Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2 cents on Tournaments

So with 3 tournaments coming up in the next 2 months, I began thinking back to the last tournaments I had been to. They had all been fun, except for a couple minor issues I had with them. They all had wonky or weird scenarios, and people with unpainted models.

Bad scenarios can ruin a tournament. They can give an unfair advantage to some armies or handicap others to a point they cannot win. Next to proper pairings, scenarios have to be one of the organizer’s most important jobs. Choosing scenarios doesn’t have to be hard either, just remember one simple rule; less is more.

Complicated scenarios are great for casual play with friends you know and play regularly against. In a tournament you need to keep it simple, as players will be trying to digest a lot of information in a short period of time in the beginning of the game. They have to take in information about the terrain on the board, assess their opponent’s army and any new rules if they have never faced them. Add in deployment, special scenario rules, and objectives and it gets to be sensory overload. My thoughts are to keep deployments simple and mission conditions familiar.

A simple deployment can go along ways towards a well run tournament. I have seen players waste valuable time trying to figure out how they are suppose to deploy. This can lead to people being short on actual play time. A simple, easy to read deployment description with diagrams goes along ways. I don’t like scenarios that are won or lost on deployment, but I understand how the same old, same old gets boring too. Here is an example of a recent tournament game with a bad deployment. Both players deployed on their long board edges, but had to deploy 12 inches in from their edge. There was no rule keeping the opposing forces farther apart, so they could deploy one inch away if both chose to deploy on the center line. This meant it was very possible for close combat armies to have turn one assaults if they deployed on the center line. Their opponent could only deploy left or right of them as they would be within 12 inches right in front. This had no effect if 2 shooty armies were facing off, but gave close combat armies a huge advantage and even gave a balanced shooty/cc army an advantage over a gunline or close support force.

Objectives vs kill points. Kill points vs Victory points. Everyone has an opinion on what is good and what is bad.  My personal opinion is tournaments should use the BBB missions as there base. Keep it simple. If you have a three game tournie, then use one 3-5 objective game, one kill point game, and one capture and control game. I would advocate using a secondary mission too. An example would be an 5 objective game that used kill points to break the tie. Or if you were using a battle point system you could have kill points be the extra battle points. Example: you can have a kill point difference of 1-2 be worth 1 battle point, 2-4 be worth 2 battle points and 4+ be worth 3 battle points. It would give players that second goal or something to shoot for even if they can’t get to an objective. You could use objectives for a secondary mission in a Kill Point mission too. An example would be: control an objective and receive a bonus battle point. I think this would make the game more fun as turtling damaged units would not help with the secondary mission. The main objective in choosing you scenarios should be to keep it familiar. The less the player has to learn at the beginning of the game, the more they can focus on playing.

I’m not saying all tournament should be cookie cuttered out either. I think simple changes can be the most interesting.  One tournament I played in, the organizer had a special rule for one piece of terrain on each table. He had written the rule on a paper and it was with the terrain piece for reference. Ours had a ice covered lake on the board that counted as difficult and dangerous terrain. Vehicles that got stuck were destroyed unless they had an aquatic special rule (chimera). Skimmers did not have to take the test . It was fun and did not hamper who won or lost but it did enhance our game experience. A bad example was a game I played where they had a rule about low atmosphere and any 6 to wound was a rending attack for everyone. This made armies with high attacks very good at killing low armor, small model count forces and made the game unbalanced. This would have been a great game for casual play, but not for tournaments.

I have seen several tournaments use the Battle Missions Book. My opinion is these are not very good for tournament play. These scenarios look to be best used for casual play were you want something different. Their different deployments, wacky special rules, and modified kill points change the balance of the game in favor of certain armies in certain cases.

I think simple planning ahead, and testing your scenarios can go along ways towards a great tournament experience for everyone. Remember, keep it simple.

Just my 2 cents.

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