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Subject: Need advice on running 7 Wonders Duel rss

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Jay M
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Marty S wrote:
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 .


So 45 minutes per game? That's enough time. It's just a matter of whether blocking it out like that will work with the way they do the overall schedule.

There are many, many games where the amount they have blocked exceeds the amount it takes to play a game. But there has to be some "factor" to allow for sign-up time, opponent assignment time, set-up time, and everything else. For fair scheduling, there is supposed to be enough to to play the event and still make a next event posted back to back.

So perhaps one of the other formats (like the sports game format I posted) would work better if people like you would bail.
 
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Curt Collins
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Part of the advantage of playing tournaments is that you don't have to go searching for players. Free form find your own opponent formats have many problems, disadvantaging shy people being just one. Some people will be very popular as people search for easy wins. Others may not be able to find a game because nobody wants to play the past champs and get a loss.
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Andrew E
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Thanks for being a GM, and this was a particularly difficult game to pick up. In order starting with the most important:

1. Get help. You shouldn't have trouble acquiring an assistant GM or two if you ask on this forum in the months leading up to the deadline to submit the event. Additionally, it is eminently reasonable to word this request in the form of "I'll GM this but only if I get at least one assistant". Running a 2 player event this large with no assistants is either crazy or heroic or both, and no reasonable person would fault you for declining to do it again.

2. Don't let people find their own tables. It disadvantages some people and encourages the sharks to stay away from each other.

3. You can get games going during check in by batching games like Splendor does. Basically you have two lines, one for people who have a game, and one for people who don't. Then you make a batch of, say, 6 tables by preparing cards 1-6 for "has a game" and 1-6 for "doesn't". Then you check in 6 people with a game, 6 people without a game, and give them the cards as they do to match them. It's not perfect randomization, but for early rounds of large tournaments, it's reasonable to make compromises on that front without giving away the farm (i.e. seat yourself). This is where you use the 1 or 2 assistant GMs you acquired earlier. You're typing in badge numbers while assistant GM #1 is organizing batches of cards and handing them out. Assistant GM #2 is getting people into the correct line (and if the "has a game" line is way too long, telling them to get into the "no game" line (Splendor needed this in at least one heat I witnessed) ), retrieving cards and answering questions.

4. I would honestly suggest moving away from a San Juan type swiss with 4 guaranteed games for everybody and going instead with a single elimination bracket with a mulligan round like Innovation does, simply because it seems easier to handle. Everybody gets two games guaranteed, then everybody who got a win in either does a single elimination bracket for as many rounds as that takes. You don't have to commit to cutting it to 8 or 16 ahead of time, you simply take everyone. You then have to balance the bracket, but that's not really a big deal and if somebody drops out, you have to be prepared to do that anyways. You can give byes based on whatever criteria (criteria which you'll need anyways to determine 3rd-6th place, some wargames do this I believe) or have games against spoilers (as Innovation does).
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Craig Yope
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AndrewE wrote:

4. I would honestly suggest moving away from a San Juan type swiss with 4 guaranteed games for everybody and going instead with a single elimination bracket with a mulligan round like Innovation does, simply because it seems easier to handle. Everybody gets two games guaranteed, then everybody who got a win in either does a single elimination bracket for as many rounds as that takes. You don't have to commit to cutting it to 8 or 16 ahead of time, you simply take everyone. You then have to balance the bracket, but that's not really a big deal and if somebody drops out, you have to be prepared to do that anyways. You can give byes based on whatever criteria (criteria which you'll need anyways to determine 3rd-6th place, some wargames do this I believe) or have games against spoilers (as Innovation does).


Couldn't disagree more. This the biggest reason I love this event. Four guaranteed games right in a row.

I loved it last year and wished I would have been able to play this year.

But do what you think you need to do to make it happen. You're the GM who is putting in the time and effort.
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David E
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I also like the idea of letting everyone (who wants to) get four games in. I think the most biggest change needed is simply to allot more time next year. And have a system set up for assigning matches.

An Assistant GM would also help a lot. (I asked during the demo and again before the game, but no one volunteered. I did get at least one person who gave me his email address and offered to help next year, though.)

