Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A plea to GW and a thank you to Indy TO's: Re tournament support

Games Workshop has decided to end it's support for the tournament circuit that led up to the throne of skulls tournament. From this thread on Dakka

"The North American Games Workshop Business Support team along with our management team has spent an extensive amount of time reviewing the current tournament circuit and the best way to offer support to hobbyists interested in hosting events of their own.

As you are undoubtedly aware, there is a Games Workshop tournament circuit in which tournaments must apply and those chosen are offered support. After serious consideration, we will continue with the current 2012 circuit ending in May 2012 and host the culminating Throne of Skulls tournament this October. Going forward, in order to be more supportive of events of all types, especially those in
our retail and trade outlet stores, we will discontinue the GW tournament circuit.

We would like to thank all the organiser's from the 2012 Circuit and we wish everyone the most success with their events in the future.


Desiree Dorsey

Director of Business Support
Games Workshop"

Wat duck is not happy...

My thoughts after the jump...

This seems like they are doing more to encourage the narrow views of the person who is afraid of running into tfg at a large event. Constricting the community to local events, their ridiculously tiny stores, and removing interaction from the community as a whole.

My favorite thing about 40k or any game where events are held at a larger level is that I get to meet and talk to people who are as passionate about the hobby as I am. It's all well and good if you are a garage game player who plays a fluffy (or whatever type) army and you have a great amount of fun. I'm all about that as well and often play in my buddies garage. We often come up with fun mini-games to pass the time. The thing about 40k that I really like is playing against people in the larger world and testing my skills against people I've never met before.

Sure, occasionally you run into tfg during a tourney. But you put your big boy pants on and do your best to win the match. If the player is cheating or abusing rules, then that's why there are judges. Call them over and get his ass tossed. There are measures in place at any credible event to prevent you from having a crappy time. The TO's want your custom and they want you to have a fun time regardless of whether you win or lose.  This is something that Games Workshop doesn't seem to care about.

While I love this game, the moves made by GW proper are really starting to get to me. It seems as if they are specifically trying to diminish the part of the game I like. Luckily there are people out there like Reece and Mike who are trying to bring us folks who like to play in tournaments in out of the cold. Thanks guys, I for one really appreciate it.

 I for one hope that GW has something up it's sleeve in regards to tournament support.  Without the central driving reason of competition behind the game, I doubt I would keep playing.  I would've never continued to play M:TG in high school if it were not for the chance to win more cards to sell and get into more tournaments!  In my opinion, diminishing tournament support is a myopic move and only serves to keep the game in peoples basements.  Again using M:TG as an example, it went from something that I played after school at the dinner table to something that I could play with the local guys at the card shop, to something I could play with people around the state, to something I could play with people around the world at the pro tour!  40k is currently capped at just above the local level. Grand Tournaments are taking off a bit, but without more prize support, I don't know how worth it it's going to be for me to continue to go to them.


  1. Magic tournaments were never supported by Wizards of the Coast until Friday Night Magic, and that "Prize Support" was pretty shitty unless the card was good. Foil, alternate art Pendelhaven?!?! The Pro Tour was a pretty elite group of players and it took a lot to get into that event. If there was a national event like that once a year, you might get enough people qualified from all the GT's to get enough people entered to do 1 event annually. Where there are / were? like 4 Pro tours a year. I just don't see American 40k support that many events. 2 Qualifiers per event. You need at least 64 people at the "pro tour" event" so that's 32 qualifying events to seed 1 "Pro Tour." style event. I that that is close to the number of GT's around the country annually. I can see that happening. 1 Qualified event annually pales in comparison to the M:TG Pro circuit.
    The fact that there is no upper level support, or a pro tour does seem silly though, but this also seems like an open invitation for someone with their shit together to make it happen. It's hard to compare the 2 games other than they are games that geeks play. I think the issue for 40k is, not enough geeks play with a competitive mindset and in a way that lends itself to tournament play. In our group of friends, 6 people, 2 of us play hardcore, 1 is a army hoarder and the other 3 are very casual and don't really want to play in competitive events. I think for most people, 8 hours of 40k is too much, let alone 2 day events.

