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Subject: Tournament play: Dropouts rss

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Carl Bussema
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Was recently at DaveCon. I co-run a Dominion tournament with another volunteer. Con admission covers your entry fee and is funneled toward prizes... this year we had 24 players at start and paid (in GC to con sponsors) 1st & 2nd place, while 3rd & 4th place got to pick from the prize table (which as usual at cons, was filled with junk that nobody really wanted ).

After 2 rounds (of a planned 6 -- we eventually cut back to 5 because it was taking too long due to the random draws pulling out some nasty attacks like Mountebank and Torturer in round 1; Sea Hag in round 5 indicated that it would not be a pleasant or fast experience), we had 2 players quit, so we had to reconfigure two tables down to 3-player setups.

Then after round 4, two more players quit.

The schedule clearly stated 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the event, so there's no reason (other than basic reading comprehension fail) for people to have been unaware of the time commitment.

We're thinking of adding an additional entry fee next year (something like $5 which will go to increasing the prize pool significantly -- 100% of that entry would be paid out as prizes), but other than that, does anyone have any good suggestions for how to prevent quitters? Should we record names and ban them from future tournaments? Have them ejected from the con (that seems extreme, even if we could get con management to agree)?
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Eagle-Eyed Superhawk
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
I'm in favor of floggings. Five lashes per missed round. Also, the $5 entrance fee sounds like a good idea. In conjunction with floggings, I mean.
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Brad Hicks
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
I would definitely write down their name and exclude them from future competitions if they are rampant quitters. It would have to be an emergency for me to quit a tournament that I already paid for. If people are quitting because they are bored you could offer departing gifts(something small) for people that were knocked out or at the end of the competition which should give a little more reward for finishing the tourney.
 
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Michael Cook
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Single elimination and all competitors should be playing at the same time. Time limits imposed, no stalling the game. Or... *sigh* maybe Dominion is just considered too casual of a game to run a serious tournament for. When I said time limits, I know other game tournaments have such a thing, and all their players are serious about the game, so they'll stick to the end. Dominion though, there's going to be people reading the card abilities and so on... If it's not too serious of a tournament, consider banning cards that take too long to play, and announce what those banned cards are before the tournament.

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Carl Bussema
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Not a bad idea about banning the super-slow cards, or impose something like a limit of 1 attack card / round with an intelligent randomizer.

Of course action chains can be just as bad as attack cards... "nobles for actions, nobles for cards, highway, highway, nobles for actions, nobles for cards... "

Something small for finishing sounds reasonable too, although it would probably eat into the prize pool a bit. Would be cool if RGG would give us a bulk rate (or gratis) on some promo cards or something, so we could give those out. Not every player would take them because they don't own the set or already own all the promos, but some would take them at least.
 
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
I don't think players quitting is the problem, and I don't think that penalizing people for quitting a tournament is a good idea.

I like the ideas of time limits and entrance fees.
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Rich Shipley
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
As long as people are finishing games, I don't think you can or should try to force them to continue to play in later rounds. As a GM, you are there to help them enjoy the game, not the other way around.
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Ralph T
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Players have other games/tournaments to play at a convention. Penalizing them for quitting a tournament is a bit self-centered and not taking into consideration the reality of the event.
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Cyrus the Great
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
I don't really see how it affected the tournament. Sure, you had to reconfigure games a little bit, but that shouldn't be a big problem. It also isn't affecting the outcome of the tournament at all, except for the people below the quitters moving up accordingly. I would have absolutely no problem with it.
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Carl Bussema
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
heifetz wrote:
See the play to win play for fun thread for an explanation as to why someone may quit a tournament.
If they are only in it for the win, bad early games or bad draws will mean there is no incentive to continue if all they cared about was winning.
this happens all the time in MTG where a person 0-2 drops as they have no contention into a top 8 finish or higher.


That's a fair point. I know the people who quit after round 2 were doing very poorly. At least one of the people who quit after round 4 was in contention to at least place 4th with a solid round 5.

ralpher wrote:
Players have other games/tournaments to play at a convention. Penalizing them for quitting a tournament is a bit self-centered and not taking into consideration the reality of the event.


The time of the event was clearly stated on the sign-up sheet.

We may employ time limits next year. Of course that means we have to add rules for deliberately stalling (it's not too hard to figure out you're up two provinces but afraid that your deck is imploding and your opponents are catching up).
 
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Carl Bussema
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
How's this look for a draft on timing rules?

"Timing:
All players will prepare their starting decks including shuffling and drawing their hands as soon as all players are seated at the table; however, play will not commence until a signal from the Tournament Official is given.
Once that signal is given, all tables will have a 30 minute time limit to finish the game. A warning will be given at 5 minutes and at 1 minute. Once time is up, players will immediately stop play and tally their scores. For purposes of tiebreakers, the player whose turn is was shall be considered the last player to play if he played any actions or gained or trashed any cards; otherwise the previous player shall be considered the last player to play.

