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Subject: Ten Thoughts on this years WBC rss

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Marty Sample
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Once again I'll take a page out of sportswriter Peter King's playbook by offering my thoughts on this years con in the form of "10 Things I Think" . Last years thoughts can be found here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/…/1821…/ten-thoughts-years-wbc

Here we go for this year:

1. I arrived Friday just before lunch and by the end of the day, there were clearly more people arriving earlier than in years past. Whereas last year there were a handful of people merely chatting in the open gaming area, this year by early evening there at least a half dozen tables playing games. By comparison last year I didn't playing anything Friday, this year I got in games of Labyrinth, Las Vegas ( x2 ) and Terraforming Mars .

2. The latter game continues its strong popularity; some thought it was even more prevalent in Open Gaming than last year . I got in four plays during the course of the con ( all open gaming ) . It has showed tremendous staying power and across all groups of gamers - more than a few wargamers were seen playing it. The actual event I heard saw a small drop in attendance but still drew close to 200 people. I do wonder if the four hour round lengths deterred potential entrants - that's twice our typical playtime but I recognize a GM needs to accommodate all types of players .

3. Back to the Friday arrivals, I think what we're seeing is attendees sliding their attendance window up - arrive earlier and in some cases leave earlier. The last Saturday night was observed by some to seem a bit quieter than years past. A few of the Anti Seven Springs crowd on Facebook immediately blamed the more remote location, but I think the more common reason is simply burnout. Sure some have longer travel times than in years past . But for many, the second Saturday they are entering their 8th full day at the con, or even longer. For myself I contemplated in future years of leaving early Saturday afternoon after feeling rather fried yesterday afternoon. Having a full day to recharge and get prepared for re entry into the real world has its appeal. I've seen this happen at CSW Expo, a week long convention that used to run Sunday to Sunday, then attendees starting showing up a day early and the opening day was moved up a day. Over years, its morphed into a Saturday to Saturday con for most people, leaving Sunday open to recuperate .

4. Open gaming had more table space than last year due to a reconfiguration in the table patterns, so there was never an issue finding table space. On the flip side, it was a bit of a tighter squeeze in places . I wonder if the vendors would be better served against the right wall as in past years - it opens up traffic flow on the way in from the ballroom and gives the vendors wall outlets to plug stuff in since they are at their tables a lot of the time . The extra bodies in open gaming seemed to make the space a bit warmer ( not Lampeter warmer ), but a word to the staff and the following day the temps were better .

5. Some of us half jokingly wondered if the hotel could have a sort of airplane service cart rolling thru open gaming selling drinks and snacks. Impulse business could be strong. I've seen other hotels send waitstaff to the gaming area with good results.

6. Seven Springs continues to make improvements, its nice to see them invest in the property. Most rooms had refrigerators and next year they all will. They had a new Bloody Mary bar in the hallway outside Timbers and I think some new menu items at the cafeteria in the Foggy Goggle .That said the WiFi is still spotty in places and I hope this is beefed up. The staff on average are extremely pleasant and genuinely happy to see us. Interestingly, in talking to one bartender the first day, he related we're not even the largest offseason group. Before WBC they had an archery competition with nearly 2000 people and in early August, the annual Sheetz meeting with double that ! So its clear the resort is rounding out their non winter outreach and its paying dividends. Bodes well for the long term prospects there .

7. Auction prices on average while not as strong as a decade ago seemed to have stopped their slide . I do think some tweaks will happen in the Store at least however. Unsold games are still an issue and most of the time its due to sellers setting unrealistic prices. I would advocate a higher fee for unsold games, either a fixed fee or a % of the last selling price. Another option would be instead of the $30 cap, a cap per time slot to stop the stubborn sellers who price "$30/$30/$30" . An increase of the $30 max store price could also relieve pressure on demand for Auction slots.

8. Randy Buehler and James Pei have long competed for the prize of most laurels earned annually. From what I understand, Randy took it upon himself get an edge by earning laurels at James' expense - by learning FOR THE PEOPLE, an event James has utterly dominated since its inception with NINE straight wins . This is not a simple game by any means, and yet Randy managed to reach the finals against the master himself. James won to wrap up his decade of dominance, but I gotta give a huge shout out to Randy for taking on such a challenge.

