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Subject: Need advice on running 7 Wonders Duel rss

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David E
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So, this year I was a first-time ever GM, taking over 7 Wonders Duel from the previous GM. I didn't even make the WBC last year, so I kind of stepped into it blind. I basically copied the previous GM's format. I modified the wonderful GM Assistant Spreadsheet made by
Andy Latto
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, and found myself running a fairly popular event (92 players) all by myself.

I think it went okay, but there were some definite areas of improvement needed, so I would like advice on how to properly run this event next year (assuming I am dumb enough to GM again next year...)

Here is the format I used: the first round consisted of (up to) 4 games for each player. A two-hour block was assigned for this. The top 8 players from this first round (measured by number of wins and then by tie-breaking criteria) went on to the quarter-finals, and it was single elimination from there.

Here are the problems I identified:

1. Sign-ins. I manually entered everyone's badge number in the spreadsheet on my laptop as they arrived. This proved to be pretty slow. Next year I think I use index cards or something, the way most GMs seem to.

2. Assigning matches. Since I was busy entering badges, and had no assistant GMs, I basically told people to "find an opponent." This was obviously both inefficient (some people stood around waiting for an opponent to materialize) and not a good way of balancing matches. I had not prepared a way of matching winners/losers or making sure people were more or less randomly matched, and I heard reports afterwards that some people were deliberately seeking out weaker players to score easy wins. (I hope some of those would-be sharks ran into the little kid who went 4-0 in the first round. devil)

I obviously need a better way of randomly pairing up people, not just for their first game, but for all four games, in some way that discourages players from looking for their friends or "easy" opponents. Keeping in mind that 92 people are theoretically playing up to 4 games each, so I need to be able to do this quickly as games end continuously through the time period.

3. Not enough time. Experienced 7WD players can typically finish a game in half an hour, but 2 hours was obviously not enough time for 92 people to play four games each. Especially with many new players. The majority of players only got three games in, and some only got two. This understandably caused a number of people to be rather upset. Those who weren't able to get as many games in (because their opponent was slow, or because they were helping a newbie) were disadvantaged, and there wasn't much I could do about it. (One guy who tried to persuade me to accept a "practice" game he'd played with his friend just before the tournament started - I said no - was giving me dirty looks for the rest of the week. whistle )

I think the solution to this is simply to ask for a larger block of time next year - probably 3 hours for the first round. As I said, I copied the format from the previous year, and when I asked people how the previous GM managed to run the event with four games in 2 hours, they said he simply ran long. 3 hours should be enough time to play four games. I imagine there might still be some players who play very slowly and get only three games in, but it seems to be if everyone has the same amount of time, there is only so much I can do. I see it as being somewhat like running multiple heats, except they are all run consecutively in one time block - some people will play all the heats and some won't. Thoughts?

4. Calculating quarter-finalists. Since the quarter-finals happened immediately after the first round, I had to immediately determine who got to advance. I had all the information necessary on my spreadsheet, but I had not actually configured it well enough to produce the answers instantly, so I had to do some quick sorting and calculating (and relying a little bit on self-reports on how many Military/Scientific victories they scored). I don't think I made any errors, but it worries me that I could have mistakenly advanced the wrong person, so I want to be more prepared to have this process in place next year. Part of it will be doing a better job of modifying the GM Assistant Spreadsheet (I only did it the day before I left for 7 Springs, and I was still tweaking it the night before the tournament). But I think I should also have people entering their wins/scores on their index cards in a more organized manner rather than manually entering everything into the spreadsheet as they finish a game. How do people who run other 2-player games handle this?

Anyone else who was there, feel free to comment on things that could have been better (preferably with proposed solutions). And thanks to all the folks who made it.
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robert kircher
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One solution is to use the method by San Juan (similar 2 player 30-45 min game time).

1. Sign up with index cards
2. Assign matches random first round.
3. Later rounds have same records play each other
4. play 4 rounds and all players with 3 wins advance to knockout round (all 3-0 winners take a break in round 4).
5. take the 3-1 players and a number random 3-0 players to play to get your player count down to 16. Then bracket your 16 and play till you have a winner.

