At Major League Quidditch, we are always conscious of our core goal to “present quidditch in an elegant, highly-consumable form that mirrors other sports’ top leagues.” To those ends, we actively look for opportunities to improve the gameplay of the sport. Our Gameplay Rules and Policy Committee meets throughout the off-season to create and consider rules and policy changes with the aim to make quidditch more fair, interesting and entertaining. This year, the committee has added a series of rule changes in hopes of doing just that.

The first, and perhaps most impactful, change is a complete overhaul of the end-game scenario. In MLQ’s new ruleset, a 2-minute referee’s timeout will be taken following the first goal or turnover past the 20-minute mark in play. During that timeout, a goal score will be created by adding 70 points to the leading team’s current point total. At the end of the timeout, there will be a 10-second floor and then seekers will be released. A catch of the snitch is worth 40 points, but does not end the game. The first team to reach or surpass the goal score wins immediately.

A version of this rule was first conceived and tested in the divisional games at the 2018 MLQ Championship. The rule was once again tested and surveyed at Cocoa Cup in February. Alternative versions of the rule were tested in the Great Lakes in February and at Mardi Gras Cup earlier this month.

This new rule was created to address a few specific shortcomings the committee saw in current gameplay. The first is the scenario where a team has a large lead and then must kill time until their seeker can make a catch against a defending seeker. This can lead to 20-minute sequences with few stakes and little action, an uninteresting spectacle both to play and to spectate. The next shortcoming is the inconsistent value of a quaffle goal. Under the current rules, every margin from being ahead by 20 points to behind by 20 points has the same effect on the snitch game, taking the value out of earning small advantages in the quaffle game. This also often leads to quaffle play being relegated to a sideshow in close matches, with only six of the 14 players on pitch actually determining the results.

The committee believes that the new end game will address these issues. Both teams are now always encouraged to score as many points as possible, and killing clock gets a team no closer to a win. Defensive seeking will be all but eliminated, as both teams will want to catch the snitch at all times, which has the additional benefit of adding value to a good seeker on a weaker team. And since every point matters, the quaffle game will retain its value even with the snitch on the pitch.

In the post-Cocoa Cup rules survey, 74.4 percent of players answered yes to the question “Would you want to see the alternate end-game rules in the future?” When filtering the survey to show only players with MLQ experience, the percent of yes responses increased to 84.2 percent. Amongst the responders, most agreed that they would like to see an increase in the seeker floor (18 minutes at Cocoa Cup) and set score (50 points higher than the leading team at Cocoa Cup), both of which we accommodated in the final rule. Most concerns related to the rule came from a need for further clarity as to when the goal score is set and what the goal score is, leading to the creation of the referee’s timeout at the 20-minute mark.

The other major rule change is the addition of legal two-armed tackling to the physical contact rules. This will be a straightforward change, with no change to or addition of auxiliary contact rules.

This rule was first tested under the MLQ banner in the divisional games at the 2018 MLQ Championships. The rule was tested and surveyed once again at Cocoa Cup in February.

Both tests of this rule were met with near-universal support. In the Cocoa Cup rules survey, in response to the question “Would you want to see two-armed tackling in the future?” 89.7 percent of respondents answered yes. Amongst those with MLQ experience, 94.7 percent of respondents answered yes. Amongst those with MLQ experience that are primarily quaffle players, 100 percent of respondents answered yes.

The committee believes that adding two-handed tackling will level the playing field of physicality and reduce the omnipresence of the drive-first offense, leading to a more dynamic style of play.

The final rule change for the 2019 season is a small quality of life alteration to advantage calls. When an advantage is called, there will no longer be a marker thrown, only the referee signalling for advantage. After play is stopped, provided the foul resulted in a yellow or red card, the fouled quaffle player now has the option of either restarting the play where they were when play stopped or moving back to any point on the nearest restrictor line behind them.

This rule was not tested before implementation, but due to the minor effect it will have on gameplay, the committee is confident it can be implemented without testing.

The goal of this rule change is to minimize the the swinginess of the advantage call. In some situations, the advantage becomes a disadvantage to the fouled player, as a beater gets into position at the last second to make scoring on the restart all but impossible. But in other situations, the advantage leads to the fouled player getting reset to a point where no one from the defense is standing anymore, making the goal almost too easy. With the new rule, the fouled player is offered the opportunity to move out of a no-longer-advantageous spot on the field but has to move backwards on the pitch to do so.

The committee looks forward to seeing how all of these rules play out in the 2019 MLQ season. You can find the complete list of MLQ-Specific Rules here. As always, we want your feedback as the season progresses, so please do not hesitate to reach out to our gameplay department with comments, concerns and suggestions at gameplay@mlquidditch.com. Thank you, as always, for your time and dedication.

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