Monday, 3 February 2014

Tournament attendance down across the board.

I've been reading a lot, and hearing a lot, of feedback from tournament organisers from all over the world. The majority of them say that event attendance is dipping down into the red. Some events have had half the number of players, some have even been cancelled. I'm sure there have been a number of events who have had the opposite (some of the big events worldwide still draw 100+ players), but it seems the general feeling around the place is that monthly tournament attendance is coming down. I want to just throw some of my thoughts into the void, and see what comes back.

The competitive scene is slowly dying:
I'd say this is true. Some of the independent RAW tournaments have become something of a league of their own. Rules precedence is flying everywhere, and as much as they say that it is open to everyone who can come, realistically it isn't. The newbie who doesn't bring a proper list is always in last place. I know a number of guys who used to be keen on tournament attendance just for the painting prizes, but even that has become too much of a chore when they waste their weekend being tabled. One of those number told me: "I've abandoned attendance all together because I get the same painting score for spending 50+ hours on my army as the guy who paid for his to be painted." I can understand his frustration at that, especially since he himself claims to not be the best tactician - thus giving him no chance of winning on battle points. I don't blame the commission painters at all, in fact I think they do a great service to those guys who don't have the time to paint their models but still want to game. The scoring problem is, at least, mitigated slightly by the fact that you cannot claim the Best Painted prize with a commission painted army, but that runs of a loyalty system, so I'm sure it's not always true.

Another common complaint I hear is that tournaments are consistently won by the same people over and over again. Who wants to pay $50 for a weekend of losing games? No one! One guy has even told me that he leaves his tournament sign up until the very last minute so he can find out who is attending! Declining if he discovers the same winners are going. I can understand this. I would be pissed off too if I turned up fresh to a tournament and was paired with no. 1. 2. 3. 4. in the country. Wouldn't you? I bet you would. However, I should point out that many larger tournaments are introducing bracketing. I am in 100% support of this, even if it halves the value of first prize. Most of the competitive community are after the 1st place spot for kudos anyway, especially if they are hoping to slingshot themselves into the Masters spots. 

Overall, I'm pretty sure attitude has a lot to do with this problem. I think there Is absolutely nothing worse than arriving at your assigned table and your opponent sitting down with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face. I remember vividly that Optimus Prime Time had to endure that at one of the big tournaments last year. Spicerack and I were in the doubles across the hall, but each time we went over to check up on him, his opponent was just smirking to himself. No thanks. The reality is it's only a small proportion of the players that ruin it for the majority. Unfortunately, that is enough to drive a lot of players towards less competitive tournmanets.

Smaller tournaments:
The reign of two-dayer tournaments is shrinking. I have absolutely no interest in attending one, simply because I have other priorities to deal with. As do most people. Most guys with families only just have enough time for a one dayer, and only if they get two months notice and it's on a Saturday. Larger point size games are also bad for people with priorities, or beginners for that matter. Most guys want to paint up their own army, but would find it overly difficult to get everything done for an 1850 sized tournament. Even if they have had two months notice. Smaller tournaments solve these problems. They give someone the peace of mind about not having to commit to two days, they take less time to prepare for, and they make it much easier for new players to enter into without getting creamed by a tailored meta list (that's not to say they don't still exist at 750, but they are less common). 

750 point tournaments seem to be the way. GW runs singles with this size, so do a number of independent stores. We run our singles at 750 points as the 90 minute time frame doesn't allow for much more. Some competitive players say that 40k can't functionally work at 750 points but, in all seriousness, no social gamer is even remotely concerned about something like that. 

Other factos:
Of course, one of the other recurring factors with tournament attendance is choice. Every month there is a major tournament down here in Sydney, and those are just the independently organised ones. That doesn't even include the GW events, nor the smaller ones organised by other gaming groups. Furthermore, if you're like me and play all three systems, it is common for there to be multiple events on the same day. I have to choose which system I want to go with and roll with it. "Next month" syndrome is also quite common. You plan to go to an event, but end up bailing close to sign-up by saying that you promise to attend the next one. Can't be helped a lot of the time, especially if you have kids.

