Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something I Think TO’s Should Know

Let me just start by saying that I'm not bashing tournaments that aren't pure BP's and that I personally think all armies must be painted to play. I'm a hobbyist but a big part of my hobby is playing in tournaments and there are a few things I think it might be good for starting and/or veteran TO's to keep in mind when preparing to run a tournament.

First off I'd like to say that I generally play in 1-2 RTT's a month. This year I attended the Broadside Bash, SoCal Slaughter in Space, SoCal Smackdown, Nova Open, and I might make it out to NeonCon for the Slaughter on the Strip. I've been in tournaments from Seattle to San Diego to Dallas to Houston and to Virginia in the last 3 years.

Next year I intend to play in the Nova Open (and maybe Invitational), WargamesCon, Both SCGWL GT's (if I'm still in Cali), the Sprue Posse GT, the Bay Area Competitive Event (whatever they finally call it), and maybe the Bugeater (if I'm in MN at the time) and YetiCon (or whatever the YTTH's event is called). I'm waffling on the Broadside Bash for some of the reasons I decided to write this article. You can see their scenarios, sportsmanship checklist, point breakdown, and painting "checklist" here:

Now I don't have a problem with a soft score oriented tournament (i.e. BP's=40% or less) at all. In fact I find they can sometimes be very fun. But "soft" score heavy tournaments are often cesspits of drama when they conclude. Why? Because they lack 100% transparency. They leave points here and there that people pick up that aren't well explained or worse are based on the TO's or Judges personal opinion and those tiny points add up and can lead to a WTF situation with winners. So:

Rule #1: Transparency

This means your painting checklists should be 95% open and easy check box functions for points. A person should know, within 1-2 points where they stand before they enter a tournament in painting. And for god sakes be able to explain why they are off if they are. You can keep some discretionary points here (generally 1-5 is best) but don't count them toward overall, just best painted/army. Any points awarded outside of BP's should be as transparent as possible. Which is why comp is slammed so much. It isn't that comp itself is bad. It's that comp is always subjective and it can drive people not to attend.

Rule #2: A Unifying Event

If you're going to run a tournament, especially if you're pouring your own money into it, don't you want the largest amount of people possible to attend? Just so that you can stay in the black I would think so. So it's critical to have something for everyone. "Competitive" and "Hobbyist" gamers alike. Now those aren't the only two types of gamers out there but they cover 90% of the field. Don't punish the competitive guys because they play different than you. Don't punish the hobbyists because they paint better than you. Find a middle ground.

Mike does a great job of this with his event, the Nova. Quenton and Scott do this as well with their events here in SoCal and Vegas by rewarding the Best Overall and Best General equally. These are the types of events that grow over the years. And please don't color your rules with anti-"pick your hated gamer type" wording. It further causes a rift between players that doesn't need to exist.

Rule #3: Missions…..No Wackiness

This isn't 3rd edition anymore guys. Or even 4th. This is 5th edition and for the first time we have a game that plays well enough to be competitive. So for the love of all that's holy please stop with the "wacky/fun" missions. These can easily lead to a shitty personal experience that can ruin an event for someone. We've got enough randomness in a dice game, please god don't add more. Another thing to think about is that the effects of the wackiness throw off the balance that 5th edition has finally found. It's tenuous but it's there. Either do comprehensive, well tested missions like Nova or slightly modify rule book missions. Either way is fine, but keep it simple.

Rule #4: Accept Constructive Criticism

This is a big one. No, you can't please everyone. But when certain groups of people are coming to you and talking to you like an adult about possible modifications to increase the enjoyment level of an event, take a second and listen. I know it's your baby and it's easy to get defensive. But just try to listen to what their saying. They want your event to succeed to since that means more gaming for them. You don't always have to act on what people say but grow from it and be open to new ideas. This is the way to make an event better. Adepticon grows and seems to listen to constructive criticism and is open to change. Nova is incorporating KP's to help draw more people even though Mike (the TO) isn't a fan. Those are just two examples of TO's listening and adjusting to make their events better.

Rule #5: Take Steps to Minimize Drama

Most TO's out there advertise their events on the net. They've seen the drama surrounding other events. Take a second and step back. Look at your scoring format, look at your appearance checklist, look at your judges schedule for the event, look at your missions. Take a bit and look and see if there is anything in them that you can adjust to avoid drama and then adjust it. Drama can seriously sour someone's opinion of an event and cause lower attendance or even the death of an event. But it's pretty easily avoided if you take a second and double check your event.

So those are my "rules" for TO's. I probably should have called them suggestions but I really feel like these should be rules for TO's. I personally don't care what the scoring format of an event is as long as it's open and easy to understand. I, and many others, just want to have a fun weekend rolling dice. I do quite well in any event setting so please don't take this as a do it my way kind of post. I want to see the hobby grow more. I want events to attend every 2-3 months that are weekend tournaments. I want to see fresh blood and have people excited about upcoming tournaments. Some people need that extra push to paint and tournaments are great for their hobby since that's the only way they'll finish painting an army (I used to be this way).

And if we can eliminate drama and have fun inclusive events then the stupid divide that has sprung up over the years can finally start to heal and close. Tournament Events can be for everyone if people take a second to make them FOR everyone.

Just my two cents.


Chumbalaya said...


hyv3mynd said...

Good stuff. I've seen a lot of home brew missions that could ruin a tourney.

