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Subject: Conflict of Heroes Tournaments - What does the future look like? rss

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David Cheng
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Hello members of the Conflict of Heroes community,

If you've been following the forum here, you know that the Schenectady Wargamers Assocation has tried to run a CoH tournament twice in the past six months.

The first attempt was at Council of Five Nations, our big three-day annual convention back in October.
BGG Link: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/970839/coh-tournament-at-cou...

Our second attempt was two weeks ago, at one of our monthly one-day Game-a-thons.
BGG Link: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1129385/conflict-of-heroes-t...


Both these attempts were preceded by as much promotional effort as we could muster:
* Academy Games sent out announcements to their entire email list (over 7000 recipients, according to Uwe)
* Promotion here on the BGG forums
* Promotion on the Consimworld forums
* Promotion on the SWA web site
* Emails to our club email list (over 600 subscribers)
* In-person CoH demos at several regional conventions
* Several CoH sessions at SWA game days, and at last year's convention
* Very generous prize support from Academy Games.


What did we have to show for all this effort?

At Council six months ago, we had 5 newbies play in our learning/warmup games on Friday morning and afternoon (awesome!), but zero competitive players showed for the tournament from outside our local area. We decided to stop and postpone the tournament until a later time. That ended up being...

Two weeks ago, one person attended from outside the local area. The other five attendees were all local guys. One minor victory is that two of the five were new to the game, and not part of our regular CoH group.


So, I just want to throw this out to the community for discussion...


What's up with this?

Where is the competitive spirit among players of this game?

How is it that Advanced Squad Leader can sponsor over a dozen tournaments in a year, and get 30/60/200+ players, but we cannot muster one modest tournament in two tries?


Let's look at some numbers...

Uwe tells me that his email list has over 7,000 subscribers. Yes, some of those signed on for other games offered by AG, and are not interested in CoH. But many of them were from before AG sold anything except CoH.

So, my back-of-the-envelope math went something like this...
* Let's say there are 5000 CoH players on the list.
* With population distribution, lets say that 1500 of that 5000 are in the Northeast; within a 4-hour drive of Upstate New York, where these events were held.
* Let's say that 1% of that 1,500 enjoy CoH enough to want to participate in a tournament.
= That's 15 people!

Why didn't we get something closer to 15 or more people attending from around the region? Jeez, why didn't we get at least 5 or something; one-third of one percent?!?

Our regular CoH group put a lot of time and effort into preparing for these events. We are disappointed in the lack of turnout, to put it mildly.

And it's not like we don't know what we're doing. The SWA has been active for 40 years. Our convention, Council of Five Nations, is one of the oldest adventure gaming conventions in the world. We had Council 36 last October - that puts us in the same ballpark, age-wise, as Origins and GenCon. Our club knows how to put on well-run events.


So, I'm just putting it out there for discussion. I would love to see feedback from you guys, the CoH community, about why you think turnout was so low.


- - -

On a related note, we don't plan on putting on any CoH tournaments in the future. We thought it could become a regular thing at Council, with our convention being recognized in the CoH community as a "must attend" event each year. But it seems like the community does not want that.

We are open to changing our minds, if you guys make us change our minds. If a significant number of you let us know, either here or via private email, that you are committed to attending a CoH tournament if we hold another one, we'll consider it again. But after beating our heads on the brick wall not once, but twice, we've got a bit of a headache. If there is a groundswell of support from the community, we'll consider making the effort again, but not until then.

Thank you for reading, and for your input.

Dave Cheng
dave /at/ swa-gaming.org
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Martin Gallo
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Without trying to question your math or (gu)estimates I am assuming that it is possible that the local players either might not have known there was such an event or they were busy.
 
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John Spinello
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Maybe when Academy takes the game seriously again, we will too.
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Ty Snouffer
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I ran a multiplayer event not quite two years ago. Eight players plus me as the instructor. No one has asked me about the game since although I think they enjoyed it.

I think the tourneys at GenCon the last two years, while welcome, have also been lightly attended.

