Some of you might be aware of the turbulence hitting the competitive 40k world after a top player was caught cheating at a GT recently. While I have no interest in attacking the individual or second guessing the punishment they received, I believe this incident has brought up a few things that TOs should be discussing.
Have an established code of conduct before the event
The worst thing in the world is to have a player caught cheating and then have to determine the punishment on the fly. Inevitably some will see any punishment as too harsh, or, if the player is well known, too light. As someone who works in education I am quite fond of rubrics for a tool assessment when dealing with qualitative works. In the same manner, having a rubric for discipline (that is published ahead of time) can ease public anger as you have a predetermined objective standard. I would also urge you to distinguish between flagrant and minor fouls. Just as in American football not all infringements are treated equally, so too should there be a system for differentiating between illegal actions. And I think this should extend to cover violations both at the event but also for those revealed afterwards. You will never please everyone when you deal with a someone caught cheating, especially if that individual is well known, but the objective standard can be a good way to establish a fair playing ground and absolve you of charges of favoritism or belligerence.
Local Circuits should synchronize discipline
As 40k grows in size I think it is time for the local circuits (such as the Northeast Circuit, Texas Circuit, etc) that are forming to share data on player discipline. This is what I mean by having an “Extradition Agreement”. Even if they may not inflict the same consequences for each infraction I believe the TO’s of these circuits should synchronize their structures of discipline so that when a player breaches one he or she breaches them all. I think this will go a long way in preventing players, who develop a regional reputation, from entering other events where people are unsure of calling them out. Having a centralized database of penalties will help organizers identify potential troublemakers and flag them if they show up at events. I believe the competitive scene is mature enough at this stage to find some sort of combined system that will work. Just as every tournament doesn’t use ITC points we shouldn’t expect every event to be part of the shared discipline code. But, by creating the ground work for this coordination we can prevent, or at least severely punish, would be cheaters.
I have seen a few responses in thread dealing with this matter with players saying “Oh I had a similar experience but I didn’t know for sure so I didn’t say anything.” For much of the hobby there remains an admirable sense of fair play where we give players the benefit of the doubt over mistakes and some dice rolls. However, if we want this environment to continue we have to establish rigorous but fair punishments for those that break these rules. Thus, the onus falls not only on TOs to deal with reports of cheating but also on players to communicate with judges about rules infractions. As with all things there is a balance here that you will have to judge based on the competence and experience of you opponent. But the only way to start implementing serious consequences is to create a paper trail that shows continued acts of malfeasance.
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