Is it really the rules or is it...

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kevinj
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Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by kevinj » Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:57 pm

There have been comments in a number of recent threads regarding declining attendance at tournaments. So, not wishing to hijack any of those discussions, and to encourage a wider scope than just the “50/50 Rule*”, the question is:

“To make FoG R tournaments more attractive, should we stop fussing about the rules and consider whether there are changes that we could make to the tournaments themselves?”


We need to recognise that the UK tournament scene is not all of FoG R. Whilst we have accumulated a lot of experience of the rules over a lot of games, there are many people who play the game outside of this environment and who either don’t have a problem with the rules as they are or have developed their own solutions. It would be wrong to try to push changes onto these players if there is a solution that we can address by fixing the tournaments and leaving the game as is. Since the tournament structure is totally within our control it’s also likely to be a much faster solution which might be vital in stemming the leakage of players to the likes of ADLG and MeG.

So, here are some initial thoughts and I’d appreciate any input on these or any other areas:

1) Themes. Most Fog R tournaments are themed. This is widely seen as the best way to allow the full variety of armies in the period to have an opportunity to be competitive. The reality is that open tournaments tend to be dominated by players using western armies from about 1630-1698, i.e. a subset of the armies in 2 out of the 6 books. However, themes have also been used to mitigate the perceived advantages of certain army constructions, typically introducing forced amounts of foot/mounted, restrictions on Artillery and of course the “50/50 Rule”. So, the question here is:

“Are there other ways in which themes can ensure variety without restricting army choice/creativity?”

2) Tournament Structures. Here we come to some more fundamental issues. A typical tournament has 2 games per day and uses 800 points for 15mm Singles, 900 for 15mm Doubles and 700 for 25mm. Britcon and Challenge currently have extra games, but one in the morning, one in the afternoon is pretty normal. Nominal 6x4 tables are also standard. One of the things people like about ADLG is playing more, shorter games. So, is there mileage in playing more games using less points on a smaller table? Would that allow more people to play as smaller armies are required? So, the question is:

“Are there alternative tournament formats that would provide more enjoyment? Or at least more variety?”

3) Other Aspects.
Currently we use the “standard” 0-25 point scoring system inherited from Fog AM. There is a way of measuring scale of victory on P154 of the rules, but I’ve never seen it used to determine scoring. The one tournament that I know that deviates from the standard scoring is the Northern League. This uses an Open format, but assigns a class to each army based on the number of Superior Troops and Heavy Artillery, whether it has a Great Commander, the number of BGs (larger armies are assigned a higher class) and also Date (Early armies get a class reduction). Players get a bonus for beating a higher class army. This was originally intended to force variety over the 5 rounds of the League, but could provide a blueprint for allowing players a freer army choice, mitigated by the possibility of potentially losing out to someone who can score more bonus points.

“Is there a better scoring system that would allow more army choice but provide incentives to take “lesser” armies?” and, of course:

"Is there something else that I haven't thought of that might improve tournaments?"

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by RonanTheLibrarian » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:31 pm

Bizarrely, more players have taken up FoG:R at our club (Wessex) in the past 12 months, and we supplied half of the 16 players at our recent SL round; the problem is that not many of them like competitions, so getting more than 2 or 3 players to another SL round is unlikely for the foreseeable future (that said, we hope to run our Italian War round again in 2017, so more may get a taste for it).

On item (2), choosing terrain and deploying forces can take up a sizeable portion of "playing time"; Southern League rounds typically have "set" tables (designed around the appropriate percentage of first choice terrain(s) across all of the competing armies), which can help to squeeze three 800-point games into a day - I assume the Northern League does something similar. This could be adopted at other competitions to get an extra game into the day, I would have thought - even if it's just 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.

I'll need to check this with someone else, but I understand that competitions in Australia also have fixed scenarios, allowing "mis-matched" armies to fight on more equal terms, and provide victory conditions/points that could be an alternative to the current points system. Often, the choice of army will determine, or reflect, how aggressive a player is, but pre-ordered scenarios also acknowledges that a defender would often choose terrain for a reason; you could perhaps allow a percentage of extra points to an attacker for each defensive terrain piece a defender is allowed to choose.

