Hey everyone, Adam here to talk about my experience as a head judge for the 40K Championships for the Las Vegas Open.
Adam here from TFG Radio. This year I once again had the opportunity and privilege of being one of the head judges for the 40K events at this year’s Las Vegas Open. The event is always a great time, both in the convention hall and outside, in the bright lights of Las Vegas. It was great seeing old friends, fans of the podcast, meeting the Games Workshop team, and making new friends. The Frontline Gaming crew go through a lot of time and effort to bring this event to life, so a big thanks to them.
For a look at the event as a whole, check out Salty John’s article here on the Frontline website. There were a number of events for 40K that weekend. Alongside the 40K Championships, we had the 40K Team Tournament, and the 40K Single Elimination Sunday 8man RTTs. This article will focus more on my experiences with the main event, the 40K Championships.
As a quick background about me, for those that don’t know, I have been playing 40K since Rogue Trader. I have played competitively since the first Los Angeles Grand Tournament in 3rd edition through the current edition. I play in at least 1 tournament a month, along with any large events and leagues I take part in. This was actually my 3rd year as a head judge for the Las Vegas Open.
Day 1 – The Purge
To say the main hall was packed is an understatement. Just last year, in the same hall, there was plenty of room for other game systems to have there events. this year, however, with the size doubling, the 40K champs pushed out many of the other games to the smaller hall. At the start of the tournament there were about 475 players registered in the Best Coast Pairings (BCP) app. So with this many players, in order to get to the final 8, we needed a good old fashion purge!
Well the purge had a bit of a hiccup to start things off. There was a bit of a slowdown with the app for people to find their pairings. This was actually not uncommon as, in previous years, the first round of the tournament always had issues when the pairings were ready. In the early rounds we already had at least one pairing that people were watching, Aaron Aelong v Geoff “incontrol” Robinson. Although a very tense game, and going into lunch, the game ended in a draw. At the time the thinking was that a draw would have you out of a chance to get in the top 8, but would later be proven wrong.
The second round seemed to get off to good start, which only a couple notable incidents. As everyone should know by now, the ITC has recently enacted a 3 color minimum rule for the last few months, since SoCal Open. During the second round one of the other judges noted that an army did not meet the 3 color minimum requirement. The participant got a bit agitated and, although they were given the opportunity to get more paint on their army and return in round 3, they decided just to drop from the tournament. The other issue was that the data for the 2nd round was missing and so everyone had to re-enter their scores before we could pair the 3rd round. After that was all done, and running a little late, we got the third round under way and completed.
The last round of the day ended without much fanfare. On my end, it wasn’t too bad. We did get a lot of questions, as you would expect from a tournament of this size, but nothing too esoteric. Going into day 2, however, we know from experience that the questions will become a bit more weighty.
Day 2 – The Elite 8
I won’t go into a round by round account as the excitement from the day before, and after, will merit more attention. The pairings and scoring worked just fine. As the rounds progressed I was starting to see people ask more questions about rules and abilities that in previous rounds they would have just trusted their opponent. As we had the last rounds going, we tended to focus more on the tables in contention for the top 8. We would still take our normal rounds through the whole tournament but would keep a wary eye on those tables. In round 6 we would constantly have someone nearby in case any questions arose from those top 10 tables.
During this day a number of people began coming to the the table “checking” other people’s lists and letting us know what the correct faction the army should be. With everyone’s army available on the BCP app, it made it a lot easier for people to check army lists. This seemed to have the desired effect since throughout the weekend we were correcting people’s faction based on the army lists that were uploaded to the app. It also showed me that Eldar players have trouble figuring out what faction they play, as they were the major faction with the most corrections. I was also starting to get called over a lot to determine if an army passed the 3 color rule in these last 2 rounds. This year a wash counted as a color, so many armies passed the test as a result of this. I wouldn’t count on a wash saving you next year but we will see.
There were also a lot more calls for a judge this day, as many people were vying for “Best of” in both the event and the ITC season. I often would go to a table with just the 12 page pamphlet you got with the starter box, and it would be enough to settle any questions. We probably got a lot more questions on how to fill out the scoresheet than actual game questions during some of the rounds. Common questions, for me anyway, revolved around how Celestine and/or Guilliman’s resurrection abilities affect some of the ITC mission secondaries. On the rules front, I think that 8th edition was a hit as the first two days went, roughly, without a hitch, ruleswise. We had are final 8 and were moving on to day 3.
Day 3 – Victory, at what cost?
The day started out well. We had the 40K Sunday RTT and the doubles event going, as well as the first round of the championships, but not after a bit of a correction. I won’t go into it here as it has already been mentioned on both my podcast(see below) and on Signal from the Frontline. Needless to say, adjustments to the last round were made along with adjustments to the pairings for the top 8.
The first round of the champs went fine, as far as we know. As a judge crew, we tend to take a passive stance to the game. We wait for you to call us as we don’t want to interfere with your game if we don’t have to. In addition, we still had almost 200 other players we had to keep an eye on, not just the championship games. So, if you don’t let us know if there is an issue, we won’t know.
The semi finals is where the excitement is at, or in my case, heartburn, lol. It’s on e of those instances where you know what action you would like to take but you know that you cannot due to the rules in play. As a judge you are there to enforce the rules, not to enforce your sense of morality about how the game should be played. In this case we talked about what had happened, what our options were, and ultimately what our reaction would be, as a team. Again, if you want to hear more details check out my podcast. We had a judge sit in on the final table, which is something we have always done, and you can see the karma at work on Youtube or on Twitch. In the end, however, everything seemed to write itself, like something out of Aesop’s fable to teach us a valuable life lesson.
After all was said and done, I would definitely do it again, and have already told the organizers this. I did learn a few things about what we need to improve on and about 8th edition. As mentioned before, 8th edition has made judging the event a whole lot easier. I probably had more rules not about the rules but more about terrain, mission, or line of site. What rules questions I actually did get were easily referenced and fixed by asking the simple question “what does your stratagem/dataslate/codex/rulebook say?” I honestly don’t think we could have been able to handle this many players with only 5 judges if this was a 7th edition tournament. That being said, I do think we need a couple more judges, that way we can dedicate 1 judge to the twitch stream during all of the rounds. I also enjoyed having some of the people from Games Workshop that worked on the rules there. It was helpful get some questions we actually had issues with answered by them, so that we at least knew the intent.
Anyway, that’s all I got for now. I hope you enjoyed the read and don’t for get to give TFG Radio a listen.
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