This week on the podcast we are starting a 3 part series on Appearance Scoring for our GT. The reason is that I am trying to come up with a smart way of accomplishing a few goals with Appearance Scoring at our GT. What we ultimately want is a way to encourage people to a high, table-top standard, encourage players to compete for the Best Overall category, and finally, of course, provide a great atmosphere for the true Best Appearance competitors to really show their stuff.
Now, before I even get started, I suppose I should start with a disclaimer. For some reason, anytime you start talking about Appearance and Sports scoring, some groups of people feel the need to exclaim that this kind of thing is too subjective and should really not be scored. Let me go ahead and take care of that now.
Appearance Scoring is subjective? THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUS! Now, that we got that out of system, let's move on and see if we can apply our collective brain power to solving the problem rather than simply stating that there is a problem. (As a more serious life lesson for any who haven't thought about this yet, the money, power, and women go to the guy who finds solutions not to the guy who points out problems. We are all smart enough to recognize problems. We AREN'T all smart enough to solve them.)
We just finished recording for this week over an hour of back-and-forth conversation revolving mostly around the starting concept of Appearance Scoring. Although a good portion of that conversation may very well get edited out for the rambling and circular talk, I found that conversation to be VERY useful to me when determining what it is exactly that I want Appearance Scoring to do at my GT.
1) Reduce "butt-hurt" that gets associated with Appearance Scoring. Nothing generates "butt-hurt" at a tournament quite like Appearance Scoring. People get down-right hostile when they feel like their army should have scored higher than it did, ESPECIALLY higher than that guy's army over there!
2) Encourage people who will NEVER be the BEST to still strive for a high table-top quality.
3) Encourage people (just like me!) to honestly compete for Best Overall, instead of just hanging it up because we know that our Appearance Scores will not be adequate enough.
4) Create an arena where the people who CAN be the BEST a place for their work to be truly graded at the level they need, rather than at the level of the "rest of us". Do this, while not making it impossible for the "rest of us" to win Best Overall.
5) Give players an honest way of knowing up front how they will perform, Appearance wise. To me, this is just like players knowing what the tournament packet is before they show up with their army.
So, it's no secret that I'm a total fan boi of the NoVA Open. The NoVA Open concept has blessed us with two very good ideas when it comes to tournaments which need to be reflected on at this point before continuing to talk about Appearance Scoring.
Best Overall Category - NoVA calls this Renaissance Man. (I prefer Best Overall because it sounds a lot less pretentious to me... I said I was a fan boi not a drone. :P Also, if you haven't bought a 2012 ticket yet, you should. They don't have a whole lot left.) Best Overall, in my opinion, in the best overall thing to happen to the Indy tournament scene. The concept is that the top winner of your tournament is not the guy who wins all of his games. The concept is that your top winner is the guy who most ably reflects all aspects of our great hobby. Thus, this combines elements of Generalship, Appearance, and for us, Sportsmanship. So, to win Best Overall, the top tournament prize and spot, you need to bring you game not only on the table-top, but also in the hobby.
Brackets - Another NoVA brain-child which I find to be genius. This concept is that in a multi-round GT, you will use the first half of the GT to essentially qualify for what will become your actual tournament brackets in the second half. This way, when you actually start to compete to win prizes, awards, etc., you are doing so against your PEERS rather than having ZERO chance to compete because the people who are the Best Generals just drown everyone else out.
So, what does this have to do with Appearance Scoring, and more importantly, who cares?
What I want is a method for EVERYONE to be able to compete for Best Overall and not simply get canned because they can't paint very well. This is important for people JUST LIKE ME, whose hobby skills BLOW. You see, this is no different than the guys who feel like they can never win on Generalship because they will never be as good as others. They don't want to swim with sharks, but let me tell you, NEITHER DO I. At the end of the day, we should model bracketing in some manner that let's us all compete and more importantly, HAVE FUN.
Second, the goal is Best Overall. Being able to compete with your peers increases your chance of scoring the coveted Best Overall. If I have an honest shot at winning Best Overall because I don't have to paint like Rembrandt, I might actually make an effort to do so. Likewise, if a true hobbyist has a shot at Best Overall by learning how to use his army, he might actually TRY rather than just hanging it up.
So, what direction are we headed in this series?
What I would like to see is the creation of an Appearance Scoring rubric that is designed for the average guy. Something people like me can strive for. This score is what will ultimately apply to my Best Overall ranking. This will encourage guys like me to give it an honest try, and at the end of the day, we all win because guys like me will start showing up with good table-top quality armies rather than half-assed paint jobs.
Second, since the Appearance Scoring rubric will be for the average person, I expect anyone with a serious shot at a Best Appearnace to easily sweep past the rubric. These guys get a top score in painting, which they should, and THEN, they go off onto a separate path for Best Appearance. This leads into a much more subjective grading system performed by their PEERS. (More on this later). This way, they get the judgement they deserve rather than a silly rubric which will have the audacity to compare their master pieces to guys like me!
In Part 2, I'll start talking about the formation of a rubric as well as what happens to the Best Appearances. I'll also continue the discussion around Best Overall because there are some subtle problems with scoring Best Overall to a rubric but not Best Appearance, mainly not giving ENOUGH credit to the Best Appearance players towards the Overall score.