First Questions in Tabletop Tournament Organization

A local Infinity player is looking to start organizing tournaments and asked if I have any notes. This is a rough cut of the most basic questions and topics I can think of that should be addressed in initial planning of a tabletop gaming event. Much of it is not specific to Infinity, 40k, or even miniatures wargaming.

Venue

How many players can you accommodate?

  • How much space do you have available at your venue?
    • In addition to the playing surfaces, each player needs some adjacent space for their models not in play, dice, tokens, templates, books, etc..
      • Infinity: Standard 4’x4′ match is ideally played on a 6’x4′ table, giving both players side table space.
      • 40k: Standard 4’x6′ match is ideally played on a 4’x8′ or even 4×10′ table.
        • Reasonably common for 40k players to bring carts and stands for their armies and accessories, especially with notice of table space being limited.
    • Other solutions might be possible.
      • E.g., Redcap’s has custom built wargaming tables with space underneath the playing surfaces that players can use. For the biggest events we have used the full surface of every single table for playing.
      • Some other venues use stools or benches for side tables if they don’t have enough table surface.
  • What size army lists will you permit?
    • Infinity: 300pts of Infinity requires 4’x4′ playing areas, 200 pts requires 2’x3′, etc
  • What are your COVID policies and protocols?
    • Many venues are limiting participation to better foster distancing.

In addition to the space, does the venue have a sufficient quantity of sturdy enough tables?

Local organizers: If necessary and we can coordinate logistics, I have a stash of ~8+ suitable folding tables that can be used. They’re from hosting PAGE events back when there were no gaming shops in the city.

Schedule

What’s your schedule going to be?

  • What times do players prefer?
  • What hours will the store support?
  • How many hours do you need?
    • Need about an hour before dice start rolling to get boards setup.
      • Players will arrive, unpack, get settled in this period as well.
    • For each round need however much time is permitted, plus wrapping up, making pairings, etc..
      • How quickly can you turn around updated rankings & pairings?
    • Need additional 30–60 minutes after conclusion at minimum to wrap everything up, tear down boards, pack up, and clear everybody out.
    • Depending on time of day and length of the event it’s not at all uncommon to incorporate lunch/dinner/etc breaks into the schedule.

How long will each round be?

  • What size army lists will you permit?
    • Larger games mostly take longer in general, but it’s definitely not a linear relationship.
  • Are your posted round time limits a dice-down hard stop or a point after which final actions or the last game round are played out?
  • Infinity: Typically ~2 hour rounds.
    • Historically Infinity was supposed to be very fast to play. Full size tournaments might schedule 75–90 minutes matches.
    • Realistically, in modern Infinity and in our player community, you need to budget 2hrs per match for 300pt games.
  • 40k: Typically ~3 hour rounds.

Registration

Is there a registration fee?

Can players register in advance? How?

Must players register in advance?

How will you get the word out about the event?

  • Not worth worrying too much about putting in a special effort on this unless you’re advertising at least 2 weeks in advance.

Prizes

Will there be prizes? What are they?

  • For Infinity tournaments you can get a prize pack for official ITS events, but it’s a hassle to acquire and pricey for what it includes (see below).
  • Many players might be willing to donate merchandise, models, terrain, etc., to a prize pool.
  • And/or have a registration fee and put it toward store credit prizes.
    • Big plus of this, and the main reason we have a $5 entry fee for most Redcap’s Infinity tournaments, is that it sends at least some money toward the store.

Format

What type of event will it be?

  • Is it a tournament, casual play, a narrative event, etc?

If a tournament, what’s the format of the event and missions?

  • What are the scoring metrics? What is the ranking formula? What is the pairing algorithm?
  • For Infinity, is it ITS or not, and if so is it official ITS or not?
    • Official ITS event, registered in the system and everything.
      • Plus side of this is it provides a small level of advertising via people looking for events on ITS, and maybe attracts people who are interested in having games count toward their ITS rankings and not so interested in organized play otherwise.
      • Costs $7 for a virtual code to register the event in ITS. Some people might have codes they can give you.
      • An ITS event prize pack w/ event code is like $40 and takes a long while to ship. Unless it’s changed recently, distributors don’t carry them, so the shops can’t get them cheaper or quicker.
    • ITS format, but not an officially registered ITS event.
      • Uses the ITS tournament rules, missions, etc., with which players are familiar, but is more low-key and doesn’t require an event code. ITS rules & mission packet has a solid writeup in detail of how everything is supposed to work—table sizes, pairings, etc..
      • Downside is results don’t go into players’ rankings.
      • This is the most common style of Infinity event at Redcap’s.
    • Other mission pack and format.
      • Not sure what the state of things are in N4, but in prior editions there were a large number of alternative missions packs.