I would play in a heartbeat if I could find local players as ~70% of my full COH set is unplayed and I really love the game.

I suspect all but the most fervent players have moved on.
 
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Benjamin Maggi
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ahrules wrote:
Maybe when Academy takes the game seriously again, we will too.


I couldn't agree more!
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Yoki Erdtman
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Dave3243 wrote:
* Academy Games sent out announcements to their entire email list (over 7000 recipients, according to Uwe)

Which includes lots of international customers as well, plus I receive their e-mail announcements to 3 different e-mail addresses, so I doubt they actually reach anything like 5,000 Conflict of Heroes fans.

However, I think like others have already pointed out, the main reason is probably that the game has felt rather abandoned as of late. We're still waiting on the Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion, and no new titles have come out in a while, with the last being the third time some of us bought the same counters. If Uwe's crew can get a few CoH titles published soon, then I think things will quickly change and people will once again be psyched about the game.

I was hoping that Conflict of Heroes: First Men In – Normandy 1944 would be released before the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but that will hardly happen now.
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David Cheng
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This post has been up for twelve days. Five responses.

Maybe it's because this 'umbrella' topic does not get the traffic that each boxed set's topic gets...

Or, maybe five responses in twelve days speaks for itself.

Thank you all for checking in.

-Dave
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Jesse LeBreton
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When I ran a two side by side game scenarios of COH at Fire and Ice, a little game con that gets about 400 people each year in Wisconsin, I got more people to show up at my table than I could host. The first 4 to sign up got a personal lesson from me as to how to play properly. I did not compete. I was there to teach. The two scenarios had several other guys hanging around watching as well, some of whom signed up to late, but stuck around to learn while watching. All in all, about 8 guys total were very interested in purchasing COH after my refereeing of those scenarios.

My hunch as to why your turn out was so low is this.
1. You make it a tournament which right away scares many casuals off. I advertised mine by saying come learn COH at Fire and Ice. Every one of them that I explained how to play to had heard of the game, and were curios but had not purchased yet. So by saying any experience level is welcome to play brings casuals in. Tournament just screams expert only and runs off the casuals. They think if they come to play, they will be eaten alive by experts, thus it does not sound like fun to them.

2. Travel cost. The price of gas these days prohibits travel across a state to play a board game. Many just will not think it worth while to blow $100 plus to go play COH in your tournament. They may travel there if there are other games to play as well. Like my local Fire and Ice Con. It's a generic RPG and board game Con, so it offers many options, and gets about 400 to attend. Those guys that came to my table actually came for the whole experience, not just COH. COH alone would not have made them make the drive.

3. As someone else has said, until Academy Games starts to roll out COH material at a more consistent rate it will never get that popular. We don't have a serious die hard fan base like ASL. We lack the scenario options to keep a base interested. We all just can't keep playing Monsters FF6 over and over lol.

I recall when you were advertising this tourny. At the time, I suspected you would be disappointed with the turn out. Those items above were clearly in my mind when I wondered if your tourny would be successful. If you want to do COH again for the next Con, I suggest you take my approach and see if you can get a few volunteer COH vets to just referee and advise a few games apiece. That will get people to sit down and try it out. That will grow the base in your area.
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Jesse LeBreton
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When I look back and see the level of effort you put into promoting this tourny I can see why you are so sour. You spent tons of time on making posts here. When I ran COH, and will continue to do so each year at Fire and Ice, all I do is put up my notice on their web site that COH will be run on one of the tables and is open to any experience level. Those that are interested after seeing the list of games being ran will drop by. Persistent posting by me here will not increase this number. Those planning on attending Fire and Ice look to the Fire and Ice website not here for news. I suspect those going to Five Nations Con also just check out the website to see what is being hosted there. Just my 2 cents to you to save your time and not go hog wild on here promoting a COH tourny because I doubt it would have any effect on actual attendance.
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Steve Duke
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Dave3243 wrote:
This post has been up for twelve days. Five responses.

Maybe it's because this 'umbrella' topic does not get the traffic that each boxed set's topic gets...

