Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cheating at Blog Wars 9

I'm intending to post a full feedback discussion post soon but I wanted to get this out of the way first. I left after BW9 thinking I'd done a pretty decent job of managing a much bigger tournament than I'm used to. There were a couple of lists that I allowed that I regret but generally speaking the day ran smoothly. That's what I thought at least, until I was contacted by email and informed that the winner of the event had supposedly cheated his way to victory.

I was intending to handle this matter in private but comments on other posts have made me feel like I need to address the issue publicly and clear the air. There's no point me trying to keep this anonymous as everyone can see who won the event and it wouldn't be difficult to work out who he played in round 2.

What Happened?
The winner of the event was running a combination of Imperial Knights and Farsight Enclaves (Tau) allies. The Imperial Knights army included the special character Gerantius (WD datasheet) who has a few buffs over the standard knights, most notably his ion shield save is 3++. The list that David submitted had Gerantius within a Household Detachment including two other knights plus an allied contingent of Tau with Farsight. The Tau would be the primary detachment and Farsight would be the "Commander" for Blog Wars purposes. The command benefits of the Household Detachment require it to be the primary with the exception of all knights getting Objective Secured. I therefore felt the list wasn't too unreasonable (in the context of 3 knights being permitted) and therefore accepted it. 

David's second round opponent James contacted me and stated that he felt David was cheating on a few counts. Firstly that David had been using the Baronial Court formation and secondly that he was using a special character that wasn't permitted at Blog Wars.

The second point there about Gerantius not being a valid choice for Blog Wars is false. He isn't on the list of characters that can be used as Commander but as the rules pack states he may still be included in the army. The same goes for SCs like Cypher and Be'lakor. The idea here was to prevent people from circumventing the event comp by using dataslate SCs rather than picking from their own codex. With the benefit of hindsight this could've been clearer but looking back at the BW8 page I had stated clearly that Gerantius was legal although at the time knights were limited to 2 per army anyway.

After the release of the new codex, there seems to be a lot of debate about whether Gerantius is actually a legal choice for an Imperial Knights army at all. The Household Detachment requires units with the "Lords of War" type and the other formations allow "Imperial Knights of any type". Strictly speaking Gerantius doesn't fall into either of these categories. Personally, I feel this is one of those typical GW rule issues where everyone will interpret it in whatever way benefits them. Those who don't want to face Gerantius will say he's illegal and those wanting to run him will, of course, say the opposite. In the absence of an FAQ from GW within the last 12 months I doubt we'll be getting a proper answer any time soon.

Anyway, I was happy that Gerantius was legal for BW9 so that's largely irrelevant. The bigger issue then is that when used within the Baronial Court he receives +1 to his invulnerable save giving him a 2++ save in his front arc (amongst other benefits). Clearly this is a little OTT. The problem was that this wasn't the list that David had submitted. Of course, his opponents on the day weren't to know this so it wasn't never brought up. 

I contacted David about this and he said that he'd submitted the wrong list by mistake and, when I replied to his submitted list saying everything was fine, he thought nothing of it. To put this in context in the run up to the submission deadline he'd sent me a couple of lists but had changed his mind fairly last minute and submitted the final list with a Household Detachment in it. We can argue whether he deliberately used a different list to the one he submitted but my feeling is it was a genuine mistake. Suffice to say we'll never really know though.

What I will say though is that when handing in his results after the first round David said to me his list was too powerful with three knights and he wouldn't be bringing something like that again. He also said that he thought three knights was too much in general. Obviously at this point I didn't know which version of his list he was running but this doesn't, to me at least, sound like the actions of someone who was deliberately cheating.

What Action Will Be Taken?
Well, when I contacted David about this he confirmed that he had indeed been using the Baronial Court but said he hadn't spent the winnings yet and would be happy to return the voucher if it meant there would be no offence cause to anyone during the event. Really though I just wanted to get the bottom of this and find out his side of the story. He didn't even feel like the use of the Baronial Court had made a huge impact on the results. In his words, in the second game his knights had D-weapons whereas his opponent's just had S10 and in the final game his opponent had been very unlucky with his rolling.

There was a suggestion that he should be stripped of the title and the points somehow redistributed to crown a new winner. This is next to impossible to do though with no way of knowing how his opponents in his games would've faired had they played someone else or if they'd played him with the list I thought he was running. 

Ultimately, I have no way of knowing whether David intentionally played a slightly different list and how much different it actually made. I can't pretend I'm happy about the situation but it's one player's word against another's. I therefore don't think it would be appropriate to take any action at all.

Let's remind ourselves that Blog Wars is supposed to be a friendly event and David effectively took home a net prize of £7.50 (after deducting the ticket cost). There were several people who won prizes in the raffle who did better than that.

How does this affect future Blog Wars?
Well I will start by making it very clear that the list you submit should be the list you play. I have two suggestions for how I can check this happens. The first would be to make everyone bring a printed copy of their list to the event with them and check them off against the electronic version they submitted or I could publish a document with everyone's list in there so that people could check their opponent's list from it in each round.

The problem with the first solution is that it would probably take me most of the morning to check them all and that's assuming I wasn't answering any rules queries or generally talking to people at what is supposedly a social event. I'm also reluctant to do the second method either. I know this is how some of the more serious events do it but seriously, is that necessary for Blog Wars?

The main thing to take from all this is that I really shouldn't be playing in the event. That's a big blow for me because I love taking part. I actually created the event as the kind of tournament I'd want to play in. Still though, this issue mainly occurred during the only game that I did play at Blog Wars 9. Had I been more available perhaps I could've given James more time when he came to ask if Gerantius was legal. I therefore won't be playing at Blog Wars again unless as a stand-in to make even numbers but I'll make every effort to find an alternative stand-in.

In summary:
  • Gerantius was a legal option for BW9 (but is unlikely to be at BW10)
  • The combination of Gerantius and the Baronial Court was too much and as such I would never have permitted it had I known
  • The list I received did not use the Baronial Court but rather the Household Detachment
  • David states this was by accident and I'm inclined to believe him
  • No action will be taken
In the end, I'm sad that this kind of ill-feeling has come out of an event that I work hard to ensure is as friendly as possible. I'm reasonably convinced that the people involved are happy to move on so I suggest that's what we do. I would urge everyone who comes to BW10 not to treat either of these players any different. 

I'm not going to allow comments on this post but I welcome any thoughts via email.


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