The first 4 games will take about 3 hours. Also suggest having an assistant or two.

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Val Ofiesh
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God bless you! I can't imagine running over 90 people in a 2p game tournament.
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Andrew Drummond
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Hi David,

I unfortunately wasn't there so I can't comment directly, but many of our team were there so I have definitely heard about some of the problems.

A few direct suggestions though:

1. Delegate if possible.
Andy's spreadsheet is great, but it needs an AGM to be managing it. In particular, clerical notes take a lot of time and the GM needs to be available at all times to direct people and answer questions.

2. Plan a way to manage pairings quickly.
Last year we gave each player a travelling scoresheet and took them in before each round and paired them. The scoresheets were colour coded to ensure we could tell who did and did not own the game. But by giving random (Swiss) pairings each round we were able to ensure random opponents in each round.

3. The integrity of your tournament is more important than your timing.
2 hours for the opening round is probably not enough time (we had scheduled 3 hours last year and went well over that), but the timing of the round is important to ensuring a fair advancement. A good rule of thumb is that an undefeated player should NEVER be eliminated from a tournament. Play more rounds if necessary.

Given the situation you were in, the best solution was likely to advance 16 people to your playoff round to ensure that you didn't send undefeated players home. But in general, ensuring everyone plays the same number of games is more important than fitting to the exact timeslot. (Especially when players committed to the advancement rounds immediately afterwards anyway.)

4. Have a customized scoresheet that captures the data you need.
You’ll get a better sense of the details you need, but the players should be handing back something that just has the information needed. It should be as simple as possible to avoid confusion.


In short, I'm not sure if you were new to the way tournaments are run at WBC (and apologies if I didn't realize that and didn't give enough advice in advance), but the only insurmountable problem you had was thinking that your 2 hours limit was a hard cap.

If you had let everyone finish their 4th game OR advanced all undefeated players to your elimination rounds, you wouldn't have had so many complaints, nor the lasting animosity about how this tournament finished.
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Michael McKibbin
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1. set up the tables beforehand. Have a set of numbered index cards/table tents/etc. with table numbers 1 through whatever (sounds like 50 would work). Before anyone is signed in, place the cards in order on the tables where the games will occur. As players sign in, the ones with games can set up at the table #s in order. Then, assign the remaining players to tables randomly by number using a duplicate set of index cards. You could also use two decks of playing cards for this, but that would limit you to 52 tables/104 players.

2. as stated above, seat subsequent rounds by pairing opponents with similar records, Swiss tournament style.

3. at the end of three hours, advance the to 16 to the second round
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Michael McKibbin
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Seating the second game of the first round would be fairly simple. When a game finishes, have the two players turn in their results and wait. When the next game finishes, pair the winner of game 1 v. the winner of game 2, and the loser of game 1 v. the loser of game 2, and start play immediately. That way, you would not have to wait for all the tables to finish one game before beginning another.

Another possible tournament format besides Swiss would be double-elimination. After one game, half the players would be 1-0 and the other half 0-1. Have winners play winners and losers play losers. After two games, 1/4 of the participants are eliminated from contention, and all the remaining players will have a record of either 2-0 or 1-1. For the third game, players with 2-0 record play one another and players with 1-1 records play each other. Losers from the 1-1 games are eliminated, everyone else advances. Continue until you have 16 players you can place in single elimination, or continue double elimination until you have a sole winner
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Jon Senn
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I think there are plenty of good suggestions in the other comments. I agree that adding an additional round makes sense given the size of the tournament - probably stick with the 4 preliminary rounds and advance 16, but 5 preliminary rounds (I guess in 4 hours?) and advancing 8 works too.
 
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Kevin Wojtaszczyk
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Liars dice had a good concept too. After x mins, any games still going are forfeit. (in that case, 45 minutes was the hard time limit). Not sure if that works for 7 wonders duel or not, but having that many people and no hard limits for how long games can take, a few analysis paralysis games will extend your tournament by hours...

