Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Running Infinity Tournaments 101

I've recently been asked for advice on how to run a successful Infinity tournament. I was definitely flattered by this as I still consider myself an amateur in terms of organising events! I still have a tendency to forget things now and again (especially table numbers - thanks Ian!) but hopefully this will serve as a useful check list for future events.

While writing my reply I realised that there was really quite a lot to say on the subject and that these musings might be of interest to others as well. There's a lot here, and I'm sue a lot of it will come across as rather obvious. If you think I've missed anything though then please do let me know.


Get Some Players
The most important element at a tournament is the players! Set a realistic player count based on how many people you think you can accommodate. Typical events in the UK will regularly draw between twelve and twenty participants.

Make sure to advertise appropriately on Facebook groups, forums, local shops and so on and give at least a month (preferably more) of notice. Facebook events are a great way of getting the word out, not to mention storing information and pictures too. Join the UK Infinity the Game and UK Infinity Event Organisers FB groups and post on the Events sub-forum to help promote your tournament.

In your advertisement be clear on where the event is being held and how you can be contacted (email/phone) especially if someone needs to get in touch on the day. Also include information about points limits, mission selections and entry fees.

It's normally best to contact your local stores and clubs as they may be able to host events for you, or suggest other places that can. Typical gaming venues will charge £5-£8 per person to run a tournament and may be able to help provide terrain as well.

Try and get access to your venue of choice early that day, or even the night before, so you can start setting up in advance of your players arriving.

Make sure you have pens, paper, objective decks, spare dice, tape measures, silhouettes, templates, laser pointers and so on. People will forget to bring their own with them or you may be required to adjudicate complex situations in which these extra accessories will be useful.

Bring a camera with you as well so you can record images of your tables and so you have some pictures with which you can promote future events.

You'll need to have sufficient objective markers for all the missions. While they can be represented by no more than 2D markers, it is important that they be the right size for the mission. Ideally, you should have different looking markers for missions where there are two types of objectives such as Nimbus Zone. Use Jonathan Polley's Marker Sheet Creator to generate what you need.

Honestly this is the hardest bit for many events. Infinity requires a lot of terrain for even a middle-sized tournament. It does rather make you envy X-Wing TOs at times! Do not underestimate how much is required as in many cases it is the limiting factor - more so even than player numbers or available space.

You may also need to ask players to bring some terrain with them. If so then I'd recommend some kind of discount or reward for those that pitch in - maybe a best looking table vote with a suitable prize - although this is not always necessary.

On the day, ask your players to spot check the tables before the first round to see if they can identify any issues such as overly open deployment zones and excessive fire-lanes.

Table Mats/Boards
You'll inevitably end up pushing multiple tables together and will need to ensure that there is a 'level playing field' and that you don't have wonky tables. Having 4'x4' boards,gaming mats or even some thick cloth will help with this immensely.

Alternatively, make sure that you have masking tape, scissors and a measuring tape so you can mark out table areas.

There should be sufficient prizes for the top three players at least and typically a wooden spoon for last place. You may also wish to consider spot prizes or a painting prize.

Don't be afraid to contact Corvus Belli and manufacturers/distributors of Infinity and related products for prize support. You may be surprised as to how willing they will be to help out!

Find a Warcor
If you feel you need help in putting on an event, contact your local Warcor. They'd likely be more than happy to assist in exchange for the sweet points they get for helping to run events.

Rules of Engagement

Entrance Fee
Always a contentious issue, but I find that £10-£15 for a one day event, depending on the cost of venue hire, is about the right level. More than this and players may start to balk.

Mission Selection
Choosing which missions will be played is an important decision. Typically you'll want to have objective heavy missions as the first round and immediately after lunch as this gives you the most time to set up the necessary markers and reconfigure the tables if necessary. People will also appreciate having a relatively simple final round.

Broadly speaking, I would avoid Biotechvore and Beaconland specifically as they tend to have overly specific list constraints. I tend to leave Quadrant Control and Frontline on the bench now too as Supremacy is more popular but your mileage may vary. Be aware that some missions specifically need an Objective Room-like scenery element, and that you will need to ensure that there is at least one for each table.

For a typical one day event you'll probably only run three rounds, more than that is rather taxing on players as it results in long days.

