Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local GT Failure.

The weekend after Labor Day they were going to run a local GT level event called "The Tides of War". The only one that I can play in and sleep in my own bed and have a chance at a Golden Ticket, but it looks like it is not to be.

Well, as it turns out that they had only 2 people sign up for it and had to cancel it. 

I got some flack because I posted that I wanted to go and I did not pre-register and they wanted to know why.

And here is why:

Alright, it looks like I need to say a bit more on this.

First year tournaments are always tough. You are asking people to pay a lot of money for a product that they have no idea what they are getting.

I paid for a first time tournament in LA at the end of June and they changed it all around and so I canceled out of it, and do you know what? I have not heard from them since and I am out $60. That is why I am slow to pay ahead of time.

Here are some problems that the Tides of War tournament had:

:#1 Bad local 40k scene
A tournament has to draw a large number of locals. You can’t depend on people traveling far for an event in its first year. Maybe in the second year when you can get good word of mouth, but you have to get the locals, especially in a state like this where there is nothing else around for hundreds of miles. This is not like the East Coast where you have millions of people in a 4 hour drive, or the West Coast where you have a huge population.
I have no idea what is going on in the local 40k scene but when I first came to this state I was looking forward to playing in the tournament tracker. You had a RTT each month and it rotated from store to store like the Chicago version, and for some reason when I get here all of a sudden it stopped. What happened to it? Also instead of having a 40k community, it seems like it is balkanized into just the local game stores and no one ever leaves them. Game Depot had a championship if you placed in one of their tournaments, but unless you play at Game Depot, you would have no idea that they even have RTTs there.
Same thing with IO.
I will travel for a tournament and spend a lot of money while I am at it. At the last GE RTT I bought a $50 Wolf Guard Terminator box and about $10 in paints, but I guess the local stores don’t want my money.  Heck, I would even drive to Tucson if I knew that they had an RTT, but the tournaments here are never advertised and so inbred that it creates a culture where no one wants to leave there store or try new things.  It is sad really.

#2. Could have done more advertising. 
You have Battlefoam as a local company and you should have tried to get them as a sponsor. You get free advertising through their website, but more importantly you get them announcing it over 40k Radio. 40k Radio has a lot of fans and you might have been able to get the So Cal freebootz to show up, and Romeo himself is a bit of a draw since he is a 40k personality.

#3 The Missions
Missions make or break a tournament and the fact that they are not being pre-advertised is a big turn-off.  A lot of tournaments have their missions posted to get feedback on them, and also show people what they are getting. Here is the missions and rules packet for the So Cal Smackdown that I am going to on Labor Day: Transparency, no surprises, and everything on the table.
As a side note: this is their first year, and with a much stronger player base, and even then they only have 22 signed up.

#4 The rules
The rules pack has been taken down, but I thought that it has antiquated notions like theme and comp. Those are holdovers from 3rd edition and have no place in 5th edition. That turns off a lot of players who want to play with what they want to play with. If you have balanced missions, to win you need a balanced army and that takes care of the comp. And theme has long gone away with all of the new codexes. You ask a new player about taking choices because of Craftworlds or that it is bad theme to mix chaos demons of certain gods, and chaos marks, they will have no idea what you are talking about.  GW killed theme a long time ago.

#5 No incentive to sign up early.
I will play in Da Boyz GT in Rochester NY on Nov 11th and it is $40 if you sign up by Sept 1st, $50 after that, and $60 at the door. That gives me motivation to sign up before Sept 1st.  If you had the same pricing structure you would have had more people pre-register.

There is more, but that is enough for now.


  1. Blackmoor, seeing how I was going to be the TO for the event, I am going to comment on some of your points. First off, Thank You for your comments. Second, I do not want to argue, just want to comment on some of your points.

    1. I agree totally with you on this point. The local scene seems to have a disappeared for the major tournaments. Even last year at the Wild West Shootout that was thrown by Battlefoam, there was only like 6-8 locals that showed up, and 2 of those came back from out of state (myself included). When I first moved to AZ 5 years ago and launched TT, it was hit. It took off great for the first few tourneys, then the crowd dwindled. I tried to revive it for a second time, again it was a hit, and then dwindled. Getting the stores to play nice with each other in AZ is a tough thing to do. Most of them dont want to lose their customer base to the other stores. AAZ is there for the owners to advertise their events. As you can see, most of them do not want to take advantage of this.

    2. Agreed, more advertising could have/should have been done. I guess we had hoped for more locals.

    3. This is where I will agree to disagree. I come from old school midwest tournaments. Every tournament I had attended missions were hidden. I feel this makes the player bring a well balanced army for every type of mission and not gear their army for specific missions. Not every player has an arsenal of armies to choose from. Some build just one army and build it as a balanced army. We had discussed the possibility of making the missions public, and the 40k staff all agreed to keep them hidden. I've been to AdeptiCon from the beginning (even used to run all the Fantasy events there) and missions are always hidden. Personally, I love going to tournaments to be surprised by the missions. Otherwise I could just print them out beforehand, not attend the event, and play the missions with my friends. Again, this is everyone's own opinion and I thank you for your comment.

