Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Battlepoints Are Gimping Your Tournaments

by SandWyrm


It's a plain fact that 40K tourneys have a bad rap amongst the greater 40K community. They're often seen as nothing but an excuse for WAAC (Win At All Costs) players to throw fun out the window and bring the most "broken" or "spammy" combos they can to grind other players into the dirt. Certainly, the most common experience for new players attending a tourney for the first time is to lose two or more of their games. Often very, very, badly. Which, when combined with the tension of a typical event, will often sour them on ever going to another tourney again. 

But is it the competitive players that are responsible for this perception, or is the result of a flawed competitive system?

I'd argue it's the latter. GW created the WAAC seal-beating phenomenon. Not the players. They did this by creating a flawed tournament format that others continue to blindly mimic.

It Went Like This...

Back in the mist-shrouded age of the late 80's and early 90's, GW started running competitive events to help build interest in the hobby. It was (and still is) a marketing tool. So they handed the responsibility for it over to the sales department instead of the design studio. Who suddenly had to figure out how to run an event of 60 or more people.

The first problem they faced was that 40K takes a while to play. Back in 2nd edition, it wasn't unusual for a casual game of 2000 points to last 6-8 hours. Things are better now, but 2 hours is about the minimum amount of time that you can reliably get a 2K game done in; and then only if neither army is a foot hoard. In which case you might only get through turn 3 or 4 before your time is up.

So as you can imagine, this limits the number of rounds that you can have in a day to just 3-4. Which represents 6-8 hours of playing plus 2-3 hours of breaks.

But, this causes problems for a single-elimination event. As a 32-man event requires 5 rounds to determine a single winner. While a 64 man event requires 6 rounds. It's a power of 2 progression.

    Number of Players   2   4   8   16   32   64   128   256
    Rounds Required   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

So at the end of 4 rounds, a 32-man event will have 2 undefeated players, while a 64-man event will have 4 undefeated. Obviously, they wanted to be able to determine an overall winner, but how could they with multiple undefeated players?

Their solution was Battle Points.

"Hey!" they thought, "We'll just award points for how well someone won! Ten to each player for a draw, 12/8 for a close win, 15/5 for a decisive win, and 20/0 if it's a real massacre! Problem solved!"

But There Was A Problem...

The first few events probably went well enough. But over time the organizers started noticing a worrying problem. Their events were attracting not only competitive gamers, but what would later be known as the WAAC gamer. The guys who like to beat their opponents' faces into the dirt and/or cheat. What's more, these guys were winning the events!

Uh oh, thought the organizers, we need to fix this. So they started adding in non-game scores (soft scores) to the battlepoint total. Things like painting scores and player-scored sportsmanship. In an attempt to encourage better behavior at their events and keep the WAACers from winning so much.

But that only encouraged cheating. Players started bringing armies that they didn't paint themselves, while many others would "chipmunk" the sportsmanship scores of opponents that beat them in order to screw them out of the top prizes.

On top of this, we eventually got composition scoring. An attempt to further limit players from taking certain units that were considered overpowered. Problem was, comp just became another part of the game. Meaning that the same players who had figured out the game were able to figure out and exploit comp to their advantage. While the more casual players were the only ones hurt.

And Here We Are...

Two years into 5th Edition, we've finally reached a tipping point where Comp is being abandoned in favor of playing by the rules as they are. Part of that is GW writing better, more balanced codices with lots of build choices. But it's also dawning on people that Comp never really worked all that well in the first place. Much less now, with the ability of almost any 5th Edition codex to get around any restriction due to their larger variety of effective units.

That still leaves soft scores. But attacking soft-scoring doesn't get to the root of the problem. Which is:


Battle Point Systems Encourage WAAC.

Think about it for a moment. No, really think about it. Battle Points award variable scores based on how badly you beat your opponent. They encourage you to win BIG.

How do you win big in this game? Why, you win big by tabling a baby seal!


What's a baby seal? It's an inexperienced player with an uncompetitive list. If you want to win a BP-scored tourney therefore, the best thing you can do is to absolutely annihilate 3 - 4 baby seals. That will give you the maximum possible number of battle points at the end of the tourney.

Whatever you do, you don't want to go up against strong players until the very end, if at all. Because if you have a couple of closely fought wins the seal-beaters will advance right past you to the top of the rankings.

Yay! I Win!............................................. and you lose!

Adding soft-scores into the equation doesn't change this fact. It just makes sure that the richest, most two-faced players will tend to be the ones that win your tourney. Rich, because they'll be paying someone else to paint their army. Two-faced because they need to beat a baby seal senseless while making the seal believe they're the nicest person in the world. Lest they lose out on those sportsmanship scores while cheating others out of theirs. What do we call this type of person? A Politician.

So to summarize, 40K tournaments tend to be a mess of an event where new players are beaten senseless, truly competitive players are passed over, and where the best general award goes to the luckiest politician. Yeah, that sounds fair.

So What Do We Do Instead?

What we do instead is to stop using Battlepoints to determine the winner of a tourney and go by win/loss instead. This removes the incentives to act badly and pummel helpless opponents. Because now it's OK to ease up on a weak player that you've already beaten. This lets you relax and enjoy a closer game where you can actually give some tips to the other player.

We've had 3 win/loss tourneys here in Indy over the past year, of which I attended two. Both of those tourneys (neither of which I won) were easily the best tournaments I've ever attended. Because everyone was relaxed and playful instead of on edge all the time.

