This last weekend, May 23-24, 2015, saw the re-occurrence of The Guardian Cup, a 2 day Grand Tournament hosted at Guardian Games in Portland, OR. I, CaptainA, have been the TO (tournament organizer) for the past few years and have been pleased to see it grow and change over the time I have been running the event. Here is a breakdown of how the event ran from a TO side of things and what went on behind the scenes of my baby.
Things to Be Proud Of
From my perspective things went very well. We set up Friday night in about 45 minutes and tore down in as much or less time. So a big thank you to all the helpers that came out and stayed to break things down.
I felt the terrain on the tables as a whole was strong with a lot of line of sight blocking terrain and even a themed Ork table from Sorienor. Terrain is always a tough spot as if you don’t have enough, it can really impact the meta of the event. Big shout out to Ordo Fanaticus for allowing us to use their terrain. It worked very well and I could not have done this without them.
Another aspect that I was pleased with was in selling out so quickly. We sold all 50 places and had 8 people on the waiting list. Things shook out in the end with us having 47 players as we had some last minute drops, but it is still a 25% increase from last year so that was some good growth.
The players themselves deserve a nice shout out as there was very little issues overall. There were a few little disagreements, but I had very little judging to do and attitudes were extremely low key which made my job easier for sure.
Lastly we gave out over $1500 in prize support, with $500 being cash for some of the top placers. Big thanks to our nameless sponsor who helped us give that $500 cash! I don’t know if we will have that in the future, but it was a cool surprise for me to give away. We raffled off the rest of the over $1000 in prizes and many people walked away with some big items such as $100 dollar gift certificates for the store and a copy of Execution Force. I was very pleased to be able to give so much away and keep overhead costs light.
We also had a guest appearance by a local cosplayer who came in his Chaos Space Marine outfit! Thanks Zachary!
Things to Work On
I found out that weekend that my projector setup is too old for my new laptop. Pairings went well, but I should have a printer for backup and or have tested it before hand to make pairings even smoother. My giant 17” screen made it easier, but I should have looked into that previously.
I know there were some pairings that made people a bit sad as they had to play guys from their own club a couple of times (sorry Gonzo!). I kept clubs from playing each other the first round, but turned that off for later rounds. My thinking was that keeping the clubs apart would give them too much of a favorable advantage, especially for Mugu and Team0Comp, which had 7 members each on their teams. Maybe next year have the first two games no clubs? I just personally feel that the integrity of the event falters a bit when I start messing with stuff too much as the players should play each other that have the closest scores in a swiss system.
Gamers don’t read the players packet! I need to make sure I cover everything I want the players to know before we start the day. It caught a couple of players off guard about the ITC end of turn sequence. I felt bad, but it was in the packet.
Armies and Factions
Blood Angels – 3
Chaos Space Marines – 2
Dark Angels – 1
Dark Eldar – 1
Eldar – 5
IG – 4
Imperial Knights – 3
Necrons – 5
Orks – 4
Sisters – 2
Skitarii – 1
Space Marines – 2
Space Wolves – 4
Tau – 3
Tyranids – 7
Grey Knights – 0
Chaos Daemons – 0
What a mix! Most of the armies were quite diverse even within their respective factions. Tyranids were the most similar with all the Flyrants, Orks had a lot of Bully Boyz, and for Eldar I saw a lot of Wraithknights and a lot of the Crimson Death Formation. It was a very good mix of armies and there was a ton of variety from the big picture.
I can’t say enough good things about Guardian Games. It is an amazing store and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. 8000 square feet of gaming with a bar? Yes please! I really tried with The Ocho to add value to the store. As a TO, you need to understand what your event brings and takes from your venue. A store is many things, but primarily it is the means to support the owners and its employees. Dollars speak volumes so I tried to get The Ocho on a weekend that didn’t compete with anything, especially Magic, so we could be an event that added more than it took from the store. Keep in mind that a store can use the same space that a 40k tournament needs and make many times more money by running Magic events.
In the end I was very pleased with how much money we brought to the store and with how much room we had for our event. The staff worked hard to accommodate us and it is a pleasure for me to host the Guardian Cup at Guardian Games.
This is one of the parts of running a tournament that gives me the most anxiety. There are lots of ways to go about this, Excel sheets, third party software, hand written, etc., and I haven’t found one that really worked how I wanted it to. Each time, I poke around the interwebs and seek something that will do everything I want and this year I discovered Warscore.net. Warscore is a free java based program designed specifically for tabletop miniature tournaments.
Probably the bottom line is that I am able to customize the software to record and report pretty much however I want and fairly easily to boot. I was able to add in club names, opponents, battle scores, primary armies (for Best Of awards), and even sports and paint for each round if I wanted to. With all of these things in place I was able to disallow rematches, not pair by club, randomize tables or start a pairing at a table, and more. This made matches very easy to pair and kept a lot of the issues that normally happens with similar types of software like having the top player always on table one.
It was also very easy to go back and change information such as people’s names, and not impact the rest of the system, or to add and subtract players as we went. I could also easily unpair and pair players if needed which happened once when a player was late. It all worked rather seamlessly so I was very pleased with how it worked. In addition, I could easily cut and paste out of the software into an Excel spreadsheet for further manipulation.
I’d say the cons of Warscore is in their online manual. I personally didn’t feel it explained well enough, but they did have a lot of example tournaments you could download and I used that to see how it worked and was able to figure it out myself.
Probably another con is that for a much larger tournament, you will still have to do data entry yourself, which could still make it pretty time consuming. For the ITC, where I was just doing battle scores on the software, it went pretty quick, but could get bogged down if I had a couple hundred players waiting to score.
In the end though, I was very pleased with Warscore and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a tournament tracking software to use. Just play with it beforehand and test it out before to make sure you know what to do.
For Next Year
Next year I hope to go up to 60 players, adding five tables, and trying to do six games. It may cost more as we would need to pay for the extra time for the store to open earlier, but I think it will be worth it. I also hope to secure more FAT Mats as they make a world of difference in my eyes on the tables. I also plan on doing pretty much every faction for Best Of awards as (don’t tell anyone) the trophies are not that expensive overall. It won’t take much to make sure every faction is represented.
I was beat, but I had a great time hanging out with friends, eating great food, and putting on what I thought was a strong showing. I hope to see you out for the next Guardian Cup or Guardian Cup Lite.