so I'm a little over a week late with this, but I have been...well, busy is a word.
I went to the Buckeye Battles 40k GT a little over a week ago. (July 8th). I haven't attended a GT in a while, but a Friday event allowed me to attend without having to get a schedule change approved...allowing me to go to more than one Tourney in the same month.
I had some concerns about format, but Friday tourney uber-alles and I went.
We'll start with the GOOD;
-Terrain: Very good. Each table achieved a solid 23-28%. Most of the tables were thematic and aesthetically appealing, with a great deal of unique and carefully crafted pieces. Those that were populated with 'stock' terrain (abundantly available pieces from either GW, or a local guy who produces bits) were still laid out well, and cohesive. There were very few tables that did not make the grade, and for the most part they went unused (as there were just around 30 players, and spare tables if they went over).
-Judge: (same as TO, but how he handled himself as a judge here). He was a walker...my personally preferred method. He walked about, observed the games and armies. He talked to people when appropriate, merely observed when things were 'on the line', and was amiable. He ruled when he knew, referenced the books when he wasn't 100% and asked experienced players for input when available (a good trait). Excellent all the way 'round.
-Venue: barely tight. I 'rubbed butts' in only one round, but the space was maximized well with VERY little cramping. On a large stage at a universtity, set up for both the Fantasy event (Sat/Sun) and 40k (Fri) they utilized the space VERY well...and theatre seats provided GREAT between round resting. The only negative here was on-site food services...they were quite lacking (but compensated for by foresight on the TO's part, and delivered pizza).
-Organization: hiccups resulted (as far as I could tell) solely from late arrivals pushing us back by 30min. This was slightly made up by shortening a break when all players were finished on a round, and properly rested.
-Entry; 15$ for a GT (without much else for monetary considerations, and lunch included)? Okay, I'm loving it! (especially with the level of prize support...this was awesomesauce, even though I didn't really win anything...winning!)
-Parking: was a bit confusing, some signs discouraging parking in a restricted lot would have prevented me from having to move the car...but that was minor.
-Food Services: with a GT, it's usually a good idea to have a venue that has in-house food services. Less coordination on a TO's part is always good for a smoother event, lower stress levels to TO/players...and making certain it is 100% clear to all players (in advance) is important. GT's are grinding, on occasion, and having amenities for all reduces that stressor.
-Scenarios: when utilizing non-standard scenarios, you need to go to GREAT lengths to insure clarity. Two of the scenarios we played (6 were posted on the website, 4 were used for the 4 rounds) were unclear as to how they were scored. Only ONE was egregious though (stating annihilation, while actually utilizing only VPs), but knowing in advance that VPs were pretty much the ONLY kill-score method may have altered my list choices...but only MAY have. Again, these are minor gripes, as overall this only created a small amount of confusion (that was clarified right before round-start for the most part).
-Time; Four 2+ hour rounds in one day...after a long drive there, followed by a long drive back...'nuff said...it was a grind, and I have grown OLD! :D
-Forgeworld; this MAY be the last FW event I ever play in. I accepted that I may be 'forge-worlded' out...but I had no real idea (not owning all the books) how FOUL some of the newer forgeworld material can be. Land Raider Achilles? Holy-Grud! I had NO answer, other than close assault, to these. And with a POTMS Vindicator using them as cover, my DW wasn't getting close...I felt like a 9 year old dropped into a polar-bear paddock.
If you are going to allow FW (no super-heavies/gargantuan/flyers), you have to make allowances for certain factors. My personal collection involves flyers, as I like them from an Apoc standpoint...and do not have the money to dig in deep for these things. Allowing flyers would have balanced some of the more OP ground forces, and not broken the system. (I think a Thunderbolt would have had the same overall impact in the event, as an Achilles...but that's me).
