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Author Topic: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments  (Read 10945 times)

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Rav950

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+5

Hello,

I am going to be discussing future plans for Dominion U.S. National qualifying tournaments in July with Jay Tummelson, and I'd like to solicit some questions, comments and suggestions from the DS community on the tournament plans. This *could* potentially expand to international tournaments, so I don't want to limit the scope of the comments, but understand that my initial priority is to establish a more formal U.S. Tournament structure.


A little backstory:
I have previously run the national Rio Grande Design Contest for Rio Grande in 2009 and 2010 for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair, and I have contacts across the U.S. in retail, conventions and clubs. I only found out about the 2011 qualifiers from a Facebook post from Kublacon, and a little more from Michicon organizers. The FAQ here on DS was the most informative single source I have managed to find regarding the 2012 tournament plans. Since that demonstrates a lot of dedication to the game from the DS community, its only right that I should solicit some comments to help shape the proposal into something the community can get behind.


Current plans:
I can't go in to full detail on the proposal at the moment (its still in draft mode), but the major existing components to the plan are:

- Wide availability on holding a "free" qualifier. (Some promotional support, entitled to a seat at the Nationals, but you're on your own for travel and lodging if you want to participate)

- Limited availability on a Rio Grande sponsored qualifier (ie. prize support etc). This would be based in part on geographic proximity between qualifiers, and in part on ability to promote the qualifier.


Entities eligible to participate (free or sponsored) include:
  - Groups and Clubs (ie. Meetup groups, BGG Guilds, Google Groups, etc). Dominion Strategy Forum as a collective would be considered eligible under this guideline.
  - Retailers (Brick & Mortar only)
  - Small Conventions

Large Conventions (ie. GenCon, ChiTAG, Origins) would be participating locations, but handled in their own classification.

I understand that the community has run tournaments via ISOTropic and possibly other channels as well, this could certainly be considered as an option for participation.

The nature of any prize support for officially sponsored tournaments is unstated at this time, but comments on what you think would spur more participation are encouraged.



Thanks for your interest in this topic, and I am hoping to see some good discussion develop around this.


Disclaimer: I am not an employee of Rio Grande. This posting is an attempt to solicit comments. This post and its responses do not constitute an official statement from myself or Rio Grande Games regarding a U.S. qualifying tournament series. There is no official announced plan regarding the conduct, or even existence, of a 2013 U.S. qualifying tournament series. (Bottom line: don't read into all of this tooooo much since there is no agreement in place yet, but please offer serious opinions. Your feedback will be collated and included as part of the proposal).
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toaster

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2012, 09:33:52 pm »
+1

In terms of feedback, to me by far the most important improvement to be made in the process is communication.  I've found the disorganization and lack of communication around the qualifier events to be very frustrating...with no centralized source of information of qualifying tournaments, spotty announcements if any about when and where they are held, and no page for potential organizers of events. 

By far the biggest improvement in my mind would be a decently run website that acts as an information source for both players and tournament sponsors.  Beyond that, I'd suggest requiring all events to be scheduled (as in having a date set, not actually holding the event) by a certain period of time (say 6 months) before the overall championship.  Although this might somewhat reduce the number events, it would allow a fixed schedule of qualifying events to be published, which would be a major improvement over what we had this year.
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jsh357

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2012, 10:14:49 pm »
+1

Definitely need a more centralized flow of information... I feel like by the time I learn of a tournament coming up it's within a month and I can't make any kind of travel plan, even if it would be possible for me to go.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 10:22:24 pm »
0

In terms of feedback, to me by far the most important improvement to be made in the process is communication.  I've found the disorganization and lack of communication around the qualifier events to be very frustrating...with no centralized source of information of qualifying tournaments, spotty announcements if any about when and where they are held, and no page for potential organizers of events. 

By far the biggest improvement in my mind would be a decently run website that acts as an information source for both players and tournament sponsors.  Beyond that, I'd suggest requiring all events to be scheduled (as in having a date set, not actually holding the event) by a certain period of time (say 6 months) before the overall championship.  Although this might somewhat reduce the number events, it would allow a fixed schedule of qualifying events to be published, which would be a major improvement over what we had this year.

Hi Toaster,

Yes, the frustrations you mention above were something of a primary driver for why I am looking to do this. I think length of time can be less than 6 months prior to the finals; the most important thing is for all interested parties to have time to receive notification of the opportunity, and have time to plan and market it properly themselves. I didn't find out about the location or date of the Chicago qualifier until over a month after it had been held.

If I was to be the U.S. National tournament organizer, I would start marketing the event immediately to help draw interest in participating. As locations signed on, I'd be able to provide a central directory by city/state and date with appropriate website/contact links. The earliest qualifying events would likely be no sooner than September, and most would likely be later.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 10:43:22 pm »
+4

Several notes:

First, that this is the best, most organized place you've found for information on the subject bodes not very well for the organization that's out there currently. We've got a great community that loves dominion, but as someone who's read every post here, there just hasn't been all that much on this subject.

Second, there should be some standardization as to the rules. There have been various tournaments I've seen, and various proposals, where you have: different ways of picking kingdoms, different numbers of players, wildly varying numbers of rounds, different ways of breaking ties, etc. And that's fine, I guess, but for something that are all qualifiers to the same thing, I would think you would want some uniformity on these fronts. We can discuss (and it's come up now and then) what the preferred options are on these things, but I don't know how much say you'd have on that anyway, and how much is up to Mr. Tummelson.

Third, Donald X., the game's designer, seems to be a great person to talk about the nuts and bolts of a Dominion tournament, if this is possible. And I'd guess it is - he's quite helpful when posting here. But you might want to have some specific questions to ask, too. Or not. I'm not sure, but I feel like he's the #1 person I'd want involved if I were looking at running a tournament.