I'll be thinking about all the other suggestions, relating to deciding who advances, tie-breakers, etc.
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Andrew E
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If the GM thinks they can handle the substantial additional work of doing a partial (like this year) or even full swiss (where it's effectively straight single elimination from the start, but with extra games for everybody who wants against same-record opponents for the entire time), I agree that it's better for the gamers to support that. I'm simply coming from the perspective of overwhelmed GMs turn into unhappy GMs, and unhappy GMs don't remain GMs. If you think you can handle it, by all means go for it.

I don't find it terribly surprising that you didn't find an assistant GM during the demo or before the game. The audience for those requests were players looking to play, and it's not at all clear that assistant GMs actually get to play the game they're helping on for large events, nor is it clear exactly what you're asking for.

I have two sometimes-absent assistant GMs for the primary purpose of allowing me to play in my own event, who's only real obligation is to rule on disputes and questions at my table, and if I need something on the spot, the trick is to ask somebody in particular for something very specific. Like count my tables or get a game from the library, ect.

A general purpose assistant GM is a much larger commitment, and so you'll want to have a plan for what you're asking of them and whether they'll get to play when you make the request (most will want that answer to be yes).
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Chris Trimmer
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What about just running this with quads so everyone has 3 opponents set right away? Then have 3-0 players move to single elimination (and some 2-1 players off tiebreaks if needed for a good number).
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Marty Sample
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TrimChris wrote:
What about just running this with quads so everyone has 3 opponents set right away? Then have 3-0 players move to single elimination (and some 2-1 players off tiebreaks if needed for a good number).


I was thinking the same thing. Removes the issue of finding opponents.
 
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Andrew E
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That'll be tough. People will want to drop out, especially once they have no chance to advance.

If you want to have X guaranteed games, run a swiss, and accept the prep work that entails. (probably index cards per player with record on them, possibly color-coded for game or no game). Don't make it X required games. I suspect you'd have even more unhappy customers if you required 3 or 4 games than if you only provided 2 guaranteed games via single elim + mulligan. By the last game over half would have no chance to advance.
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Rich Shipley
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TrimChris wrote:
What about just running this with quads so everyone has 3 opponents set right away? Then have 3-0 players move to single elimination (and some 2-1 players off tiebreaks if needed for a good number).


I did that for a Lost Cities tournament at PrezCon a while back. Worked pretty well. The winner of each quad moved on to single elim.
 
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Glen Pearce
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Might be better as 4-player pods. A vs B, C vs D, winners face off, losers face off, loser of winner's match faces winner of loser's match, winner of that match then needs to win 2 in a row against winner of winner's match. Basically a double-elim pod.
 
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Chris Trimmer
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AndrewE wrote:
That'll be tough. People will want to drop out, especially once they have no chance to advance.


Lots of WBC events use this format successfully without any grumbling. It should especially work for a game with such a short time commitment as this.
 
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Curt Collins
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The thing I like about the San Juan method is you have one loss that you can take. In most methods, that first loss is usually the end of your tournament.
 
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Andrew E
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A double-elim pod is kind of the worst of all worlds, in that you're forbidding dropouts, guaranteeing only 2 games, but still requiring a commitment to 3. It does take care of the completely meaningless yet still required game problem, but it introduces the possibility of playing somebody in your pod twice.

If lots of games use pods, I'm not surprised I miss that, as this is the only 2 player game I play at WBC at the moment. I still think it's not a great system. If he's considering pods, I merely suggest he look at his numbers and figure out what percentage of people only played 1 or 2 games. That's a lower bound on the number of players who prefer, for whatever reason, the option to drop out, and I'll bet it's not an insignificant fraction.
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Craig Yope
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Pods would be great but for every person like me who wants a guaranteed four games, regardless of what my record is, you will have people who will bail the second they can't advance.

The current format allows you to be flexible enough to accommodate such situations. It's a lot of work but it eliminates other headaches that could arise from other formats.
 
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
Lots of WBC events use this format successfully without any grumbling. It should especially work for a game with such a short time commitment as this.


Plus you could always go the Batte Line route and use a big stick. The threat is if you drop out, you don't get to play in the tournament the next year.

