Continued from Part 1...
Work on refining the Warhammer 40K Championships began in early 2010. First and foremost on the list was the redesign of the sportsmanship scoring system. For years, sportsmanship had rightfully been under fire for being an abusable and broken system. More often than not, sportsmanship scores were used to punish an opponent or were flagrantly waved around in hopes of trading maximum scores. A quick look at historical data proved that sportsmanship scoring had little to no effect on overall winners, even in a Battle Points based tournament. The checklist system was scrapped and a new ‘+/-’ system was conceived.
The basics of the new sportsmanship system were:
- Maintain player input, give them a voice, but remove the ability to unduly punish your opponent.
- Penalize by opponent consensus only.
- Give judges the ability to police games in a manner that was interactive with the system.
- Expect everyone to behave appropriately. Only punish players for excessively bad sportsmanship.
- Make the scoring simple and to the point.
Once the soft scoring issues were more or less remedied, it was time to look at the actual scoring and structure of the games. There are easily a hundred different approaches to running a tournament of this nature, and no single method can necessarily be considered ‘the best’. Ultimately we had to decide what type of event we wanted the Championships to become. Traditionally the Warhammer 40K events at AdeptiCon had all followed a similar format. This ran the risk of events stagnating in terms of mission design and the ability to differentiate a unique feel for each tournament. At the same time, AdeptiCon is a demanding weekend, and to throw two or three different rulesets at people was begging for trouble. In the end we knew we wanted there to be some separation in terms of overall goals between the formats, but we also wanted them to maintain the same feel and presence that made our events unique.
The main goal in the Warhammer 40K Championships redesign was to make the event more 'competitive*', but still retain all the classic awards, mission structure and overall atmosphere of the convention. The Team Tournament had always been envisioned as a more thematic, hobby-oriented approach to competition and the Gladiator event was really a beast all unto itself. The Warhammer 40K Championships, being a direct descendant of the Rogue Trader and Grand Tournaments of old, was meant to be the ‘truer’ test of a general’s mettle and was begging to be treated in a grander manner.
Right off the bat we knew, without question, we needed to add additional rounds to the event. In order to accommodate the new schedule, that meant we had no choice but to move the Championships to Friday. The maximum number of rounds we could fit in on Friday was five. While this certainly would have been an improvement over the three from 2010, it also meant that we were asking people to play 14 hours of 40K right out of the gate. Likewise, simply settling on a manageable four round event wasn’t addressing attendee feedback or the sheer number of players. Taking a cue from BoLSCon and the Grand Tournaments of yesteryear, we decided to expand the event to seven games (this would eventually become eight as we moved to a true W/L/D format).
With the schedule roughed in, we got to work refining the scoring structure. AdeptiCon’s tournaments have always used the classic Battle Points system with a tiered set of objectives. This was mainly done to facilitate the separation of a large number of players over a short number of rounds. While in theory this system was fine, it allowed for two fundamental flaws when designing for a ‘more competitive’ tournament. Primarily this system did not produce a single undefeated winner, since technically there is no such thing as a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’ when using Battle Points. Secondly, it allowed (if not forced) draws based on pre-ordered and defined objectives without always accounting for overall carnage, strength of victory and the like. These types of draws can seem weak and not reflective of the game as a whole.
Initial drafts presented ideas that attempted to incorporate definitive wins into the Battle Points system. While these modified systems accomplished many of the desired goals, they felt lacking in terms of clarity and cohesiveness. It was around this time that we initiated a dialogue with the organizer of the NOVA Open. While the NOVA Open scoring system was nothing we were interested in running at AdeptiCon, we found the basic intentions of the event exciting and interesting...
:: To Be Continued ::
Up Next: Philosophical Leanings!
* 'Competitive' being in the eye of the beholder. All tournaments are competitive by nature in some form or the other.