There was much less worrying about match-ups, since a close game wouldn't knock you out of the running. I had no problems with opponents cheating me, as I've had problems with at EVERY other event I've attended. There was no worrying about soft scores, no yelling at other tables, nothing. It was quite pleasant all around, even for the baby seals. Who should all go away with good stories to tell instead of bad ones. Thereby growing the tournament scene.

But What About The Undefeated Players?

Simple. Either hold another round to eliminate ties or just split the prize support between them. I'd much rather have multiple winners at a fun, fair event than a single winner from an unfair stress-fest.

If it really bugs you, hold a short quiz or something else gameshow-ish in front of the other players to determine who gets the certificate. But DO NOT give this person any more prize support than the other undefeated players. Else it's not fun anymore.

"Hey I Know, We'll Do Win/Loss But Break Ties With Battlepoints!"

Nope, bad idea. Because you're still telling your top players that they need to club seals. This will also make your results more dependent on matchups. Plus your Baby Seals will still leave with bad stories about your event instead of good ones.

So lets clean up the tourney scene and make it fun for everyone by ditching Battle Points.

40 comments:

  1. What is it about your "yay I win" photo that inspires "they need a punch in the face" ?

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  2. Actually, I disagree near the end. For starters, breaking ties with battle points is far better than the victory points of some tournaments I've played. Why? because they can actually be objective and goal based. If victory points are the tie breakers, and especially if there will be more than one undefeated player (such as splitting prize or something) then it is fully encouraging to table your opponent.
    I honestly feel that W/L with Vp tie breakers is the worst possible lay out. Many large event is going to end with multiple undefeated and so it comes down to Vp aka who tabled the most.

    The other thing is the W/L format in general. While I acknowledge it is the better format, I don't want people thinking it doesn't have its flaws. It can suffer from bad match-ups just as easily. A poor list is in the tourney, but it happens to be something that just ruins your list. Sure it SHOULD be knocked out of the running, but if you get matched up early, it can end it for you. I've had it where an average Lash list was pitted against my Tyranids. I honestly only won because time ran out. I out played him, and list wise I think I had the advantage, but some set ups just ruin others.
    And when it comes down to it, W/L is single elimination. There is no forgiven games, no almost wins or minor losses. I don't feel less likely to smash my opponent, its more of the opposite. I'm a very laid back player, even when I'm at a tournament and there to win. But when I'm playing W/L, I feel more inclined to table my opponent, lest he pulls out a trick and takes my game away, cause it's all or nothing.
    W/L makes the scene far more competitive, and more likely for arguments, I saw two at the last one. Because no one wants to go to the losers bracket. With Battle points, even a loss can be made up if you win well enough after that, but that is not so with W/L.

    That being said, I do support W/L gaming, but not really at anything over 16 people. Unless they go to two days of gaming, and give out prizes far beyond top 4.

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  3. As soon as you bring VP's into it it obviously becomes a stomp-fest, yeah.

    Personally, I lean towards W/L with some minor in-game bonus points to essentially function as tiebreakers. The best sort of these don't necessarily demand that you curbstomp your opponent, and are more like holding a secondary objective or destroying a specific unit.

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  4. How do people feel about win/loss/tie scenarios? I mean, I don't want to see capture and control mission level tie probability, but going to third tie breaker because there MUST be a winner can be a bit unsatisfying too. Sometimes a game just has no clear winner, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It (slightly) decreases the likelihood of everyone having the same score, and lessens the potential sting TheGraveMind talks about.

    So would it be a compromise, or the worst of both worlds?

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  5. All that is easily solved by going to double elimination, GraveMind. Of course, this increases the time it takes to complete the event by a significant amount and can cause weird things on the top table*, but if all you want is objective ranking, then it's definitely the way to go. Single elimination W/L ranking is the most objective we can get while requiring the least amount of time.

    I agree whole-heartedly with SandWyrm here. Regardless of whether or not you think W/L ranking is the solution, it's sort of undeniable that there is a problem and that it's most likely GW's fault.

    * - Top table: Player A vs B. "A" has one loss, "B" has no losses, if "A" wins, they have to play again to determine the winner because at that point they both have a single loss. This sort of thing could be fixed by doing a tiered sort of tournament. Say you do double elimination up to the top 16 and then single from then on, or something.

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  6. You essentially can't have ties unless you also do Battle Points of some kind. Straight W/L/T results in dozen-way ties with no way to break them when it's time to hand out prizes, and no way to predict what the prizes will be at the end of the night, since you don't know how many people will finish with what record.

    Essentially, it's a nightmare for tournament organizers. If you do W/L, you know exactly what the records will be at the end of the night. If you do Battle Points, overall ties are unlikely, and you won't have any problems. If you do straight W/L/T, you might end up with a four-way tie for first and a six-way tie for second. Everybody gets $5 of prize support! Woo!

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  7. @GraveMind

    You misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting anything as a tie-breaker. If two people go undefeated, they both win the same prize. Unless you want to have some sort of minor contest to sort out who gets what $2 bit of colored ribbon. :)

    Also: Yes, you can have a bad matchup in a W/L event (and Peyton could get injured before a big Colts game). But the W/L system is less biased towards bad matchups than the one we have now.

    Consider that I won 3rd place in the 'Ard Boyz prelims this year even though I lost 2 of the 3 games. Because in the 2nd game I drew a baby seal and tabled him. In a W/L format, that doesn't happen.

