There is a lot of talk at the moment on twitter and the Wyrd forums about the structure of UK tournaments. Lots of this is about the way that rankings works, and I'll save that discussion for another day, but today I want to talk about how I'd like to try and make more time for games during the day.
The problem is, if you can really call it a problem, the Malifaux scene has exploded with new people and events are now becoming loads bigger. This is obviously awesome, but it means that you can enter a tournament, win all your games and possibly not even podium! In order to prevent that from happening, events have tried to put on 4 games in a day. There have been a number of ways of doing this, from decreasing the size of all the games to having the games build up over the day from henchman lead (and the value of these is yet another discussion). I propose that instead we announce the schemes and strategy for each game before the day, in the rulespack.
This isn't a completely new innovation, I am not claiming to invent the wheel. Soon Malifolk, for example, will be announcing it's scheme pools once everyone has declared their fixed master. I am simply arguing that we should see it more.
So why do it? Well it means that you gain 10 mins for each round, probably at least, with people not faffing with their lists. It means people already have an idea of what schemes they want to do so they take less time picking that. You might not think those minutes will make much difference, but that can be difference between turn 5 and turn 4 end games and that is key to some games.
There are, as with everything, pros and cons. When I first proposed this on twitter I was met with debate, understandably. Some people said that announcing schemes beforehand would lead to lists becoming too tailored for each scenario and that part of the challenge was making lists in 5 mins. I have a couple of issues with these points, however. First of all it has been argued by many that there is not an optimal list for each specific scenario, it's the reason open faction wouldn't be that bad. Secondly, if the only thing stopping people from having these awesomely tailored lists is time, then the people with the most experience will have a vastly easier time than new people because they will have made the same sort of lists before (though the number of options you can get in Malifaux for scenario make it rare that you will play exactly the same game, though not impossible). Lastly, enforcing the list building in 5 mins is next to impossible. I never want to rush people and their list building, it's not fair on them, but obviously the more time they take the less time there is for a game.
There have been other solutions suggested, such as having a deadline for the list building and punishments put out if you don't make a list in time, but I feel this suffers from exactly the same problems as previously listed. What sort of punishments would you make? How many TOs would want to inflict such harsh times and cold rulings? Wouldn't it just punish beginners even more?
Of course, there are issues with announcing schemes before hand. The two main ones I can see are that people will end up getting the best local player to make lists for them, or that people will practice those specific scenarios with those specific schemes. The latter doesn't feel like that much of an issue, to be honest, but people might feel compelled to do that to give them the best possible chance... but then it makes their game boring and will make the event less entertaining for them. I guess you could mitigate this somewhat by announcing the schemes relatively close to the event, say a week, but ultimately I think it will be up to the players seeing this happening beforehand.
The second issue is that main one, in my view. It becomes a bit like net-listing and might make the game not enjoyable anymore. There are, of course, issues with this. People will be restricted by their pool and also what they know how to use, but it could still be an issue.
At the end of that day I don't think that we'll ever have all tournaments with pre-announced schemes or with same rulespack. Neither do I think we should ever get to the point where every event is the same. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. I think the gain is pretty good, it's the best of the possible solutions and the problems with it can be overcome.
As always, I'm up for debate, so leave a comment or message me on the various social media platforms. I look forward to getting a response. Until then.