Tournaments: Scenario & Tournament Design

Point 1: I was at a Warhammer / 40k tournament last weekend, and one of the participants I know (and who is planning on running a tournament in the not-too-far future) was asking how I felt about lending a hand with his tournament in some capacity or other.

Point 2: On Facebook, I ended up get bogged down in an internet argument lengthy debate with one of the JadedGamerCast’s regular commentors pundits who also follows their podcast, all regarding the place of randomness in the Warhammer games. I try not to engage in such stupidity as internet-fighting, but his comment on what a bad idea it was to make it possible that randomness in the game could still result in you losing, despite your “playing a perfect game” really set me off. That attitude just ignites me: for me, denying that random factors have a place in a battle or game is akin to denying that different troops from different nations/armies can be of different calibres of ability.

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New Painting Contest & Updates!

Well, looks like it’s painting competition time again!

I was striving to get something going for March fifteenth, but with my running the Rolling Thunder tournament for Warhammer 40,000 and with getting prepared for my shop’s attendance at Cal-Con this year, a March painting competition just wasn’t in the books.

Ah well. Mayday has as much ring to it as Ides of March.

This competition will follow the same format as the previous ones I’ve run: two categories determined by model size where models from the three main Games Workshop systems will be judged against each other along with a third category for inexperienced hobbyists. The departure this time will be the addition of a staff-painted models category. All those who enter will be allowed to judge (through voting) the models submitted by the store staff. From the sounds of it, all the staffers want to paint up larger models, so I need to figure out what I have that’s of comparable size to what they’re all talking about; there’s no point in submitting a Sartosan Vampire three contenders are talking about Carnifexes, Steam Tanks and Carnosaurs.

I have a few things in the works:  Buhrdur  (Angmar Troll chieftain from Lord of the Rings). an Eldar Falcon grav tank, a Space Marine Venerable Dreadnought and Gulavhar (again from Angmar-Lord of the Rings). Both Buhrdur and my grav tank are about 25% done, while Gulavhar and my Venerable Dreadnought are just past the gap-filling stage. I’ll have to make up my mind pretty quickly as to which model will be my entry. (And if I really have my  act together, perhaps I’ll even do some work in progress posts!)

Rolling Thunder Results

On the sixth of March, 2010, I ran my fourth tournament put on by Great White. Rolling Thunder was the store’s second Warhammer 40k tourney (and my third one which had custom scenarios whose aim was to give players two challengers in the each game they played: the player opposite them at the table and that scenario’s victory conditions). All in all, things went extremely well: despite being the consummate procrastinator, I’m managing to get more and more organised with each passing tournament (I’ve left the realm of ‘simply embarrassing’ far behind and can now be solidly ranked among those ‘a  tad disorganised’); I’m also still managing to avoid gaining enemies in real life due to the tournament missions I put the players through.

This time through, we had twelve players: eleven registered plus a ringer spot (which was occupied by a couple of friends who helped me once I realised I was in a jam: twelfth player had registered quite early on and then summarily dropped off the face of the earth–and I hadn’t figured it out until a couple of days before the tournament). Still, things went off pretty smoothly, even with the mall stealing some of our tables first thing in the morning!


Player            —      Army

1.   Kevin K.     — White Scars Marines

2 .  Trevor B.   — Space Wolves

3 .  Jason H.     — Eldar

4 .  Rob D.        — Tyranids

5 .  Scott S.       — Space Wolves

6 .  Mike D.       — Tyranids

7 .  Alem A.     — Salamanders Marines

8 .  Nick G.       — Chaos Marines

9 .  Ryan F.       — Necrons

10.  Conor M.  — Khorne Marines

11.  Peter H.     — Ultra Marines

–an okay variety of armies but still a bit too Marine-heavy for my tastes. Despite that, I am pleased that every list was distinctly different from every other list.

Again, I’m very pleased with all the work put into the armies that took part in Rolling Thunder; the players that keep showing up for the tournaments I run are doing a lot to claw back the poor reputation that ( in my experience) a bulk  of 40k players have established: namely that 40k players care more about gaming than they do gaming with good-looking armies.

Let me explain that comment. During my five-year tenure at Games Workshop, from the GW staff down, I had noticed Fantasy players always tended to have their armies fully painted while 40k players’ armies–who, I might add, had less models–tended to be works in progress…or painted only to the barest of minimums. I had even been to a couple of the annual staff tournaments (held for all the Ontario staff and cell managers, plus one staffer from each province);  both years I went, there were one–maybe two–armies that showed up being either bare plastic/metal or primer only–and remember this was a staff tournament during the era of  “you can’t play in a GW store if your army isn’t completely painted–invariably the offending armies were 40k armies. And I’ll reiterate it: this was happening at a tournament attended by those who were supposed to be setting the standard for their customers. (In following years, I had also heard similar accounts of a 40k army or two showing up for the staff tourney sans paint job.)

I’m not trying to crap on 40k players by saying all this; I’m trying to describe the level of pleased I am at the quality of paint jobs brought to the tables at this tournament; not only were all these armies fully painted, but all were painted to a level well above bare minimum. Up until this tournament, I had always lived under the presumption that 40k players were more gaming-minded and Fantasy players were more hobby-minded; it looks like the two may have reached an equilibrium.

Tournament Results

Name Army Battle
Sports Comp Painting Total
Kevin K. White Scars 21 32.5 28 35.5 117
Trevor B. Space Wolves 19 34.5 26 23 112.5
Jason H. Eldar 39 49.5 23 39.5 151
Rob D. Tyranids 24 32 25 25 106
Scott S. Space Wolves 29 34 34 41 138
Mike Davey Tyranids 41 34.5 31 47.5 154
Alem A. Salamanders 31 34.5 29 20 114.5
Nick G. Chaos Marines 42 37 20 24 123
Ryan F. Necrons 21 34.5 31 23 109.5
Conor M. Khorne Marines 31 32 30 30 123
Peter H. Ultramarines 27 25 23 8 83

Best Overall: Mike D.

Best Sportsman: Jason H.

Best Painted: Scott S.

Lessons Learned

Organise! Organise! Organise! The opportunity to do this tournament came at me quickly and unexpectedly, with a local gaming convention organiser approaching me to run a tournament with tickets to the con as prizes. I agreed running a tournament would be  a win-win situation, thus leaving me only a few scant weeks to organise, advertise and create all the missions. It was pretty hectic for me at times because I wasn’t well prepared to get all this up and going in just a few weeks; luckily I have a (very) little bit of a routine with how I put together my tournaments that this was able to fall together with a bit of hard work and late nights–but thankfully not much stress.

The show went off without a hitch (more or less); and what’s better: I had not only new attendees, but three first-time tournament players! I also noticed quite a few players exchanging contact information,which I suspect is a pretty good indicator of a community growing. And I mean, really, that’s the main hope I have behind doing tournaments: grow the gaming community and have a hand at bringing what I love about gaming to the table.