Friday, February 26, 2010

Tournament Review - Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree

As I mentioned, I attended the Inner Circle High Stakes Jamboree last weekend. This was a 2000 point 40K tournament held in the "somewhat" local area. There were a couple things they did different here. First, the club served a pancake breakfast at the start of the tournament. After you signed in and paid your fee you were invited to a back room where there were catering trays laid out with hot pancakes and eggs, syrup, and orange juice.  This was a really nice touch for the tourney organizers to offer. The other change they made to differentiate their tournament was that each individual game had a $10 prize riding on the outcome. If you won, you received a $10 gift card to the store. If the game ended in a tie, the prize was split between the players. These prizes were in addition to the 4 overall prizes.

This tourney was a good size tourney, with 30 players attending and filling all 15 tables. Unfortunately, there was also a Flames of War event being held at the same venue, which caused the 40K tourney to be very cramped. This was a detriment, but did not appear to be something the organizers could control. During discussion it appeared that the IC organizers were surprised by the FoW event and did their best to work around it.

Let me talk a bit about how scoring and missions were handled for the tourney. At the start of each round the organizers rolled for the mission to be played at the front of the room, with the results determining the mission for the round. This was rolled from the primary rule book and no mission or deployment type would be repeated. This meant that each of the 6 mission parameters were played and by the 3rd round the mission and objective type was set. Personally I am not a fan of this style of tournament scenario. I believe the missions provided in the rule book are sufficient for pickup games, but I would prefer a tournament put some additional effort in to make the rounds interesting. 

For scoring, there were  three things that needed to be tracked at the end of each round. These were mission result (win/loss/draw), victory points killed (how much did I kill) and victory points survived (how much of my army survived). In addition, the mission that would have been kill-points was converted to use victory points opposed to kill points. These types of statistics change the dynamic of 5th edition for many armies and certainly had some effect on results in the games. I am not reverting to victory points as a primary measure of win/loss is a good idea in 5th, as it removes some of the advances made in 5th edition along with changing the dynamic for how armies are built.

There were 4 prize categories at this tournament, per the "tournament pack" which was provided in a forum post. These were:
  • General who claims the most victory points (kills the most)
  • General who loses the least victory points (preserves the most)
  • General who is voted best sportsman / most fun to play
  • Best painted army determined by all tourney players
At the start of the tournament each player was provided thier own score sheet, to be handed in at the end of each round. These sheets tracked the following for each round:
  • Your name
  • Opponent name
  • Win/Loss/draw
  • Victory points earned
  • Victory points surviving
Then at the bottom of the sheets were 2 places for 1st and 2nd favorite army appearance.  Please notice there was no place to put a sports score or choose a favorite opponent. At no point during the tournament were the players asked to place their armies out on display, or any organized method for paint judging. In fact, at the end of the tournament  the score keeper had to remind several people to fill out their paint scores, and then further remind them they could vote for any army, not just those they played. This was after most of the armies had already been packed up (at the end of the tourney). I made a point of asking a couple questions of the tournament organizer, specifically why he did not request a period for army displays and how sportsmanship was being judged. His responses were basically:
  • Sports is really just a "smoking boots" prize for the person who comes in last in the tourney. Basically a consolation prize.
  • He does not personally like painting scores, but the club as a whole requires that all tournaments have a painting score. He probably should have handled it different, but his focus was on beating opponents in a game not on how the armies looked.

Final Thoughts
I enjoyed myself at this tournament, despite going 0/2/1 W/L/D and ending the 3rd round with a tie on the bottom table. My opponents were all enjoyable to play against, and there were general ideas in this tournament that I really like. I am definitely buying into the idea of providing some type of food at tournaments and like the breakfast served here. I also love the idea that even if you are crushed in the first 2 games and at the bottom table, the per-game-prize provides a solid and tangible reason to keep playing your best and pushing for the win.

Despite a lack of recognition in the form of prizes or scoring, I do feel that I accomplished my objectives as I laid them out. During my first game (against an opponent named Matt), we had a number of situations that we both discussed and resolved very quickly and easily. Not all of these were rules questions, but as with any game circumstances came up. Even though this was the first time I met Matt, we both had a great game and at one point he thanked me for my style of play. When combined with the fun my other opponents exhibited during the game, I can confidently say I would have made consideration for sportsmanship. Regarding painting, no actual scores were handed out. Considering the complete lack of attention or organization regarding painting, I can only base my judgment on comments through the day. I ended up in several conversation about my army, my paint job, and my modeling through the day.  I received several compliments on my army, most of which were people actually interrupting an ongoing game to comment and compliment. I count this as an achievement of my painting/modeling ambitions.

I did not think the tournament was organized well, and I feel there could be a whole lot of improvement on that front. Scheduling, as I understand, was beyond the control of the organizers.... but this does not excuse the non-adherence to the description of how sports would be judged or the lack of organization around the painting aspect. The approach to missions per round, by the end of the tournament, appeared to be more of an abdication from planning/responsibility than an actual thought out plan.

I am very disappointed on how the sportsmanship was treated by the organizers. I am shocked that this was completely disregarded during the tournament, and turned into a consolation prize. The idea that the guy who loses the worst should be awarded best sportsman is simply appalling to me. When you combine this with the near disregard for painting and the complete ignoring of theme and modeling, the way this tournament was scored becomes something opposed the reason I enjoy playing the game. Honestly, I would prefer that the organizers had branded this tourney honestly, and called it a mini-Ard-boyz instead of trying to shape it up as anything else. I see nothing wrong with disregarding everything but winning and losing as hard as you can, as long as the tourney is presented that way.

Regardless, these are just my opinions. I will reiterate that my experience in the games does not match my opinion of how the tournament was organized/run. I would happily play again versus any of the players I met at the tournament, and enjoyed all my games.

I will give an overview of my opponents lists on Monday.


  1. Sorry to hear that sportsmanship and painting were taken out of this tourney. As a IC club member, I am sorry to hear you were less satisfied with this event. I'll bring it up to the Club when we're planning future tournaments.

  2. OSH... I was looking for you there and missed seeing you. I was going to give you a hard time about not taking your Tau and opting for blood angels.

    I am sure we will find a way to face off in the future! Are you headed to Adepticon?