Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Ringers, Byes and the Odd Man out

I've been three tournaments for Malifaux now and thoroughly enjoyed them all. In two of them the TO was faced with the issue of an odd number of players turning up. There are really two ways to handle this.

The Bye approach

Fairly simple, one player doesn't get a game each round and instead is awards some point. The issues with this what to give them? A win? A Draw? Surely not a Loss? Malifaux has an added complication of the differential in VPs which is often used to break ties. What differential should they be given? Personally I'm really not a fan of this approach. If I've bought a ticket, travelled for a couple of hours I really would like to get the three or four games that were advertised. Now I realise its no fault of the TO, but still I'd feel a little cheated if I was forced to sit in a corner for 90 minutes while everyone else got to play.

Bring Out the Ringer!

This is the other solution, the TO lines up someone as a stand in to play in the event of an odd number of players. Often this is one of the organisers and doesn't play to take part, as such is excluded from winning anything. I do however have one major issues with this. Typically the ringer is one of the team of people organising the tournament, or a fellow club member of the TO. Because tournaments are often put on by the better Malifaux players it often transpires that the ringer is quite a good player. Excluding the first round, where its all determined randomly, the ringer is normally put up against the bottom placed player to avoid them interfering in the race for the podium. That's where the problem occurs. Certainly for game three onwards the bottom player is there for a reason, they've lost all their games. To put them up against a player who would normally be in the top half of the table if they were playing in the tournament is a little unfair. But also can't be that fun for the ringer either to basically stomp someone isn't really a game.

One solution I though of was after the first round (since this randomly allocated) the Ringer is playing with a pre-determined crew. The crew is worked out in advance with full knowledge of the schemes and strategy that will be played, but without knowing the opponents faction. Then, and here's the really kicker, is presented to their opponent BEFORE he selects his crew. If I'm right this is a win win. The bottom player gets to engineer a crew to try to counteract some of the nastier tricks the opponent might have and hopefully pull a moral boosting win out of the bag, the ringer get to play a challenging match against someone who maybe wouldn't have posed much of an issue otherwise. They find themselves in a nasty match up against a possible hard counter to their crew, which will challenge them as a player and give them some tough competition.

This is all theoretical at the moment, never actually tried it and it does assume that the ringer is an above average player in the local scene.

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