I'm getting everything ready to run tabletop tournaments at PAX East (March 11-13, Boston, MA) and would like suggestions for great tournament games.
We run the gamut from silly to serious, and simple to complex. There are no games that I turn away unless I simply cannot accommodate them, and I'd really like to get the community's input on some great tournament games.
Yahoo group GCIACST
It will take time to run this, though, I agree.
Yahoo group GCIACST
Ticket to Ride (USA map)
Dominion (Base set only, ran 3 tournaments, one each on Fri, Sat and Sun)
Race For the Galaxy (no expansions)
Pandemic (no expansion, with a modified scoring rule set to allow for an individual tournament winner)
Small World (No expansions)
Robo Rally (2005 AH version)
Munchkin (Original set only - emceed by SJGames' Munchkin Czar)
Carcassonne (Original game, without the River)
Settlers of Catan was also run at Prime, however, it was run by Mayfair Games, as it was their regional championship.
We also held Late Night tournaments on Friday and Saturday nights, which comprised a gauntlet of smaller, rules-light games (e.g. Fluxx, le Bomb, etc... and, yes, Sorry! was the finale). If this happens at East, again, the games that comprise these Late Night tournaments will most likely be a surprise -- you'll have to show up to find out what you're about to play.
(Note: The Enforcer who ran the Saturday night tournament showed up with all of the evening's games tucked inside of a Twilight Imperium box. I would have loved to have seen the faces of those who showed up not knowing what to expect, and seeing TI plopped down on the table in front of them...)
As I won't be at East myself, I won't be able to assist PucSpifo in running tournaments there on-site, but I will be helping him define the tournament structure and games played. So please help us both, and make suggestions here!
Is there a hot new game that's been burning up tables on your game nights ever since Prime? (e.g. Dominion with Prosperity? Castle Ravenloft? Agricola? Thunderstone?)
Is there a new game out of Essen that you'd love to try out in a tournament setting? (e.g. 7 Wonders?, Dominant Species?)
Is there an old classic that you'd love to see run as a tournament? (e.g. Cosmic Encounter? Risk? Acquire?)
Is there a weekend-long Campaign game you'd participate in? (e.g. Runebound? Descent? Diplomacy?)
Is there a certain type of game theme you'd like to see? Abstract (e.g. Blokus), Horror (e.g. Last Night on Earth), Medieval (e.g. Caylus), Space (e.g. Galaxy Trucker), Dice games (e.g. Zombie Dice)
Now's the time to weigh in!
Red Dragon Inn
I'm throwing names out but the above 3 games are popular, and I've seen Endeavor used in tournament fashion at another convention held in this area.
For this next one, I'm going to go out on a limb, and you'll have to hunt down the company. Luckily, they're local (Cambridge). The game is called Glory To Rome. Interesting game that takes Porto Rico and San Juan and mixed them together (plays like San Juan but you have as many options as Porto Rico).
One of my personal favorits, though, is Gloom, although I admit it's not popular.
Yahoo group GCIACST
No one mentioned Zombie Dice? Well, I guess it's too quick and mostly based on luck for an actual tourney, but it would be a shame if it was not part of some list...
This is one the one geek game that has managed to seduce just about anyone I showed it too.
Any of the deckbuilding games (Dominion, Thunderstone, etc.) would probably make good tourney games, too . . .
Another suggestion is San Juan. It plays faster than Puerto Rico, however it is not as strategic.
I'll throw in Kingsburg simply because I love it.
Ca$h 'n Gun$
What's the range of open tabletop gaming like at PAX East?
Open tabletop at PAX is a mix of anything and everything. If it is played on a table, involving any mix of cards, dice, pencil & paper, etc., I'm sure you will see it being played.
I keep hearing wonderful things about 7 Wonders. Everything points to that being a game night regular for a long time, but the problem with tabletop gaming is it takes a very long time for new games to spread in popularity. It's not like video games where everyone has the new release on day 1. It's possible there could be enough people already into the game to get a 7 Wonders tournament going, but it not this year, definitely try it next year.