Stalling:
If the players at a table feel that a player is stalling deliberately, they should inform the head judge and/or the tournament official. One of these officials will monitor play for at least two rounds, and if they determine the player is deliberately stalling, he shall be immediately awarded last place for the game. He remains in the game only for the purpose of distributing cards such as given out by Attacks, but he automatically scores 1 point lower than the otherwise lowest score. A player who stalls during two games in the same match shall be disqualified from the match."
 
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Ralph T
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
InfoCynic wrote:
How's this look for a draft on timing rules?

"Timing:
All players will prepare their starting decks including shuffling and drawing their hands as soon as all players are seated at the table; however, play will not commence until a signal from the Tournament Official is given.
Once that signal is given, all tables will have a 30 minute time limit to finish the game. A warning will be given at 5 minutes and at 1 minute. Once time is up, players will immediately stop play and tally their scores. For purposes of tiebreakers, the player whose turn is was shall be considered the last player to play if he played any actions or gained or trashed any cards; otherwise the previous player shall be considered the last player to play.

Stalling:
If the players at a table feel that a player is stalling deliberately, they should inform the head judge and/or the tournament official. One of these officials will monitor play for at least two rounds, and if they determine the player is deliberately stalling, he shall be immediately awarded last place for the game. He remains in the game only for the purpose of distributing cards such as given out by Attacks, but he automatically scores 1 point lower than the otherwise lowest score. A player who stalls during two games in the same match shall be disqualified from the match."


What would have been perfect would be buying a bunch of Pyramid Timers from thinkgeek during the sale and requiring use during the tournament.
 
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Eagle-Eyed Superhawk
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
For me, at least, timed matches detract considerably from the enjoyment of playing in the tournament. I'd much rather manipulate the card pool or else just drop a round like we did this weekend.

Calling out stallers isn't always easy--crud, am I stopping a cheater or just bullying a poor player?--and it's not fun to have to do it.

Timed matches is one reason I stopped playing MtG tournaments.
 
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One Armed Bandit
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Step 1: No random layouts.

The Dominion Tournament at PAX uses fixed layouts for each round.
Furthermore, they're all posted in advance for players to study.

By using structured layouts, you can avoid super-drag-out rounds.

Step 2: Entry fees prevent quitters. It makes people feel they have to stay to be worth the price they already paid. No refunds.

Step 3: If they quit, then they continue in any slots as a dummy player.
Advance them based on score as usual (coming last every round). They should end up at the weakest tables, which will then play 3 handed, no biggie.

If someone pays cash and then quits, do NOT ban them in the future. They paid for a SEAT in the tournament, they did not pay to be forced into something. It's wrong to force someone to keep playing.
If they pay and quit, it's a win win for everyone. Not only is the prize pool bigger, but everyone else now has a higher chance to finish in the money.
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Carl Bussema
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Zedsdead wrote:
For me, at least, timed matches detract considerably from the enjoyment of playing in the tournament. I'd much rather manipulate the card pool or else just drop a round like we did this weekend.

Calling out stallers isn't always easy--crud, am I stopping a cheater or just bullying a poor player?--and it's not fun to have to do it.

Timed matches is one reason I stopped playing MtG tournaments.


I understand this better than you realize.

In a match at the DaveCon 2011 tournament, a player was caught making a move that was if not outright cheating, suspicious (buying a province without clearly showing cards to other players). When called out on it and asked to verify his hand, he hesitated and refused for a while, then eventually gave in and showed $7, claiming a miscount. He was also spotted shuffling his cards face-up. The other players at the table agreed to let him redo his $7 turn (putting the province back obviously) and watched him carefully, insisting on seeing his hands and making him shuffle face-down. Since it might have been an honest mistake, I won't disclose the player's name. However, I am of course aware of this incident, and so when I near him during the course of the tournament, I double-checked his plays frequently. In one of the rounds with gardens, I insisted on double-checking the count of his deck and victory points, since that would be an easy thing to "accidentally" mess up. I saw no evidence of foul play, and I did not enjoy having to do that, but I owed it to the other players in the tournament.

I expect that a player who is called out on stalling by the other players will make a strong effort to speed the game up when a judge comes over to watch, and it should be clear from watching their hand whether they actually have a difficult decision to ponder, or are actually stalling. I really think the threat of the automatic loss is sufficient motivation to at least make an effort to pick things up, which is all we're really asking for there.

So, assuming we have a 4-hour window in which we hope to play 6 rounds, what's the better option(s):
1. Time limits (30 or 35 minutes, to allow sufficient time to reset tables, move players, give an opportunity for restroom breaks, and change cards)
2. Executive decision to drop 1 or more rounds as needed to fit time
3. Banning the most time-consuming cards (this would probably include all cards with a "choice" like many Intrigue cards and Hamlet, and certainly Possession, although currently we don't play with Alchemy anyway. Other game-delaying cards such as Gardens and Sea Hag might have to be excluded too... we could probably setup a poll here and see what the community thought were the 10 worst cards for delaying the game).
4. Entry fee separate from con admission (goes to prize pool). Players who drop automatically are disqualified, even if their standings were sufficiently high to place, unless the tournament official grants an exception for extraordinary circumstances.