One way of attracting fewer "uber" armies would be for everyone to bring an army, but know that it will be used by someone else via some sort of draw before the contest starts to "redistribute" them. This was done by a former club many years ago (mid-80s!) with a Napoleonic competition - year 1 saw the inevitable "Guard armies" turn up, but then the penny dropped and year 2 saw more Spaniards and Neapolitans than you could shake a roundshot measuring stick at - great fun seeing who ran away first. I've also seen some "average joe" competitions in the US, where only average or poor troops can be used; this could also allow you to reduce the points slightly, with more units being fielded.
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 03, 2016 5:04 pm

RonanTheLibrarian wrote: One way of attracting fewer "uber" armies would be for everyone to bring an army, but know that it will be used by someone else via some sort of draw before the contest starts to "redistribute" them.

Played a comp with something like this back in the DBM days. Each player brought 2 armies. For each game it was randomly decided whose pair of armies would be used and the player not providing the armies had the choice of which to use - having full sight of the lists before choosing. IIRC the actual comp used armies that were half the usual size in points in order to get a number of games in in one day as it was just a 1 day comp, but the principle applies at any points value. Can't recall if the armies were supposed to be historical opponents, but again that is just flavour (although in FoG:R it'd be best to keep them themed in some way).

Worked very well. A clever player could try and design the armies so that one looked a bit stronger than the other whilst having a plan to win with the apparently weaker one 8)
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vexillia

Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by vexillia » Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:29 pm

Interesting post Kevin. I write the following a someone who used to play FOGR in the Northern League and at the Stoke Challenge but hasn't played, even socially, for most of this year.

Suggestion
I really like (most of) the format used at the Stoke Challenge: 15 mm at 650 points on a 5' by 3' table. I also think the Northern League classification system has a lot to recommend it. Smaller games could also lead to more elbow room per game. I would also like to point out that it is easier, and cheaper, to raise a 650 pt army especially if you have to paint it from scratch. It also results in armies that contain a bigger proportion of compulsory troops.

Another Option
You asked if there was any mileage in playing more games but with fewer points. There's another option: shorter competitions. The benefits would be a more relaxed approach including later start & finish times especially on Sundays. There's nothing set in stone that says a competition must include a minimum of six hours game time. Sometimes I think it's all a bit "macho": long games, lots of figures, etc.

Travelling
I know from experience getting up at sparrow's fart on a Sunday is part of travelling to a competition as is driving home with a headache but they are not features I'd use to encourage players to attend a competition. The combination of long drives and long hours concentrating on a few wargames is not really all that healthy or one I now look forward to. I would like organisers to consider how enjoyable the whole experience is especially for those travelling more than an hour or so.

I hope this topic solicits a wide range of opinions and something approaching a consensus emerges.
Last edited by vexillia on Thu Nov 03, 2016 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by alasdair2204 » Thu Nov 03, 2016 7:09 pm

To be fair I am not sure it is to much to do with the rules, I think players will always change periods over time as we all like to try something different. I think the FOG R is a good set of rules, there are a couple of points issues we could talk about but other than that the rules are secure. This year at Badcon didnt know half the players as lots new to the rules and hadnt seen them , southern league much the same which means new players joining. Personally havent played at Britcon the last couple of years as the restrictions on infantry required to have guns mean you cant take a true cavalry army as does the 50% average vs superior as 6's of average foot work, 4's of average cavalry dont and yes I know you could have 6's of cavalry but to expensive and that is what I enjoy, to be fair if you like cavalry FOg R isnt much fun at the moment with all the various restriction. I think themes are important and keep the competitions fresh as are different restrictions such as godendag only one more infantry unit than cavalry. BUt also think it would be good to go back to the odd true open competition with NO restrictions at all. RE 5 by 3 have played some games on this and didnt enjoy but thats just me I like lots of toys

anyway just my rambling thoughts, see you all at warfare

cheers

Alasdair

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:46 pm

vexillia wrote: I really like (most of) the format used at the Stoke Challenge: 15 mm at 650 points on a 5' by 3' table.

I found this format to work rather well and, if you so desire, it is possible to get 3 games in a day without pushing yourself too hard.