Lost Cities, also a 2 player game with a lot of players, ran it as 4 heats through the week, just 1 game played each heat. Then anyone who was 2-0 or better would be eligible to show up at the elimination round and winners kept advancing while losing players were done.

So it might be easier to not do swiss with that many with tie-breakers and such, but that depends on if you want to run multiple heats. Though you could just go to single elimination for the whole thing as a different option too.

At the very least make sure you have 1 or 2 assistant GMs as that should ease some of the logistics of signups and pairings not to mention rules questions. The WBC also provides an excel spreadsheet of all the pre-registered players with badge # and name, which can help make signups very quick.
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Michael McKibbin
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kwojtasz wrote:

Lost Cities, also a 2 player game with a lot of players, ran it as 4 heats through the week, just 1 game played each heat. Then anyone who was 2-0 or better would be eligible to show up at the elimination round and winners kept advancing while losing players were done.


This is one of the things I don't like about the current Lost Cities format. Given all of the conflicts in my schedule, it's difficult for me to make 2 heats during the week, which means I can't qualify to advance. If far prefer if they set it up like Roll/Race for the Galaxy, which has two heats back to back.
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Marty Sample
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kwojtasz wrote:
Liars dice had a good concept too. After x mins, any games still going are forfeit. (in that case, 45 minutes was the hard time limit). Not sure if that works for 7 wonders duel or not, but having that many people and no hard limits for how long games can take, a few analysis paralysis games will extend your tournament by hours...

Lost Cities, also a 2 player game with a lot of players, ran it as 4 heats through the week, just 1 game played each heat. Then anyone who was 2-0 or better would be eligible to show up at the elimination round and winners kept advancing while losing players were done.

So it might be easier to not do swiss with that many with tie-breakers and such, but that depends on if you want to run multiple heats. Though you could just go to single elimination for the whole thing as a different option too.

At the very least make sure you have 1 or 2 assistant GMs as that should ease some of the logistics of signups and pairings not to mention rules questions. The WBC also provides an excel spreadsheet of all the pre-registered players with badge # and name, which can help make signups very quick.


He was using the Excel/ Vlookup sheet.
 
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Richard Irving
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Jonsenn wrote:
I think there are plenty of good suggestions in the other comments. I agree that adding an additional round makes sense given the size of the tournament - probably stick with the 4 preliminary rounds and advance 16, but 5 preliminary rounds (I guess in 4 hours?) and advancing 8 works too.


The big mistake is the tiebreakers used for two reasons:
- They are too hard to get to the nitty gritty. Given the game takes 40 minutes, going the tiebreakers for all 3-1 players can be at least as long as playing a round.
- The most important tiebreak--winning a sudden death victory usually implies playing a new or uncareful opponent, which mostly a factor of luck in table assignment. Tiebreakers should transparently pick the better at worst.

Then Dump tiebreakers!

With 96 players (which is close to the attendance each year) After four rounds 6 4-0 records and 24 3-1 records. Advance all of these. If everyone continues, you have 32 slots for a bracket--2 of the 4-0 (chosen at random or by prior results--past champions/top laurelists, etc.) get a bye and play off from there. (If someone drops, give additional byes to the 4-0's.)


Playing 5 preliminary rounds with 96, you'd have 3 5-0 records and 15 4-1's, which is too big 16 player bracket. Hope you have slightly smaller field.
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Richard Irving
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kwojtasz wrote:
Liars dice had a good concept too. After x mins, any games still going are forfeit. (in that case, 45 minutes was the hard time limit). Not sure if that works for 7 wonders duel or not, but having that many people and no hard limits for how long games can take, a few analysis paralysis games will extend your tournament by hours...