If you have not done so already, please voice your opinion including at least some explanation.

I am considering all of these potential options.

This has only ever been a problem for us at the con event -- when we have our regular league play matches between con events, we never have a problem with quitters... it's just that the con draws in twice as many players and so takes so much longer, because you have to wait for more tables to finish before your new table has all the right players, and it seems, we haven't attracted anyone who's just playing to win (and not also for fun).
 
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Kevin C.
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
I think some of this may depend on where you draw your players from and what they may be used to.

I know, for example, that the WBC allows you to stop playing and drop out of future rounds. You just let the GM know you are done.

It is actually quite a common practice, I believe.

So, it might not be "quitting" in a negative sense that is going on. If it isn't clear that you expect players to play in every round win or lose, they just may be doing what is natural for them to do at other cons.

Posting the expected time of the tournament might not be enough.

Plus, as was said above, it simply might not be worth it for someone to slog through a tournament game just for the sake of a game.

Kevin


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John Weber
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Re: Tournament play: Quitters
Totally agree with Kevin, Cyrus and Rich whose responses I thumbed. When I saw the title of this thread I thought it was referring to players quitting in the MIDDLE of a game, not in between games. In between games, no problem. As tournament organizer, just suck it up and deal with it. Have a plan for advancing alternates if there are no-shows among people qualifying for later rounds. This really is not a big deal, something that is not unusual at all as people who aren't doing well in a tournament are bound to look elsewhere once their chances of winning a prize go down to zero.
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Carl Bussema
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John Weber wrote:
Totally agree with Kevin, Cyrus and Rich whose responses I thumbed. When I saw the title of this thread I thought it was referring to players quitting in the MIDDLE of a game, not in between games. In between games, no problem. As tournament organizer, just suck it up and deal with it. Have a plan for advancing alternates if there are no-shows among people qualifying for later rounds. This really is not a big deal, something that is not unusual at all as people who aren't doing well in a tournament are bound to look elsewhere once their chances of winning a prize go down to zero.


Changed the thread title to be more accurate (Quitters -> Dropouts).

OK, the majority of people seem to agree that it's not a huge deal. So we'll probably do some sort of small additional entry fee ($5 or less) to increase incentive to reach payout level (probably top 8 since we have more money to give out).

Then we just have to settle on timed rounds vs dropping a round. I don't really want to start banning individual cards.
 
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Cancel the Dominion tournament. Nobody will notice.

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Digren K
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At Board Game Bash a few weeks back the Dominion tournament had four rounds - three for everyone and then a final for the top four players.

Tables were organized into three types, each of which used a subset of expansions - Intrigue + Alchemy, Base + Cornucopia, Core + Seaside + Prosperity (or similar). Players for the first game at each table were allowed to draw 14 kingdom cards, and then each player got to veto one card.

From then on, though, the cards at that table were fixed. All other players who played at that table had to use that existing set of cards. This greatly reduced churn time between games.

There were time limits, but only one table (with Golem and something else out) ever hit them. I think that table hit the time limit on every game.

After three rounds, every player was guaranteed to have played a game at one of each type of table, against a varying group of players. Points were awarded for first, second, third, and fourth place finishes, and summed for the three games to determine those eligible for the final.

The final four players were the one with 1-1-1 finishes and the three with 1-1-2 finishes. I was (alas) one of two runner-ups with 1-1-3 finishes. The other three players at my third game were all clearly out of the final at that point, but they stayed and played a good game, knocking me out. I don't think the tournament had any dropouts.

Other than the one table with the slow play, I don't think anything went that badly. The first three rounds were completely done in just under two hours.

Maybe there are plenty of people who like to play Dominion, but don't really understand what four continuous hours of Dominion feels like until they experience it?

How about arranging the tournament so that, two hours in, you only advance a subset of players? If you start with six tables of four, after three games each, advance only the top half of the players. The others can leave in peace, and the ones that stay will want to. (Let any of the top 12 drop at this point if they want to, with their spots taken by #s 13 on in order.)
 
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Carl Bussema
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We've done cut-offs before, typically after 4 rounds (we have all tables play the same card set for each round, switching out for 10 new cards after every other round), so that's an avenue we could explore too.

Last year we ran 2 heats of 4 rounds, advanced the top half of each heat to a semifinal lasting 2 rounds, then advanced the top 4 for a 2-game showdown. The added confusion and time of running two heats was not a good success.

We could get really aggressive and knock out all but 16 after 2 rounds, all but 8 after 4 rounds, and then cut to a final table after 6 rounds, and that might take just about as much time (since generally players who advance know the game and are playing quickly vs newer players who haven't even seen half the cards). But if we're charging an entry fee, I feel like 2 rounds is a little harsh.
 
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