The Time has Come to Adopt the Code of Conduct and Standardized List Submission for all Events in the ITC

Hello, competitive 40k players, potential 40k players, trolls, lurkers, and random readers who stumbled upon this and will stop reading soon. John, SaltyJohn, here head judge for the Las Vegas Open and contributor to TFG Radio, talking to you about the need for universal adoption of the Code of Conduct in the ITC.

Last summer the LVO/ITC Head Judges group decided it was past time for a Code of Conduct in 40k, and we began work on one in earnest. Over the course of the summer, and at events like the Bay Area Open, we refined what we thought should be in it. We then took the document to the ITC Tournament Organizers group for feedback. We discussed, debated, and made an addendum to the Code of Conduct. The Bay Area Open 2018, So Cal Open 2018, and a few GTs/RTTs around the country were testing grounds for the foundational tenets of the Code of Conduct. The ITC/LVO Head Judges and the TO Group then revisited the Code of Conduct and we arrived at the document we released for use at the Las Vegas Open 2019 and for any Tournament Organizer who wished to also adopt it. Around the same time the Code of Conduct was getting polished the ITC and Best Coast Pairings, after months of work, also released their standardized list format. With the Code of Conduct, standardized list format, and list submission deadlines in place and enforced the Las Vegas Open Warhammer 40k Championships came and went with only a few minor incidents and no major kerfuffles to speak of.  That’s quite an accomplishment. The largest Warhammer 40k tournament ever, in the history of 40k, came to a conclusion without major incident much to the chagrin of the tabloid 40k journalists, troll groups, and various naysayers hoping for an “I told you so” moment that never came to pass.

Competitive Warhammer 40k is changing. It has been barreling down the road toward massive popularity, internet exposure, and a legitimate audience for several years now. When Frontline Gaming began live streaming the top tables of the Las Vegas Open on Twitch in 2016 I knew the world of Competitive 40k had changed. The audience was impressive, but more so, the reaction of the audience to what was happening on the table top. The games were watched, re-watched, poured over for mistakes. The game had changed. Gone were the days of he said/she said accusations of cheating, “Oops I forgot” moments and “clerical” errors in lists. The player base had tasted the future of competitive 40k. At the same time the 40k Forums were faltering into the abyss of irrelevance the 40k Tournament scene; players, TOs, and judges were being catapulted into a new era of relevance and notoriety. That brought major growing pains though. As the tournaments grew exponentially and the audience on the internet grew to match it, so too did the expectations of the attendees and the fans that the players and events would comport themselves to a set of norms. These norms were based primarily around standardized missions and terrain at first. Thanks to some infamous situations the focus soon shifted from the event to the players, then back to the TOs and Judges to get the community and player base back on track. Attendees of events do not want their time playing in the event spoiled by cheating, poor sportsmanship, overly intoxicated players, rude behavior, or the unexpected. They want to come to an event, in some cases an event they spent a lot of money on attending, and have fun competing for a set of prizes.

With 8th edition and the dawn of a new, improved, involved Games Workshop the train of Competitive 40k again built up steam and took a few turns at recklessly high speed. Player behavior seemed to be getting worse. TOs and judges seemed to lack the tools, or worse the gumption, to combat it. In reality, the game had changed. With far fewer abusable areas in the game and a massive player base that was interconnected on Facebook, Twitch, Instagram, and YouTube using their real names in many cases and not the ubiquitous anonymous Forum handle; the real change came from the attitude of the players. They simply weren’t going to stand idly by anymore as players behaved poorly, cheated, modeled for advantage, posted fuzzy lists into BCP on purpose, refused to post lists, were poor sports, etc. This is what the Code of Conduct, submission deadlines, and standardized list formats came around to combat on behalf of the players calling for change. That call continues.