- Blokus, it is a simple game the rules are easy and the play is pretty fast
- Weinhandler (this is a strange game I picked up that I'm pretty sure very few people have played but can be fun)
That aside, I plan on stocking up on board games this PAX my collection is too small and I enjoy them too much.
Would gain my vote.
7 Wonders is amazing, and though I'm somewhat new to it still, I'd at least like to see it around to show my friends and friends I haven't met yet at PAX.
Dominion is an AMAZING game and I'm going to suggest it again for emphasis. Seven Wonders is absolutely amazing as well, and while I'd kill for tournaments of it, I'd like to point out that the game is currently out of print, and it'll be about a month, or so I've heard, before the second run is up and out, which will make it considerably difficult to have played on any large scale. It breaks my heart. I hope to see a copy there I can buy, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
Another fun game to have Tournaments with would be Puzzle Strike. VERY addicting game!
This would take all weekend and sign-ups would be limited, but Car Wars is doable.
BloodBowl - rugby using middle earth races. Currently played in tournament format at another con in this area. PS: watch out for that treeman.
St. Petersburg - base game only. The expansion's sidequests make a tournament impractical if you use them.
Le Harve - a longshot due to the time it takes to play the game, but the goal makes it perfect for tournaments (ye who has the most cash at the end of the game wins).
I know these are more obscure games, but each of these is or has been featured in past tournaments at other conventions in this area. Simply throwing out ideas.
Yahoo group GCIACST
At PAX East 2011, the following will be run:
Race For The Galaxy
Ticket to Ride
Warhammer Fantasy Battle
Friday night will be the "Friday Night Frenzy" and Saturday will be the "Saturday Night Smackdown" - each of these tournaments will consist of a gauntlet of games -- only, we're not saying which games! You'll have to show up to find out what you're playing.
Signup info for each game will be available in the Tabletop Headquarters (TTHQ), and they'll have all of the latest details about each tournament posted there, and any info about any additional vendor-run tournaments that didn't make it onto the schedule.
See the link for day and time information.
1) I beg you please, PLEASE to use more than just the base version of the games (especially in Dominion and Race for the Galaxy). I understand the appeal of making it as broad as possible, but expansions don't really hurt the accessibility of those games. On the other hand, they greatly increase the strategic scope of the game: base Dominion, for example, is a crapshoot at the higher levels. The really good Dominion/RFTG players are likely to have played the expansions anyway.
Restricting those tournaments to base only would be like having a Smash Bros. tournament that banned the unlockable characters so that no one would have to fight someone unfamiliar.
2) Don't use VPs as a tiebreaker in games where relative VPs matter more than absolute VPs. It'll have greatly perverse effects on people's strategy. For instance, one Dominion tournament that I competed in used cumulative VP totals for final standings. The effect? People at tables where Witch was present made a pact with each other not to buy it, so that their overall score would be inflated relative to others. People never ended games, and had Gardens games where everyone had 100+ card decks.
To your comments GI:
1) I would love to see Dominion and any and all expansions available used and the Dominion Kingdom Deck randomizer used (which also uses the game rules for whether you get Platinums and Colonies, and whether you use Alchemy). That would be my ideal. Thing is it is a pretty big tournament so I don't know how many copies of the expansions they have. There were a lot of people in the Dominion tournament last time so they would need a ton of copies.
For RFTG I would love to see RFTG + The Gathering Storm since TGS really rounds out the base game and doesn't require much learning on top of RFTG but beyond that you get wonky takeover rules and maintenance and the like so I wouldn't be keen on the other expansions as much. Again I'm guessing just based on resources it will just be base though (which bothers me a lot less than pure base for Dominion tbh b/c there are still a lot of strategies available due to the randomness of start worlds and starting hands, unlike Dominion).
The big caveat here is that they are doing their best to both supervise the tournaments and have enough copies for everyone to play. The more expansions you throw in, the tougher it becomes on everyone. Though again I am with you on Dominion and on RFTG to a point in terms of my personal ideal setup.