    @Dodgerj3

    Breaking the tie on some sort of in-game objective is a bit better, but still depends greatly on the matchup. Dark Eldar will always pick up a loose crate, for instance.

    @Dino

    Ties don't work for scoring, because the only way to implement them is to make all wins worth say, 2 points, and all ties one. But in reality both players in a tie lose to winners in the same bracket. Neither will be able to win the tourney.

    Ties work in a casual game, but there's a reason Pro Sports have overtime to resolve them.

    @Zheit

    Without BPs, your example would never happen. Because both players at the top table would be winners going into the final round.

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  8. @dodgerj3
    This only happens if ties are as or more likely than wins and losses, which need not be the case. Have a good primary mission, and if ties are pretty likely on that, by all means have a tiebreaker. But if you have a 5 objective game, with table quarters as a secondary mission, and are still tied? Then call it a tie. If you have a straight victory point mission, make the tie zone like ±2% of list totals (that's a 60 point range at 1500)

    Chess tournaments support ties and regularly fail to explode in giant fireballs, all I'm saying.

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  9. Missions can be designed to be very tie-unlikely. In Capture and Control, for instance, you can add another objective in the middle of the table.

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  10. @SandWyrm
    First of all, people can understand the concept of a half point for a tie. I promise. That is a non-issue :p

    And pro soccer does allow ties except in elimination tournaments, so again, nya~

    Yes, players who tie "lose" to all players who won that bracket, but "win" to all players who lost. That is the nature of the tie, and honestly, sort of the POINT. It is true that in all likelihood a player with a half point is not going to end up in the top spot, but they could very well end up in the SECOND spot. It makes scoring for the rest of the tournament a little more straightforward, and people besides first through third place care about where they finish too.

    (three objectives still tie quite a bit actually. One each and center contested is easy to do. If you want a tie breaker, at least have it count units contesting or something)

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  11. ah, now you misunderstood me.
    "Hey I Know, We'll Do Win/Loss But Break Ties With Battlepoints!"
    I'm fine with top two sharing prize as long as they know they are before they sign up. I was talking about game tie breakers.
    And ya, bad match up are always possible, I just wanted to make sure people know. Some people on the internet seem to have the idea that its completely infallible.

    your ard boyz case is notable, but consider the following. You almost table a marine player, He doesn't kill a single thing of yours, and by pure lucky rolls, he has one marine alive at the end of the game. That one marine is standing on an objective, he gets the win. He played horrible, didn't do anything, and luck allowed one guy to live, yet he wins, and you lose.
    In that case W/L is almost more dependent on luck. one good run roll, armor save, what ever. Sure they make far more thrilling games, but sometimes they poorly show the better general. Yes the game on average is like that, but sometimes if feels certain formats bring out the contrasts more.

    Gasp, new people lose bad! They show up to a tournament, and don't expect to lose some games? you learn more from losing than winning, especially when you are starting out.

    Don't tell me you're one of those, "every kid who plays baseball deserves a trophy" kind of person. It is the responsibilty of the players to be nice to the new guy, not the game's/tournament's. And it is not fair to place that on the game because we all know we can't count on everyone being nice.

    @zheit
    If double elimination isn't realistic, then don't bother bringing it up. and it doesn't solve any problems, it simply dilutes it.
    I disagree whole-heartly with your statement. W/L is not the most objective format. maybe the one with the least amount of effort, but I like to try when I win games. It is unbiased because its luck dependent and random all until the end, and by then it isn't worth getting there.

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  12. LOL! No, I don't like it when every kid wins. But I don't like it when the tourney format encourages good players to curb-stomp newbies either. Getting your face bashed in tends to discourage most people from coming back next time.

    If the hobby is going to grow and prosper, we need to make sure even the losers at a tourney have a good time.

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  13. I definitely agree that VPs leave a bad taste and don't really work. W/L is a far better system.

    The way I'd run a large scale one day event would be to do away with the whole idea of overall rankings. There's no way to effectively determine the "best player" in so short a time scale so why even bother?

    Instead you'd have some kind of stake on each table, the winner taking the prize. It would encourage people to be more relaxed, especially later on if they're already up a few games.

    For a longer and more competitive event I think Nova really cracked it. The way they handled everything seemed very smart and it sounded like everyone who went had a great time.

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  14. "Instead you'd have some kind of stake on each table, the winner taking the prize. It would encourage people to be more relaxed, especially later on if they're already up a few games."

    Now that's a very interesting idea! I like it!

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  15. If the goal is to make it fun for everyone including the baby seals then it falls to the tournament organizers to make sure that the scenarios are interesting and the WAAC's aren't to big of jerks. The problem with any competitive event is that for every ultimate winner there is an ultimate loser. Yes, its better to lose a few close games than to get stomped but losers playing losers should even that out and make for at least one competitive game for the newbs regardless of how you determine the winner. I like w/l because I hate ties but in the end the guy who loses every game isn't going to feel great unless there was something else to take away from the day and that comes down to how the tournament is designed. Sometimes we may need to shake up the scenario list or do something unexpected so that its harder to set up a waac army that can always win the same thee scenarios we always play.

    For the newbs and the hobby in general we should have a games day with 40k and maybe some killteam and/or space hulk open with models there for people to try out. No winners unless you wanted a painting competition. We used to have these at the gp north back in the day and it is a much better way to grow the hobby than a competitive setting.

