Berks Spring Assault 4!

Berks Spring Assault 4!
Berks Spring Assault 4! Warhammer 40K tournament

Berks Warhammer 40K Group

Friday, May 7, 2010

Running Tournaments......lessons learned.

Running Tournaments.

Well, I learned a lot at the Berks Spring Assault Tournament we hosted. Myself and a few friends of the Berks Warhammer 40K Club. This particular event was a 1000 point, 4-game tournament we held for our club. We opened the invitation to other stores, game clubs and anyone else we knew it an attempt to reach out and connect and unit our groups.

In that aspect we were largely successful. We had 38 players show up for this event. Players from Berks met with gamers from Harrisburg and the Adventurer’s Guild, the Innocence Means Nothing game club based in Allentown/Lehigh Valley, and players from the Gaming Garage who host the Mechanicon GT.

What I didn’t realize was how huge an undertaking this event would be. I was sorely short on staff, and honestly didn’t realize we could get that many players, but I was somewhat prepared for it.

Our first tournament was held at the local Hobbytown USA in Reading. That was our Battle For Berks held on January 9th, 2010. We had over 20 people show up for 14 slots. Due to space, that was all that we could accommodate.

Seeing how well the small hobby-style and low-point tournament was appealing to players, we decided to try it again, this time at 1000 points, but still keep the battles on 4’ x 4’ boards.

We contracted a hotel meeting room at the Country Inn & Suites in Wyomissing. The room was good size for our needs, but there was a mishap on the part of the hotel staff in preparing for our event and they were short several tables I needed.

Thankfully we have such a wonderful game club with the Berks Warhammer 40K Group that everyone rallied to bring in more tables, boards, scenery, terrain and all manner of supplied we needed.

Instead of having 18 tables (4’ x 4’), with a 18” x 24” set up area, we ended up with 20 tables, 4’x 4’ but no set up areas. Several players “sponsored” tables, making boards and terrain for the tournament, but also to have for the game club and other personal one-on-one games.

I have to thank all of our players, as they did a wonderful job helping me from totally panicking. I have to give special thanks to Leslie McCormack, who has experience with helping with the administrative side of the tournament scene. She really saved the day more than folks will ever know.

I’ve learned several things running this event. All said and done, it went rather well, most of the mistakes were on my own part, but I am learning.

We had a great turnout for this event with 38 players. I tried to keep scoring close to some GT events I have been too, but put a heavier emphasis on Sportsmanship in the total scoring.

The real bugs and issues came when the program file I was using didn’t calculate the results the way I had intended. This was due to me changing how scoring was done due to sportsmanship and the addition of objective points added to overall battle points. This ended up taking us two game rounds to work the bugs out of it.

Despite the delays on this, we undersold the event, but did this intentionally to draw the attention of fellow gamers. For $15 pre-registration and $20 at the door, players got to play 4 games of Warhammer 40K, largely against new players, on new terrain and scenery, as well as have a chance to win prizes. We also included beverages for the day and lunch for all of our players and staff. (These were some other costs incurred that went over budget, but again, I am learning).

As with the other GT events I have been at, we awarded Army Domination awards in the form of a certificate of recognition. My friend Brian Smith and his wife Tammy did an excellent job working out these awards for us. I made some small trophies on plaques and using miniatures painted in gold, sliver and bronze for some top awards as well.

Something I did differently was that I went heavy on prize support for such a small event. We than offered raffle tickets to each players. Pre-registrations received 5 tickets, and all other players at the door received 3. Each Army Domination winner won 2 additional raffle tickets.

We also sold more raffle tickets at $1 each, or Six for $5. The prize table we had would allow all prizes to be selected in a form of ‘prize seniority’. Any prizes left on the table at the end would go to the raffles.