On the note of 5th ed mission balance, book missions, and NOVA ( I know this has been beaten to death on other sites):
The book missions create an incentive to bring many scoring units via d3+2 objectives, and a deterrent via killpoints. NOVA removed this balance by making all objective missions 5, and bringing in table quarters which are not a 5th ed book mission. Compile that by removing KP's and you create an environment where MSU will roll over lists that are built with traditional book miissions in mind. Salvation made this worse IMO by stating that 1 model remaining in a scoring unit is worth full victory points when calculating table quarter control.

IMO, these dymanics made it impossible for Daemons and Nids to make ace/4-0/gold bracket status as to which we've seen proven by both NOVA and BFS so far. How are armies without mobile transports to hide and redeploy in late game going to compete in these MSU favoring formats. And if they can't how is that any different than some of the "wacky" missions from more fluffy tourneys? 5x5 doesn't create a middle ground either as it doesn't discourage MSU builds as the BRB missions can with the straight KP mission.

Hulksmash said...


To some extent I agree with you Hyvmynd. But that's where #4 comes in. Mike is adding in KP's next year based on the feedback he recieved from the internet as a whole and from a few of the attendees. I don't agree that it's impossible for Daemons to make Ace. At Nova Nick and I both went 3-1 and to a fairly large extent that 1 was because the randomness of our army got the better of us. Me in the game fighting to be tournament ace and him in game 3. There was another Daemon player there that went 3-1 but I don't know about his loss. Nick did pretty well at BFS to from what I heard too. And as you know by now I think Nids can compete. I just don't think people were bringing the right armies.

Key thing to remember though is "wacky" missions are generally add in more randomness than the game already has (i.e. night fight continues if you roll a 4+). Nova's missions might not have been perfectly balanced for all armies but you didn't lose because of a scenario based dice roll. Which can easily happen. That is an important distinction. Good thoughts though. I love me some tournament discussions!

Black Blow Fly said...

Also I hate to see stuff like someone fielding their Blue Crimson Fists as Blood Angels. Thats crap .


Hulksmash said...

Ah BBF, and excellent example of something a TO shouldn't be saying. #2 is your friend. That expands the hobby divide instead of closing it. That kind of personal opinion should be left at the door as TO. As a player you can feel free to bitch but a TO shouldn't penalize, or create rules to disuade, someone for following the rules.

It could just as easily be said that was the Crimson Fists 4th company that they've re-organized after refilling their ranks and wanted to be faster and more assault oriented. Tech-marines have tweaked the engine for more speed but they require more downtime between missions.

Previous edition players need to get over the fact that the game has shifted. DIY/counts-as is the standard. Don't hold players accountable to fluff since anyone with half a brain can write fluff in the 40k universe to justify their army. Don't hold them accountable for 3rd Edition (written a decade ago) or 4th Edition (written 6ish years ago, maybe more). This is 5th edition and needs to be treated as such.

I used to be fluff junkey. I built my armies around thematic numbers or obscure fluff found in the pages of index astartes or black library novels. Why? Because that was what tournaments at the time wanted and what players expected because GW told them to do it. GW now tells us counts-as is fine and their only format doesn't even have comp. So now I write lists I enjoy playing, paint them well, and counts-as to my hearts content. GW is happy and so am I :)

Black Blow Fly said...

The more sloppy you let players run their armies the more potential for problems. I only respect gamers that bring beautifully painted armies that are 100% WYSIWYG and look like what they are. I have seen too much bullshit otherwise .


Black Blow Fly said...

I dont know many people at all that play DIY or count as. Its not popular and is generally frowned upon. Wow its really starting to stink in here. now


Ben said...

Considering that the blog owner runs a beautifully converted and highly praised counts-as daemon army, that's a hell of a thing to say.

Hulksmash said...

BBF, civility is appreciated. Trolling is not. If you don't enjoy the atmosphere of intelligent conversation feel free to refrain from commenting on my blog. Thank you.

Hulksmash said...


Thank you. I had a lot of fun making that army and the reaction I've recieved nationwide has been totally worth it :)

Black Blow Fly said...

Ha ha !! Good . one


Hulksmash said...

Response to Ben or myself BBF?

Kevin Nash said...

"...the Sprue Posse GT.."

Great now I gotta go formally announce this thing!

Hulksmash said...

I just slipped it in there to see if you read my blog buddy :)

Black Blow Fly said...

Hey Hulksmash I like your counts as daemon army. Its pretty cool and looks like you put some time and effort into it.


AbsoluteBlue said...

Good stuff. I think you took the high road on Comp.. I will flat out say it, Comp sucks! ;)

hyv3mynd said...

I actually think comp can be fun, provided you ensure everyone participating brings a comp list. Unfortunately, the only way to ensure this is hard restrictions such as no trips or no more than 4 instance of the same wargear upgrade. Otherwise, some people will invariably bring competitive lists and kill it for the people that made the effort.

Don't get me wrong, I totally favor non-comp events, but only because I haven't seen a single one end without some sort of soft score dramas. I live in the same area as Chumby, and every single RTT here is heavy comp. I've been to 8 tourneys this year and the only ones to end without drama were Ard Boyz and a 7 round escalation tourney with no dupes allowed. The other 6 were comp + sports nightmares.

Chumbalaya said...

If you want to remove comp drama, remove incentives for winning games. A comp tourney with BPs encourages WAAC shenanigans like chipmunking and breaking the comp system. Turn it into a narrative campaign dealy with rewards for fluff, cool armies, and the like and you'll remove drama.

As an aside, Aaron, if we do end up running a competitive tourney, I think it would be great to run a campaign day like I proposed above. Best of both worlds and a good example for next year's GT to strive towards.

Hulksmash said...

Exactly Chumb. Do a hobby weekend campaign with random prizes or do a tournament. Comp doesn't really have a place in a structured competitive setting.

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