Overall though I think a reasonable variety of formats helps keep people interested.
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by RonanTheLibrarian » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:02 am

vexillia wrote: Suggestion
I really like (most of) the format used at the Stoke Challenge: 15 mm at 650 points on a 5' by 3' table. I also think the Northern League classification system has a lot to recommend it. Smaller games could also lead to more elbow room per game. I would also like to point out that it is easier, and cheaper, to raise a 650 pt army especially if you have to paint it from scratch. It also results in armies that contain a bigger proportion of compulsory troops.
Agree with this - if we can sustain the idea of 650-700 points as an "army" for 25/28mm (OK, I know it fills the table more at that size), I don't see why that shouldn't apply to 15mm. Also, smaller armies should = quicker games, which should = more games in a day, which should = more fun and/or a better challenge for the better players.
vexillia wrote: Another Option
You asked if there was any mileage in playing more games but with fewer points. There's another option: shorter competitions. The benefits would be a more relaxed approach including later start & finish times especially on Sundays. There's nothing set in stone that says a competition must include a minimum of six hours game time. Sometimes I think it's all a bit "macho": long games, lots of figures, etc.
I don't really understand this - why would you travel the same distance to play fewer games? Hardly a selling point.
vexillia wrote: Travelling
I know from experience getting up at sparrow's fart on a Sunday is part of travelling to a competition as is driving home with a headache but they are not features I'd use to encourage players to attend a competition. The combination of long drives and long hours concentrating on a few wargames is not really all that healthy or one I now look forward to. I would like organisers to consider how enjoyable the whole experience is especially for those travelling more than an hour or so.
I find that aspirin usually deals with the headaches, but then that's just me. We have a problem here: unless all FoG:R gamers move house so that they are less than an hour's drive from a central point in the UK and all future FoG:R competitions are held there, long drives are going to be here for some time to come. I would say that most players travel an hour or more to any competition; most of my fellow club members live in the Southampton area, so even other Southern League games require around 90 minutes' drive each way. That two-day competitions are still quite popular (whilst the shows that usually host them are becoming less so) is a sign that these are as much social events, as wargaming events (although again, I would point out that most people would rather get more games for their travel/accommodation than fewer).
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by madaxeman » Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:51 am

RonanTheLibrarian wrote:
vexillia wrote: Suggestion
I really like (most of) the format used at the Stoke Challenge: 15 mm at 650 points on a 5' by 3' table. I also think the Northern League classification system has a lot to recommend it. Smaller games could also lead to more elbow room per game. I would also like to point out that it is easier, and cheaper, to raise a 650 pt army especially if you have to paint it from scratch. It also results in armies that contain a bigger proportion of compulsory troops.
Agree with this - if we can sustain the idea of 650-700 points as an "army" for 25/28mm (OK, I know it fills the table more at that size), I don't see why that shouldn't apply to 15mm. Also, smaller armies should = quicker games, which should = more games in a day, which should = more fun and/or a better challenge for the better players.
This would certainly seem to work for the general trend of smaller figure count/smaller table size/shorter games in other historical periods (started I suspect by Saga, and in part then by FOW and Bolt Action), but I'm not sure this would greatly freshen things up in itself as the troop interactions would still be the same, so the same lists (within reason) would still be good and less good.

The comparison to 25mm is also not really a direct one for me, as if I'm honest I probably play 25mm simply to get the toys out on the table and go "woooo!" at them, and I tend to try and take as many figures as I can and fill the table - so I cant hand on heart say if it is a better/worse/identical game or not at that points total.

Maybe if the discussion on rules and points changes was also framed to include an assumption on 650-700 points as the standard that might do the trick? If you assume that points total and 5x3 you'd probably make artillery a bit cheaper for example, change deployment zones and have to think whether to do something about the balance/performance of horse/foot and superiors/average
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by vexillia » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:26 pm

RonanTheLibrarian wrote: I don't really understand this - why would you travel the same distance to play fewer games? Hardly a selling point.
I understand it's not a selling point to you (and probably many on this forum) but then you're not really the target audience (assuming you are an active competition player). As always the changes must be made by those who are OK with the current situation for those who are not.

To reprise my point: if a competition with two longer games involves an early start and a late finish replacing them with three short ones won't change the start and finish times much if at all. Shortening total game time slightly would allow for a decent lie in, a more pleasant drive home (minus headache or drugs) and more time to socialise and visit traders if present. All selling points to me. Plus it would make the competition viable for people from further away increasing the catchment area of potential players.