Comp is a continually debated topic amongst organisers and the rest of the 40k community. GW tournaments have used a "whose list was the softest" system for a while now, but it's not entirely reliable. Quite often it becomes a case of who lost, rather than who actually had the softer list. However, if you even mention the word "comp," a lot of competitive players begin to poke holes in the system. It will always be an ongoing issue. Who decides on the comp? How much will it be worth? Etc. I don't neccesarily agree that comp should be a set 10/20/30%, but rather, change the margins of victory. If you bring a super competitive list, your major victory only counts for 15 points instead of 20. Whilst those with "softer" lists are given 20 for a win. What do people think?

Changing prize formats:
This is something that needs to happen. At all of our Warzone events, you can only win a single prize. We don't care if you come first, have the best painted army and also score the highest on sports, you only get one. The highest valued one that is. We also don't have a third place prize unless we meet 16 player minimum. Additionally, there is a cap placed upon the value of the podium placements. It means that the prize for first place in a 16 attendance event is the same as a 32. Where does the rest of the money go? Back into other prizes such as:

- Best overall themed army.
- Random door prizes.
- 2nd place best sports and best painted.

Those are only a few examples. The random door prizes are usually a big hit. The number of such prizes is determined by player turnout, but it's usually one per every four players after twelve. It means that the guys who didn't win any of the podium spots, or "best" anything, can still go home with a monetary voucher greater than their entry fee.

Having the cap on first, second and third place, also means that the less competitive gamers will be more likely to attend. No one wants to attend an event knowing they have little or no chance of winning anything! No one! So I think in order to address attendance, organisers need to change their format. Okay okay, we are pretty lucky in that we have the opportunity to run our events at a hosted store, so we don't have to worry about renting spaces and food, etc. However, it is still something to ponder.

Tournaments and me:
Now that we organise tournaments, most of my attendance will be spent at GW organised events. I doubt I will make any of the major two day events this year, most likely because it will be clashing, or be too close, to another event I'm attending. I don't enjoy spending two weekends in a row at an event, neither do the rest of the boys. 


Phew, well that's a big jumble of rant/info/thoughts! I'll finish by asking you guys if you think that smaller tournaments are back on the rise? Or if you think the larger ones are here to stay? Shoot any comments down into the box below.

- Out.


  1. We had a turn out of 24 players today.

  2. April 2012: 32 player maxed out.
    April 2013: 10 players.

    October 2012: 32 player maxed out.
    October 2013: 8 players.

    January 2013: 26 players.
    January 2014: 12 players.

    Has not been a good year in the UK. It is overly frustrating for me to plan these and then have no one turn up on the day. The problem for most of the gamers around here is the few f*c*ing power gamers who bring nothing but a bad attitude and ebay/china composed lists. I don't want to ban them from coming but it is almost at that point.

    1. 1000000% agree with Big Mike. Attendance has become appalling in the past 12 months.

    2. Sad to hear about the attendance drop. Glad to see that you are still running them though.

    3. At this rate, we won't be running anymore without change. I think we will follow your lead and run a smaller points value event. 1500 is just not working and feedback seems to point towards the 1000 point mark as a better format.

    4. It is pretty easy to turn this around. Battle points should be less the half your points. Dark star in Minn has done this the last two years and they just opened up ten more spots for 90 players. The power gamers do not win overall, sure they float to the top but a solid painted army, judges that actually ASK players HOW they painted stuff and a focus on fun games not power gaming is awesome.
      If you are still doing complicated victory points....scrap them. 15 point win, 10 point draw, 5 point loss with ten points for sportsmanship in each game.

      Just trying to help.

  3. Although we have a hand in running some of the more competitive events in SEQ (Titans of War/QLD Masters) we have always tried to appeal to the "common" gamer. We are into our 3rd year of running our 750pt Force Z events and while they are pretty cut throat events, random prizes, quirky missions and a fun atmosphere have seen them continue to grow.