Or, maybe five responses in twelve days speaks for itself.

Thank you all for checking in.

-Dave


Well first off, as a big fan of Academy and Uwe's work, and in CoH in particular, thanks for your efforts to try and promote this great game.

As has been said, though, I think you are shouting into the wilderness in a lot of ways. I'd shy away from a 'tourney' too, and just focus on walk up demos.
I ran one a couple of years ago at Heat of Battle, where I had brand new guys all playing the linked scenario, with up to 8 players at a time, each only pushing a few units. It was not overwhelming and there was no feeling that 'I am in a tourney, I'm not good enough to play in a tourney.'

When I do this again, possibly at BGG Con later this year, it will be just that--open gaming demo format, come see this great game.

I love your enthusiasm and hope you don't let this result discourage you from promoting this truly wonderful game.
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Michael Lucey
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You live near a very successful ASL tournament location. I would get with them somehow and see how they started and grew their tournament. You could also try the group from Western Mass, they have taken a small gaming group to the next level. They probably have ideas to help you start out.
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David Cheng
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I appreciate you guys chiming in, but you need to understand where we were coming from.

The SWA has run many "just walk up and play" events for three years. We ran them for the prior two years at our big 3-day convention, Council of Five Nations. We ran at least 5-6 of them at our monthly Game-a-thon events. We traveled to other conventions around the Northeast and ran them there.

At a certain point, somebody just needs to step up and say "OK, enough teaching. This game has been out for several years, and it has a following. Let's have a serious tournament and give someone the chance to show they're the King of the Mountain."

Jesse, yes, many guys will not drive more than 60 minutes to play a board game. Just like 90% of gamers will not drive more than 60 minutes to attend a convention. (Jeez, at least 50% of all gamers will not attend a convention even if it's 10 minutes away!)

But, there's that 10% who will. Some gamers devote a significant percentage of their annual entertainment budget, and a significant percentage of their time off from work, to attend conventions. They budget for gas and hotels and they go to several cons per year.

Please note that my quick math assumed we could pull in what I thought was one percent (1%) of a portion of the Academy Games email subscriber list. One percent and we would have been happy.

The disappointment comes from not getting anywhere near 1%. We got one guy from outside our local group. This one guy drove 10 hours each way. (Chris, if you're reading this thread, please consider sharing your observations and opinions). One guy is like one tenth of one percent.

That just shows there is something going on in the community. The community does not have the enthusiasm to support the game at a serious level. The other commentators on this thread have posted views that support this theory.

I hope Uwe ships a consistent series of products on a consistent schedule. Then maybe things will change.
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Steve Duke
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I hope Uwe ships a consistent series of products on a consistent schedule. Then maybe things will change.

So that's your point.

If someone wants to be "king of the mountain" as you say, wouldn't WBCs be a better location for that?

I have no idea if it is one of the games played there or not.

You are making me think seriously about BGG con, which has a perfect crowd for this game--hundreds of Euro players.

This game is a Squad Leader Euro and should fit in nicely.

Personally, I have played in few tourneys when at a game con, even in games that I am good at. The idea of playing the same game over and over rather than trying something new does not appeal to me.

But I do go to game cons!
 
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Kevin Duke
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And I know he goes to game cons that are more (much more) than a 30 minute drive!

I do think it's a valid point-- if you are talking about multiple rounds of play. Many years ago I signed up for a War at Sea tourney at Origins (back when Origins was THE big game con of the year) and actually felt relieved to lose in the first round (hey, it was close-- the die betrayed me!). But I realized sticking in there would mean a major part of this big con would be me playing a 1 on 1 game I played a lot at home, instead of trying a lot of new things.

Something like WBC is built on the concept of multiple rounds of play-- that's what folks are coming for.
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Steve Duke
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I hope Uwe ships a consistent series of products on a consistent schedule. Then maybe things will change.

And with all due respect, I think you are connecting two things that are not really connected--your poor tourney turnout at the cons you've been to, and Academy producing more in the series.

