I have been attending quite a few tournaments recently. Many of these events have been very good and I have really enjoyed them. There are a few things that have cropped up repeatedly from events that I'd just like to discuss. They are: Pre-pay, terrain and prizes.
Firstly, I think tournaments should always be pre-paid. Organizing gamers, and I include myself in this category, is like herding cats. If you push them most will make the general motion of doing what you want, but generally will just do what they feel like. However, if you place a financial incentive everyone becomes very interested!
In all seriousness, there are many reasons people don't come if you don't make it pre-paid. Often there can be a sense of trepidation, not only for what your mystery partner on the other side of the table will be like, but also what those people will think of you. Sometimes you feel a little under the weather. Whatever, literally hundreds of reasons, and people just need that little bit of encouragement. If you get people to pre-pay then drop outs will tend to only happen if there is a serious reason.
The worst attended tournaments I have been to have all been pay at the door. Proof in the pudding.
Next is terrain. This is always a point of contention for many people. I am terrible for the excuse, 'well if the terrain wasn't like this...' which I should really slap myself for, but it does make the big difference for a great looking and enjoyable game and not. I think the main issue is that Malifaux players tend to be enthusiastic hobbyists and want to play on terrain that looks right (again, I am guilty)... often to the cost of being more practical. It's difficult to manage the balance and I don't have a right answer unfortunately, but TO's should place a high priority on the terrain. As a sub-note, I am going to suggest not using special terrain rules. One of my games at 'Into the Breach' used the rules for the hanging tree which worked surprisingly well, but on other tables the rules were ignored. As a rule, less complications are best so that you can get on with your game within the limited time.
Last on the list of topics is prizes. I really dislike prizes. This may sound a little grumpy, but if people want to enjoy less 'Win at all cost' gaming, which I think the Malifaux scene is agreement is bad, then you shouldn't make there a physical incentive for doing well. The prizes for Malifaux tend to be pretty good. I don't understand! There are things, however, I do like; or at least prefer. Firstly little tokens that everyone can take away with them I think are really nice. It's like a souvenir for the day and I, sadly, treasure my collection. I also don't mind so much having raffles rather than actual prizes, because then it is not all about winning. Even if you just win more raffle tickets for placing that is a better option than straight placing for prizes. I still don't feel like the imposition should be on Tournament Organizers to harass people for stuff to go in their prize pool. I would attend tournaments regardless and I hope that everyone else is the same.
Well that's my two cents and I hope it was enjoyable/useful. Maybe by the time all of this has gone out I will have more material to bury you in. Enjoy death by text.