Planning Your Tournament Season

Hi Everyone,

Originally I had this article planned for earlier in the year, but then life got in the way and plans interfered etc. Of course, recent events have cleared that schedule and I figured now would be a good time to write it up.

When I made my first foray into serious contention for an ITC prize (Best in Faction – Eldar Corsairs, get your laughs out now), I wasn’t sure where to start, especially in regards to how many, and what kinds of events I should attend. I knew large events garnered more ITC points but I wasn’t sure if I should try to exclusively attend Majors (which have the highest point ceilings) and risk struggling against good players or try to focus on getting better results at smaller events. Furthermore, I wanted to have a clear idea of what this venture was going to cost (throwing money at a problem tends to work better for governments then marriages) and I needed to have a solid range when pitching the idea to the wife (who is the most wonderful, endlessly supportive person on Earth)

So with one successful campaign under my belt, I thought I would share what I’ve learned and hopefully it will help you as you head into this young ITC season.

Establish Goals

This point has been beaten to death endlessly across the internet but I still feel the need to discuss it. When you start the season you should have some idea of what goal you are trying to accomplish. Now these don’t need to be massive goals; it can be anything from: win > 50% of the games you play, attend 3 events in your local area, connect with a local group of players etc. The point of your goals should be to give yourself a metric to judge your performance and to motivate you through the season. In addition, it is good to have a mix of goals: some that are easy to accomplish (preferably something you had a lot of control over) and others that stretch you a bit.

You may have come across this before but when building goals, choose ones that are S.M.A.R.T

  • Specific (focused)
  • Measurable (Can you show success?)
  • Achievable (self-explanatory)
  • Relevant (Realistic)
  • Time bound (limited to a specific timespan)

For example, here were my goals for the 2018-2019 ITC Season:

  • Stretch Goals
    • Win Best in Faction – (I include this as a stretch as you don’t have a lot of control over this goal, especially if new rules come out or you cannot play at certain events)
    • Place in the top 25% of every event I play at
  • Medium Goals
    • Win 50% of the games I play
    • Attend 5 events
  • Easy Goals
    • Play in an ITC Major
    • Win 1 game at each event I play
    • Have fun

Build a budget  

It can be tempting to go into a season with a mindset of “Why set a budget? I’ll spend what I need to achieve my goals” but this is a trap. Even if you do have the luxury of full control over your finances, a budget can help keep you from overspending your time and money on events. If your goal is to get best in faction for a specific army, and you build a big lead in that faction early on, you can be more strategic in what events you attend during the back half of the year. This can net you savings on hotel and event fees which can be used next year or put to some other purpose. Furthermore, if the meta shifts significantly you might not need to pour additional resources into updating your army if you have a comfortable lead.

  When I was planning for my season I created two broad categories:

  • Army budget
    • The costs to bring my army into a position to compete in the current meta
    • An emergency fund to account for meta shifts and new rules
  • Event budget
    • Anticipated event fees
    • Anticipated hotel, travel and food fees.

With both of these areas, it is good to build some slack into your budget to account for unexpected events. For example I went to an event in Ohio with a friend and planned to split an Air BnB. Unfortunately he got lost due to heavy flooding and had to leave early, leaving me to eat the full cost of the lodging. Fortunately I had anticipated this, but had it been a more expensive lodging arrangement I would have been in trouble.


One of the most crucial things you can do at the beginning of an ITC season is do your research. If you are going for a best-in-faction award or specific ranking in the ITC, look into what the winner or bottom cut of that section scored last season. How many events did they play? Where did they get the most points? How did they split up their time at Major events vs. GTs and RTTs. Establishing a firm goal for how many points you want in a season is a great goal for newer or more experienced players. This goal can help you plan out what events you want to attend and give you some flexibility if you over perform or under perform early on.

It may also be worth doing some basic statistical research on the events you plan to attend, especially if they have older event info up on Best Coast Pairings. How many ITC points did the median player get? How many wins did the lowest ranked player in the top 25% receive (could be a good way to get an idea if an event has a heavy comp score for painting and sportsmanship).

When it comes to researching events a typical rule of thumb for event costs is:

RTTs: $15-20

GTs: $50-60

Majors: $50+ possibly more for Super Majors

Granted these will vary, but if you are in the early stages of budget planning they are a decent estimate.

Also consider if the event is held at a hotel whether to stay at the location or look for cheaper lodgings. Especially weigh if it is worth paying more for a hotel room and not have to worry about parking or having to spend extra time driving in before the event. Don’t forget to see if you can find other local players to room with to save money (plus it’s infinitely more fun to play at an event where you know someone)  

All of these small things can add up and should be considered as you plan out what events you should attend and which ones best fit your season goals.

I hope this article has been helpful. There is so much that can go into planning your ITC season and at the end you’re the one who gets to decide if it was all worth it. So go out there and plan your best, then relax and enjoy your games. 

As for me, at the end of the Season I was pretty happy with my progress on my goals.

  • Best in Faction – Achieved
  • Place in the top 25% – Partial achieved at 4/5 events
  • Win 50% of the games I play- Achieved: finished 17/7
  • Attend 5 events – Achieved
  • Play in an ITC Major – Achieved
  • Have fun – Achieved

Let me know what goals you all have for this coming year! (Abbreviated as it might be)

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


2 Responses to “Planning Your Tournament Season”

  1. Rob Butcher April 18, 2020 3:45 am #

    Before anyone can plan you need to know what the future holds according to what tournaments you are going to enter.

    Firstly, will the LVO still be the end of the ITC year, or will it be extended to allow for all of the currently abandoned tournaments to take place ? Will it still be the best five event results? Many football leagues and cups across Europe have simply been declared null and void. The Olympics and 2020 European championships have been delayed a year. Etc.

    Secondly, what changes will GW make to our armies. Only by having a large choice of units can you mitigate for this. eg- I bought a thunderfire cannon three years ago and it came in handy with the new SM Codex. Older style dreadnoughts aren’t that useful.

  2. Emily May 1, 2020 9:35 am #

    Hello! Thanks for a such useful article. As for me, I achieved:

    Best in Faction – Achieved
    Place in the top 25% – Partial achieved at 2/5 events

Leave a Reply