So entering round two I was somewhat flustered by having to sort the scores out and going from 15 minutes ahead of schedule to 5-10 minutes behind. I was hoping that I'd be able to make the time back by playing my second game quickly allowing me to sort out the scores and hopefully get us back on schedule. That all went to pot when Dan Lane and Franco called me over to adjudicate on their game....
Before I get into it I want to say that I'm going to attempt to write this as impartially as possible. I'm sure Franco will mention it on the 40KGlobal podcast so please read this and listen to that and form your own conclusions.
Anyway, they'd reached the end of their game and Franco had tabled Dan at the end of turn 4 (although it may have been turn 5 depending on who you asked). The rules pack stated that tabling your opponent did not automatically give you maximum points. Knowing that this is something that is somewhat controversial I reminded everyone before the event that this was the case. I'll go into more depth about why I decided to use this system later but suffice to say it'd been in the rules pack from the start which had also been sent out to everyone a couple of days before.
Well Franco had tabled Dan but wasn't controlling any of the objectives. Franco's argument was that he should be allowed to play his turns which would easily allow him to claim the objectives. Now I could understand Franco's frustration that he'd tabled his opponent but yet would actually be given a score of zero (although he would get 3 secondaries). I hadn't specifically said that people couldn't have their remaining turns but it's generally accepted that the game ends immediately when the last unit dies. In his mind though anything other than ruling that he could have his turns would be "ridiculous". If I ruled against him he would "leave now, and never come back". With both players (quite rightly) trying to argue their case and me struggling to think clearly I made a mistake. First, I tried to get both players to see it from the other's point of view. Dan could see that to table and score no points sounded daft but justified this by saying that the rules pack was quite clear. Franco refused to see it from Dan's point of view.
I wasn't happy with the decision but I needed to get back to my game. In the meantime I was chatting to various people who'd finished their games and had heard about the problem. Some of them had tabled their opponents but not claimed full VPs, as the tournament rules stated. Clearly then I'd need to decide whether I was changing the rules in the middle of the game or if I should go back to Franco and tell him I'd changed my mind.
I probably should've decided sooner rather than later but I wanted to get my game done as my opponent had already suffered enough delays. With the clock ticking down I got my game finished and there was now no choice but to make a ruling. Knowing that other people at the event had managed to play to the event pack I decided that I should enforce this in Franco & Dan's game too. This would therefore mean a 3-0 win to Franco (on secondaries). This wasn't good enough for him though and he stuck to his guns, packing up his models and leaving the event probably never to return.
I'm not thrilled that this happened as Blog Wars is supposed to be a friendly event that welcomes all comers. To have someone leave over a decision doesn't fit in with the Blog Wars philosophy of friendly competition. Whilst I still believe I made the right call in the end the problem was that I hadn't made it straight away. The rules in the event pack should be gospel. This means everyone is competing within the same parameters. To change them in the middle of the event is unfair.
I'm sure any 40K player who's been at it for a while knows that the rules aren't perfect. At a tournament you want the referee to make confident decisions that are based on a deep knowledge of the rules. The worst thing they can do is to go back on a call. That's the main thing to take away from this I think.
The other thing to think about is being totally explicit in the rules. If I intend to keep the rules regarding tabling then I need to specify that the game ends when the last unit is removed as a casualty. There are no further turns and if you haven't got the objectives then you don't score any points. Provided everyone is well aware that this is the situation then they can play their games accordingly.
Franco argued that "no other event since 2011" has used this system. At the time I was thinking that perhaps it was a good idea to follow suit to avoid situations like this being repeated. However, with more time to think about it I think it's something that should stay. It's important to realise why I want to keep the rule.
Why I want to keep the rule
The scoring system at Blog Wars doesn't have a binary win or loss result from each game. Instead, players are rewarded for winning convincingly and not penalised too heavily for a narrow loss. This may not be the way other tournaments do it but personally I think it works. Obviously there's the potential for someone to win all three games and not finish very high up (it's been Luke Fogg twice now - sorry Luke) but hopefully they've still enjoyed the day and their games will have been close.
That's the crux of it really. Winning doesn't actually matter that much at Blog Wars. Your ticket costs £15 and the most you can win is £25 for 1st place. Essentially then you're playing for a tenner when you take away your ticket cost. That's hardly stellar. Conversely the raffle offers a couple of hundred pounds worth of prizes which you're eligible for regardless of where you finish. Perhaps then Blog Wars shouldn't be viewed as a tournament but rather a social club. Yes there's a competition but, cheesy as it sounds, it's more about playing different people and having fun.
That's why I started going to tournaments in the first place, to play different people. If I win my games great if not who cares. Obviously I bitch and moan about it with the best of them but hopefully my opponents don't think of me as a power gamer.
So anyway, if you aren't awarding full points for tablings then you're encouraging people to play their games differently. In fact you're encouraging them to build their lists differently too. There's no doubt that the current meta encourages people to take cheap scoring units like kroot, cultists, etc so you can afford to pump more points into units that will devastate your opponent. Look at the top lists right now and with the exception of lists where the power comes from the troops section (e.g. wave serpent spam) the lists have barely any points in troops so they can afford the deathstars.
If you don't get maximum points from tabling you can't build your list that way. Your opponent may look at your list and think "I can't hope to beat that" but when they see your scoring is some kroot they'll be thinking they can easily take away your opportunity to score too many points. At Blog Wars the number of points you give away is almost as important as the number you score.
The Blog Wars system isn't the same as the major competitive events and it never has been. For starters there's the compulsory special character rule which came at a time when a lot of the major events were banning special characters. I don't post the results on Rankings HQ which I've been asked to do in the past.
The point is that I don't want Blog Wars to be like other events. I don't get a huge number of players attending but I don't want that either. I'm not trying to make money, I'm not trying to compete with the big GTs. What I want is for people to come to the event, no matter how experienced they are, and enjoy the day. The rule will be staying because Blog Wars is different by design. Perhaps I'll spell it out more clearly next time though.