Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tournament ... Circuit? What We've Got, What Should We Want?

OK, so I posted briefly in a Dakka thread yesterday talking about the concept of a tournament circuit, the "rankings" that are going on these days, etc.

First off, let's overview what we have now, both in terms of nationalized "rankings" of players and in terms of the national tournament circuit ...

The GT Circuit Tournaments:
Games Workshop has made a big deal about these being Independent. When you e-mail the overall circuit coordinator and ask him if he has preferences for how you run your event, he very clearly will tell you to run it however you'd like - that it wouldn't be an INDEPENDENT circuit if he tried to influence it! OK, that's cool. If you read my blog enough, you know I personally would rather have a tournament "of the people by the people" than a tournament of GW's design.

So what do some of them look like?
Well, here's just three of the more well-publicized ones ...

I select these three b/c the scoring and format are pretty different between them all. Is there a right or wrong way? Of course not :)

That said, it brings up an interesting question of what really makes a circuit. These events all feed into the Vegas Championships, and those are of a different format from all 3, and in fact from basically every event on the circuit to date. Winners of those formats will compete in a different format for the championship? Really?

So, Data Point 1 = every tournament is different, some are vastly different ... competition level, match-up approach, mission style, scoring style


The other thing at issue is that the various circuit tournament organizers do not generally talk to each other a lot. Caveat - I don't see a lot of communication. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. Data Point 2 = lack of integrated communication across circuit.

There's also a different FAQ, homebrew rule style, composition, etc., at many of these tournaments. Some use the INAT FAQ, some use their own FAQ, some don't have a FAQ ... what's a person to do? What FAQ will be used at the Vegas Championships? Just the GW ones? Data Point 3 = At least slightly different game everywhere you go.

What do these data points show ...

Well, I would simply put forth that they show a lack of any meaningful application of tournament results country-wide outside of the actual tournament itself. You can subjectively argue that a rankings system collating these is valuable (one exists), or that one tournament is more material/meaningful than another, or whatever ... but you can't objectively prove any of it. There's no uniformity or standardization to operate by.

So ... what do I think should be done ....

We all know there are multiple approaches to tournaments, and most people enjoy one or the other a little more. I don't think you'll ever get the country of Type A "I'm right" net-conversing tournament organizers to agree on one style of tournament, and it would be folly to push that - you'd just end up with a lot of butt-hurt-ism.

So what about multiple formalized tournament styles? Are there tournament organizers out there who would be willing to adopt the NOVA Open format, or the Adepticon format, or whatever? Are there readers here thinking about starting up their own even small tourneys who would be willing to adopt and work with one of these types of formats for their own events? What would happen if there were 15 tournaments across the country every year that utilized the NOVA Open's format? Would a rankings system that processes these results independently within a larger / broader series of rankings be more useful, valuable, and objective? Would you be better able to claim that you had a "real" tournament circuit or sub-circuit?

I think it's an interesting thing to think about, and discuss, going forward. It's been on my mind.

I do know that if ANYONE would like to run a NOVA Open format tourney of their own, as few as 8 players as many as 356, let me know ---> I'm happy to even help build you a fancy shmancy tournament packet with your name and group logo splashed merrily across the top of it. More interestingly, I'd love to see in 2 or 3 or 5 years a situation where several REAL circuits are going on across the continent, with a championship for each, and a more laid back "GW styled" vegas championship for the top dogs of each of those. More meaningful, more objective, and perhaps best of all more integrated --> bringing our national community of gamers closer together under a set of rules that for once are finally standardized enough to lessen some of the bitching and web-wide drama that goes on between people over these events and their results.

I'd love to hear thoughts on this subject ...
- Mike


  1. I'm not sure what your trying to advocate?

    Rankings are pointless until you get some level of uniformity of events? Ok, agree.

    Events should be uniformed for a true circuit, but that will probably never happen? Would be nice, but ain't happening.

    NOVA open format is great and other people should use it? Ok, not going to happen but I get your point.

    Tournament organizers should communicate more often? Maybe, but unless their is some fundemental change in the above their isn't any real need.

    Community driven universal FAQ is really needed? Absolutly true, however, for that to happen you might have to conceed that you don't get to write the FAQ and will have to accept some stupid rulings for the sake of uniformity. You could just accept INAT which despite it's issues is currently the most popular.

    Personally I think that INAT is a good start but the FAQ update process really needs to be changed to include the true community rather than a couple of internet loudmouths and a benovolent dictator.

    One point that always seems to get missed in these discussions

    You have to have serious prize support, prefferably in the form of real cash, for any circuit to be successful. Think of how Magic the Gathering got it's tournament system started, not by indipendent retailers running tournaments but by Wizards of the Coast plunking down some serious cash on a yearly basis to get people to play their game.

    When you up the amount of prizes that are given out at tournaments to a significant level then you increase the pressure to "professionalize" the events. I think that's how you get a true circuit started.

  2. Some good points, some ... pessimistic patty ones.

    There are several people planning on running tournaments utilizing the NOVA Open format already, who've contacted me. Not to say everyone should or even anyone should, but the point is related to the fact that people are willing to use formats that they don't homebrew.

    Hell, Blob's Park is another indy GT and they *almost* went so far as to use the full open format, stopping short just barely.

    With the opportunity out there for people to become more uniform across more than just ... 1 tourney ... you actually could see the other things become more realistic. Vee shall see, natch.

  3. Please don't use the INAT FAQ. Half of it feels like a comp score, trying to balance stuff between armies and such. Also we really don't need a hundred page FAQ. There are rule issues with this game. But not that many. 60+ pages of that FAQ is them making up rulings to try and balance stuff out.

    That is basically what kept me from going to adepticon. That and having the main tournament on a sunday...

  4. Mike, I'm still not sure what exactly your point is...that everyone should use the NOVA format?

    Can you please condense it down to one salient sentence for us stupid people?

  5. The tournament circuit in a perfect world should be condensed down to a series of smaller sub-circuits using same-formats ... i.e., 10 tourneys use NOVA Open (those that want to), 10 tourneys use Adepticon, 10 tourneys use Bolter Beach, whatever. In your rankings system / program, you can "sort by" one of the formats, giving more meaningful national rankings of players within any given mission format.

    Something like that, Holliday.

    It has nothing to do with the Open format or its clever propagation, at all. That's just one of the ones I'm using as an example.

  6. However what is nice about the Nova format is it allows certain armies to compete easier. Namely any army that doesn't have the firepower to easily get massacres but can win games.

    Like Mech, non seer council, eldar.

  7. I would largely agree with that Mike. Rankings don't really do a lot considering how different each tourney is from the next. Some degree of standardization, even if it is in "bands" of tourney types would go a long way towards making rankings actually count for something and eventually creating a real competitive environment.

  8. This seems like a lot of verbiage for a topic that appears irrelevant.

    If GW has said they don't want to provide guidance in order to keep an independant circuit independant then does it not go against that to have all the independants colluding to standardize formats? Especially when it's acknowledged right off the bat that it is doomed to failure to to the inflexible nature of the personalities involved?

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