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by steads » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:36 pm

I would like to try a couple of new formats which are variants of a format used for a series of Command Decision tournaments in Belfast over many years.
Format A is closest to the original idea: A relatively few army lists (10-20) from a theme are prepared by the organiser. Each army list has a cadre of core troops that will always fight and then a number of optional "add-ons". At the start of the game a fixed force is randomly selected from the two players chosen armies. The fixed force consists of the fixed cadre and 2 secretly chosen “add-ons” (each player selects the 2” add-ons” they would like and makes a note of them). Then a bidding war starts. Starting with the complete list of the non-fixed army each player bids away one of the “add-ons” until one player thinks that they would rather take the fixed force (with their 2 secretly selected “add-ons”) than take the non-fixed army minus another “add-on”. This produced when we used it a series of finely balanced knife edge contests.
Obviously the downside to this format is that clever army choice prior to the competition plays no role; it all happens on the day.
Thus Format B:
Each player designs an army and brings it to the competition but never plays with it. Instead the players with the best results play with the armies that have performed worse in the competition. The twist is that your final score is a combination of both your individual score and your armies score. The pressure is therefore to design an army that will do well in less experienced hands while making the best of whatever ends up on your side of the table. The placement of armies for each round will mean that you will never play against, or with, the same army twice in a weekend. Thus format requires at least 16 players for a 4 round competition.
This is a link to a spreadsheet with a sample 4 round draw using hypothetical results illustrates the idea (https://www.dropbox.com/s/dm88z9ffde6lo ... .xlsx?dl=0). I have already done some of the work to help administer this and would be very happy to administer it for real if somebody was willing to try it.

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by madaxeman » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:47 pm

Ho-kay...

On themes - I think we all recognise that they are A Good Thing, and there is I think a very strong argument now that event Britcon, as the last Open event should be themed (agreed Mr Munroe!). On this my suggestion would be to simply be more organised and structured going forwards. We have come up with some very good themes in the past few years, so what would be good would be to capture a big old list of the ones that work (including the Artillery/Foot and Average/Superior stuff as options), post it up on t'internet somewhere (BHGS website...), and then run a structured rotation across the full-year calendar of events so we all know whats coming up. The DBMM community do this, with their '4 books' split into 6 periods that rotate each year at each event and it seems to work quite well for them. We could also then make sure that all armies get an opportunity to have a run-out, as well as weighting the mix towards the more common army choices.

On format/points size, I'm not fully convinced this is a major issue or thing to fix. The fact of the matter is that I've played buckets of FoGR since 2010 (there are a rather frightening 140 match reports written up on my site, and thats not all the competitions I've played) and thats just a lot of games, over a fairly long period of time, using all sorts of armies in all sorts of events.. and I now just want to try something different, at least in many of the bigger competitions. FoGR is great, but its a secondary game for me right now - and I suspect for several others - which should mean that I am more likely to enter a 1-dayer stand alone event within driving distance of home than a multi-day event where other stuff is on offer.

So, maybe if we all made an effort (and I'm including us at Central London in this) to organise more 1-day events we'd all enter more of them... and for me, there is no need for them to be crazy themes or weird formats, as I'm not playing as much FoGR as I used to, so in fact the more vanilla the theme for a one-dayer, the more likely it is to get me interested.
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by marshalney2000 » Sat Nov 05, 2016 7:33 am

Tim, I would never disagree with you about theming!!
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by DavidofRowlands » Thu Nov 10, 2016 7:27 pm

Some good thoughts here. From my very limited experiences of competitions I much prefer the Oxford / Wessex format of 3 games in 1 day. Gets me brownie points with the Mrs and gives a 'free' day to do all the non wargaming stuff that usaully has to be done at weekends.

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by urbanbunny1 » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:03 pm

For me, there are two things with the current FoGR tournament scene.

Scoring and Themeing/Army Lists.

With the current scoring option, it is a viable tactic to aim for a couple of draws and a big win, which allows you to sit just behind the top seeds in round four and submarine. And Yes, I have done this before, not due to any skill of my part.

I've noticed in the last 18 months, the "Lets call it a 10-10" becoming more prevalent, either due to corner sitting, not willing to risk a battle or for other reasons.