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If you come to play, you are playing for the entire first round of three games, which is two hours long, win or lose. You cannot drop out in the middle of a round - at least not if you ever expect to play again. However, you are not obligated to advance if you are eligible to do so.


Just let everyone know this up front. They are there for the duration. Then they can choose whether to make the commitment or not.

The games go so fast, though, I don't think it should be an issue.

Kevin
 
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robert kircher
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TrimChris wrote:
AndrewE wrote:
That'll be tough. People will want to drop out, especially once they have no chance to advance.


Lots of WBC events use this format successfully without any grumbling. It should especially work for a game with such a short time commitment as this.


Pod is nice that you only have 3 games to play. However you have to come up with tiebreakers when you have 3 at 2-1 and one at 0-3. Not too bad with Battleline but can get messy with 7WD.

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Richard Irving
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AmadanNaBriona wrote:
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.


In a game that takes 45 minutes, this is not a big deal--when you have a larger event (and the implicit factor that the second loss in the first 4 games eliminates the player, since 2-2 will never advance.) it SHOULD an extra round to determine the champion.

The problem using tiebreakers to eliminate down to 8 or 16, is to lose this feature. With 8 advancers and 96 initial players, you have ~6 4-0's 2 spots for 24 3-1's, all but two of the 3-1's. Why should THOSE two players advance over the 22 other who tied with them? ANY method of selection will be arbitrary.

Cutting to 16 isn't much better, over half of the 3-1's will still be eliminated.

Seems preferable to me that to be eliminated on losing a game in a SE round is much more fair than being eliminated because I didn't get the "right" type victories.


Quote:
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?


Officially the policy is past champions (with the proviso that no player receive 2 byes), but if none are available, random as a fair as arbitrary tiebreaker.

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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!


What can I say--no it's an example of incompetent play on the part of the eventual loser. If he has a large, nearly insurmountable lead that the only way for his opponent to win is a Science Victory, then failing to bury the last science cards the opponent needs is a sign of poor play. He should be starting in the SECOND ERA doing this.

It's like someone playing Chess being up massively in material, but failing to prevent mate.

Quote:

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.



Tiebreakers in general are bad, because they change the nature of play. Instead of "win or else", you now have "win by this method rather than by that method". "Just win, Baby!" should be the motto.

Let's consider a few tie breaker methods:
- Head-to-Head: If two players are tied AND they met each other during the Swiss portion of the tournament, the winner of that game wins the tie break. PROBLEMS: Doesn't work well for more than 2 players who are tied. In a large fields/with few Swiss rounds, it is not likely that those 2 players have played each other.

- Records of opponents: In Swiss-elim format, the records of the opponents that each player played are compared. In theory you played tougher opponents. PROBLEMS: Early losers will generally not have much of a chance (because they are playing players already with losses, whereas winner's bracket player have not.) Your fate depends on randomization of who you played, how well your opponents did after your game. Sometimes if a player drops out can affect the results of other players. Takes a lot and effort for the GM.

- Scores/Margin or Percentage of Victory: If you win by a larger amount you obviously played better. PROBLEMS: If you get matched with weaker opponents, you will do well. You got lucky that weren't assigned to play the sharks. Games that don't or don't always play to score really can't use this method. (Effectively, the Military/Science victory tiebreakers used are using this method with such victory arbitrarily being awarded a 1000-0 score.)



Quote:
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.)


You're grasping at a solution--but avoiding the obvious one? Why eliminate tied players after the Swiss rounds when you can simply add an add round for a game that doesn't take very long.

You "save" vary little time, yet make the tournament much more unfair and less enjoyable to the players. Given the current format, I'd rather play it single elimination, because practically that's how it is being run right now.
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David E
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rri1 wrote:
In a game that takes 45 minutes, this is not a big deal--when you have a larger event (and the implicit factor that the second loss in the first 4 games eliminates the player, since 2-2 will never advance.) it SHOULD an extra round to determine the champion.


