Thursday 12 June 2014

Helpful hints to run your own tournament.

As you may know, the boys and I have been running a number of tournaments across GW’s three gaming systems. We started off in January and have run events ranging from 8 to 38 players. Across all of these tournaments, we have used a similar system of scoring, judging and general approaches to how we interact with players. Here are some of our hints:

1.       Get a support judge. Running the show by yourself might be what you want to do, but the entire operation is made much easier if you have some help. It is also particularly important when it comes to rules disputes between players. TWO T.O’s giving the same ruling will lessen the impact upon you when the complaints start to roll (which they will).

2.       Get a proper timing clock. At some stage in your event, a player will complain that they were not given ample time to finish their turn. You will need to constantly remind players about the time remaining and make sure you enforce a “last turn call.” Some players may take it upon themselves to “quickly” finish another turn to get the upper hand. Keep it the same for everyone, no matter how hard someone may complain (which they will). Announce 30 minutes remaining and 15 minutes remaining at a minimum.

3.       Prepare for complaints. This fits into two categories. Firstly, complaints against you will happen. The majority of players will be fine, but there will always be one or two that won’t be happy with a ruling that you have made. If something goes wrong in the tournament, such as a particularly unique FAQ question, put your ruling in writing with the players pack. Otherwise it is best just to not argue with players and let them cool off (usually the complaints start flying with losing players).

Secondly, complaints against other players. This is a difficult one to handle. Accusations of cheating are particularly hard to prove without you actually being there. If a player comes to you with a complaint, you should ask them to spell it out to you in private. There is no need for them to be wildly shouting accusations across the table at someone. If you believe that there is a genuine case of cheating, you should continue to watch their game intently. Most “cheating” we find is simply a misunderstanding of the core rules – intentionally or not.

4.       Sportsmanship. Getting this scoring system right can be a challenge. Initially we ran it as a 0-4 scoring system where you would rate your opponent each round. However, any form of non-criteria based scoring will leave the doors open for players to mark their opponent down for tabling them. 90% of the time this won’t happen, however even those 1-2 cases can distort the tournament scores enough to make it unfair. Instead, ensure you have a criteria based system. In our case, you automatically start with a score of ‘2’ and apply negative modifiers for unsportsmanlike behaviour (with a valid reason). Such as rolling dice out of view, not measuring properly, slow play, or become abusive when you challenge an action (works both ways, if you approach an action with abusiveness you will get marked down). This essentially means that everyone will have the same raw sports score if they all have no issues. So what’s the point? Well, all of our Best Sports nominations give you an additional 2 points. This means that in a 4 round tournament, your maximum sports score is 16/16. Meaning that the players that are properly nice will be rewarded for being so.

5.        Paint scoring. Luckily for us, we had Adam from Adpaint help us out with the creation of a proper paint scoring sheet. Our initial one turned out to be RUBBISH. Now we have a criteria based scoring system which marks on effort and technique rather than overall skill (which is what Best Painted award is for). It means that if you apply simple additional steps like highlighting, washing, dry brushing, basing etc, you will be given the points irrelevant of how good it looks.

6.       MOST IMPORTANTLY, use some form of device with spreadsheet capabilities. You don’t need to go out and buy the latest tournament pairing software to run the event. We use Excel. However, something equivalent to it will work. The one function that is invaluable to you is the ‘Sort’ button.  Make sure you are sorting the entire document and not just a particular column.

Furthermore, make sure to place a “matching number” next to each player. What this means is that the first two players receive a 1 next to their name, and the second two players receive a two. Like this (ignoring that there are no other scores):

Round 2:

What this means is that when you do the next round pairing, you can look back and check to see that there are no double ups. For example, if in round three, you look back and see that there are any two double ups in numbers, then those players have already played each other:

In this case, round 3 shows that both sets of players have already played each other (indicated by the doubling up of the 1’s and 2’s in the first round).

7.       Try to be transparent about scoring. The absolute last thing you want is for players to be skimming over the scoring sheet to find out that they should have been scored higher for something. In fact, if players ask for their scores, make sure to hide the Sportsmanship tab. You can tell them that they may have scored low on sports, but you cannot be giving away who had scored them lower. In fact, you may choose to not publish scores at all. This can save you a lot of trouble as players will be scrutinising your system (good painters will want higher % on paint, but battle players will always complain about “soft scores” – meaning paint and sports). 

     Hope this helps.

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