The game is readily available, and a new buyer/player can easily find a copy if he wants to.
 
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David Cheng
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Steve & Kevin,

It looks like you guys are on a different wavelength than us.

You ask why not run an event at BGG or WBC?
Our interest was running a good event at our local convention. I sort-of think that it's Academy Games' responsibility to represent themselves at big cons like BGG and WBC. Maybe that begs the question, is Academy running tournaments at those shows? Have they done it in the past? I dunno - I haven't attended those cons.

You guys talk about not being so interested in a day-long or weekend-long tournament.
Well, we learned a long time ago that "You can't be all things to all people." If you don't like a full tournament format, then you're not the players that we were targeting. We were looking for CoH players who _are_ interested in a multi-round tournament.

We are within a four-hour drive of several major metropolitan areas - NYC (3 hours), Boston (3 hours), Montreal (4 hours) and Buffalo (4 hours). We were hoping there are at least 10-20 guys in that radius who like the idea of a CoH tournament. Maybe the numbers say there aren't...

I find this very interesting, since ASL has at least 10 all-weekend tournaments spread throughout the year, and those get at least 30 dedicated players. Yes, I know that SL/ASL has had over 35 years to build a following. But CoH is much more accessible, and it's had five years to build its own following.


Quote:

If someone wants to be "king of the mountain" as you say, wouldn't WBCs be a better location for that?


Maybe that was not the best choice of words on my part. I did not mean to imply that our goal was that the Council of Five Nations tournament definitively determines the best player in the world. Instead, we just wanted a good, competitive tournament where one guy walks away the winner, with the promise of a free copy of the forthcoming Guadalcanal box, and a leader card named in his honor.


Here are the biggest things I'm taking away from this thread so far:
1. Only nine guys responding after two weeks.
2. Not one of those guys said anything close to "If you do another tournament, I will be there."

I think that speaks to the low chance of us doing another tournament.
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I'm sure everyone appreciates as I do all the effort you have put forth, but it is what it is I'm afraid.
 
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Steve Duke
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I appreciate you trying to promote this fine series.

I just don't agree that the connection between your failure to attract tournament players has anything to do with what you have expressed as some failing by Academy and Uwe to support the series.

Kevin knows a fair bit more about marketing than I do, since he does that for a living. Your weak return on BGG of the posts you made Might indicate something else entirely than what you are suggesting.

Me? I will be playing this at BGG con, with full support from Uwe I'm sure. Stay tuned for my report!

So did Academy provide any support?
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David Cheng
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Well, I don't think it's just my theory. If you look at the theme from the group of posts earlier in this thread, it seems to me that's what those guys are saying.

Academy Games was very generous with their support for our efforts:
* Mailings to their email list, at their expense
* Promise of a free copy of the Guadalcanal set to our winner
* Name a leader card in the Guadalcanal set in honor of our winner, and our runner-up as well
* A big pile of Wrecks & Destruction and Monster Tanks expansion counter sheets as give-aways for all the attendees, and for the tournament organizers.
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I'm curious how one would run a tournament for Conflict of Heroes. Are there scenarios that are perfectly evenly balanced, or would you switch sides and play the same scenario again? Are you perhaps bidding VP for sides?
 
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Steve Duke
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Dave3243 wrote:

T
Academy Games was very generous with their support for our


[iI hope Uwe ships a consistent series of products on a consistent schedule. Then maybe things will change.][/i]

So I don't understand what you are saying reference what Uwe should do.

Are you tying the production of more CoH games to your poor tourney?
 
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There are a few things IMO that account for the difference in dedication between ASL players vs COH players. First of all, COH is a much more casual game. Hence, that leads to many not really thinking of it as a tournament level game. Casual games don't create diehards, they create fans. And as a fan myself, I would never travel more than a few hours to play it, let alone think it worth while to lock myself into a weekend long tourny. The only thing I ever played at tourny level has been Chess. I have never taken anything else as seriously. There aren't many modern games that create diehards willing to travel and participate in tourny's. ASL has them diehards, and so does Magic the Gathering. These are two examples that require much study and upkeep of ones knowledge of the game to perform well. Anyone willing to go that far, probably would be willing to take the next step and attend tourny's. Like I said before, COH does draw people in, as long as they know the game they are sitting down to play is just for fun. The minute you try and turn that experience into a competition, you send the casuals packing. Only the diehards will remain, and I just got done explaining why there are no COH diehards.