I've started playing ADLG and I have found their scoring system to be more rewarding. So, if you just go for a draw, you get a score around 20 points out of 100 ish.

Now, if you break or loose your army, you get a lot more points as you get the points of all the bases you killed.

So, as an example, at a recent competition, out of five games, I broke two of my opponents and had three mutual destructions, effectively, I broke all my opponents, I just lost my army as well (whoops). this got me 3rd place where in the FoGR/AM scoring, I'd be somewhere in the middle.

That to me was a lot more rewarding and motivating to have a go and pick a fight rather than hide in a corner.

I'm enjoying the Themed Comps but not the full open comps anymore. I can see myself trying something different for Britcon as with the limitations of foot to artillery, mounted armies are unviable. You can't dig out a foot army without artillery. I tried to use a out of the book Later 30 Year War German list at Briton 2016 and got thumped as the current flavour is mass shooty, which overwhelmed my army very quickly.

So, the question is, how to we allow foot armies to play against the mounted without crippling the mounted?

I like the idea of playing a 650 point game in a smaller table, if this allows for more games. I do find after Britcon, my brain is fried after some 22 odd hours of solid wargaming.

Simon

vexillia

Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by vexillia » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:37 pm

urbanbunny1 wrote:I like the idea of playing a 650 point game in a smaller table, if this allows for more games. I do find after Britcon, my brain is fried after some 22 odd hours of solid wargaming.
This is what I don't understand. If you reduced the points but played more games the amount of time spent playing won't change. If this happened at Britcon you'd still end up with a "fried" brain. Is it like how having a hangover after a night out somehow proves you've had a good time?

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by nikgaukroger » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:55 pm

vexillia wrote:
urbanbunny1 wrote:I like the idea of playing a 650 point game in a smaller table, if this allows for more games. I do find after Britcon, my brain is fried after some 22 odd hours of solid wargaming.
This is what I don't understand. If you reduced the points but played more games the amount of time spent playing won't change. If this happened at Britcon you'd still end up with a "fried" brain. Is it like how having a hangover after a night out somehow proves you've had a good time?

FWIW I find 3 shorter games less tiring than 2 that use up the same amount of time. I think it is because you get an extra break and your brain isn't on the go for as long without time off from a game.
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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by Paulkit0 » Mon Nov 21, 2016 4:43 pm

I must admit the I thought the need for an asprin after a couple of games was just me - glad there are a couple of others fessing up on that one. The recent Oxford 28mm competition worked well - with 2 and a half games per day (stopping game 3 after an hour and a half and continuing the following morning. Also the variable sized armies made it more interesting (look at the Oxford thread from a couple of weeks back for more on that). Of course Alasdair would take part with the certainty that everyone would save their largest army for him :-). I also like the idea of slightly smaller tables - possibly means less backache :-), but that also will mean needing slightly smaller terrain and as already mentioned maybe 650 or 700 point armies to allow some space for manoeuvre. Final thought - though this might give the organisers an extra headache, how about simply getting people to put in their list, and after game 1 swapping armies around (top player gets bottom army for round 2). A real challenge!

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by steads » Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:25 pm

Paulkit0 wrote:Final thought - though this might give the organisers an extra headache, how about simply getting people to put in their list, and after game 1 swapping armies around (top player gets bottom army for round 2). A real challenge!
I have suggested this before but have gone a bit further saying you never play with your own army but your final score is yours plus your army's! So instead of bringing a lemon you need to bring something good and easy to play well with.

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by viking123 » Wed Nov 23, 2016 2:36 pm

I must be strange as I actually like bigger armies - 900 points for singles and 1000 points for doubles. To get round the issue of the number of games in a day I would suggest always having pre-set terrain possibly with the option that each player may move one piece of terrain (this comes with the proviso that this pieces must be put back I the original place at the end of the game).
I would think you would get three games in a slightly longer day.
Bob

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Re: Is it really the rules or is it...

Post by Paulkit0 » Fri Nov 25, 2016 1:01 pm

I like big armies too Bob but we come up against the time we need to complete a game & I wonder if fighting against something like Hawaiian or Western Sudanese there is any way to ever break a 23 or 24 unit army...

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