    1. "Magic tournaments were never supported by Wizards of the Coast until Friday Night Magic, and that "Prize Support" was pretty shitty unless the card was good. Foil, alternate art Pendelhaven?!?!"

      If by never you mean in 1996 and prior. Wizards has provided box and prize support for all of it's tournaments for years and years. I was winning boxes in ptqs in '97. Another huge difference is that they provide prize support down to a decent placing. Usually 8th depending on the attendance.

      Also, I think you are over-estimating the level of attendance at PTQs in places that aren't LA. I know the ones in this area draw 100+ people, but the PTQs in des moine, iowa for example are only drawing 20+ if they are lucky.

      "I think for most people, 8 hours of 40k is too much, let alone 2 day events."

      I've played Magic for much longer than 8 hours. (8 rounds, with the cut to top 8 and making it to the finals is a 12+ hour day) And in a couple tournaments that were multi day (The pro tour is the only one that I know of.) I think that excuse is bitch made. The real difference here is that the barrier of entry for magic is much lower. If you are a good player you can win your way into good cards and compete at top levels. For 40k, you need to frontload your investment. A 2k'ish army can cost the equivalent amount of a top tier standard magic deck, but you don't have to start with one to start winning prizes.

  2. If I wanted to host a 128 player magic super tournament, I would just go rent some tables and chairs and hall. A 128 player 40k event; tables, chair, hall 3x the size as a magic event; 64 sheets of plywood, terrain for said tables. The difference is pretty significant. The support that GW offered to these events was $500.00 per event, but that doesn't compare to the large difference in price to hold such events. That being said, if 1 or 2 groups of people were to take on the task of hosting these events nationally, then these costs would go down, as you could purchase things like tables and chairs and the wood, and keep a stock of terrain and do a moving event. Like the circus... but nerdier and with more Lascannons. Reece and his crew are basically doing that on the West Coast, but to make the jump from Cali to the national level is a big step and requires more dedication it seems.
    What I can foresee happening is the cost to attend will go up to offset these. For example; The Bay Area Open was right at 100 people, so $5.00 per person covers the shortage of losing the support from GW. Is that awesome? No. But it is what it is. I wouldn't hate to see the cost go up (There are 100 pound events in the UK) and there being some massive prizes. I mean a painted 1750 point army is cool, but when you already have staff painters, then your output becomes cost of goods, which isn't much.
    What I would also like to see is for RTT's to use a system like RankingsHQ. The major difference between Wizards and GW is the DCI. Having a working scale of your ranking compared to others globally is awesome, and gives you the ability to do an invitational and adds value to major tournaments, aside from the prize support. All this is skewed though when the design of the game is flawed and not based on a competitive model. 40k, as it sits, is not designed to be a competitive game, and as I have been told, they have no intention of making the game balanced for competitive play. There are going to be armies that are more powerful than others, and specifically, armies that function better at a give point value range than others. Also, when the producer of the game see no value to making their game competitive, they could come along and do stupid shit to fuck up your entire project. What we need is a "better" game. A game with very clear rules and a lower run time would be optimal, but a lot of the following of 40k is based on years of play and insane fluff, that would take a lifetime to reproduce. So we sit in the current situation. No pot to piss in, and no window to throw it out of.

  3. Again the barrier for entry is different. Less people play 40k. But the people who play in the tournaments almost always come to them. the amount of support from GW in the tournament circuit was dependent on the projected number of attendees and the actual turnout. I think 128 people got you some where in the 2500 level of prize support.

    You would never be able to "just throw together" a 128 player magic tournament. You would have to get it sanctioned, have judges and wrangle prize support from Wizards. Whereas in 40k you can just throw together a tournament. But now it's completely up to you to provide everything for it, so there's no impetus to consider starting an event.

    But I agree with your last point. Fuck it, lets just go play magic cards again!

  4. Its actually pretty simple to be a top M:TG player if the season is right (They still do seasons) Just win 1 Sealed Deck PTQ and you are golden!


    No painting, no stacked decks, just pure luck of the draw, you know what has better prize support? Texas Hold 'Em. If I wanted to be a pro-card shark, I'd play poker. Waaaay easier than Magic.

