The USTR judge was first opened in December 1996, with the expressed purpose of allowing judge modifications and new variants to be tested. Having nearly finished writing MapMaker, and expecting a large number of new variants to be designed using it, I realised it would be very useful if I had my own judge to run it on. At first I couldn't see how I could go about this, but David Kovar kindly allowed me to set it up on his Judge Development machine, devel.diplom.org. Initially I could not comprehend the idea that I could be in control of a computer program which was running on a machine 6000 miles away. How am I going to reach the reset button from there ? However, once I had got over my MS-Windows based hangups, I went for it, and USTR wes born.
The first game on USTR was called USTR, and was an invitation game, and a chance to test out the judge installation, and to thank those people who had either put a lot of work into the hobby in general, or had become good friends of mine through previous games I had GM'ed. Most of them need no introduction, but I will introduce them anyway.
The game lived up to everything I would expect from such a strong field. Shifting alliances and excellent Diplomacy meant that by 1908, Turkey was leading the game with just 7 centres, and everybody still had at least 4 centres. From there the game started to unbalence, and in 1911, Klas gained the dubious honour of becoming the first person ever to be eliminated from a game on USTR. The England-France alliance which had taken him out did not last much longer before England stabbed France, and in 1916, Bjoern took his 18th centre to win the game.
The USTR judge is intended to be a place where variants can be tested, and games can be played in a fair and enjoyable environment. There aren't too many rules, but those which there are are intended to encourage this.
The following rules apply to the entire judge, and may not be overridden by any game rules.
The following rules apply to any game unless the game listing overrules them. This will become more developed with time, but for now
In general, the same rules apply for RT as for normal games. However, there are a few differences which should be noted :
Game creation is disabled on USTR. However, this is just to stop large numbers of games being created which would be better suited to one of the more standard judges. If you want to create a game of a variant which is only supported on USTR, or you want to test one of the other features which is only available on USTR, then please send a request to my judge request account, email@example.com, with the following information :
I will then create the game, making it nolist so that nobody else can find it. Once it is created, you should sign on, become master, and set up the other parameters of the game as you wish. Once it is set up correctly, you should then set it to listed and/or invite the players along. Please ensure that you are correctly installed as master before anybody else signs on, as otherwise you won't be able to take your seat.
If you have a new variant to add to the judge, then please download a copy of MapMaker from The MapMaker home page. This will allow you to enter the variant into your PC. Then send the .mkr file to firstname.lastname@example.org, preferably including the file as plain text rather than a binary attachment, and I will add it to the judge.
Please note that all variants added to USTR should include a version number in their name (e.g. Heptarchy3, Empire4), as it is very rare that a variant becomes stable on the first version. New variants will always need some development after playtesting, and even established variants will have errors to be removed once the variant has been played once or twice. I would also appreciate a little imagination being used to come up with the name. Simply using the start year does not give players any information as to what the variant is about.
USTR, like the other judges, does go down from time to time. There are three main reasons for this :
In the second and third cases, there is nothing I can do about it. I just have to wait until the machine or its internet connection is fixed. To check if it is either of these problems, send a message to the USEF judge at email@example.com. If you get a responce from this judge, then the problem is definately with USTR itself.
If this is the case, then once I realise that there is a problem, I will go and fix it and restart the judge as soon as I can. If the judge has been down for 24 hours, then I will get an e-mail from the Openings List software letting me know, and the Judge will be marked as down in the Openings List. If the judge has been down less than 24 hours, then it is possible that I have not realised, in which case please feel free to mail me at JudgeRequest@ellought.demon.co.uk and let me know. I generally will only be able to restart the judge on weekday evenings (GMT) and most weekends.