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  16. Luke is correct. Tournaments are not places to grow the hobby. Getting crushed isn't fun. I agree that the tournaments we have run at G2D4 with a type of W/L format have been more successful than we anticipated. But I would like to "balance" what we did in a better way with maybe having the Main objective, a secondary objective, and then the third maybe being victory points. An example would be Seize ground with 5 objectives, then table quarters, then victory points. I also do not like the idea of victory points being used for the entire day as we had it at the past tournament because it could have encouraged those fighting for 2nd place to WAAC out. We had a 3 round tournament with the top 4 players going at it in a 4th round. We ended up with only 3 undefeated players out of 28. The 4th player with the highest victory points for the day was in the playoff round. Even though the tournament was a huge success, I think to address what we are talking about, only the victory points for the 3rd round game count to break tie's to determine ranking for the final round.

    Example. At the end of round 2 of 28 there are 7 undefeated players. All of the 1 and 1 players know in the round 3, victory points will determine placing for the 4th position if their is one. This would only make clubbing a baby count in the last round for a majority of the players. A lesser of evils I would say. You could even use a strategic mission set up to ensure the third mission is Capture and control with victory points, or annihilation with kill points and victory points. Either way, giving a baby seal 2 out of 3 games where they don't have to feel the clubs is better than all 3.

    Just my thoughts!

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  17. Another thing to keep in mind: Non-primary "bonus point" triggers within a game not only function as tiebreakers, but they give something for the losing player to strive for WHILE they're losing.

    You might know you've lost the game, but rather than sitting there for two turns just taking your models off the table, you can throw your remaining models in an all-out attempt to assassinate an enemy unit that's worth a bonus point, or hold a table quarter, or grab an objective, etc. If you go 2-1, those bonus points can move you from 7th to 4th and get you a prize, and you know you did something to earn it.

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  18. It feels like we are discussing two things, and it's the same everytime the subject comes up. One is, how do we score one individual game. We have win/lose, points, different objectives, kill vs objectives, holding stuff, score at the end vs score along the way. There are TONS of variations and my hopes would be that different tournaments would use different systems. To shake things up if nothing else.

    Then the second thing discussed is the pairing for each round and determining "a winner". Here's where my opinions come in:) First, throw fairness out the window. Since you can't play all the other players at the event matchups are going to skew the result. So let's just accept that and work within that.

    Next is the number of games. 3-5 is common but I hear about 7. Let's use a 64 man tournament for example. We'd need six games for that one. Let's say we would break it up into four "brackets" instead and resuce the number of games to four. That would leave more time and the time for the fifth game could be used for something else (more on that later).

    The question then is how do you split 64 players into 4x16? Random? Nope, that would defeat the purpose. I'd say use rankings HQ. Fill the brackets according to rankings and randomize unranked players. Always add all players to rankings HQ and since that more than likely would grow it quite a bit it should help in the future and help them improve it. This would mean experienced players play experienced players and seals vs seals. More equal players equals more fun for most of us!

    Game five then? Mini tournament for the for winners using killteam rules or anything similar that is quicker. Random pairings and objective bingo. First that does x gets a price. More of a fun ending that is meant to be more of a happening than hard core. Something that is pure fun for all.

    I'm quite curious of people's opinions on RankingsHQ btw:)

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  19. Rankings are ok, but it would be a pretty complex system to get this set up. When running our tournaments I like the pairings to be as random as possible. Obviously not pairing someone who they traveled a long distance with but being random none the less.

    My idea of a perfect pairing system is this.

    Randomly draw names in front of everyone. (Travel partners would be redrawn if able).

    With a W/L only format, IN MY OPINION, a win is a win and all winners go into a box and are drawn random in front of everyone. The losers also go into a box and are drawn randomly in front of everyone.

    The only time a secondary variable is needed are when there is the final round. So in a 3 round tournament, the 2nd game's secondary objective to determine pairing would kick in. In a 4 round the 3rd game etc.

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  20. Stelek had a good post once on the merits of different pairing systems. The gist was that he thought you should intentionally pair the Seals with the best players early on.

    That way, you confirmed that the Seals were indeed Seals, saved your hardest games for last, and the Seals' later games would be more evenly matched (and in theory, more fun).

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  21. First off, I'll say that I don't play tournaments, which is why I wanted to let my reply stew a bit before posting it... Maybe an outside view is a good thing.

    Tournaments shouldn't have to cater to players just learning the hobby. And I've said before that tournaments shouldn't have to balance WAAC vs non WAAC players - if you're going to compete, you better compete.

    From the sounds of the tournaments being talked about, I think there does need to be a balancing. The best games are the ones that are hard and each side has to work for the win. How well you do in a specific game shouldn't be taken into account - and it's not just about clubbing seals. We all know that in some cases it's rock/paper/scissors with list building.

    While pairings are generally random, I think some sort of tiered system is best if just for the reason that it's most fair - winners from each round facing each other.

    If you want to be nice, you could run separate tiers by pitting losers against each other with small consolation prizes like blisters or used minis.

    The problem with allowing how well you do in a game to affect your overall ranking more than just W/L/T and walking away with points is that now an unbalanced pairing doesn't just give you an advantage against one person, it gives you an advantage over the entire tournament - this seems way too unbalanced.


    It occurs to me, why is there so much harsh debate over things like comp, trying to balance armies (when you won't be able to balance skill levels) while tournaments are generally accepted the way they are. If anything, there seems to be a need for more balanced ways to run tournaments.

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  22. @ Flekkzo

    There is no standard tournament format for 40k, so the rankings from any tracking system would be fairly useless. Tournaments with 100% competitive scoring count the same as tournaments with 90% soft scoring.