I cannot stress enough the role that enforced list submission deadlines, standardized list format and published Code of Conduct played in the dramaless success of the Las Vegas Open 2019. It wasn’t easy, there was resistance from some players, growing pains, and many hours of work. It took the people at Frontline Gaming, Best Coast Pairings, and the ITC/LVO Head Judges combined efforts but the pay off was well worth it. The results of that work shouldn’t be the exception in competitive 40k, it should be the rule. Rather than the LVO being an enigma in Competitive 40k, it should be one of literally hundreds of events run each year in the ITC that can boast a smooth running, and relatively drama free event. Drama free from the perspective of negative play experiences, cheating, collusion, etc. What the Las Vegas Open is though, is the road map. It’s the template the events in the ITC can use to have similar success. It all begins with setting down hard guidelines and sticking to them. It’s high time ITC events became united in our efforts to standardize the play expectations at our events. There are a few simple steps to this end.

  1. The Code of Conduct needs to be used by every event in the ITC. Major infractions like Red Cards and drops due to major issues need to be tracked for TO/Judge use.
  2. Judges and TOs need to have proper training in how to judge and run events according to the Code of Conduct.
  3. The BCP/LVO/ITC standardized list format needs to be universally adopted. It is a concise format that lends itself well to community policing.
  4. Lists for events need a hard deadline, or series of enforced deadlines with a final hard deadline, for submission and they need to be made public for review.
  5. Failure of a player to adhere to the guidelines of an event, including meeting the list submission deadline, will result in no ITC points being accrued for that event.

If the Warhammer 40k community can adopt these 5 simple guidelines over the course of this ITC season we will see a marked increase in the fidelity of event results and a marked decrease in the vitriol and riling up of the community when things do go bad. With a system in place to handle these things in a universal manner, the expectations will be set for all the stakeholders. Players, Tournament Organizers, Judges, sponsors, streamers, and the audience will have a single point of reference for the expectation of how the event will go and the repercussions for shortcomings that may occur. Nobody is perfect. Playing a perfect game of 40k isn’t possible, I know, I judge the LVO. Even judging an event perfectly isn’t possible. It’s what happens when the imperfections occur that matters. How it’s handled at the moment, after the fact, on the internet, and beyond that matters. Having a set of clear guidelines and expectations across the ITC is the key. We have the tools, it is time for them to be adopted by the Tournament Organizers in the ITC, the community deserves it. The community deserves better.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

secondhandhsop

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About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

24 Responses to “The Time has Come to Adopt the Code of Conduct and Standardized List Submission for all Events in the ITC”

  1. Some guy April 4, 2019 11:56 am #

    As I said it last time you brought this up. If you get Battlescribe to have an option to output lists in your FLG format then oodles of people will do it. And without any fuss.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 4, 2019 12:02 pm #

      I believe it already does.

      • Some guy April 4, 2019 1:47 pm #

        Well huzzah for that.

      • Dakkath April 4, 2019 7:18 pm #

        I’m not seeing the option for it in my print settings.

        • Reecius
          Reecius April 5, 2019 7:27 am #

          Perhaps ask Paul to expand on it (I don’t use Battlescribe, personally) but I believe if you use the simplified text option it spits out the list in a format that can be read by BCP.

          • CaptainA April 5, 2019 8:18 am
            #

            Process for Battlescribe
            Print Roster
            Format – Plain Text
            Minimal
            Flattened
            All Costs
            No Categories
            No Profiles
            No Rules
            No Custom Names
            Roster Title Header
            Save
            Open FIle
            Copy Paste

          • Reecius
            Reecius April 5, 2019 9:18 am
            #

            Thanks!

        • Venkarel April 5, 2019 8:17 am #

          From my experience to get Battlescribe to look like the BCP upload format. Switch the output to text then do the following.