Execution

How will you conduct the scoring, ranking, and pairing?

  • For even a few players you realistically need software to make sure everything gets calculated correctly & quickly.
  • There are a variety of apps and software available, both free and commercial, for doing tournament pairings.
  • Infinity has a couple options

Will you print out score cards, or players just verbally report?

Will you print out mission packs, and if so how?

  • Don’t underestimate the cost & time involved in this for large and/or complicated events.

Terrain

Do you have or how will you get access to enough terrain for all the boards?

  • Note that the terrain in many shops is geared toward 40k, which often doesn’t work well for Infinity (too much open line of sight, pieces too big, etc).
  • It’s common for Infinity events for players to bring terrain and setup boards. Just gotta make clear in advance they should do so.

Local organizers: If necessary and we can coordinate logistics, I have a good amount of terrain for Infinity and 40k in addition to what I’ve donated to Redcap’s.

Objective Markers

Do you have or how will you get enough objective markers?

  • Players can work something out on the spot in a pinch, but don’t usually carry enough suitable objective markers on themselves all the time for all missions. With advance notice though they can generally bring enough.
  • Some players might be able to provide, either by having on hand or making, a large number of objective markers.
  • Poker chips will also work well and are cheap.
    • Make sure to announce before matches begin whether they are to be played as silhouettes or non-blocking markers.

Local organizers: If necessary and we can coordinate logistics, I might be able to provide a number of consistent 3D objective markers. Redcap’s Infinity and many 40k events use a box of markers I made.

Infinity Spring League: Rnd 1

Toward the start of the game.

Played my first game as Druze Bayram Security on Friday, in my Infinity league match against Lovell. It was fun playing something different after fielding solely Shock Army the past 9 months. On the downside, I was busier than expected last week and barely prepped models—the last one I needed got glued to its base literally the moment Lovell arrived. I haven’t fielded unpainted models in a long time, and gave up a lot of soft points for it.

Partly to limit prep time and partly for awesome, I took an Anaconda backed by a Druze & Brawler fireteam, plus cheap bots for orders and domination points. Lovell did pretty much the same thing with his Spiral Corps, creating a Kiel-Saan versus Anaconda slugfest. I played first and was able to use the terrain to alternate between the Anaconda and the Druze team taking down targets threatening the other as they moved up board. I got a little too cautious in the final showdown with the Kiel-Saan and didn’t move units far enough up to reach Lovell’s DZ, but still claimed a Druze victory.

Other thoughts:

  • I don’t usually think much of one point upgrades, but Fatality 1 (both the Druze Shock Teams and the Anaconda TAG have this) mattered a bunch of times. A Combi-Rifle in a fireteam with an X-Visor and Fatality 1 is a very good weapon on RECON+ boards.
  • However, it’s tough to make good RECON+ lists with Druze. They don’t have enough cheap options to generate orders. Military Orders is probably in the same spot now that they don’t have Fusiliers.
  • One criteria for evaluating and guiding terrain setup that often gets overlooked but is especially important in domination missions is ensuring there are paths for 40mm and 55mm bases to move around.
  • The game was a good reminder that HI and TAGs are tough, but not that tough. They still can’t stand in the open without getting quickly whittled down even by small arms, which the Kiel-Saan was reminded of forcefully.

Always fun playing Lovell, and I was pumped to finally get Druze on the table after they’d been sitting on my shelf for sixteen months… Looking forward to prepping more models for Round 2!

List for Round 1.

Imperialis 25mm Base Toppers

Recently I’ve been slowly putting together some Guardsmen for Kill Team. I had some unfinished models on bases detailed using the Imperialis Basing Kit that Games Workshop made a few years back. The kit was kind of unique in that it didn’t have bases, it had little resin toppers that you put on top of bases (as well as some rocks, gravel, etc.). I have no idea why they did it that way. But I wanted to match the models I’d assembled with them, so I created some similarly styled base toppers to 3D print. They are now available on Thingiverse.

The ten variants in this collection.

Alongside the resin GW toppers.