Well, it's easy to say extending the length of the tournament is not a big deal when you're not the one doing it. I mean, I am not averse to making it longer (I have already decided the first round needs to be more than 2 hours) but I am not convinced that everyone with the same record (3-1, say) should automatically get to advance. From what I have seen, there are a number of tournaments that use tie-breakers in cases where you have a lot of people with the same win-loss record and only a subset of them can advance. I understand your position is that a win is a win and all wins should be equal, I just don't think I agree.


Quote:
The problem using tiebreakers to eliminate down to 8 or 16, is to lose this feature. With 8 advancers and 96 initial players, you have ~6 4-0's 2 spots for 24 3-1's, all but two of the 3-1's. Why should THOSE two players advance over the 22 other who tied with them? ANY method of selection will be arbitrary.


I'd say "Highest score" is less arbitrary than "Most Science/Military victories," which itself is not arbitrary, though it does incentivize certain types of plays.


Quote:
What can I say--no it's an example of incompetent play on the part of the eventual loser. If he has a large, nearly insurmountable lead that the only way for his opponent to win is a Science Victory, then failing to bury the last science cards the opponent needs is a sign of poor play. He should be starting in the SECOND ERA doing this.

It's like someone playing Chess being up massively in material, but failing to prevent mate.


I don't claim to be the best 7WD player, and I am certainly not the best chess player, but I disagree that the loser was incompetent. The loser's lead was large but probably not insurmountable by the end of the Second Age. Part of his lead was gained at the expense of Science cards. The eventual winner made a calculated gamble at the inflection point, where he either needed to go for Science or try to catch up on points. He went for the former, and got lucky on a critical card reveal in the Third Age.
 
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Duncan McGregor
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Hi David,

First off, as others have said, thank you for stepping up to run the event this year. It is appreciated, and I hope that you will be able to continue and improve on the event for next year - hopefully with an assistant or two!

Several tournament structures have been proposed here, and while I know you have indicated that there are aspects of each proposal that you didn't like, I wanted to consolidate the proposals for later reference. I hope that this will be helpful. In each case, when talking about estimated numbers, I will be assuming that an even 100 players show up - slightly above the 2017 numbers - and that each game/round will take 45 minutes.

Edit: I am also assuming here that the GM will be assigning pairings using a Swiss system (play someone with close to your own record).

Option 1a: 4 preliminary rounds, cut to top 8 (existing format)

Time taken: 7 rounds = 5.25 (6) hours

This is the current system, but with the preliminary rounds extended to a three-hour window. This guarantees everyone who wants to can play four games. Unfortunately, it also almost requires players to go 4-0 to advance - with 100 entrants, there will be 6 - 7 players who are undefeated, leaving only 1 - 2 slots for 3-1 players to make the quarterfinals. This is almost the same as single-elimination. This also means that this is the least amount of time the event can run in.

Option 1b: 4 preliminary rounds, cut to 3-1 (San Juan format)

Time taken: 9 rounds = 6.75 (7) hours

If we use four preliminary rounds and allow everyone with three wins to advance, we end up with (roughly) 7 undefeateds and 24 players at 3-1. This gives a round of 32 and playoffs from there. This adds some time to the event but gives players a solid mark to aim for, with strength-of-victory tiebreakers not being as important. Please note, though, that we are very close to having more than 32 players at 3-1 or better. If we hit about 105 players, then there may be more than 32 players at 3-1 or better. Once that happens, we are either adding yet another round to the event, or using tiebreakers to drop a few 3-1s.

Option 2: Mulligan round, then straight elimination (Innovation format)

Time taken: 9 rounds = 6.75 (7) hours

This should run in about the same amount of time as Option 1b above - after the mulligan and first rounds, we will have about 75 players with a win, and it will take seven more rounds to reduce that to a winner. This system has the downside that players are only guaranteed two games, but will handle an increase or decrease in attendance better than Option 1b - you aren't going up to a tenth round unless you go over about 170 players, and get to cut a round off if you drop below about 85. The 85 - 105 player range makes Option 2 particularly bad when compared to Option 1b.

Option 3: Pods of 4 with winners advancing, then straight elimination (Battle Line format)

Time taken: 8 rounds = 6 hours

The four-person pods allow three guaranteed games per person, but are also mostly single-elimination, as you will be eliminated if you lose to someone who goes 3-0. If nobody goes 3-0, then tiebreakers will be needed to determine which of the two or three 2-1s gets to advance. This option really only works if you believe that players can get their three games in within two hours (40 minutes per game) as compared to Option 1's four games in three hours (45 minutes per game).