7 Wonders Duel takes 30-40 minutes. There are a total 60 turns (or less if a sudden death victory occurs.) The GM should be warning players at 20 minutes that they should have started Age 2 and 35-40 minutes that they should be in Age 3. The GM should know the slow players and ruthlessly adjudicate if required because you have a schedule to keep.
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Richard Irving
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hgman3 wrote:

Another possible tournament format besides Swiss would be double-elimination. After one game, half the players would be 1-0 and the other half 0-1. Have winners play winners and losers play losers. After two games, 1/4 of the participants are eliminated from contention, and all the remaining players will have a record of either 2-0 or 1-1. For the third game, players with 2-0 record play one another and players with 1-1 records play each other. Losers from the 1-1 games are eliminated, everyone else advances. Continue until you have 16 players you can place in single elimination, or continue double elimination until you have a sole winner


Certainly a reasonable alternative, but it will take about 10-11 rounds.

With 96 players: 0 losses 1 loss Elim this Rd.
1st Round: 48 48
2nd Round: 24 48 24
3rd Round: 12 36 24
4th Round: 6 24 18
5th Round: 3 15 12
6th Round: 1 or 2 10 or 8 7 or 8 *
7th Round: 1 5 4 or 5 **
8th Round: 0 or 1 4 or 2 2 or 3 ***



* There will be one 5-0 meeting a 4-1.
- If the 4-1 wins, both will be at 5-1 and are alive. There 1 6-0 and 10 5-1's And 7 eliminated.
- If 5-0 wins, there will be 2 6-0's and 8 5-1's and 8 are eliminated.

** If 1 6-0, he gets a bye and all ten 5-1's will play each other, five will lose.
If 2 6-0's are left they play each other and the 8 5-1's will play each other.

In either case, afterwards there will be 1 undefeated player at 6-0 or 7-0 and 5 6-1's left.


*** All players will be matched up.
- If the undefeated player wins wins there will be 3 players left: one undefeated and two 7-1. The 7-1's play (Round 9) with the winner playing 8-0 and need two wins to take the title. (Round 10 & maybe 11)
- If the undefeated player loses, there will be 4 players left all with 1 loss, just straight single elimination at this point. (Round 9 & 10)

If there are more or fewer than 96, then the rounds will play out slightly differently, but it should take 10 or 11 DE rounds to determine a winner.

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Craig Yope
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Biggest thing to do is get help. For an event like that, you need the extra hands and eyes of a couple of assistants to get through it in a reasonable timeframe.

Also, over budgeting on time is the better way to go. If you end early, then great. You can revise down slightly for next year or retain said amount of time to cover those instances where it might explode out because of attendance. Underestimating the time will burn you and make people grumpy about what it is doing to their schedule.
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David E
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rri1 wrote:
The big mistake is the tiebreakers used for two reasons:
- They are too hard to get to the nitty gritty. Given the game takes 40 minutes, going the tiebreakers for all 3-1 players can be at least as long as playing a round.
- The most important tiebreak--winning a sudden death victory usually implies playing a new or uncareful opponent, which mostly a factor of luck in table assignment. Tiebreakers should transparently pick the better at worst.

Then Dump tiebreakers!

With 96 players (which is close to the attendance each year) After four rounds 6 4-0 records and 24 3-1 records. Advance all of these. If everyone continues, you have 32 slots for a bracket--2 of the 4-0 (chosen at random or by prior results--past champions/top laurelists, etc.) get a bye and play off from there. (If someone drops, give additional byes to the 4-0's.)


Playing 5 preliminary rounds with 96, you'd have 3 5-0 records and 15 4-1's, which is too big 16 player bracket. Hope you have slightly smaller field.


If I understand your proposal correctly, I'd have 32 people going into the quarter-finals. That would extend the length of the tournament as we'd need more total rounds to get to the finals.

I don't like the idea of choosing people to get byes with equal records by random or by past results either. Is this a common practice?

I don't think I agree either that winning a Military or Science victory is only possible against a weak opponent. The final was between two obviously good players, and it ended in a Science victory. The winner, at a clear economic disadvantage, took an obvious risk and bet the game on uncovering the last green card he needed in Age 3 - and he did. I watched this game and there was nothing uncareful about their play!
 