    4. Comp/Theme were thrown in there for 2 reasons. 1, we wanted to make the event a little different from what you see at most tourneys today. We wanted to bring the "fun" lists back and not the specific "tooled" lists. (see comment above). 2, Comp/Theme were not heavy points. They were also added to help break up any ties. When you run large tournaments, you are always looking for a way to break up all the ties. The low points in Comp/Theme would have helped in this.

    5. Totally agree with you. We should have gone with a tiered level. $50 to pre-register by August 11th, $60 afterwards.

    If you want to talk some more, you know how to contact me on AAZ. If you would like to have seen the missions, just PM me your email address and I will send them to you.


  2. I think you should have pre-registered. Up in Van we've had conventions even official GW GTs come and go and the best tournament is Astronomi-con and it is run by Winnipegers. Get a map of Canada and look how far Winnipeg is from Vancouver.

    So in order to ensure it grows and returns some of us locals register early and stay registered. They did an Astro Dallas in 2010 which they were surprised made money in year one. Usually events lose money or at best break even in the first year...

    The reason it made money is it sold out and people embraced the Astro model and philosophy. Arizona isn't so far from Vancouver or Dallas maybe you should check it out.

    Running a tournament isn't that hard, but running a big, GT circuit worthy tournament takes work, and it takes most of the work being done for the love of the game, any money Astro ever makes goes into terrain and what not for next year...

    Hopefully you guys can get it together. Doing a full fledged gaming con is even harder, way harder...

  3. Call and complain to GW about the lack of refund from the Conquest tournament (I believe that is what you are refering to). I played in the Santa Rosa tournament (they called is SF), and though I have placed I have yet to recieve the GW provided prize support. Also, those people who purchased T-shirts haven't recieved them. John Spencer at GW customer service is whom I (and others in the Sacramento area) have worked with about the Santa Rosa tournament. This is also the outfit that was responsible for cancelling the Las Vegas GT last minute. Let GW know that they are putting a horrible face on the hobby tournamnent scene.

  4. @Torpored

    Is it just the tickets you haven't recieved or was it actual product? I only ask because from what I understand the golden tickets will be sent out at the end of the GT season.

    Otherwise yeah, the Conquest GT's on the westcoast are shady as hell. They are still advertising GW support when it was pulled after the LA GT that Blackmoor is talking about. Gabriel Vega is as close to an outright crook as I've ever seen out of a TO. Sad thing is it's not like he's taking an amount of money to be worth it destroying his name. Oh well.

  5. "Balkanized" is a great way to describe the Phoenix-area gaming community right now. We have some great stores with very friendly and helpful people (Games Depot and Gamers Inn are my two favorites) but very little overlap or cooperation. Its almost like players from one store don't want to admit that the others exist. Is it like that throughout the valley?

    We have close to 4.5 million people here. There's more than enough for a thriving gaming community. What happened?

  6. When I moved here I had such high hopes for 40k gaming here, and it turned out to be such a disappointment. In Phoenix the recession knocked out a few stores, and they are down to only 4 for all of the valley. Where are all of the players?

    I like the layout of Game Empire, but the players there are a little young and not that challenging. I would like to find the best players, but they might be hiding in their stores. Maybe I will go to Game Depot on Saturdays and see if I can get any good games there. I travel around a lot to play at big tournaments, and I need the practice.

    As far as the Conquest GTs goes, he had a great idea, and he failed to implement it. Hooking up with the ConQuest conventions and adding s 40k and Fantasy GT was a great idea, but do to horrible marketing and mismanagement the whole thing was a disaster.

  7. I'd be a lousy judge of the level of 40k skill at either store. I love to paint miniatures, but I'm more likely to play board or card games. I can say that I've talked to several players at each store and have really liked all of them. A few were even willing to give me a guided tour of their favorite armies and miniatures. I'm a big believer in the "you can learn a lot about a gaming community by how they treat new players" truism, and both groups seemed very open.

    If you haven't gotten to know Dave and Patti (the owners of the Game Depot) it's worthwhile. They helped me organize a boardgame club about 12 years ago and I've always been impressed with their efforts to bring like-minded people together. Patti, in particular, loves to play matchmaker and every time I visit she makes sure to tell me about players and events that might interest me. If you tell her what your goals are, she might be able to make the right connections.

    I don't remember the names of anyone at Gamers Inn. I've met someone new at every visit. But they've also worked hard to build a community at their store. I've also had some fun (and very detailed) conversations with players here. The folks at the counter seem to know their players pretty well, and may be able to help you find competition.

    If I ever finish painting enough miniatures to make a complete army, I think I'd be happy playing at both stores. Which is why it baffles me that there isn't more cross-pollination. Great people at this store....great people at that one too. Why aren't they coming together?

    It's not just a 40K thing either. The same thing's happened to the boardgaming community. I moved away from the valley for several years, and when I came back most of the players had settled comfortably into a single-venue existence. I'd love to see people mix it up again.