Before I get into the topic at hand it might be appropriate to introduce myself. You can call me Tristan and I’ve been in the hobby for about 15 years and I have enjoyed my fair share of fantasy, sci-fi and historical games. Yet as for many others my first game was Warhammer FB. Regardless of the developments of the game in the past couple of years I still think back on it with fond memories. And those memories have been resurfaced with the 9th Age. Playing it feels like the good old times and feeling good is something that I really value and look for in a game.
So what will this series of posts talk about? I will be sharing my experience and thoughts on organizing a tournament and in this case specifically for beginners. This post here is about getting the idea and theme of the tournament in place. And I should point out that while I do talk about the 9th Age this is meant as more of a general template on tournament organizing rather than a 9th Age specific thing. So if this is a topic you are interested in you might be in the right place.
Why a tournament?
People are different. Not everybody enjoys high-competitive games and that is ok. The notion that all tournaments are highly competitive is wrong. Whether you are a competitive player or a bit less-competitive one- a tournament is a sight to see. All the different armies, players and inspiration on display. And even more so in a smaller community. Here in Tallinn we have about 5 -6 active players with a dozen dormant players so any chance to get people together and share their hobby is valuable and has a chance of getting new hobbyists. And a tournament is just that- an event that displays the hobby. So regardless if you are a big community or a small one- a tournament is a powerful tool in getting the people excited about a game or the hobby in general.
Yet there is a difference between a tournament and a tournament
One way people in the hobby could be categorized is competitive players and less-competitive players. I know it is a bit broad but bear with me. Let me tell you a story, so I used to play warmachine. A lovely game with some nice mechanics. Yet the local scene grew into a strictly tournament oriented one- and to be honest that made me loose interest in the game. Don’t get me wrong- I like tournaments and the local warmahordes players- it’s because the scene was already so developed that to have a decent game I should have been seasoned with the game and knowledge of all the units. Sort of a catch 42 if you know what I mean. So basically it wasn’t fun for me or my opponents- because they wanted tough games to get themselves ready for the next tournament. So where do the so called less-competetive players come into the picture?
The compromise seems to be a “narrative tournament series”.
What I propose is a three part series of tournaments that also cover a narrative storyline. It’ll be like a campaign and a tournament at the same time. The plan would be to organize it so that whoever won the first tournament would have a slightly tougher time in the next one whilst the bottom players would have a slight boost. Also gaining some bonus items/rules to carry on into the next part.
Tournaments use points to see who can win and this tournament will be no exception in that part. Except for the little fact that it will have two different score tables- one is the regular battle result- the other would be concentrating on the “narrative” side. And the champions will be crowned by adding these two together. So how can one gather these points?
Good ideas are a mix of bunch of good ones. For example take the boardgame Blood Rage- where you can plan your game ahead and loosing battles on porpoise is a valid tacticas the one winning battles. I would like to introduce similar ideas to the tournament. Meaning that when you are facing a tough opponent you could have a chance of gaining some points for loosing. I’ve used a similar idea in the past organizing 40k tournaments. The idea is that you hand every player a list of positive and negative upgrades equal to the games being played. And they have to choose one at the beginning of every game. They were simple enough for 40k- for example “your opponent has the first turn” or “you may re-roll one dice in this game”. So depending on your opponent you could choose the boon.
For the 9th Age I will adjust this system a bit. So the idea would be that you have a list of positives equal to the amount of games and a list of negatives as well. Using a positive “boon” will subtract some Victory Points(VP-s) from you and using negative ones will add VP-s. I have yet to decide on the severity of these boons but they could be as simple as “let your opponent choose who starts the game” or as crazy as “completely miss turn 1”. Obviously the reward should be equal to the risk you are taking.
Another point I would like to introduce is “secret objectives”. I met them first in Malifaux and I really enjoyed them. So naturally adding them to the tournament will be fun. And this could be the bit where a beginner could play the “through loss I am victorious” objective. I do understand that this is a slippery road- when for example both players would choose the objective the game will be insanely fast for both of them will just throw everything at the opposing army. One solution is definitely that you can use every objective only once.
Now that we have lightly covered the idea of points and objectives it would be wise to talk about the theme.
In order to contain and paint a plausible picture of the narrative side the easiest choice is always going for an island rush. And that’s exactly what I have planned. In the misty waters of Albion there is an island that is lush with magical forces and artefacts. After years of being lost to the mystical mist it has reemerged with kings, princes, bandits, pirates and mad goblin shamans planning on capturing the treasures hidden in the sorcerers tower in the middle. Sounds simple enough. So the three tournaments will be the account of warbands rushing towards the middle of the island where an ancient sorcerer has set up her lair. So for example the first tournament would be building beach-heads and first few scouting runs into the island. The second could be the journey towards the middle and the third and final one could be the epic face-off in the middle. And that could even work with a massive multyplayer game as the final chapter.
As the theme is a weird old magical island your army could find artefacts to help you in the next game or tournament. Definitely some food for thought.
So I think I’ve got the basics down. Next up is planning the first event.