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David desJardins
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AmadanNaBriona wrote:
I don't think I agree either that winning a Military or Science victory is only possible against a weak opponent. The final was between two obviously good players, and it ended in a Science victory. The winner, at a clear economic disadvantage, took an obvious risk and bet the game on uncovering the last green card he needed in Age 3 - and he did. I watched this game and there was nothing uncareful about their play!


That still doesn't sound like a good tiebreaker, though.
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Curt Collins
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I didn't play this year, but did the first year. I specifically went for science or military victories because of the tie breakers. A player that has 2 or 3 of these victories can survive a loss. A player with 3 points victories and a loss is done for. I didn't see any reason to go for points unless that was the only route left.

Tourney format changes the game. I do agree that a swiss 4 rounds (the same as san juan) where everyone with 3 wins gets in is the best solution. Byes should always be random.
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David desJardins
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Spleen wrote:
Byes should always be random.


That's not the BPA policy. From the GM Guide:

https://www.boardgamers.org/wbc_gmeventform.html

If a bye is required in the first Round of a Single Elimination event, it should be given to the most recent past champion present, as listed on the event kiosk. If additional byes are necessary, they should be given in order of past champions until all past champions have a bye. A champion who elects to pass on his or her right to a bye is not allowed to postpone its use until later in the event. Any additional byes should be given to participants who have provided copies of the game. No person can receive a second bye until all remaining players have received one. In Swiss or Swiss-Elim events after the first Round, byes should be offered to players with the worst records to ensure that players who finish the highest are less likely to have received such a benefit. Regardless of format, GMs must treat a bye as a full win.
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David E
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DaviddesJ wrote:
AmadanNaBriona wrote:
I don't think I agree either that winning a Military or Science victory is only possible against a weak opponent. The final was between two obviously good players, and it ended in a Science victory. The winner, at a clear economic disadvantage, took an obvious risk and bet the game on uncovering the last green card he needed in Age 3 - and he did. I watched this game and there was nothing uncareful about their play!


That still doesn't sound like a good tiebreaker, though.


Well, this was another thing I copied from the previous format, but I am willing to hear arguments why it's not a good tie-breaker. Military and Science victories are generally harder to achieve, which I assume is why the previous GM used them as tie-breakers. But it did seem to me that many more games ended that way than in the games I have played, probably because people were putting more effort into Military/Science wins.

Considering most tie-breaking criteria go down a list that ends in "Roll a die" (as a last resort), I don't think it's bad to have Military/Science victories as one of the criteria, but I might consider moving total scores/highest single scores higher on the list. (The problem with that is that then I'd have to figure out how to rebalance it so that people who win all their games with Military or Science aren't disadvantaged.)
 
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Marty Sample
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I just want to thank the OP for stepping into GM in the first place. GMs are a scarce resource at WBC. I didn't realize at the time you didn't have an asst GM - that certainly would have made life easier. I do like the excel spreadsheet sign in, beats filling out 92 index cards, calling names, etc. One thing others GMs do is use playing cards to assign tables - give each player a copy of the game with a playing card, then deal out random cards to players w/o copies of the game. After the first game however, I was thinking maybe you have a "winners area" for undefeated players to be picked from somehow.

This is a large, fast moving event once matches start finishing up. I was able to finish 4 matches in just under two hours, but I was pretty aggressive in seeking out possible opponents. I do think 3 hours is probably more realistic for the initial round.

Thanks again for being the GM.
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Christopher Yaure
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David - first of all, and most important, thank you for GMing the event. WBC needs more GMs, and I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice gaming time to GM the event. I also appreciate your willingness to seek advice on an open forum.

I played 2 games in the 1st round. I had no intention of continuing into the 2nd round due to a conflict, so the advancement rules had only a theoretical impact on me. But in a short 2-player game, there is no reason to use tie-breakers for advancement. Pair everyone who qualifies, whether that means undefeated, one loss, pod winner, etc.

As an aside, only provide byes if you have an odd number of players in a round. For example, if you have 24 players advancing, pair 12 games. If the winners keep playing, you will have 6 winners the next round, then 3, when you will need to give 1 bye. But players drop out for a variety of reasons - don't give 8 byes in the round of 24 so you have a perfect 16 in the next round - someone will drop out and you will still need a bye.