Many should know that I'm very active here and am one of the rules experts people can turn to for an explanation, and even I don't consider myself a diehard of COH. Simply because it is not complex enough to justify labeling myself that. I doubt anyone could call themselves a COH diehard, as I define diehard.
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Steve Duke
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You did not answer my question.

Are you tying the production of more CoH games to your poor tourney?
 
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Quote:
I'm curious how one would run a tournament for Conflict of Heroes. Are there scenarios that are perfectly evenly balanced, or would you switch sides and play the same scenario again? Are you perhaps bidding VP for sides?


Our CoH group tested all the scenarios we used with several rounds of play. We used two published, and two home-made. We think they are pretty-well balanced. Perfectly balanced - who knows? How many times do you need to play to determine that? How do you account for players with different levels of skill? We made a judgment call. We feel we did the best we could with the limited time and resources we had available.

We considered things like VP bidding, but decided in the end to just randomize sides for each match.


Quote:
There are a few things IMO that account for the difference in dedication between ASL players vs COH players. First of all, COH is a much more casual game. Hence, that leads to many not really thinking of it as a tournament level game. [...]


Yeah, I disagree pretty strongly with Jesse on this point.

Our local CoH group has been meeting twice a month for about three years now. I've been gaming for 37 years, and there are very few games to which I have shown such dedication.

I do not see CoH as a casual game at all, and neither do 6-12 other guys who live within 10 miles of me. We see it as an excellent squad-level WW2 game that is much more approachable than Advanced Squad Leader.


Quote:
There aren't many modern games that create diehards willing to travel and participate in tourny's.


If you look around, there are many games that have successful tournament scenes. You mention Magic, the "big daddy". There are many minis games: Warhammer, WH40k, Confrontation, Flames of War, Bolt Action, DBA/DBM/Warrior, etc. Train Gamers have Puffing Billy tournaments. Diplomacy. These are just off the top of my head...

You specifically theorize that more 'casual' games don't develop a tournament following. I've seen very successful Euro game tournaments! This is here at cons in the Northeast, at least. Maybe your region is different?

Maybe the ASL community is unique to a certain degree. Maybe it's so hard to find opponents (face-to-face at least) that players almost have no choice but to attend tournaments to satisfy their itch.


Quote:
Are you tying the production of more CoH games to your poor tourney?


Let's go back to the start of this thread. I put the question out to the community: why didn't more of you show interest in our tournament efforts?

In 12 days, five people posted. Four of those five seemed (to me, at least) to express some kind of sentiment that Academy Games has lost momentum with their CoH line, and it might have affected the interest level.

This is an opinion that I too share.

My intent was not to debate the difference between casual players and serious players. But I figured it would be rude to not respond to Jesse's comments. He might not see himself as a "diehard", but I might debate him on that point if I was so inclined (which I am not).

We already accounted for the difference between casual and tournament players. Please note my original question was not "Why didn't 20-40% of the Academy Games list subscribers in the Northeast attend?." My original question was "Why didn't even close to one percent attend?".

I think I've got the answer I was looking for.

I'm not a guy who logs into BGG every day. I'll check in on this thread once in a while, but please don't take it personally if it takes me a while to respond to future comments.
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Dave3243 wrote:
Our CoH group tested all the scenarios we used with several rounds of play. We used two published, and two home-made. We think they are pretty-well balanced. Perfectly balanced - who knows? How many times do you need to play to determine that? How do you account for players with different levels of skill? We made a judgment call. We feel we did the best we could with the limited time and resources we had available.

We considered things like VP bidding, but decided in the end to just randomize sides for each match.

Thanks for the explanation David.
 
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