2) I definitely agree with your points here in the abstract but don't know if they apply to PAX. I wasn't in the Dominion tourney last year, just watched very quickly, but I don't think there was anything like cumulative scoring. If it was anything like RoboRally, the top two people from each group went on to new groups and so forth. I thought that system worked very well for RoboRally.
Tweet me @Landerolin
If random, I'd only use the base set (limits the cards like Witch from being in play). If it's not random and there's a design, then it's up to whoever picks the cards to make it a challenge for the players.
RFTG is a tough one. The military takeover option is the sticking point. If you play with the base deck then this is not a problem, but yes, the rules are on the easy side with only the base deck.
Looking over the schedule and
Alas, I can't be in two places at once so it looks like I'll only be getting in on one tournament.
Yahoo group GCIACST
Umm, I think you're seriously mistaken about something, because Witch is in the base set, and also, Swashbuckler isn't a Dominion card.
More to the point, a Dominion tournament without Witch because Curses are "too hard to get rid of" would be like a Halo tournament without Sniper Rifles because "headshots are too hard to pull off". Part of Dominion skill is dealing with bad cards, after all ...
Why is it a sticking point? It's a part of the game, after all.
And if you really hate it, the expansions are designed to be played with takeovers on or off.
See, this is what I'm afraid of. Game tournaments run by someone like this guy.
However, at PAX Prime 2010, I coordinated on-site setup of tabletop tournaments, and can relay how things went down there, specifically in regards to Dominion as I emceed each of the three Dominion tournaments we ran.
1) Each Dominion tournament capped at 32 people, and was run as a randomly paired 3-round Swiss tournament, before a finals for the top 4 scoring players. This means it was not single or double elimination -- each participant was able to play in all 3 rounds if they chose to do so (which 75% or more did in each tournament).
I stand by this call -- PAX attendees come to have fun, and in our Tabletop tournaments, the general mood is very casual. Elimination didn't fit with the atmosphere. As it turns out, even if people had no statistical chance to make it to the Top 4, they just wanted to play some Dominion!
2) PAX Tabletop HQ was able to set aside 8 base sets of dominion for use in the tournaments. However, we could not guarantee that we would have had sufficient copies of any expansion to include them in our plans, so the decision was made prior to Prime 2010 not to use expansions. This applied to all of our tournaments, not just Dominion.
The idea of using expansions in 2nd and 3rd rounds was considered when single elimination was a possibility for the tournaments, but once we settled on Swiss-style, it became moot, as 8 copies of any expansion would have been necessary. Even if they had been available, it would have increased logistical issues dramatically -- remember, it was just littl' ol' me running the tournament.
3) Scoring was done as follows: Both your finish in a game and your VPs were recorded. If you came in first, you scored 3 win points. 2nd got 2 win points, 3rd and 4th each got 1 win point. If people tied for 2nd, they both got 2 points. VPs were also recorded for each round, for a cumulative number, but were only used in determining tiebreakers for the Top 4. As a result, in 2 of the 3 tournaments, we had a clear Top 4 before resorting to using cumulative VPs for tiebreaking.
4) To determine the Kingdom cards, I used a set of randomizer and flipped over 10 cards. All 8 tables then used the same kingdom cards for that round. Each subsequent round I flipped over a new 10 card set. The only exception was that for Round 1 of each tournament, I pre-selected the Moat -- but only for Round 1. Did the Witch come out? Sure! Were there people who questioned whether this would skew matches? Yes, a couple people did point this out. Did it ultimately cause problems? Nope! Not at all. It was a non issue.
5) PAX Tabletop tournaments are, for the most part, casual events. Yes, there's often a small prize (at Prime 2010 we had PAX 2010 medals), but there's no cash payout, no official tournament ranking system (aside from sanctioned vendor-run events, like Magic, D&D, War Machine - but those aren't run directly by PAX Enforcers). We're not the WBC. There's nothing wrong with being competitive at PAX TT Tournaments, just understand that you'll just as likely as not be facing people who signed up having only ever played a game once or twice before.