--

In summary:

- The current system (Option 1a) allows players four games if they want them, and runs in minimum time, but a single loss almost certainly eliminates players from contention.
- Pods of 4 (Option 3) drops players to three guaranteed games and adds one round to the event. It will allow some one-loss players to advance.
- A Mulligan round and then straight elimination drops players to two guaranteed games and adds two rounds to the event. Players can take one loss very early without being eliminated.
- Taking the current system but cutting to 3-1 or top 32 (Option 1b) allows players four games and adds two rounds to the event.

If you're okay taking the time for the extra playoff rounds, David, I'd recommend Option 1b to your attention. Otherwise, the current system is fine, as long as you realize that it is essentially single-elimination.

Please let me know if I have made any mistakes in this, or if anyone has any questions.
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Christopher Yaure
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Duncan - nice summary. I have two minor points to add
1. If a free form system is used for the first several rounds of pairings, you can end up with many more 4-0 scores. Consider the extreme example where the 50 first round winners all play first round losers, and win again. Then after two rounds, you still have 50 perfect scores.
2. If you have fewer than 32 players (or 16 or 8) for a playoff round, you should at most give one bye. As discussed up thread, some players may choose not to advance. Each round pair everyone who is left, with one bye if there are an odd number of players.
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Curt Collins
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I know I would certainly not actively seek another player that was undefeated to play if I had the option. It's not fair, but if I have the option, I'll game the system just like anyone else could. You would certainly end up with more 4-0 players, and potentially, if you cut to 8, tie breakers would come into play again if 9 or more people managed to work the system and avoid better players for four games.
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Duncan McGregor
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actuaryesquire wrote:
Duncan - nice summary. I have two minor points to add
1. If a free form system is used for the first several rounds of pairings, you can end up with many more 4-0 scores. Consider the extreme example where the 50 first round winners all play first round losers, and win again. Then after two rounds, you still have 50 perfect scores.


Thank you. I was assuming that he was moving to Swiss pairings, and have edited my post accordingly.

actuaryesquire wrote:
2. If you have fewer than 32 players (or 16 or 8) for a playoff round, you should at most give one bye. As discussed up thread, some players may choose not to advance. Each round pair everyone who is left, with one bye if there are an odd number of players.


Right - I'd forgotten the WBC bye policy. Thank you for the reminder.
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David E
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Duncan,

Thanks for the summary. It is quite helpful. I'm strongly considering your option 1b.

Spleen wrote:
I know I would certainly not actively seek another player that was undefeated to play if I had the option. It's not fair, but if I have the option, I'll game the system just like anyone else could. You would certainly end up with more 4-0 players, and potentially, if you cut to 8, tie breakers would come into play again if 9 or more people managed to work the system and avoid better players for four games.


Well, everyone could, but not everyone would. That said, yes, I clearly need to have a way of matching people up that defeats this as much as possible.
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Andrew E
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A minor quibble since he's leaning away from it anyways, but I'd be pretty shocked if a 100 person field in mulligan -> single elim produced more than 64 winners showing up for the elimination rounds, due to double winners and no-shows. For example (the first example I found) Innovation in 2014 had a 48 person field and only 19 showed up for advancement.

So I'd forecast single elim with mulligan with current numbers to run in 8 rounds rather than 9, landing between single elim (and effectively single elim plans) and San Juan's swiss cut to 3-1.

That said, the mulligan and first round would probably be scheduled for an hour each, so you'd probably actually be looking at a 6.5 hour commitment. And that said, having an extra 15 minutes cushion on those 2 rounds for check in and seating is probably a plus, not a minus. The best part of GMing Egizia is that it's a 75-90 minute game in a 2 hour slot. I've got fuckup time built into the schedule, and that, more than anything else, makes GMing work for me. I honestly wouldn't GM a game that had to be tightly scheduled like Amun-re because with those, come hell or high water you must be seating people by 5 after or some tables simply won't finish in time and then nobody's happy.
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