Round Times 
I tend to run rounds at about two hours long, although this is somewhat flexible. Anything less than 1 hour 45 minutes is probably too short for all but the most veteran metas.

Give time warnings to players at regular intervals, typically every half hour or so. Once there is a half hour remaining it may be worth hovering over tables that look to be running late so you are on hand to settle disputes or help with queries. This is also a good way of finding out if one or both players are having issues with slow play.

Be aware that everything will take longer than you intended it to. Everything.

Handling Infractions
This is not something you'll need to publicise, but just think about it ahead of time. Be consistent in how you handle rules issues, errors and omissions. There aren't any official guidelines at the moment, so the most important thing is to handle problems with uniformity.

No-Shows or Odd Numbers
Inevitably someone is going to drop out at the last minute and not let you know or you won't quite manage to fill that last place. Have a plan for how to handle bye rounds and consider if you are willing to play in your own event to even the player count. After all, nobody wants to travel to a tournament just to have to sit out a game.

Of course, if you play your own event then it shouldn't be for ITS score or prizes as you have the added advantage of vetting all the other player's lists!

List Submission
You should ask for army lists to be submitted to you ahead of time by Private Message, email or any other private method of choice. This gives you the chance to validate everyone's lists to ensure they are ITS legal. In particular you sometimes see people adding Spec Ops when they shouldn't (or vice versa) or taking a mix of vanilla/sectorial armies.

As a general rule I would not comment on anybodies lists but if a new player submits something that seems wildly inappropriate (such as having no specialists) then I would point this out to them, offer some suggestions and ask them if they wish to resubmit.

All participants in an official event will need an ITS PIN and you'll need everyone's PINs in order to submit the event to Corvus Belli. Don't accept list submissions without them. New players who need to register can do so here.

Always ask for payment in advance of the event. People are more likely to show up on the day if they have already invested in it and it helps you plan out prize support. Getting payment in advance also educes the number of last minute drop-outs.

I recommend asking for payment via PayPal 'friends and family' so you avoid any unnecessary fees.


Event Submission
In order to make the tournament a 'formal' ITS one, so that it has an effect on the global standings, you'll need an ITS code from a tournament pack. Each code can only be used once and will uniquely identify your event.

You should be able to buy tournament packs (including digital only ones) from Corvus Belli, your local distributor or from a friendly Warcor.

If at all possible, try and sort out first round pairings ahead of time. Most people will prefer to not be place against club-members in the first round so do try and split up club members for the first game.

In subsequent rounds players should be on tables they have not played on before. This should be possible in any three round event with eight or more players.

Be aware that pairings are meant to be done based on win/loss record and not based on objective points as the primary determiner. This may seem counter-intuitive because it's objective points that determine the overall winner, but that's the rules

Just be aware that the system for calculating byes in Infinity is relatively complex. Read the rules and make sure you understand them.

Table Numbers
This is the easiest thing to forget. Having your tables clearly numbered makes it a lot easier for players to sort themselves out at the start of each round.

Result/Voting Slips
Make sure that you have sufficient results slips so that both players on a table can submit them each round. I've created some sample ones you can download here.

Sample results slip.

Voting slips should be used for a painting competition, if you choose to run one.

Make sure that you have a printed copy of each of the missions for each table plus a copy for yourself. Players will need to reference this often!

Don't just rely on these printed copies however as people will misread them. At the start of each round introduce the mission, the objectives and any special rules. It's pretty easy to miss stuff otherwise such as exclusion zones or destructible objectives.

Remind people to place their HVTs as well otherwise they will forget. This happens at every single tournament at least once.

Classified Objectives
Not everyone has embraced the classified objective decks yet so make sure there are print outs of the random charts for the classifieds. Also include the rules for completing these objectives as part of your hand-outs. Note that the Classified Objective decks will become mandatory in the near future,

Bring a Laptop
Trying to organise a tournament on paper is a hellish experience. Just don't do it. If you don't have a laptop then try to beg, borrow or steal one - it'll be worth it!

Make sure that you have copies of all the rulebooks required either physically or digitally, as well as access to the forums, the Wiki and copies of all the lists that were submitted to you. Try to keep up to date with the rules sub-forum as well as any recent FAQs and new releases.

Good luck!

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