In the immortal words of Omar Little, "You come at the King, you best not miss ".

I look forward to the rematch.

9. Myself I didn't learn many new games, limited to Red7, a simple card game and the Awakening expansion for LABYRINTH. The one I missed out on and wanted to learn/play was CATACLYSM . It popped up fairly often in open gaming, eclipsed only by Terraforming Mars I think , maybe TIME OF CRISIS . The latter saw a healthy turnout of around 50 would be Roman Emperors . After earning the top seed in the semifinals, I got blown out along with the other top three seeds. Damn barbarian hordes....

10. The weather forecast leading up was pretty miserable looking. The actual weather we had was pretty decent overall. Not nearly as much rain as had been predicted and we missed out on the flooding other areas got hit with. Maybe those BPA umbrellas, which I admittedly scoffed at, appeased the weather gods.

Another year in the books, now the dreaded "morning after ", the worst Monday of my entire year awaits.

See you all next time !
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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Marty S wrote:
7. Auction prices on average while not as strong as a decade ago seemed to have stopped their slide . I do think some tweaks will happen in the Store at least however. Unsold games are still an issue and most of the time its due to sellers setting unrealistic prices. I would advocate a higher fee for unsold games, either a fixed fee or a % of the last selling price. Another option would be instead of the $30 cap, a cap per time slot to stop the stubborn sellers who price "$30/$30/$30" . An increase of the $30 max store price could also relieve pressure on demand for Auction slots.


A lower minimum number of auction listings would probably help, too. A ten-item minimum encourages filler. And if you only have a few games to sell that you think are valuable, then you could put them in the auction instead of the store at 30/30/30.

I don't know about raising the auction store listing fee. I'd hate to discourage people from selling. But I like the second idea, tying the unsold fee to the last price.

How many auction store items went unsold this year?
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Alex N
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I second the idea of fixing the cap on auction store prices. My suggestion is that the second and third prices must show at least a 20% price. So a $30 game would have:

$30 - $24 - $20

That would facilitate getting rid of all those pricy unsold games at the end of the day.

I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.
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Eric Engelmann
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chiefsachem wrote:
...
I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.


Amen! For candidates, I'd also add "old" games that got bumped.
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Curt Collins
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I would favor something like this, but would also raise the $30 for the first round.

Something like $40 - $30 - $20 being the maximum.
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Marty Sample
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marcnelsonjr wrote:
[q="Marty S"]7.

How many auction store items went unsold this year?


I don't know exactly - its hard to tell. From my vantage point on the stage, it was at least 100 ? In an ideal environment its zero. Unsold items slow down the clean up to get the room ready for tournaments using the space afterwards and take up a slot that could have been used for a seller with more realistic pricing.
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Alex N
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Marty S wrote:
marcnelsonjr wrote:
[q="Marty S"]7.

How many auction store items went unsold this year?


I don't know exactly - its hard to tell. From my vantage point on the stage, it was at least 100 ? In an ideal environment its zero. Unsold items slow down the clean up to get the room ready for tournaments using the space afterwards and take up a slot that could have been used for a seller with more realistic pricing.


I agree. The main problem I saw were still too many games above $20 and not enough games under $6 by the third round. Certainly Doogie Doo could have done better at a final $5 pricing rather than the $10 it listed for. A game that farts and poops can't be that bad.
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Jim Neuschwander
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Used Doggie Doo is definitely overpriced at $10 but a value at $5.
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Yeah, I was kind of annoyed, after being too late to get any of my old games into the store, to see how many people were trying to get as close to MSRP as they could for relatively recent games.
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Peter Stein
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chiefsachem wrote:

I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.


That's actually not a bad idea. Maybe have a couple of games that just missed the cut and/or are relatively new. I wouldn't have a whole tournament but maybe just one round of it.