For a competitive event, with a great deal of prize support (from a per-player to $value ratio), FW should go. There is NO balancing factor, little method of coming up with a true metric for assessing your competitiveness (as there are few FW events, there are fewer opportunities to assess certain synergies) and no real method of assessing pairing factors beyond pure scores (as this event seemed to have done in some fashion)...it really throws Strength of Schedule out the window (see next).
-Pairings; Pairings for events like this, are normally swiss system...or some other method that involves 1st round random, and following round vs like ranked opponents.
Yet we received the packets, which stated pairings would be random...and scoring would involve bonuses based on opponent SoS.
WTF??? I had not seen this on the website, which may be a failing of mine for research...but I looked again and still didn't find this info.
I can honestly say, excepting for my round 1 opponent, I should not have faced (under normal pairing systems) ANY of my following opponents. Not even close.
Also, my 2nd round game appeared to have been a win for me (I assume from some SoS adjustment) vs the close loss my opponent and I thought I had suffered. That confusion led me to play differently in my 3rd and 4th rounds (more relaxed and uncaring) vs with clarity and sense of purpose.
This was TERRIBLE...utterly. Random pairings have no place in a competitive event. I get the intent, and none of it was done with intent to be obtuse or bollox people up...it was done (likely) to assist the TO in scoring and pairing times (as he was using, I think, the same system for both events...and had a much larger group playing for the rest of the GT over the weekend...AND seemed to be flying solo). That is not to intimate laziness, it is simple efficiency..I get it, and understand it...but wholly DON'T espouse it.
I DON'T like flying through an event with NO idea how the spread is playing, who is where on the tables...and I REALLY didn't like the randomness pulling me a PERFECT opponent in the last round (for me). I tabled him. I DON'T like tabling people, and I don't like TOTALLY one-sided games...he was crushed, but fortunately smiling the whole way (crushed in a game sense, not spirit sense).
-Sporstmanship; I waffled on this one, as it can be a taste issue more than anything...and waffled on where to place this (bad, or ugly).
But my 3rd round opponent clinched it for me. I have seen this guy in action, and he CAN be a little...pushy/arsey. I ran an event with him, and he was NOT easygoing in any game I observed (two of the three)...and nearly caused a real altercation one round. Yet the entire game (with me) he was insidiously fawning and complimentary. My army is painted well, from a TABLETOP perspective. Yet listening to him, I had a golden-daemon level army...with shading far above and beyond any skill level he'd seen. My land raider was shaded and highlighted beyond pro-quality...etc etc etc (you get the point). The thing wasn't even finished, just 'mostly' there. I cheated with washes, and hadn't even blacklined.
He was fishing for 'favorite opponent' votes with everyone, as far as I could tell...and if he faced any of the 'kids', that would have worked. I just smiled, swallowed my pride, and played on.
It's not that he was 'bad'. He was just fishing. If you're on the table at an event, you should play as you normally play in a tourney...not go in with a false smile. I am not espousing 'assy' play, but be honest with yourself and your opponent. Platitudes and alligator tears are insulting to a savvy/empathic opponent.
If you are going to 'include' sportsmanship, as part of a 'Best Overall' scoring, you should also make a clear 'checklist'. The scoring for this was a 'Judge' call, with adjustments based on observed attitudes/altercations/table tense-ness. I don't care HOW engaged you are, this will not reflect a totally objective view. My 3rd opponent 'ramped up' his 'compliments' on my painting whenever the TO hove into view...this was fairly obvious to me, yet would not have been if the TO was on the move elsewhere (and my opponent seemed to be watching). I also can say, that unless loud and heated, the TO could very well have missed some minor altercations.
If it scores into overall, frankly, it should be in the hands of the players...not an ephemeral and un-quantifiable fashion.
Overall, I DID enjoy myself greatly.
I played 4 people I had never played before (yayyy travelling), and did not repeat a single army type for opponent.
I will reconsider returning next year, but will probably not if the scoring AND FW restrictions/allowances stay totally the same.