    It's not like Magic which has a strictly enforced format. With Magic if a store commits any shenanigans, they can loose their right to sell Magic. Not so much the case with 40k tournaments.

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  23. I'm fairly new to 40k but I don't really get what's wrong with WAAC mentality (as long as it doesn't resort to cheating). Or what's wrong with newbies like myself being crushed in competitive tournaments. Or whats wrong with competitive army lists.

    When I go to tournament I expect to get beaten badly. Because I lack the experience, the skill, the whatever. Even more, I wouldn't like any game where a newbie can reasonably expect to win the tournament ;) What game would that be? Coin Flipping?

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  24. "* - Top table: Player A vs B. "A" has one loss, "B" has no losses, if "A" wins, they have to play again to determine the winner because at that point they both have a single loss. " - Nope, just evenly split the prize at this point. Essentially, player B was playing for the whole shebang, and blew it, therefore deserving to lose half their prize.

    "your ard boyz case is notable, but consider the following. You almost table a marine player, He doesn't kill a single thing of yours, and by pure lucky rolls, he has one marine alive at the end of the game. That one marine is standing on an objective, he gets the win. He played horrible, didn't do anything, and luck allowed one guy to live, yet he wins, and you lose.
    In that case W/L is almost more dependent on luck. one good run roll, armor save, what ever. " - Nope, that just means you had a terrible scenario. What possible mission would allow that? Only one Objective missions, and they're so obviously stupid as to not warrant discussing. :p

    "it falls to the tournament organizers to make sure that the scenarios are interesting " - No. This is a common misconception. Rather, it is the job of the TO to make sure the scenarios aren't ridiculous...the game itself should provide the entertainment. Altering the game for your subjective perception of fun is never a correct idea.

    "Game five then? Mini tournament for the for winners using killteam rules or anything similar that is quicker. Random pairings and objective bingo. First that does x gets a price. More of a fun ending that is meant to be more of a happening than hard core. Something that is pure fun for all." - Not a chance. I would absolutely HATE that way to decide a winner - honestly, it would prevent me attending. I'm surely not alone in that, meaning your event becomes exclusive. :(

    "If you do straight W/L/T, you might end up with a four-way tie for first and a six-way tie for second. " - Actually, it would be a 4-way tie for 1st, and a 6-way for 5th, meaning the first 4 are the only ones to get any (and all) prizes. No big deal then, tbh.

    Responses to Zheilt, The GraveMind, Luke, Flekkzo and DodjerJ3 IIRC. :)

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  25. @caulyndarr

    The idea would be to use RankingsHQ to fill the brackets. I am pretty sure that their "algorithm" to rank people will need a lot of adjustment but I think they would be willing to work with the community. Think of it like this, for this to work people must accept the rankings and for the rankings to mean anything there has to be a lot of people in the system.

    About WAAC and seals. I think the idea is that if you get to play more even players you have more fun and the final winner is more of a winner. I am expecting to loose my first big tournament, but getting table-wiped five times will make it a lot harder for people to show up again. Which is why I think the brackets could be like divisions. Play your way up and all that:)

    @TheKing

    I think I must have been a bit unclear. Let's try again:) In the case of 16 players, divided in brackets/divisions, you'd need four games to find the bracket/division winner. So now we have winners, they get prizes, loot, pat on the back, cheers, done.

    Now instead of a game five the event could hold a nice finish. Something more light hearted. People are a bit worn out and one idea was another mini tournament between the bracket/division winners using killteam for fun. Or any of the other ideas.

    I've heard of other events having apocalypse games and other happenings too so it isn't unheard of:) Hope the idea doesn't sound quite as aweful anymore:)

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  26. I told Aaron that a w/l format is essentially single elimination. With the amount of players we realistically bring in and how many rounds we can realistically play, it's only ever going to be that.

    It doesn't really matter how you score each individual round, because once it comes down to a win or loss, if you lost, there's no coming back for a top place.

    That's why I like different levels of wins/losses and possibilities of draws. It's a measure of how well you played during that game. So if you do end up losing because your opponent got one kill point more than you, or is within a certain margin of victory points, or mission points, etc., it doesn't mean he wins big and you can just go home now. It means you get graded for how well you could hold your own in that battle.

    In later rounds, if you get the good match ups and the hot dice, you can pull out with a strong placement. Most likely not first, but it's not to be ruled out either. It also alleviates bad match ups. W/L formats don't give you any spectrum as to how well a battle was fought, just that one guy may or may not have gotten lucky or obliterated his opponent, and that whatever happened during the game doesn't really matter.

    If you want to say that battle points encourage curb stompings and w/l doesn't, then why did I feel the need to try to play every game as dickheadedly as possible to make sure I didn't go home immediately? If you do w/l, that's gonna scare people into the thought process of "if i lose i can just leave after round 1, sarcastic yay!" I feel that format will make me want to go overdrive and shoot your brains out with my wizardry of tactics and my "and 1" know-how with my dice and army dudes.

    Simply, w/l is more curb-stomp-encouraging than battle points, because once you lose, you suck as a person and can go home and cry because you're not getting anything cool no matter how bad-ass-awesome you do in later rounds......

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  27. Battle points give you some leniency there and let you have a feeling of hope, at the least, that you can still pull it out strong in your last two rounds.

