Monday, June 22, 2009

Overrated & Underrated

This is the email I recently submitted to Richard at Dice Like Thunder. If you have not checked out their podcast, you need to learn how to use the internet better.

Since my approach to the hobby does not really focus on tactics, I thought I would write a different kind of overrated/underrated. For this essay, my overrated is tournament size, while my underrated is atmosphere.

I recently had a discussion with some fellow tournament organizers, and the general consensus by them was that continued growth and the general size of an event were important to defining the quality of that event. Some of the reasons for this were that the size of the event makes it more prestigious and that the pool of players will be more diverse. While I cannot argue that either point is invalid, I do feel that the general concept is not nearly as important to defining the quality of the event as others would imply. The biggest events in my experience are usually the least enjoyable. The focus on size lends itself to other concessions being made that may detract from the quality of the event if numbers are not your unit of measurement.

With regards to my underrated, I feel that the atmosphere of an event is often overlooked. More specifically, I feel that the atmosphere of a tournament is one of the keys to defining whether or not an event was good and that not enough focus is placed on it. A lot of times I believe when people think atmosphere, they write it off as something that is driven by the people that attend the event. I would argue that atmosphere begins with how the event is set-up and promoted. Examples of this would be army size versus the amount of available time to run the event. Another would be the number of tables that can be set-up with the event still being comfortable for the average gamer. One last example would be how the event promotes itself. If an event calls itself the biggest, loudest, toughest event in 69 states, does it understand the message it is communicating?

Just my thoughts on what I consider over & under.



  1. I'm with you. I've several pet peeves with large tournaments.

    1. I'm a runner, but I hate having to run down a long line of tables, elbow aside other players, hurdle display bases and troop packs just to get to the other side of my game table to move a unit into place for a later assault. Then run back of course to line up shots. Anything more than four tables without an opening between is rude.

    2. I've never attended a large tournament wherein I could actually hear the mid-game announcements. In some tournaments I couldn't hear my opponent across the table. Huh? What's the point?

    3. Inadequate space between tables. Most of us take a lot of stuff to tourney. I play Orks, so I take more than most. You try squeezing a 3x2 display base under a table already packed with boxes from the terrain set up. If I leave it in the "aisle", I'm asking for the next runner (see item #1) to kick it two tables down and one aisle over. Spacing, noise, accessibility, oh yeah.

    4. Food and restrooms: At some point in the long day of gaming I'm going to need both of the above in one order or the other. Easy access to food and pottys is vital. How can I race down the arena only to find the restrooms out of service? What's the point of havning an hour for food when it takes 20 minutes to get to the food? I usually take a bag lunch to avoid the 2o minute exercise. Having available space to comfortably nosh my tea and crumpets makes a nice thoughtful touch.

    Fewer, nicely placed tables; access to food and potty; audible announcements; comfortable space to gather, nosh, and socialize means fewer players. The best tourneys I've been part of had fifty or less players. Beautiful terrain, excellent organization, and creative scenarios for me are assumed part of any tourney for which I'm charged an entry fee.

    In summary, smaller, quality venues make excellent tournaments. But I'm an old fart.

  2. Maybe you are right in the sense that it has to do with age. (Though I do admit I would rather start referring to us as old dogs or old roses. Why do we need to be something smelly and old.) It seems to me that there are enough things in life that require a certain level of endurance and intensity, so why would I want to make my hobby one of those things. I think we both would agree that we enjoy competition, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be in a relaxing form. I agree that if I have to travel across an expo hall to go potty and I must do it in 10 minutes, that does not make for a relaxed time. Maybe as the next generation of TOs start taking the reins, they will bring back the elements we are discussing here.