Now that I think of it, they used to do something similar on Tuesdays during the auction. IIRC the #1 problem was getting GMs.
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Craig Yope
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I'll echo the comment about there being few options for those not in a qf, sf, or f on Saturday. I played in one of the few offerings of Saturday (Battle Cry), but was bumped early on and left somewhat adrift. I'm a big boy and can take care of myself so no need to feel sorry for me. I know Stein won't!

Terri Coleman was talking about having one of his heats (March Madness) on Saturday next year because of this very issue. It might actually be his best attended one of the week since it wouldn't have much competition from other events and could encourage newbies to try the event since many of the "sharks" would theoretically be in the semis and finals of other events.

And yes, I know the vendors want their demo tables to be in a prominent position for maximum visibility, BUT I am more likely to go out of my way to not give you my time or money if I'm forced to crawl over you every time I want to wander around the open gaming room or I'm on my way to Festival for a tournament. The along one wall idea makes better sense.
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Marty Sample
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The lack of non semi/final events on Saturday has been around for a very long time, going back to the Hunt Valley days.

Having some sort of casual, non plaque level events may be worth considering; the limiting factor being of course someone has to be willing to GM the event. Making it a non Century event might reduce pressure on a would be GM and perhaps some new blood to give GMing a try .

I'm still thinking the burnout factor is more an issue for Saturday attendees leaving early than the lack of events as people are attending for longer periods of time. Back in the Hunt Valley era by Saturday people had only been there three full days in most cases. Now they've been there twice as long.
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W. Craig Trader
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chiefsachem wrote:
I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.


My Saturday plans were centered around the last heat of Puerto Rico and potential semi-finals and finals. Power Grid and Robo Rally didn't pan out this year, but Puerto Rico did. I spent a lot of time chatting with people in Open Gaming, and had relaxed meals with my wife. Not the worst way to spend my time, but I would have appreciated having something a little more scheduled.

Given the nature of semis and finals, I might suggest something with lots of shorter rounds, where people can play whatever rounds they can fit in. I like the idea of games that didn't make the Century/Trial cut, either because they're older or too new. Instead of a handful of non-tournaments, why not a "most wins" gets a non-plaque prize? (Maybe a WBC hat or game bag.)

As an example, pick 6-8 games with a play length of roughly 90 minutes, and schedule starts on the hour. They can either be 2-player games or multi-player games, but they have to have a definite winner in 90 minutes. People show up at or before the hour, and either pair up on their own, or are randomly assigned to games. They play a game, record the winner (and losers), turn in their slip, and then either play something else, or go do something else. The whole event runs from 9am-9pm on Saturday, with entries being tallied in a spreadsheet as they're turned in. At 9pm, you do the last bit of data entry, then announce who won the most games and post the results.

I don't think you need a lot of GMs or volunteers (maybe 1 or 2 people at any time, and it doesn't have to be a day-long commitment).
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Curt Collins
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wcraigtrader wrote:
chiefsachem wrote:
I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.


My Saturday plans were centered around the last heat of Puerto Rico and potential semi-finals and finals. Power Grid and Robo Rally didn't pan out this year, but Puerto Rico did. I spent a lot of time chatting with people in Open Gaming, and had relaxed meals with my wife. Not the worst way to spend my time, but I would have appreciated having something a little more scheduled.

Given the nature of semis and finals, I might suggest something with lots of shorter rounds, where people can play whatever rounds they can fit in. I like the idea of games that didn't make the Century/Trial cut, either because they're older or too new. Instead of a handful of non-tournaments, why not a "most wins" gets a non-plaque prize? (Maybe a WBC hat or game bag.)

As an example, pick 6-8 games with a play length of roughly 90 minutes, and schedule starts on the hour. They can either be 2-player games or multi-player games, but they have to have a definite winner in 90 minutes. People show up at or before the hour, and either pair up on their own, or are randomly assigned to games. They play a game, record the winner (and losers), turn in their slip, and then either play something else, or go do something else. The whole event runs from 9am-9pm on Saturday, with entries being tallied in a spreadsheet as they're turned in. At 9pm, you do the last bit of data entry, then announce who won the most games and post the results.

I don't think you need a lot of GMs or volunteers (maybe 1 or 2 people at any time, and it doesn't have to be a day-long commitment).