I'll close this by again saying that I cannot speak to how tournaments will occur at PAX East, only relay how we conducted them in the past. I'll let those who are handling the tournaments at East itself post any specific information or details about tournament formats, if and when they are able. Just don't be surprised if that doesn't happen until we are *on site* in the TT HQ, and not here in the forums.
Have fun at East, and see you all at Prime 2011
the key points of similarity for me
-most of the players are total casuals, both in demeanor and often in their level of experience. as you say they are pretty much there to have fun and play a game and meet new people. the tournament aspect gives it a little extra flavor, but it is very much background
-resource-wise the enforcers are pretty much there to make things RUN properly and everything is limited except for willing players and table space (at least at East). they are not there to ensure that the play and tournament style meet guiness or wbc or bgg standards.
heck even the vg tournaments i played in were like this. very informal and casual (a little more intense though so there's really not any downtime for chitchat). in one tourney i had to beat the same guy two or three times just b/c i think the enforcer didn't notice he got knocked out and the guy just wasn't aware of how things worked. i really didn't care though more games with a friendly person is fine by me
Just because I know them, though, doesn't mean I can assume the people showing up to play are going to know all the rules. It's great if they do, but the convention I'm working on is not holding regionals, so it's a non-formal atmosphere.
If it was the WBC then yes, I agree, you need to know all the rules.
I'm not running the tournaments for PAX East, either. I'm simply thinking along the same lines as a tournament runner. Better to keep it simple for a non-formal tournament atmosphere.
Yahoo group GCIACST
No offense, but this just proves the earlier point that the organizers don't always understand the game. Dominion scores from one game to the next can't be compared to each other. Sometimes a quick win with less points is the best strategy. This method of running the tournament would just draw the games out as long as possible as players tried to rack up points they otherwise wouldn't need. A group of players could make an agreement to exhaust all the lower-value victory cards before moving onto the higher ones...
The Victory Points are ONLY used to seat the four players for the final round if there is a tie from the points based on where you finish in each round. It would be against my better interests to agree to needlessly drag out a game rather than go for a decisive victory because if someone else wins more matches than I do my pile of Victory Points mean nothing.
For a casual tournament this is a very reasonable away to structure the event. Does it guarantee that only the best players will be seated at the final table? Heck no, but who cares? You get to play 3 to 4 rounds of Dominion with a bunch of other gamers in an enjoyable relaxed atmosphere. I think the point of PAX isn't to have the world champion of Dominion crowned, but to give players a place to have some fun.
Could players attempt to "game" the system? Sure. Would it work? Probably not unless they also all ended up tying for the top spots based on place rankings. Would it violate the basic principal of "don't be a dick" to do so? Certainly, so my guess is that most people wouldn't bother.
1. Is there a free play area for just playing fun games not included in the tournament?
2. Are there going to to be Warhammer 40k tables set up for free play or is it only on Sunday? (i.e. should I bother bringing my minis the other days or at all for that matter?)
Summoner Wars + All decks - Multiple Boards for 4 player
Civ (new version from FFG)
Arkham - All expansions available
Night and Day
Thunderstone + Elements
Race for the Galaxy
Acension: Chronicles of the godslayer
2. From what I remember in the miniwargaming thread (which you might also want to read), as long as the tables aren't being used in tournament play, they're available for freeplay. On the other hand, I could be wrong - it happens often!
The one thing you must understand when going into a tournament with placement points is that it does change the game strategy. If you aren't expecting this, it could sour your experience. What I mean is that people may make optimal moves with the goal of say, securing second place, and hoping that everyone else chops down on the leader rather than doing the work themselves. This would rarely or never happen in a game amongst friends because all that matters is who wins. Second place is the first loser.
Still, the tournament was a good time because as usual, the PAX attendees were good people. The prize, an engraved PAX-logo medal was pretty damn awesome. I'm not sure what people are expecting, but honestly I've got enough games to play and don't need some small cash prize. Having something 100% unique, and well made at that, is better in my eyes. You can't buy a PAX medal in a store!