    Also, if you're trying to make a tournament fun for new players, don't make it so that they can have an easier time winning because of the missions/format/pairings. That's only going to reward mediocrity, not skill, in which case, what's the point of it being a tournament? If you want to reward a new player's presence, then come up with well thought-out missions and solid breakdowns of how to do well at that tournament format. That way in future tournaments he shows up to, he'll start understanding how to work his strength of schedule, to outplay the pairing system as well as his opponent. Let the new player have fun by seeing a well-run tournament, not by being breast-fed equal opportunity in a way that makes competition a paradox.

    WAAC is not something a tournament format will ever discourage. You can kill that thinking now. I've played the game for almost 14 years now, it's been around longer, and knows how to keep up with the times. It's a part of the game and there are going to be bad apples out there that can attempt to ruin the bunch. We know that as a larger group, WAAC is not the driving force. It's like that typical, almost necessary, monthly computer virus that threatens to take over the world. Do we stop playing on our computers or doing work on them because there's a possibility of contracting a virus? Of course not. WAAC players are much the same, but I don't really hate WAAC thinking, I think it can be enjoyable as sort of a test of skill for the cunning-minded general.

    Also, these WAAC players are still buying the same models you are and spending the same time figuring out how to break a game. So in essence, no matter how injust it may be, they have every right to play the way they want to as long as it is in the rules, as you do to play with a more themed style army that's not optimized. Who's to blame here? That's a judgment call, and will differ with each person.

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  28. Back to the topic of this entire post, w/l is effective with multiple rounds. Not 3, and then a 4th for the ones who went 3-0. 3 rounds is great for 8 people in a w/l format. Like I said, with the amount of people we realistically bring in, you'd need 5-7 rounds for straight w/l.

    I think we can find a middle ground that can grade your ability, rewarding close calls, and still be simple enough to not dilute or encourage exploitive play.

    That said, I'd like to do a 1000 pt tournament that's 5 rounds (1 hour rounds) using a w/l format. I feel it would be a good match in that setting, and we'll still see a strong/close running in the final rounds. That is, if I ever get around to caring enough to run something again! :P

    -Steve Buckler

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  29. OK, that all said, I'll reiterate something as the person who doesn't play tournaments, but understands that tournaments are competitive:

    Battlepoints allow you to get an advantage over the whole tournament by curb-stomping a seal or a rock/paper/scissors pairing.

    Curb Stomping in w/l only wins you 1 round.

    If the problem is people in w/l going home after 1 round, well too bad - it's a tournament. Losers lose, winners win.


    Now, if you want to make a "fun" or "uncompetitive" tournament, then the focus should be on fun lists, interesting missions, painting quality and lots of small prizes so more people walk away happy.

    If you want to compete, then you should compete.

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  30. I actually go into a BP tourney with less hope of walking out fairly with a prize than I do in a W/L tourney.

    It's why I advocate giving prizes not only to the undefeated people in a 4 round tourney (or any tourney for that matter), but also to the people with single losses.

    Some people will complain about diluting the prize pool, but you end up with more people walking away pleased with their experience.

    The pressure for perfectly curbstomping everyone to get highest BP's isn't there. I can just win my games. If I get an unlucky break or tough matchup, I'll still get a prize if I did well.

    If people MUST know who gets perfect undefeated, the undefeated can play each other.

    We might not be able to kill off WAAC thinking at a tournament, but when there's not as much pressure to milk out every point, it's easier to see who just loves to curbstomp.

    What we're proposing is removing the game of playing the tournament SYSTEM. Comp is part of the tournament SYSTEM. Battle Points are part of the tournament SYSTEM. Missions are part of the game, and one that's necessary to play.

    We'd like to remove elements of a SYSTEM we feel encourages people to be WAAC. There's a difference between playing tight games, being aware of the rules, and being a WAAC curbstomper.
    Elements that create MORE competition make tournaments more unfriendly. More things to compete over increases competitive pressure, which creates more situations to cause people to be WAAC jerks.

    yeah, even sportsmanship then becomes a WAAC element. Which seems very counter-logical to me.

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  31. @Fireteam Nova - I disagree about BPs giving any hope. I understand where you're coming from of course, but the sad fact is that most of the time someone will eke out a ridiculous lead, helped by the fact that pairings are usually down (ie, best winner vs worst winner) allowing a seal who beats out another seal in a close game to be clubbed by whomever just clubbed another seal when we reach round 2. If someone reaches the 3rd round of, say, 5, with full BPs, their lead is all-but unassailable unless they are spectacularly unlucky, caught cheating, or a rock army that hits paper. As long as they have reasonable ability, they will ll-but-inevitably win the tournament, meaning EVERYONE else, winner or no, may as well go home early, if the simple act of playing the game isn't sufficient, and no NOVA-style prizes are awarded to losers.

    @Flekkzo, my bad. In that case, I would indeed attend, but would still have little/no interest in the ridiculously broken KillTeam or Apoc. :)

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  32. @Dave - You state nothing that doesn't apply to win/loss format with bad matchups or your rock/paper/scissor analogy. How does that not apply in a w/l format? Because if someone gets a bad match up, that other person gets an advantage in the tournament in being one of the remaining undefeated people.

    Also consider this, if a person wins with 20 battle points and plays against a person who wins with 17 battle points, then they're relative skill at completing their missions and outplaying their opponent should theoretically be comparable. Again, BAD MATCH UPS WILL HAPPEN WITH ANY FORMAT. W/l doesn't magically stop this.

