Monday, January 31, 2011

Thoughts on Tournament Formats

Ok - so over the past year or so there has been a lot of discussion on how to change tournament formats. A few thoughts on this topic.
Historically, 40K tournaments had been a points based affair. You would get points for how well you performed in a game (battle), how enjoyable of a player you were (sportsmanship), and how well your army looked and was painted (painting). Your total points were added up and that determined the overall rankings at the end. Those with the best painting score could win a best painted, the best sportsmen could win an award. The person with the most battle points could win Best General.
But at least a portion of the overall gaming community was unhappy. With the above format, a person could lose a game, but still win the best overall. It didnt' separate the BEST player. You could get as many points for painting your stuff well as you did for crushing an opponent in a game. You could get "chipmunked" on your sportsmanship because someone didn't like the fact that you beat them. So - from that arose a format that was dubbed the "Nova-Format" (from the Nova Open - the first tournament to use it). While painting and sportsmanship were still involved -the overall was now decided by who could win their way to the title. Only those winning all their games would play in the finals. The winner would be undefeated.
So - my thoughts on the two formats.
Historical format:
Pro's - To win you had to be compentent in all areas of the hobby. You had to be nice to people and be a good sports. You also had to win or do well in your games. Losing your first game didn't put you out of the running for the overall. As long as you could get points along the way - you could be competitive. Battle points weren't everything - Painting, Sportsmanship, Best General - all were equal categories.
Con's - It was possible to game the system somewhat to get good sportsmanship scores (although I still see the problem with being nice to people even if it's just for a game), chipmunk scores (the dreaded bad sports score - which I think was usually deserved even if the recipient didn't realize it - and don't think it happened all that often), and painting was subjective (you could hire a pro to paint your army and thus increase your chances for the overall).
"NOVA" Format
Pro's - It's all about the win - forget that soft and fuzzy stuff. There are still prizes given out for it - but it's all about who wins the overall. The true winner is the person who can win 6 games without a loss. There can be only ONE!
Con's - Lose your first game - you are done. There is no seating for pairings - just random matchup. Two top players get paired at the beginning - someone wins/someone loses. One advances towards overall - the other is playing for fun or consolation prizes.
Overall - the jury is still out on which is best. There are elements to both that are good and bad. So far, the Nova has yet to have any of the big name players with big tourney wins really get involved or comment. This year I believe the Adepticon Nationals tourney will use the format - so that will be interesting to see the feedback there when it's used at a major event.
Personally - I think the historical format still the best. The fact of the one and done without any kind of seating skews the vote for me. Thoughts from those blessed few that read the blog?


CORWINDAL5 said...

I would have to agree with you Al. I think that the NOVA format is not the best way to come up with who is the best because of the odd match up pairings that could occur.

Black Blow Fly said...

Al BoLScon has a great format for competitive playing. You play seven rounds over two days - and you can lose one game and still come out in top. I don't like the one and you're done format either.


Black Blow Fly said...

Hey Al !

I would like to be a contributor for your blog. How about it bro ?

: )


Aldonis said...

Sure man - send you an invite to your yahoo id....

Black Blow Fly said...

Thanks bro !!

: )


Shrew said...

I prefer the traditional format, surprise! Seating the best vs the best ensures the better players are playing each other. And I am really against one and done loses, its like I show up give up my $25 and go home!

Good article though.


Gregory said...

Hey Al
In the AWC series tournament series we have been using a modified tournament setting and it seems to be working. We go with the three victory conditions and you end up with 30 points for a win 20 for a draw and 10 for a loss. Also Sportsmanship and paint count for 35 points a piece. We have been only running three round events (due to time constraints) but it has worked good so far. We have had people with either one loos or one draw take the top spots in some tourneys. I really like the three victory condition format as it gives some armies a chance at the top spot that cant get the baby seal wins. It makes my bikes even better. Muahahahahah

Mike Brandt; mvbrandt@gmail said...

HI there,

I think I can help you to understand the way our pairings and format work.

1) We do swiss pairing, so there's no randomization of match-ups as it were.

2) Best Overall is still determined in the old style - 33% competitive, 33% artistic, 33% sports

3) Best GENERAL is determined through w/l, swiss pairing until a single undefeated remains. This is a FAR fairer way of addressing "bad luck match-ups" than battle points ever could be, b/c it flexes on both ends of the spectrum.

We use mission formats that are multi-tiered on tiebreakers, with each goal being easier to draw for a good player if his army is not well matched, and win on a tiebreaker. Since there's no qualification of level of victory, you also get no "Extra" points for clubbing a baby seal (aka lucky match-up), nor do you get extra points for barely beating a peer (close wins / ties knocking you both out of competition).

Furthermore, since it IS true w/l and down to a single undefeated, the Best General is never won by a guy who lost and crushed several seals, of people who went undefeated against close match-ups yet weren't able to slaughter them.

Battle points are inherently MORE unfair off the randomization of match-ups because of these issues ... it rewards massacring people and getting lucky matches, instead of winning close, hard-fought games against your peers.

That said, even though our Overall is not very strictly tied to winning all your games (hence, you're in it to win it until the very end anyway, win or lose), we've added a tiered bracketing system that will reward generalship prizes to ALL skill levels, after spending the first day bracketing them by skill.

IN short, if you go 0-4 on Day 1 (the NOVA is 8 rounds), you'll be bracketed with the other 15 people who mathematically (out of 256 players) will also be 0-4 ONLY on the 2nd day, and will compete to go 4-0 on your 2nd day among those other 15 players. If you do, you'll win a smaller generalship prize and trophy in that situation - further rewarding people for competing well at their skill and list level (vs. battle points formats that tell you to either bring a hammer, smash people via lucky match-ups, or go home empty-handed).

More info across whiskey40k and others, suffice to say I think you may have a little bit of a filter-down view of the way the NOVA Format works - it's actually built to be MORE encouraging of players who've lost a game than battle points are, and also built not to punish people for drawing peers and winning close, great games at the "cost" of low battle points.

- Mike