Frequently Asked Question: Which rule set is JammerUp based on? WFTDA, OSDA, USARS…?
Answer: All and none of the above.
The gap between what works in board game form vs. a live action bout is much, much greater than the gaps between various roller derby rule sets.
When we first put the game together, I made a simplified version of the WFTDA rule set. I basically started with the WFTDA rules, and while we test played, I took the “cut with a scalpel, not a hatchet” approach to adapting them to a board game. My thinking was that a game that was as true as possible to the Rules would be the best way to express roller derby as a board game.
It was awful.
Things were similar enough that new players would anticipate what they felt “should” be allowed or disallowed, but inevitably ran into instances where the rule just didn’t make any sense whatsoever in board game form. We tried to keep chanegs small, but the more “tiny adjustments” we made, the more confusing and inconsistent the game became.
It was just different enough to confuse the hell out of derby people trying to play, and non-derby people (or as I like to call them, “pre-derby”) were just completely lost. So, we went back home and broke out the hatchet.
The new approach was to create a rule set that allowed real derby strategies to be as effective on the board as they were on the track. We boiled it down to some core concepts: Blockers work together to assist their own Jammer or impede the opposing Jammer. Points are scored when the Jammer passes. The pack must stay together. Teammates work together to achieve a goal. And so on.
The end result is something that will be extremely familiar to derby folk, no matter what rule set you have the most experience with. The nomenclature used is mostly WFTDA, because that’s the world I know, and that’s the vocabulary most widely recognized. But if you were to pick the rules apart, you’ll find some parts that look more like USARS or more like Banked Track. This is an outcome I’m perfectly happy with, because eveyone who’s played agrees that the mechanics are simple, work well for the game, and are clearly derived directly from the rules and strategies of the track.
The rules may evolve slightly as we wrap up beta testing and put the finishing touches on it over the next couple of weeks, but I think you’ll find that while they don’t directly correlate to every last detail of real derby–I mean, it’s a freaking board game, how could they? 😉 –they do hold true to the sport and produce a fun, challenging game that every fan of roller derby can appreciate and enjoy.