Fourth, you need to have a strong set of rules, as regards to things like note-taking, collaboration, etc. etc. What constitutes it, how do you check for it, how much is allowed, what happens to people who get caught. We're probably a bit over-paranoid here, but hypothetical discussions about this stuff crop up. You need to be prepared for it as much as you can, and more importantly, you need to have a good set of people and procedures in place to deal with any problems, both the ones which are potentially foreseen, and any wacky things you might not have been able to guess at.

Fifth, you want to balance access and fairness as you can. I.e. geographically, you want to have a good number of places represented, so that I don't have to travel 1000 miles to get to a qualifier. The internet helps here. On the other hand, you can't just break it up geographically, because there are some parts of the country where you're going to get a LOT more players, and if you split on pure geography, you're making it much harder for people from those regions.

Finally (for now anyway), I don't know what your restrictions are here, either, but you want to have a balance as to the total number of seats, between letting lots of people have a chance, and having it be reasonably small enough that it's not a total crapshoot. I mean, I know Mr. Tummelson is more concerned with fun than with determining who the best player is. But even from a fun perspective, it's not so fun to get to only play one game, get a bad shuffle of the cards, and you're done. You want to have things be long enough that you feel like you had a real chance, or at least that if you didn't, it was epicly bad luck that you can reminisce and complain about for years to come ;)

Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 11:38:02 pm »
0

Several notes:

First, that this is the best, most organized place you've found for information on the subject bodes not very well for the organization that's out there currently. We've got a great community that loves dominion, but as someone who's read every post here, there just hasn't been all that much on this subject.

For the purposes of gathering information on the existing tournament state, this site had the most. The fact that it is also highly focused on the game is a big plus. So its certainly a good place to have this particular conversation. In terms of other organization, its certainly not as formalized as it could be. How far any of this goes will depend on Jay's larger marketing plans for the game and his company.

Quote
Second, there should be some standardization as to the rules. There have been various tournaments I've seen, and various proposals, where you have: different ways of picking kingdoms, different numbers of players, wildly varying numbers of rounds, different ways of breaking ties, etc. And that's fine, I guess, but for something that are all qualifiers to the same thing, I would think you would want some uniformity on these fronts. We can discuss (and it's come up now and then) what the preferred options are on these things, but I don't know how much say you'd have on that anyway, and how much is up to Mr. Tummelson.

If history has taught me anything, I'd have a lot of say on the assembly. I have several great resources (including Jay's demo team and multiple community outlets) to help establish what best practices are. I have no intention of assembling this without substantial input from others.

Quote
Third, Donald X., the game's designer, seems to be a great person to talk about the nuts and bolts of a Dominion tournament, if this is possible. And I'd guess it is - he's quite helpful when posting here. But you might want to have some specific questions to ask, too. Or not. I'm not sure, but I feel like he's the #1 person I'd want involved if I were looking at running a tournament.

Sounds sensible, and I may pursue that if and when my plans become reality.

Quote
Fourth, you need to have a strong set of rules, as regards to things like note-taking, collaboration, etc. etc. What constitutes it, how do you check for it, how much is allowed, what happens to people who get caught. We're probably a bit over-paranoid here, but hypothetical discussions about this stuff crop up. You need to be prepared for it as much as you can, and more importantly, you need to have a good set of people and procedures in place to deal with any problems, both the ones which are potentially foreseen, and any wacky things you might not have been able to guess at.

Agreed, with the most important part being the people. When I organize events on this scale, I leave a lot of authority in the hands of the individual organizers to make decisions in order to ensure a smooth and fair event. I can't be there personally for most events, so I make sure they aren't going to be second-guessed by me.

Quote
Fifth, you want to balance access and fairness as you can. I.e. geographically, you want to have a good number of places represented, so that I don't have to travel 1000 miles to get to a qualifier. The internet helps here. On the other hand, you can't just break it up geographically, because there are some parts of the country where you're going to get a LOT more players, and if you split on pure geography, you're making it much harder for people from those regions.

I am setting the boundary at no less than 150 miles apart for sponsored events, though free qualifiers can certainly occur in smaller areas and multiple times in major metro areas. I think that is reasonable. I believe in reasonable geographic distribution, but player density is definitely the larger factor when it comes to providing sponsored support.

Quote
Finally (for now anyway), I don't know what your restrictions are here, either, but you want to have a balance as to the total number of seats, between letting lots of people have a chance, and having it be reasonably small enough that it's not a total crapshoot. I mean, I know Mr. Tummelson is more concerned with fun than with determining who the best player is. But even from a fun perspective, it's not so fun to get to only play one game, get a bad shuffle of the cards, and you're done. You want to have things be long enough that you feel like you had a real chance, or at least that if you didn't, it was epicly bad luck that you can reminisce and complain about for years to come ;)

That is definitely a big concern. I see the existing format has single elimination in the final rounds, which can be rough. I will be running a poll with multiple format options to see which one gathers the most community support.

Thanks for the thorough input!
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theory

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2012, 10:01:23 am »
0

If setting up a separate website and ensuring its continued maintenance is too much, we could just make this subforum the centralized source of information for the qualifying tournaments and allow the community to keep it updated.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2012, 11:03:43 am »
0

If setting up a separate website and ensuring its continued maintenance is too much, we could just make this subforum the centralized source of information for the qualifying tournaments and allow the community to keep it updated.

The offer is appreciated, but I think a very simple web page or two is necessary to properly present the tournament information and establish its validity. I do some web design for the Chicago Toy & