Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tournament: Sheep of the Dark Ages?

As you now know, I recently attended my first tournament for this year, Panzershrek.
It was a fantastic event and a lot of fun, and it was great to get back onto the competitive scene.

The tournament was run as a generic tournament template, and its new TO did a fantastic job of it. However across the weekend, and later, him and I discussed how sportsmanship and paint scores effect the scoring, and if there is both an easier and more efficient way of doing it. This then got me thinking.....

The standardisation of Ninth Age tournaments (along with many other platforms competed in its like), run a scoring of Best Paint and Best Sports. Both of these are then calculated into percentages, added to the battle points, to give you the positions of Best Overall. Most events do not have a separate award for purely Best General based on battle points, so the impact of your sportsmanship and your painting skill effects how you will place.
You may be the top scoring player in an event when it comes to battle points, but maybe your ability to paint is terrible, or is not the reason you are in this hobby, and because of this, your placing in the event can be effected.

Alongside of this, apart from knowing what time you need to be at the venue, player packs have become almost copycat pieces of paper that do not require any attention. I say this, as apart from the randomisation of what game type is played in each game (something I no longer pay attention to until just before the game itself), there is no difference between them.

In a sense, I feel as tournament goers and tournament organisers, we have become stagnant.

Have we become sheep? Has creativity in ideas become unwanted? Are we sitting in the Dark Ages of tournaments? Have we given up looking into the progression of how to evolve events?

Four years ago when I set out to establish Warbanner, which in its first year saw only 6 players, I opted to aim for difference. Every tournament in the country, and almost across the world, was using the standardised 20-0 system for Warhammer Fantasy.
However, a major USA event called Brawler Bash, was using a different scoring system called Carnage. This system threw out the 20-0 scoring, based your tournament points on your victory points per game, and the end results were not effected by sports and paint. It also utilised very creative and different scenarios, which were designed by the TO to force players to think differently.
Although in its first year this was frowned upon, and the second it was somewhat questioned, by adopting this style of tournament, Warbanner was able to create a major point of difference in the tournament scene.

Okay, so now you are sitting there thinking, "Oh so he thinks the tournament he runs is better then the others?" "This is just pride and vanity talking".

The answer, is no.

Warbanner's design was a needed stepping stone away from standardisation, and to hope move stagnant waters. But it is not perfect, and as each year goes on, I work hard to tweak and amend its systems and style to better create the event.

What I am saying, is for tournament play to progress, we need more creatively designed events.
I am not saying that every event needs to move away from the 20-0 out of the book style format. That still has an integral part in the tournament scene.
What I am seeing is that we do need to see change.

When a great painter but poor player gets ranked higher then a slightly better player because he has been painting for 10 years and the other player on a matter of months, there is an issue.
When a player amicably questions or disputes a rule issue, and is right, but gets knocked down in placings due to a poor sports score by his opponent, there is an issue.
When the venue time is all that really matters in every single player pack, there is an issue.

Do I have the answers? Absolutely not. I wish I did. Warbanner for me was the start of change, but by no means, the end all.
For real change, it requires those who wish to see the evolution of the tournament scene take the time and energy to work to develop new systems in how they run events.

My intention is to run a new Napier event alongside Warbanner. This event is yet to be named and will likely be held at the end of next year's April holidays. Although I have no idea as of yet how to break the tournament wheel with something else that is different yet competitive, I aim to work tiresly to do so.

I know this blog may annoy some competitors, and in particular, tournament organisers.
But I also know that change does not occur without the ruffling of feathers.

Until next time,


  1. Paint scores are not about the "best painter" but about encouraging people to bring a fully painted army to the table. Without it people can get quite lazy! It is a good incentive to get painting and put in some effort.

  2. I agree, there is a huge importance on people bringing painted armies. Nothing spites me more then travelling several hours, paying several hundred dollars, and sitting across the table from a host of unimaginative grey....
    However I feel there are also other ways to encourage fully painted armies on the table, then effecting someones skills or lack of skills as a general.