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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hosting a Tiered Competitive Tournament and a Non-Competitive Event: Part 1

Non-Competitive Event:

So, in response to the introductory article, Nathan Fluger posted up a non-competitive event idea which I think was an excellent example of exactly what we are looking for in this area. Recall that a non-competitive event is an event designed to provide a game play feel but involve no real competition. The suggestion was a 40K scavenger hunt. The idea here is that a big list of “events” are created and handed to each player. The goal for each play in the event is to play as many games of 40K as they can stand across the event with as many players as possible. As “events” occur in those games, they can get their list checked off for the event having occurred.

Example: One item on the check list might be “rolled a Snake Eyes to pass a Morale Check”. If that occurs during your game, you can get it signed off on that it occurred.

I want to examine why this is a fantastic set-up so we can use it as a basis to describe some core components of what I think make for a great Non-Competitive Event.

1) The format is designed to get people to play games. This is critical as the intent is to have a “game play” event not a convention. In fact, the more games you play, the more chances you have of checking items off your list! This could encourage people to play all day and all night!

2) The format has no relationship to winning or losing your games. Thus, you no longer need be concerned with the list you bring, the tactics you will use, etc.

3) “Winning” is a matter of randomness throughout your games. It can’t be controlled and thusly no need for competitive attitudes at the table. Also, no need for competitive lists or feeling like you got “crushed” if you lose.

4) It doesn’t require any tactical skill to participate!

5) Others?

These are exact qualities you look for in a non-competitive event. The above idea does have a few flaws in it which can potentially be gamed, but this is an excellent descriptor of exactly what we are looking to find. Perhaps he can use a concept like this to design a system which promotes game play not winning?

Amateur Competitive Event:

Similarly, I want to come up with a list of things that I think will make for a good amateur competitive event. From there, perhaps we can distill those ideas into a good format.

1) Don’t offer crutches or handicaps. I don’t think that anyone really wants to feel like they are being “helped” to win.

2) Refrain from a scenario in which players will feel like they are being “crushed” by a competitor who is out of their league.

3) No comp. I really don’t want Comp. The reason is that preferably, you shouldn’t have to tell anyone what they are or are not allowed to field.

4) Others?

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, but so far, I’m not sure they are well formed or even feasible. The point of the exercise then is to make them well formed and determine feasibility or alternatives. Hopefully we can then construct a list things we want to see and lastly a system which will fulfill them.
Somehow, as described by the “tiered competitive” portion of the title, it would be ideal to have tournaments for amateur competitors be tiered such that you are putting “like skilled” players in the same brackets. This is similar to how we put Heavy Weight fighters and Light Weight fighters in different brackets. How do you do this? Some sort of pre-qualifier rounds? Based on armies? Vet decisions? I’m not sure! This would be ideal though as it would help considerably with alleviating a player’s feeling that he didn’t have a chance. Truth be told, we can’t fix “whining about losing”, but we can make steps towards making sure that we aren’t putting the seals in with the sharks. Not to mention, this would seriously help competitive players find what they are looking for which is not (shouldn’t be anyways) playing against weaker players.

I really want to refrain from artificially handicapping or boosting players. By this I mean that I don’t want systems like comp which attempt to give advantage to one player or another. There are lots of reasons why comp is both good and bad, but in all, I don’t want to be telling people what they should or should not have in their lists. So, how do you make something more competitive when it simply isn’t? If it comes to this, I have much less of a problem boosting a codex than I do trying to “comp down” a codex. This is simply a design strategy. Don’t take away, just give in equal amounts! People in general will be much happier that way.

I realize that you can’t stop people from whining about losing. That’s life. However, don’t get hung up on that. I do believe that you can create a system where people will at least recognize it as trying to be as fair as possible to them. Currently, most amateur competitors just find tournaments as frustrating because they feel like they didn’t have a chance or were not given a fair shake. The perception here could at least be remedied. The truth is, it's not whining about losing if you really were handed a knife and told to go participate in a gun battle. Real sports recognize this (as alluded to by Heavy/Light Weight boxing). There should be a way we can recognize this as well.


  1. As to the second event. I think the Ordo Fanaticus Club Challenge does this the best. Its a team event (4 person teams) and the lists are submitted ahead of time to be graded on a scale from 1-5. 5 being the toughest, 1 the weakest. Teams are then matched up initially with other teams of equivalent value, and the captains of the team chat ahead of time (with help from the team) to make the 4 best matchups (in terms of avoiding Rock Paper Scissor situations to make the games tactically challenging).

    After that, teams play other teams of similar value and record. (so a team with a low record that won all its games might play against a tough team that lost all its games essentially) 5 rounds later, you crown some champions.

    Its an awful lot of fun and you end up (ideally) playing 5 tough games against armies and opponent's who stack up to your army and skill.

    Absolute blast, my favorite weekend of 40k every year.

  2. Also, do you think Pat would be interested in interviewing JMGraham who came up with the scavenger hunt idea? He's more of a fantasy player, but it'd be a good way to disseminate the information about the idea of it.

  3. I don't like calling it "non-competitive". It's so negative. It needs a more positive name. Also the "hunt" shouldn't be just random. Should also be things like "blew up an AV14 vehicle", "killed an HQ", "won a game", "won an assault". But only one checkbox for each. I.e. no matter how many assaults you win you can't get more for it.

    Look at online gaming and bages and achievements for inspiration. It's fun to have things to go after and I am pretty sure it could alter games quite a bit, hopefully to be more interesting.

    Regarding "amateurs", why not take a few more pages out of the playbook of sports? Ranking HQ could be a huge help here. Let's say we have 64 players. First round would be random pairing normally, how about ranking everyone 1 to 64 from the get go. Let #1 play #5, 2 play 6, 3-7, 4-8, and so on in the next 7 groups of 8. After the first turn you resort everyone and now # plays #9. The rest follow in the same manner.

    I am not 100% convinced this is the right way, but I think that making use of ranking HQ and trying to match people from a skill perspective can make for more interesting tournaments.

    Again props for the idea to FAQ codexes directly rather than indirectly and by positive means (making a unit more viable) than negative means (you didn't take any FA and all your three Elites are the same? We hate you, minus points for you minster and never mind all the time you spent modeling and painting it and how fluffy your list is…).

    Looking forward to hearing more about this:)

  4. Non-competitive is a bit off. I don't want to spin it as a negative approach. Maybe more like a gamer's event?


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