    Now, back to the 20 vs 17, we can clearly gauge their ability in beating someone, in w/l if someone curb stomps their opponent last round, they may just play against someone who barely squeaked out a win by 1 kp or tied objectives with a secondary tie breaker winning it for them. So in your guys' terms, a seal clubber can easily go up against a baby seal who probably just beat another baby seal. There's no mitigation from a w/l format from stopping this, but in battle points there is.

    Now, I'm not strictly advocating battle points, but I like some sort of grading system for each battle that could matter throughout the tournament.

    I'm going to quote you, if that's ok, Dave: "Battlepoints allow you to get an advantage over the whole tournament by curb-stomping a seal or a rock/paper/scissors pairing." and then you post "If the problem is people in w/l going home after 1 round, well too bad - it's a tournament. Losers lose, winners win."

    Why doesn't your "too bad it's a tournament" mentality hold for the first statement, but it does hold for your second?

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  33. @Farmpunk - While the pressure for curbstomping your opponent to get every BP's isn't there, the pressure for not losing is. Both formats are going to fully support WAAC because of that W. There's a winner and loser (and a draw sometimes) in each format, so that alone will mean WAAC will be present to curbstomp everyone.

    The battle point system doesn't always mean table your opponent. I used to place in tournaments by playing my strength of schedule. I posted this on a forum a loooong time ago, but to summarize, don't win your first game. Minor loss or draw it out, then go for massacre/major victory in rest of games. This is a WAAC mentality, but that's why I came to a tournament, to freaking WIN. That kind of strength of schedule play got me placed in 2 or 3 a lot, because i don't play all the other 20-0/40-0 players, i play the ones who are at or slightly below my play level.

    If that's what you're trying to kill with w/l, then strength of schedule playing will be killed. The WAAC mentality will not be killed, and these players will just do something else to ensure they win every game.

    Paying $10-15 to go to a tournament that could pretty much just last one round for me sounds like a waste of money. Especially if someone is traveling to play. I don't see how in w/l format, where you fail to place top 3 after one loss does not make the game more competitive. I mean, aren't people showing up to win or at least place top 3? People want the prizes, and when it's single elimination, they'll be more competitive to obtain them.

    Sportsmanship being WAAC i think should be encouraged, lol. I mean, if people want to win at not being a complete butthole, then...that's a good thing, right? Yes, I see what you're saying, they are points to use to win the tournament overall, but at least they're the kind of points that mean this guy isn't being a complete jerk to me. And even if he's faking it, it shouldn't really matter, because what's important is that you can enjoy the part of the game where your opponent doesn't berate you. In other news, on a related note, I found a new way to judge sportsmanship that should be very handy. But that's for another topic all together.

    And another point, Hi! Where have you been? I haven't seen you in forever! We have to settle for Sandwyrm and his occassional visits, and I always ask him where you are because you're the favorite. Lol, just kidding to sandwyrm, we love him too! :)

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  34. The fact of the matter is that nothing is going to be completely balanced unless the tournament is designed to be fun, rather than competitive. If the tournament lasted a year with huge prizes when you're done, then KPs would average out.

    Since things will not be completely balanced, then tournaments should err on the side of inconveniencing as few people as possible.

    A couple random imbalanced games in w/l oust a couple people and move the winner forward - a couple imbalanced games with KPs and suddenly the victor has a strong lead against anyone else at the tournament.

    Another way of putting it: KPs allow players to beat people they haven't even played, while tiered w/l only advances you to another round to face another round.

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  35. I have recently begun to solidify my own rambling thoughts about Missions, so when I get around to posting those, hopefully my views will be crystal, if not already. :)

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  36. I just want to put in my 2 cents. Here are the problems as they appear to me.

    A tournament is what a tournament is. It's an event in which competitors meet each other on a field of battle to see who has what it takes to be crowned champion. That's it, period, and end of story. If you don't like that style of competition don't compete in it.

    Why do people play WAAC?

    Because 40k is expensive and if you can't afford much like a lot of players a tournament is a good way to pay a little win a lot.

    Some players have egos and no matter what type of event it is they want to win. You can find these players in a lot of games especially at the competition level.

    Because bottom line I paid money and want to leave with more money.

    You can complain about all of these factors but the bottom line is these are what make big 100 man events possible and what keeps GW in business.

    The key would be holding several smaller events that are focused around having more fun. It used to be that you had Games Day for the one annual big event with its GT and it was a big deal everyone went to have a good time but they knew there would be stiff competition for the top prizes. Now you have large tournaments all over and people are all about thinking every event has to be that way. Well if you want large crowds that are going to pay enough money for you to have a big event I would say they have to be that way because the players willing to pay the costs associated with that event will only pay for that kind of event.

    If every event is run that way then you will encourage WAAC behavior. But then again it is a competition and nobody said it was going to feel good.

    Everyone has valid points here. I would say locally keep the big events where you encourage bash your opponent down to only a couple a year and if you don't like that style of play and don't want to compete for what are usually larger prizes then don't. Beyond that run your events the way you and your players like. That helps encourage players to stick with the game and discourages traveling "seal beaters" from coming to your events.

    Just remember larger prizes typically equal more players and WAAC behavior regardless of win conditions and that most of these players want rankings you are not going to discourage bad behavior in these events unless you punish players in some way for it. All you can do is try to make it fair so don’t argue on how to make it nice. Smaller prizes bring smaller crowds and happier players. The key is let people know exactly what they are coming to play. If they show up they should not complain too much as they already knew what they were getting into. Event styles determine everything you just need to figure out what you want to achieve and what price you are willing to pay to get it.

