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: http://www.broadsidebash.com/rules.php
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.