          Minimal output
          flattened force layout
          all costs included
          no profiles
          no rules
          no custom names
          no categories
          Yes to title and totals

    • Paul McKelvey April 4, 2019 12:33 pm #

      Battlescribe does export in the standard list format

  2. Scott Devall April 4, 2019 1:24 pm #

    Great article and I 110% agree with this! Despite not playing competitive 40K anymore, I’ve still hear plenty of what’s been going on in the Aus ITC scene in terms of both serious abuse and misconduct with events and players. So much so it’s actually driving away players from playing in the competitive 40K ITC scene all together here in Aus as there are some who are actually taking this all too seriously (commonly coined as ‘playing for sheep stations’) and aren’t adhering to the code of conduct at all with not much being done about it at some events, others do follow it but it’s not widely adopted or enforced unfortunately to my knowledge. I’m not saying this to pull down the Aus 40K ITC scene, but to say how much it is needs to have the code of conduct and standardise list submission implement at all events so that the gaming environment will improve in the scene here in Aus, because currently it’s losing players due to the toxicity and poor behaviour of some players in the scene, the 10% of players ruining it for the other 90%. Whether it happens or not is another thing entirely, I earnestly and honestly hope it does and soon.

  3. Eye Strain April 4, 2019 7:04 pm #

    Can you edit this to include breaks and paragraphs I really want to read it but… wall of text mortal wounds your motivation.

  4. Rob Butcher April 5, 2019 1:56 am #

    GW already has a code of conduct …. it’s their game and IP so use it. ITC is not Warhammer 40K !!

    Until the game only has one set of rules / missions / points levels ITC or any other INDEPENDENT is ignoring many central issues. How can you score in the same way many totally different events ?

    Toes in terrain in three events … rest ignore this.

    Dodgy terrain in three events … rest use the official rules.

    1750 points in official tournaments … a myriad of points in others.

    Clocks in three events … ignored by others.

    There is a massive difference in being OFFICIAL or INDEPENDENT. I don’t see how you can try to set yourself up as both.

    When I see the same player(s) winning LVO, Adepticon, GW GT and NOVA then I’ll have faith in ITC as a scoring system. Currently, I have major doubts that the best list/general is the overall winner.

    • ujayim April 5, 2019 6:41 am #

      Rob, are you aware we’ve made a meme out of you at this point?

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn April 5, 2019 7:16 am #

      Hello Rob, thanks for posting I appreciate the feedback. I was wondering if you could perhaps expand on a couple of things. First, I was wondering if you could point to the published GW materials that are a code of conduct? Page numbers of where you find it in the rulebooks or titles of published packets on the topic would be great.

      Awarding points for winning an event based on the size of the event and the number of rounds is perfectly fine, there isn’t any need to take the format of the tournament into account. If you feel there is perhaps you could explain how that is an issue?

      For points, 3-6 could you perhaps provide me with some evidence to back up those claims? I am not aware of the specifics and I find it odd that you are asserting only 3 events are doing 3 separate, yet specific, things and all other events are not.

      Official: relating to an authority or public body and its duties, actions, and responsibilities.
      Independent: not requiring or relying on something else: not contingent

      I fail to see how being Official and Independent are mutually exclusive. If the entire ITC as a body follows Official rules, they are still doing so as an Independent body from GW or other tournament circuits like the ETC. Perhaps you’d care to explain your logic on this?

      There have been several players in the past few seasons winning multiple events, this assertion is demonstrably false. Could you perhaps explain why you believe this to be true when a simple search of the internet, BCP, and previous ITC seasons results prove you’re incorrect?

  5. vybert April 5, 2019 8:15 am #

    While there is merit to having such standards at larger events, the whole idea of the ITC is that it IS flexible and any regional group can participate in whatever format they want (scenarios, points level, army construction, BCP or no BCP, etc). Starting to apply universal standards will quickly move us away from that.

    Code of conduct, sure. I think everyone can agree that we should be nice to one another, but requiring TOs to start tracking and reporting infractions at local 8 man events will push participation out. I can barely get my TO to report ITC scores (currently he absolutely refuses to do so at half the events he runs because reasons). ….but adding of mandate of adding lists so it can be ITC reported? No, that WILL push participation down at the lower levels and smaller events, and discourage new players from jumping on boards.

    I see no problem with this being a things for a GT or larger, but it is not something to be adopted across the boards for every single event of any size and seems to go against the ideas the ITC was founded on

    • Venkarel April 5, 2019 8:27 am #

      I think the regional differences in play should be handled by different formats (think the difference between standard and modern in magic same game widely different formats). Enforcement differences basis on the size or seriousness of the tourney should be dealt with be enforcement level (this is the difference between a local one day RTT and a large multi-day Major). Everything else, the Code of Conduct, Tournament Floor rules, the Penalty guideline, and the comprehensive rules should be the same for everyone.