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  37. @Dave - Wins/Losses average out in the same time frame that Battle Points (or KP's if that's what you call them) would.

    If tournaments should err on the side of inconveniencing as few as possible, than after round 1 you've inconvenienced half your players in a w/l format tournament. It doesn't mean you can't place in a BP format, in fact in 99% of BP tournaments you still have a good chance of recovering and placing top 3 after a draw or minor loss, sometimes even a major loss.

    Also, you haven't addressed the issue at all that a baby-seal-clubber will get matched up with a baby seal if they both won vs. other baby seals. It's not highly likely that a noob will massacre another noob, but it's clearly not impossible.

    A couple random imbalanced games in w/l oust the same amount of people that get ousted in BP format tournaments.

    Another way of puttint it: w/l allow players to beat people that got a bad match up round 1, since they have no way of coming back from it, while BPs let you come back from a bad match up if your next two are favorable and you played well during all your matches.

    Say you have 24 people in your w/l format tournament, after round 1 there are 12 winners and 12 people can no longer place. In BP after round one you have a wide spread of points and it's still pretty much anyone's game, maybe not first place, but definitely top 3 at least.

    After round 2 you have 6 undefeated people, 18 people have now been "inconvenienced" since they cna't do anything to place. After round 2 of BP format, you have a good handful of top runners, but no clear winner yet, there's definitely around 4 top tables who could all take 1st depending on how each other opponent fares.

    After your round 3 of w/l, you have 3 undefeated people, a top 3 if you will, but with no indicator on who is clear winner (note this is aside from any other factor determining placement). In BP you have at top 3 by points, so same number of people in the top placement, but half your players weren't screwed out of the running after round 1.

    -Steve

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  38. "Another way of puttint it: w/l allow players to beat people that got a bad match up round 1, since they have no way of coming back from it, while BPs let you come back from a bad match up if your next two are favorable and you played well during all your matches."

    But that comeback can only happen by... clubbing a baby seal and getting a massacre. Two players of equal skill will almost never massacre each other. Usually the win will be fairly narrow in an even matchup. So you've returned to the issue of one or two random imbalanced match-ups allowing a player to carry the tourney without necessarily having to beat the best players to do it.

    No other sport/game allows this. Just look at the NCAA/NBA/NFL or Baseball. They don't do degree-of-win tournament systems because it's more random than W/L.

    Yes, you won't be able to recover from a single loss in W/L. That's why you have other prizes that the 2nd tier players can still shoot for. Such as "Best all around" which is made up of the best balance of hobby/generalship/sportsmanship. You also give out a best sportsman award and a best painted award.

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  39. "Yes, you won't be able to recover from a single loss in W/L. That's why you have other prizes that the 2nd tier players can still shoot for. Such as "Best all around" which is made up of the best balance of hobby/generalship/sportsmanship. You also give out a best sportsman award and a best painted award."

    Sorry I forgot that Battle Point tournaments don't allow for distribution of prizes like the ones W/L have exclusive access too......wait, what? Sandwyrm, you and I both know this is a completely moot point and this kind of prize distribution has absolutely nothing to do with the format of the tournament, either one can do this.

    The only thing that needs to be discussed between the two formats are how the rounds are determined, as those are the only differences the two formats really have.

    I'll state this again for clarification, I don't really mind if a tournament is W/L or BP's, as long as it's run well. When all is said and done, at least something is being ran for the community. I just feel that you guys are supporting W/L for the wrong reasons. It still has its downsides, and it's not going to kill any kind of WAAC play. It will, however, encourage it in the same manner that every tournament will. It's a tournament, and there are winners and losers, so there will be WAAC players, it's what the "W" stands for. I personally feel that it will encourage a stronger WAAC play style since if you lose one game you're completely out of the running. (again, this is in relation to a top 3 placement, and it has nothing to do with the prize support of the tournament being able to support past top 3, because any format can do that)

    And the "1 or 2 random imbalanced match-ups that involve clubbing baby seals" comment: as I said above, this will oust the same amount of people in a W/L format. What you're saying here is that you'd rather have someone be completely shut out of a tournament after round 1 (w/l) than to be able to make a come-back even if it includes rightly beating someone who's of lesser skill (bp). Let me know when you're cool with wasting 15 bucks after losing the first round due to a bad match up and not being able to place because of it (w/l). There, there newbie, clubbing you isn't worth the $15 I spent on this tournament.

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  40. And for the sports comparison on how they do play-offs. You're comparing apples to oranges here because the brackets have been pre-determined by a season. And even then those play offs only happen between each league exclusively until the super bowl/championship game. None of those involve random pairings for round 1, none of those games really have a way to score anything similar to battle points unless you want to include their total points gained that game, and if they did, it would be far more complicated for an integrated scoring system since it's a team event, not solo play with army men shooting and stabbing eachother for pretend. Many people feel that the single elimination nature isn't a good determining factor of who the best team really is since they didn't all get to play eachother. If you'd like to discuss sports and how they run playoffs, that's cool. They have nothing to do with a dice rolling game.

    DELETED FIRST POST TO ADD (couldn't figure out how to edit):
    Also, how can you say they don't do it because it's more random? It's not more random than w/l and that's not the reason they do it. They do it because it's simpler since they have a strict timeframe of a few weeks to get all these games in and their statistics logged, and many organizations do "best out of x" games. Besides, the teams don't really care how a playoff is set up because they're getting overpaid no matter what.

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