My suggestion would be that you have several single time slot demos and the game that generates the most ass-hours or whatever you want to call it becomes an automatic trial event for the next year.
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I am one of those people who planned to leave Saturday AM. For me it was more a question of my adding a day at the beginning of the week (I arrived on Monday instead of my usual Tuesday) and would've felt a little guilty extending my five day solo vacation. My wife is a committed non-gamer with absolutely no interest in attending and though she has always been fine with me going away, I'd rather not push it any longer. Arriving Monday had some advantages over staying for Saturday -- I could enter games in the auction store, I could play an early round of one of my favorite games, I could have "scheduled open gaming" tournament options for the whole week (aside from the auction hours). Next year, maybe I will go from Monday - Sunday but I am just as likely to leave Saturday again. Although I like the idea of the non-qualifying games getting some scheduled play, I am not sure that would be a sufficient inducement to stay for someone in my position who had been planning to leave.
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Craig Yope
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Burn out factor is part of it but lack of organized events is also there. I allowed a large opening in my schedule in hopes of making a certain final but that rarely happens.

That leaves me a gap while waiting for Facts in Five and then Slapshot. I filled some of it playing Bunny Kingdom for the first time and then reading through the beginning sections of the Churchill rule book. Or I could have probably found a Terraforming Mars game in open gaming because I agree that it was everywhere.
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Peter Stein
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Yoper wrote:
I'll echo the comment about there being few options for those not in a qf, sf, or f on Saturday. I played in one of the few offerings of Saturday (Battle Cry), but was bumped early on and left somewhat adrift. I'm a big boy and can take care of myself so no need to feel sorry for me. I know Stein won't!


cry
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Craig Yope
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Hey, I said something nice about you on Saturday morning. I've got to pace myself on nice comments. My brain might explode if I turn on full blast positive. surprise
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Spleen wrote:
wcraigtrader wrote:
chiefsachem wrote:
I also think the drop in attendance on Saturday is due to the slim pickings of sanctioned games since most of all the time slots are dominated by semi-finals and finals that are closed to most attendees. I would rather have seen the last few days set aside for new titles that had GMs but didn't gather enough votes to justify it as a tournament game. At least they could show up as pre-scheduled event open to everyone who are dying to try out a new game without have to rely on hoping that a teacher would show up in the open gaming area.


My Saturday plans were centered around the last heat of Puerto Rico and potential semi-finals and finals. Power Grid and Robo Rally didn't pan out this year, but Puerto Rico did. I spent a lot of time chatting with people in Open Gaming, and had relaxed meals with my wife. Not the worst way to spend my time, but I would have appreciated having something a little more scheduled.

Given the nature of semis and finals, I might suggest something with lots of shorter rounds, where people can play whatever rounds they can fit in. I like the idea of games that didn't make the Century/Trial cut, either because they're older or too new. Instead of a handful of non-tournaments, why not a "most wins" gets a non-plaque prize? (Maybe a WBC hat or game bag.)

As an example, pick 6-8 games with a play length of roughly 90 minutes, and schedule starts on the hour. They can either be 2-player games or multi-player games, but they have to have a definite winner in 90 minutes. People show up at or before the hour, and either pair up on their own, or are randomly assigned to games. They play a game, record the winner (and losers), turn in their slip, and then either play something else, or go do something else. The whole event runs from 9am-9pm on Saturday, with entries being tallied in a spreadsheet as they're turned in. At 9pm, you do the last bit of data entry, then announce who won the most games and post the results.

I don't think you need a lot of GMs or volunteers (maybe 1 or 2 people at any time, and it doesn't have to be a day-long commitment).


My suggestion would be that you have several single time slot demos and the game that generates the most ass-hours or whatever you want to call it becomes an automatic trial event for the next year.