      • Venkarel April 5, 2019 12:20 pm #

        So I wrote like 4 pages on enforcement levels, deleted it all because it boils down to something like the following. Enforcement Levels (ELs) which are basically the tournament tiers used now in point calculations expanded a bit.
        S Teir – LVO, London GP, NOVA, ATC, ETC, Adepticon, etc -Highest enforcement level which means strictest enforcement of the rules, lowest number of yellow to equal a game loss and lowest number of game losses to equal DQ. Both intentional and unintended mistakes are punishable. Requires one Level 5 judge and one or more Level 4 judges.
        Majors – Multiday tournament over a certain threshold of players. Step below S-Tier in enforcement can allow opt out to lower Els after round 3. Requires at least one Level 4 judge.
        GTs – Multiday tournament over a certain threshold of players. Step below Major can allow opt out after round 2. Requires Level 3 Judge.
        MT/LRTT – MT – Multiday tourney under threashold of players to be GT. LRTT – Single day RTT over certain threshold. Step below GTs. Can allow opt out of ELs restrictions after round 1. Requires Level 2 Judge.
        RTT – All other single day tournaments. Can opt out of Els on round 1. Requires Level 1 judge.
        TO’s can choose to reduce (not increase) the ELs level for a tournament, with the corresponding reduction in point calculation, as long as the ELs level widely advertised a know to all players purchasing tickets beforehand. TO can run multiple ELs at the same tournament.

  6. Maelstrom808 April 5, 2019 8:54 am #

    If you want to get the CoC integrated into events across the ITC system, incorporating the yellow/red card system into BCP is a necessary step. The infrastructure seems to already be there for information. I’m not a tech guy, but it seems like the logical step.

  7. Eric Cacace April 5, 2019 9:24 am #

    “Judges and TOs need to have proper training in how to judge and run events according to the Code of Conduct.

    Agreed. As TO, where do I go to get this training?

    Reading the code and executing it are two different things. I would love to know how to do it right so we are consistent throughout the ITC

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn April 5, 2019 10:58 am #

      I know that this is being worked on currently. Hopefully, there will be something soon.

    • Venkarel April 5, 2019 12:38 pm #

      The way I see it is this is two separate issues with different requirements.
      The first is how to run an ITC event as a TO. This requires rules on how to be an ITC event in the first place. Using BCP, hard army submission deadline with peer review, etc. TOs would not responsible for enforcing the CoC or other rules. Nor are they responsible for tracking rules violations, that is the judges area. Note their is nothing preventing a TO from also being a judge (often Level 1 or 2), although, I would recommend that they not be allowed to judge their own events at a certain Els and up.
      Next is how to be a certified judge. This is an entirely different beast. I would start by issuing provisional level 1 judging certs to all people that apply by a certain time. All other levels would need more specific pre-qualifications I would probably focus on Level 4s and 5s first and then proceed down, as higher level judges can always judge lower tier ELs events. Then prepare the level 1 test asap and have that be taken by all provisional level 1 judges by a deadline or they lose the judging cert. Then prepare and certify all candidates for level 4 or 5 (together) as level 4 then have level 4s vote a few level 5 into place. And so on.

  8. Venkarel April 5, 2019 10:55 am #

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! John. I have been waiting for this article for years. I am more than willing to help with this effort in any reasonable way. I am serious, if you need someone to proof read something, format something, research something, write something, critique something, come up with a creative solution to something I will help out.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn April 5, 2019 10:58 am #

      Awesome! I am not sure what the next steps are to make it a reality. Honestly, this is just an op-ed not a declaration of intent on the behalf of the ITC, so we’ll see what happens.

      • Venkarel April 5, 2019 12:44 pm #

        I get you, but to have the head judge of LVO (and you and the crew started judging during the dark days of 7th if I remember correctly) state their favorable opinion in regards to a centralized format for events, players, judges and TOs is in my mind a huuuge step.

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