by now reffing ASB matches (also known as "arr pee geeing" or "role playing") using terms like "moderate" and "heavy" instead of concrete numbers is an art, not a science. I cannot cover every eventuality, nor do I plan to. What I can provide you is a decent set of guidelines and rules of thumb to follow: how you choose to apply them is up to you. You hold the pistol, so you get to keep the pesos and all that.

I'm not a ref, why do I care?

A couple reasons:

1. Understanding how refs think (and, by extension, what drives us up the wall) goes a long way towards being a better trainer. If you look at the list of refs, you tend to see that some of the best refs were also very good battlers in their heydays. This isn't a 100% accurate rule of thumb, but with some years under my belt I think it's easy for me to argue that the positive correlation is more than mere coincidence.

2. You're considering becoming a ref. We are an egalitarian lot, because we hate everyone equally: come enjoy the power trip that comes with controlling life and death.

3. Although this is in the reffing forum, I'm going to throw out some tips for battlers to to help avoid the pitfalls listed here. You don't need to order a hundred "if/and/or/but" statements to your Pokemon if you ensure that your opponent's Pokemon never can take real advantage of going second.

4. You really need a fourth reason? I've already told you it could help you improve your battling prowess. You want me to give you 50 tips for better sex too?

Topics of Study


under construction lolz

Orders and Battling

On "if/or/buts" (aka conditional) orders

Muyotwo: the current ASB is land of ifs ands and buts. This annoys me.
One of the banes of refdom is the insidious "if/or/but" that appears between moves in a trainer's order. Its purpose is innocent enough: many trainers want to make sure their bases are covered, so they throw in conditional statements and the kitchen sink to make sure they are impenetrable to any counterattack.

You never understand how annoying it is until you ref it. Let's take an example:

Okay Pokemon, do X and Y, but if your opponent does A do Z instead
For a ref, these kinds of posts are a headache. First of all, do I treat this as a 2-move combo or a 3-move combo? If I treat it as a 2-move combo, I run the risk of your Pokemon doing Y, and then your opponent doing A: does your Pokemon then do Z? If your Pokemon uses Z and I give it to you without counting it against your 3-move combo limit, I've given you a freebie: if I do, you're probably ****** because you've unintentionally used up your 3-move combo. The problem with counting the above set of orders as a 3-move combo should be obvious in light of this paragraph.

Now imagine a scenario in which, for some reason, both trainers use an if/or/but command in the same round. There's a scenario in which, no matter how you ref it, someone is going to be friggin' ******.

That's not to say that an occasional "if/or/but" is bad, far from it. The problem is that ASBers are using it as a crutch, ordering it multiple times in a match, sometimes within a round of each other.

But there's no rule specifically against it, so people abuse it (and any rule against it would inevitably end up like the "you must order X 1 move rounds for every Y 2 move rounds" rule). As a ref, how do you handle this? In this case, a carrot-stick approach works: it's generally safe to assume trainers are trying their best to win, so they'll take actions that maximize their chances of winning and avoid actions that reduce that chance. You simply have to give them incentives NOT to use ifs/ors/buts left and right.

Some suggestions:
  • The straightforward option: set a limit on the number of "conditional" orders (say, once per Pokemon). Once the trainer crosses the limit, warn them that any further uses will count as a 2-move/3-move combo, depending on how many moves they order.
  • The "I reject your temporal reality and substitute my own" option: even though time in the ASB moves at the speed of plot, as a ref it's entirely within your jurisdiction to say that essay length attack commands, with detailed flow charts illustrating the carefully calculated Nash equilibrium for each potential move you and your opponent could make with appropriate countermeasures take too long to communicate to a trainer's Pokemon and are hence ineffective. Quoth George Patton:
    A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.
  • The "penalize reaction times" option: some Pokemon have hair-trigger reflexes, most don't. Thus, when issued "if/but/or/" orders they'll often have to hold off and see what their opponent does before making their next move. Crafty trainers will learn to exploit this opening, but even if they don't this means that the Pokemon issued the order has a disadvantage where priority or going first is important, since they are reacting instead of acting.

"But Blastoise," the trainers wail, "I'm going first this round! It's dark and scary and there are wolves after me!" For them, I have ANOTHER bulleted list!
  • You CANNOT cover every eventuality. No matter how clever you think you are chances are there's someone who can puzzle there way out of any web of conditional moves you construct. This is mental: you have to accept this and move on.
  • Offense is in some cases the best defense: the trainer going second is less likely to try and get his own game plan going if he has to spend most of his round trying to avoid your Pokemon's attacks. Going second is an advantage in clutch situations, but many trainers by temperament tend to try and mitigate the first player's attacks rather than taking advantage and attacking: learn to exploit this.
  • For every time you attack first, there will be a second. Your opponent will be in your shoes next turn, so plan ahead and be prepared to take advantage of your own second turn advantage.
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