Seems to me that Don Greenwood was prophetic way back when (first couple of Avaloncons) when he said that all games should be single heat, single-elimination (later changed to mulligan or double-elim). The key was that a game start and then go until it ends. Granted mega-long games would have to span days, picking up at 9 am the next day. But using that model, you don't have games played in broken heats Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, followed by SF (or QF!) and F on Saturday/Sunday.
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Randy Cox wrote:


Seems to me that Don Greenwood was prophetic way back when (first couple of Avaloncons) when he said that all games should be single heat, single-elimination (later changed to mulligan or double-elim). The key was that a game start and then go until it ends. Granted mega-long games would have to span days, picking up at 9 am the next day. But using that model, you don't have games played in broken heats Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, followed by SF (or QF!) and F on Saturday/Sunday.


I will admit this is one of the things that confused me the most as a first time attendee--why oh why does practically every Euro game have heats spanning almost the entire week and then just pack mostly every SF and F on the last few days?

I really liked Agricola and Dominion for the reason all the heats were played nearly back to back with the next round to be played a day or so after. Admittedly there were quite a few other games that did contain all the rounds to the span of a few days. But I was surprised by the number that would have heats as early as First Sunday or Monday and then not have the late rounds until the end of the convention.
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I'm not a huge fan of back-to-back heats on the same day. One conflict, and you end up missing the entire tournament. I missed both Race for the Galaxy and Settlers of Catan for that reason this year, and almost missed Dominion. If the heats are spread out, I can prioritize things better and at least make one or two.
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Ranior wrote:
why oh why does practically every Euro game have heats spanning almost the entire week and then just pack mostly every SF and F on the last few days?

I really liked Agricola and Dominion for the reason all the heats were played nearly back to back with the next round to be played a day or so after.


I suspect the majority of attendees prefer the convention calendar to be scattered, the way most events are scheduled now. I'll admit I've never thought much about it till just now, but the very thing that you liked is something that I don't care for. There are a few games at WBC that I like a good deal, but never seem to play during the week--year after year. And it occurs to me that it is probably for just this reason.

I love Dominion and Settlers of Catan, but I've never once played them at WBC. I play them at the other tournament-based cons I attend (EuroQuest, PrezCon). But at WBC, they are played in a continuous format. For me, that's why I've never joined in the fun.

This year, Race for the Galaxy went this route. I remember seeing the schedule, and thinking "Good grief, I'm not playing Race for the Galaxy for four hours straight, what were they thinking?" Ah well.

But I'm fine that there are a few events that go that route. There's enough choices at WBC for me, so for people who like to play games that way, it's cool there are some options for them.

People ask me why I attend a week-plus-long gaming convention, and one of my answers is always: "There's nothing more relaxing to me than waking up nine mornings in a row where the toughest decision I'll have to make all day is whether to attend a Saint Petersburg heat versus a Ra quarter-final." These are good problems
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Hrm, fair enough. I just find it odd that I can play in a bunch of heats throughout the week and then wind up in the position I was in--being unable to advance or fully play out the tournament I had entered due to conflicting SF.

I get that's a good problem to have that many players don't, and so it's just something I'll need to plan around more in future years or else just learn to live with.

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Phrim wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of back-to-back heats on the same day. One conflict, and you end up missing the entire tournament. I missed both Race for the Galaxy and Settlers of Catan for that reason this year, and almost missed Dominion. If the heats are spread out, I can prioritize things better and at least make one or two.


I would imagine this would be less of a problem if all events ran continuous. Catan running on Saturday will interfere with a number of other events simply because that's finals Saturday. You would likely need fewer rounds and less total tournament time for each event were they run continuous as well.

I guess this is the problem I have with the current format:

With multiple heats, it's convenient to make one as fits your schedule. Well, it is to a point. When multiple heat entries become a requirement to advance, now you have a scheduling problem. You have to fit randomly scattered heats together like a nightmarish jigsaw puzzle just to qualify.

With continuous play, you commit a specific time to a game, and play until you are out, or you win. If out, then go find something else.

Were heats true heats (all winners advance) then the multi heat format is great. At your convenience, enter a heat and try to qualify.
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Marty Sample
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Besides scheduling conflicts, the other downside of continuous heats is downtime. If your game finishes early, you're left waiting around til the next round starts. I've spent nearly half the time over multiple rounds waiting for slow tables to finish up. With heats spread out, as soon as your table finishes you can move onto the next event.
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