This way, even a player in last place could still have a chance at winning a prize. The raffle went hand in hand with a pizza fund-raiser we held for the club to help offset our costs of the tournament. When it was all said and done we had a small excess. Those proceeds will be funneled back into our game club for supplies for a terrain clinic we are holding with my friend who owns the Adventurer’s Guild in Harrisburg PA

The only other issue I really had with the event was at the end. I clicked on the wrong option on the program I was using to calculate final results. The tournament was supposed to be calculated by overall total score. This included battle points from wins, ties, losses, as well as objective points scored during missions (6 max per game), and combined points for Composition, Appearance, and Sportsmanship.

What happened instead was that the program allocated slots according by Win/Loss record. This was totally wrong, and sadly, I didn’t figure it out until 2 days later. I had issues with my computer and due to my blunder on time and planning, I rushed through the results part of the tournament. In the end, some players received awards based upon their record, as opposed to their overall scores.

In the end, I made sure to go back (out of my own pocket) and make sure all results were properly calculated and all appropriate winners received their just awards. As for the other players…… ….well, it is not fair for me to strip someone of a prize due to my own mistakes. So for them it was an early Christmas gift and for me, it was a harsh lesson learned.

Ultimately I just wanted everyone to have a good time. Despite my blunders, I sure hope that I achieved that to some degree. No matter what happened, I wanted everyone to know that they got a fair deal with the Berks Warhammer 40K club.

We had a great turnout, great prize support from the Adventurer’s Guild in Harrisburg, and support from the guys from Mechanicon (who brought in extra terrain for us to use). Terran Scapes, a company I found online also sponsored our tournament with a gift certificate. I bought some of their scenery and went through a process painting and getting it all ready. I featured that terrain on Table-1, and purchased their Martian Buttes. This is really nice quality terrain, and I also had one of their finished and textured hills. I plan to purchase more of their stuff, as it is really nice.

Sarah of  Dragonfly Minis also sponsored our event with some gift certificates. I had contracted their services to paint a Vulkan Hes’tan for my Son’s Salamander Space Marines. I first learned of Sarah at the Mechanicon GT and learned about how talented she is with painting miniatures and armies by commission.

Despite the hard lessons learned as well as the work involved in this event, we will probably try another event in the future. For now I need a break from planning and just want to enjoy the summer coming up.


So, as for the lessons I learned, here’s my current list:

1: Get enough help for the tournament. More judges and referres.
2: Have someone available to be a gopher and run for miscellaneous stuff
3: Charge an appropriate amount for the event. (This event should have been at least $10 more). We are not looking to profit from it, just break even and have fun.
4: Keep lunch (if included) to a much simpler menu and process.
5: Allocate time between rounds to calculate results
6: Have the first two rounds of game play already randomized and prepared BEFORE
7: I like the idea of the raffle, but I would change it up a bit.
8: Fine tune my scoring system and programs, run a full test BEFORE the event.
9: Triple check the event and make sure they can handle our needs.

The raffle idea worked, but instead of having several smaller prizes, I may just keep the prize table to 10 items next time instead of 25. Than offer additional sizable awards in more of a ‘chinese auction’, where you have jars/baskets in front of each item for raffle, than allow the players to allocate as many or as few tickets as possible to each item. I would offer large prizes, like, say a battle force, a tank, and a few other items.

Now that it’s all over with, just remember that if you undertake the challenges of running and hosting a tournament, be prepared that it is a LOT of work.

Also, when you attend an event, understand that there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, especially at larger venues like GTs. Try to remember to be courteous to the staff and make sure to thank anyone involved in organizing the event.

1 comment:

  1. It was an awesome day. For the players, at least. Yes, you were understaffed, but like you said, you undersold.

    You did go really far in prize support. I don't think the player's first thought was "I hope I get prizes". That's not the motivation for playing in a tourney.

    Overall it was a great day. Yeah, some glitches, but hey - it was a small event and everyone knew it was your first tournament of that size. Nobody else stood up and said "I'll organize a tournament"!

    Your integrity with admitting your mistakes is what will make folks look over the glitches.