Others have provided several examples for ways to handle this type of event. Two others that I did not see mentioned are 1) the Battle Line approach, with initial pods of 4 players who play a round robin and one player from each pod advancing and 2) single elimination with mulligan.

This is a short game - there is no reason to eliminate players with perfect scores. If you simply used single elimination, you would only need 7 rounds with 96 players. Pods would require 8 rounds, single elimination with mulligan possibly 9, San Juan-style 9 rounds (all possibly reduced by drop outs).

Schedule 3 prelim rounds in 2 hours or 4 in 3 hours, then the remaining rounds continuous.

The biggest issue is how to make the pairings. You should make them. Consider the following process. Players fill out an index card with name, badge number, and whether or not they have a copy of the game. You or the AGM enters the badge number on the spreadsheet (and you call out the names of players who are not preregistered). Create two stacks, one with game and one without. Shuffle each stack, draw pairs of cards, one from each stack, and announce the pairings. If you run out of cards in the do not have games stack, draw the remaining pairs both from the have a game stack. If the have a game stack runs out first, then there are not enough games and some entrants may not get to play (unless you have extra copies to share).

Players return the cards with the name of their opponents and the result (W or L). Create stacks of w or L for Rd 2, 2 wins, 1 win or 0 wins for round 3, etc. At the end of the preliminary rounds, identify the advancing players and air them.

If the registration line is long, you van begin pairing players before everyone is registered.

Oh, and the person who complained you would not count a game played before the tournament began - you made the right call.

Or ignore all of my advice. I will appreciate that you are GMing, regardless of the tournament structure you decide on.
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Scott Saccenti
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actuaryesquire wrote:
But players drop out for a variety of reasons - don't give 8 byes in the round of 24 so you have a perfect 16 in the next round - someone will drop out and you will still need a bye.


I learned this, as a first-time GM this year running Love Letter. All efforts to set up a "perfect" bracket are thwarted by players dropping unexpectedly. I hadn't thought that someone who had played and was advancing would choose to wander off--but I know better now!
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Gareth Williams
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saccenti wrote:
I learned this, as a first-time GM this year running Love Letter. All efforts to set up a "perfect" bracket are thwarted by players dropping unexpectedly. I hadn't thought that someone who had played and was advancing would choose to wander off--but I know better now!


No matter how much you've planned, something will happen you did not expect
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I was there as an entrant -- I went 3-0 playing as fast as we could, but did not advance. I think next year it needs to be to where that doesn't happen.

More time is needed -- it is difficult to average 30 minutes a game when you include finding another opponent, set up, etc. I think it's going to need to be an hour block for each game.

You could do it like the sports game guys do it -- you have one day on your own to play at least 6 games, and winning percentage is the criterion. You could have 4 heats throughout the week, with a total of 8 that advance (2 from each).

But the number one thing is I don't think the tie-breaker should be military victory or science victory. Those victories are not more valuable than an economic victory, and in fact, in my opinion, they are more likely to be achieved if you had a beginner opponent. Some people enter after first learning the game -- they are easy pickings anyway, but we should not have the advanced players who drew a newbie pushing for military victory, and winning tiebreakers over this.

Above all, having experienced it first hand, I don't think tie-breakers should eliminate an undefeated player. Either have them play it off, or have enough heats and spots that it won't happen. Tie-breakers are a fact of life, an inherently arbitrary -- but the thing that makes them bearable is if you lost a game, you can at least say "you should have won them all, so it didn't come down to something arbitrary." But when you defeat every opponent in front of you, and don't even advance -- the format is the thing to question there.

Thanks for running the game. I'll be entering next year if schedule conflicts don't prevent it.
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Marty Sample
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Race Bannon wrote:
I think it's going to need to be an hour block for each game.



Wow, count me out if that is the case . No need for it to take four hours to play four games. I get 30 minutes per is tight I'd split the difference and make it 3 hours .
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