Saturday, August 27, 2011

To go to tournaments or not to go - Part 1: Cost

The area I live in had a pretty lively wargaming community at one point. I remember being able to play pick up games no problem at the local gaming store and my friends played often and well it was good times. The local store also hosted annual events for both systems (plus some misc. events in between) and generally supported the community.

Then stuff happened (i.e. people grew up, less time to game, models got expensive so new blood didn't come in, etc) and well the wargaming community kind of dwindled.

Now there seems to a resurgence again as the guys who grew up are finding the time to play again and there are newer players who are just entering the work force so have lots of disposable income but there are no events to go to. What to do...

As an independent organizer I've decided to run a player-run event. Prior to Orctoberfest last year and Orktoberfest this year, all the events were run by our one local gaming store. The city I play in (Prince George, BC) actually has two gaming stores now, but neither seems to run events (one has branched out into more traditional toys and the other is a one-man operation). One store attracts the more veteran players and the other store has a lot of newer and younger players.

The problem I am running into is that few of the younger gamers seem interested in playing in a tournament. Citing reasons such as cost (understandable, not everyone has the means to drop money for a weekend of gaming especially if they have little chance of winning anything) or the people who play in tournaments are too serious at winning (it's a tournament, people want to win, get over it) or their army isn't fully painted (they fail to realize that tournaments are a great motivator for painting an army). There are other reasons but those three seem to be the most prominent.

Why does this matter? Well in my attempt to promote Orktoberfest to the newer generation of players I was dissappointed by their lack of interest in attending tournaments. Most cited one or a combination of those three reasons stated above. All of which don't make any sense to me (at their age I entered any and every tournament that rolled around). Let's talk about the first a little more.

Reason 1: Tournaments cost too much money.
Hardly, in my opinion. At least if you live in the same city as the event. If you live out of town it could be costly as you have to factor in travel expenses.

Most tournaments have entrance fees below $50 and you get to play in 5-6 games. So that's like $8-10 a game which lasts roughly 2 hours. So basically $8-10 to get entertained for 2 hours. Very few entertainment options are that cheap. A movie nowadays costs about $10-20 for 1.5 hours of entertainment and all you do is sit there and watch. At least when playing warhammer you are interacting and actively engaging with your opponent. You are moving around, your brain gets worked and you can engage in the background of your army, your opponent's army and the game in general. Mind you, if all you play are jerks then you probably aren't being entertained, but by the same token, not every movie you watch is going to be entertaining so there's nothing really lost there in my opinion.

The cost of the army is negligible as you will most likely already have one. If you don't have enough points, it just encourages you to consider your next purchase a little more closely (or just encourages you to make that purchase sooner). Tournaments are a great way to optimize your purchases as you will not likely buy useless models (i.e. more tactical marines) or buy models that can do multiple things (i.e. predator kit). In fact, one could say tournaments will save you money by ensuring you only buy the things that are useful to your army. There will be less spending on things that do nothing for you outside of specialized scenarios or one-of battles.

For me, the cost of entering the tournament was never really an issue. Then again I am a competitor and I like competing and playing in tournaments lets me compete. For someone who doesn't like competing, the fee to enter a tournament is usually the first excuse, especially if they also lose a lot in regular games. This brings us to the second reason newer players don't play in tournaments,'People are serious at winning in tournaments'. I'll write my thoughts on that tomorrow.

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