    Over the holidays we had a number of discussions with other TOs in SEQ about focusing on the majority of our players and why they wanted to attend events. Numbers are slightly up on last year, so hopefully we`ve got out mix right.

    1. What was the feedback on why most players wanted to attend events?

  4. I think the reason a lot of average tournament players stay away is because of Death Star 40kand all the power gamer list out there. As you said it is no fun for someone like me who spends hours converting and painting his army to go to a tourney and know he has lost the fame as soon as his opponent plops his models down on the board and I proceed to get blown to crap or unable to get through a 2++ reroll able save. I think until balance is restored to 40k by means of comp or alternative mission types that encourage balanced lists. tournament attendance will continue to go down as the majority of us choose to game at our clubs or with mates until the game balances itself out

    1. One of the reasons why I like smaller points sizes is that if someone takes a 2++ screamstar, they have little or no scoring, so you just focus on eliminating that. Plus, if they don't go first, you can do a lot of damage to them.

  5. Players and TOs here in Vic (Australia) are developing a 40k Comp System to encourage people to come to tournaments with more fun list. Like WFB Swed Comp, we want the community's involvement and encourage for you to contribute. Here's the link to the group and download the 40k Comp System:

  6. For me, the reason why I no longer attend the tournaments is because I no longer play. I haven't sold my armies yet, but I haven't played a game of 40k in about 5 months which is probably the longest break I've had in about a decade. I'm simply playing other games because like many others, I'm sick of GW and their approach. The financial cost to keep up to date with the codices, supplements and datafaxes alone could buy me a lot of a GW army, and more importantly will buy me several armies in other game systems. I used to attend about 7-8 events a year but I'm doubtful that I will attend even one in 2014.

    1. Switched to Warmachine four months ago after having a particularly bad run in with an event organiser who wouldnt take my claims of bad sportsmanship seriously and have never looked back. Regularly attend monthly tournaments that are filled with GW/40k converts. Too much of the above is true.

  7. Have zero interest in attending any type of event that involves me being paired up with anyone other than someone of my playing skill.

  8. High prices combined with poor rules.

  9. Locally here we have a 32 player, two day tourney coming up mid-month that is nearly sold out (we have a few spots left but they'll sell out too) which is pretty good for us (our store couldn't fit much more anyways!)

    What I've done in running these events is the prize pool is actually ALL draw prizes. Fully painted armies are required, and battle points is not the be all and the end all (and the winners get a trophy only). Also it's all custom scenarios (every table is different) which means that the ultra-competitive netlists don't tend to do as well because there's so many variables involved and tabling your opponent doesn't mean you get a massacre (or win necessarily) that people just naturally bring more fun lists. The focus from the outset is that this is a fun tourney, with lots of prizes that everyone can win (and trophies for those that want to be competitive and top of the heap) and our big rule is "don't be that guy"... it tends to make for a really fun, well attended tourney (and all our smaller one days are run similarly). When you change the format and the feel of a tournament to be NOT focused on the handfull of players who are at the top, the rest of the attendees (who you rely on for your numbers) are happy to come play, even if they don't beat everyone up all weekend :)

    1. ....also should add that we implemented this year that allies of convenience are the best you can be... and a 2+ rerollable is only a success on a 4+ on the reroll.

    2. Firstly, great to hear about the attendance. I can't help but feel a bit of satisfaction when I see that the more balanced tournaments are getting a higher turnout than the ultra competitive. One of the main reasons as to why I cap the prize value of the podium places is exactly to attract the less competitive players. It means that almost half the crowd have a prize before we even get to first place, and by that stage, no one particularly cares who has won.

  10. interestingly enough the big Fantasy Tournaments in my part of the US sell out much faster than the 40k tournaments, there is a 112 player 2-day WHFB tournament in July that sold out in the first week of January. But you can show up to most 40k 2-day tournaments the day of and get in.


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