    I think that is why the independant 40k GT circuit will survive the exile, because people that play 40k at this level realize it isnt about the prize. Sure it's nice, but the 4 of us 5 win category Ork players knew it was more about bragging rights than an Ork Battleforce at the Bay Area Open.

    Plus, you can play Magic and 40k! they barely overlap!

    1. Well, that's not true. The majority of the tournaments for both are on weekends. And they both require a huge investment in time. You can't just pick up a random sealed deck and win 11 games in a row with an unfamiliar set. You have to know what's good an what works together and what threats to look out for. You won't get far in either game playing blind.

  5. Well, you can play 40k casually and still have fun with the stuff you have.

    Friday Night Magic is still around and doesn't interfere with Saturday RTT's especially 1 RTT a month and 1 or 2 GT's a year, as they rarely coincide with a Pro Tour, Grand Prix.

    Since there isn't Pro Tour 40k, you don't need to practice 40k at all since winning millions playing Magic is far superior to winning any GT, as far as prizes go.

  6. It is unfortunate to me that the 40k scene as a whole seems to look down on the way M:TG has built up its tournament scene, as I honestly believe that have done a fucking phenomenal job appealing to all levels of competitive players and casuals alike. Their product is rarely seriously impacted by having a competitive focus, and the game continues to be genuinely fun for most people who play (in tournaments or otherwise). 40k shitting on their competitive scene is the exact opposite way I was hoping they would pull. Yes, independent TO's are going to prop up competitive play, and likely do a good job of it. But no top down support for it seems like a very poor thing for competitive growth, not to mention the problems you mentioned Soldado.

  7. The fact that independent tournaments can function in 40k is a testament to how strong the community is though. In comparison to Magic, I have not seen a large independent tournament that was not some type of qualifier for a large Non-Independent event in years. We used to have big events (64+ players) often at the SCGA (Costa Mesa)Saturday events, and our weekly events at places like The Slam Pit were often 30+. Now most FNM are 8-12 people with 20 being "A massive showing." Game Empire is getting like 20 people a month for their RTT and that to me is impressive and the 100ish people for 40k at the Bay Area Open is mind blowing.

    Overall, the 40k community is able to, and does, support a game with little to no support from the top down, and with the way the world works today it is just a matter of effort on the part of local TO's and coordination on the part of GT operators to make a National Championship event. The next step would be uniting people from around the world for a World Championship caliber event and that is something that people from any sport or game could aspire too.

    1. Off the top of my head, Star city games runs huge tournaments that have nothing to do with the official pro tour track. $1000 cash prizes are the normal. I'm saying there's room for both, but the only option we have are the indy GTs.

      It's fiscally irresponsible for a company to leave the burden of support on independent TO's. If they get tired of playing or GW releases a terribly imbalanced ruleset, then those tournaments will die and there will be nothing coming to replace them.

  8. Good article and lots of good points in the comments above.

    I think it boils down to the obvious that from the public/player perspective, we can't save the tournament system. But it will take individual groups to put on a good event in their area and go from there. Just like Mike did with NOVA. The NOVA guys have put together a great way to run a tournament and if I remember correctly the "template" for what they are doing is available for free so anyone can take the template and run an event in their own area. True, not everyone is going to be able to run a 128 or 256 player event, but it's something to strive for.

    Another aspect is to focus on the bragging rights and worry less about prize support. In my area the same 5 guys take turns taking the top 3 spots at our 100-man tournaments. I go to play new people and see new armies, I don't have any consideration that I might win a battleforce-sized gift certificate.

    1. Bragging rights are definitely something to strive for. But you can only really brag to the community. So, if the community is diminished then even that becomes less of a thing.

      Everyone has their reasons for playing the games they do. There's nothing wrong with any of those reasons in my opinion. My favorite part of the game is competitive play. I like playing a challenging game and coming out on top! Even losing a good game is fun as long as I learn something. But the company that makes my favorite game specifically pooping on my cereal (so to speak) is a bit demoralizing, ya know?

      I think for now, the existing tournaments will continue to maintain attendance... But I'm worried that GW will release a 6th edition that mirrors 8th ediiton fantasy and the attendance will drop off dramatically and tournaments will be a thing of the past because GW doesn't care about them.

    2. If 6th edition 40k mirrors 8th edition WHFB, then expect....


      Titans all damn day.


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