Prechecking Gimmick Rallyes
Here are some things to consider when prechecking a gimmick rallye.
Is It Clean?
Are the gimmicks clean, or at least as clean as possible? It's more fun for everyone if gimmicks are as clean as possible, even if that makes them easier to figure out.
Do the GIs set up too many gimmicks that aren't used anywhere in the rallye? How many is too many? Good question...
Please note that there are certain Gimmicks That Should Be Avoided.
Is It Consistent?
Are concepts used consistently? Especially look for situations where a concept could apply, but where the rallyemaster didn't intend to create a gimmick.
Do the Definitions Work?
Do all the basic definitions (e.g., turn, L, and R; execute, delete, and complete) work? If such basic definitions are broken, then it can be difficult to teach the beginners school at the start without contradicting the GIs (and possibly confusing the beginners).
Take Care of Beginning Rallyists
Does the RI course (aka "the turkey route") work? Can first-time and beginning rallyists do the obvious things in the obvious ways and make it to the finish without getting lost? Are there enough easy gimmicks? If they catch the mispellings, and easy Notes/Bonuses do they get over half the gimmicks?
Take Care of Intermediate Rallyists!
Are partial credit situations handled well? Try to consider ways in which intermediate rallyists will catch a gimmick, but get it only partially correct. As an example, what if they recognize a street (in a Note or Bonus), but only the second time they encounter it?
Does the Bookkeeping Work?
In CM rallyes, do the Supps and SIs work for every CM? Especially watch out for deleted Supps or Supp parts, and for Supps and SIs that don't get you back on the RI course.
Verify all the bookkeeping. Be careful to keep track of deleted instructions, etc. In CM rallyes, make sure everyone gets the correct number of DRI instructions. When in doubt, CRI can be used instead.
Does everyone stay on the correct RI? That includes beginners who miss most of the gimmicks, experts who get most of the gimmicks, and especially intermediate rallyists who get only some of the gimmicks, who get gimmicks but get them partially wrong, and who see gimmicks where none were intended. Intermediate rallyists also lack experts' experience with "debugging" the problems they encounter.
Do the Signs Work?
Are all the signs visible? Are trees, bushes, or other landscaping obscuring critical signs (or signs that the rallyists may think are critical until they stop to double-check them)? If the rallye (or part of the rallye) will be run at night, then check the visibility of signs at night.
In CM rallyes, this includes CM locations! Identify which poles will be used for the CMs. It is better to rewrite a section of a rallye to avoid streets/neighborhoods with no good poles for CMs, than to suffer with poor CM placement during the rallye.
Unless a gimmick depends on a parallel CM, CMs should be visible as you approach them. Avoid CM locations that are visible only to the side when you are even with the CM.
If a street-naming sign you need is absent, ask the city to replace it. One RM reported that the sign was replaced within days!
How Is Traffic?
Are there any potential traffic problems? Busy streets should be avoided, except during traverses. At least one precheck should be at the same day of the week and at the same time of day as the rallye itself.
There is no absolute rule for which streets are too busy and which are acceptable. Some two-lane streets with 25mph speed limits can be too busy to use for a Saturday night rallye. Some four-lane streets with 35mph speed limits can be quiet enough.
Make Constructive Suggestions
Do not tell the rallyemaster only that a gimmick is broken. Explain to the rallyemaster why you consider a gimmick broken. If at all possible, suggest specific ways to fix a broken gimmick.
If you point out ugly gimmicks (i.e., gimmicks you don't like, but which technically are not broken), then be sure to distinguish between gimmicks that are ugly and gimmicks that are broken. Be especially sure to offer suggestions for cleaning up ugly gimmicks.
When offering suggestions, be sure to consider what else might go wrong with this (or other) corrections. A fix to the General Instructions is more likely to have unintended consequences than a fix to a single RI. When fixing Supps, be sure to check where else the fixed Supp is used. The less focused the affect of the fix is, the more likely the fix is to break something else, and the more important it is to precheck the rallye again after all the known problems are fixed. Ideally, a rallye should be prechecked again each time all the known problems are fixed.
In some cases, it may be better to remove a gimmick and save it for a different rallye. Removing a gimmick will have fewer side-effects than a complex fix. Also, dropping a gimmick will be cleaner than trying to make two incompatible gimmicks both work in the same rallye.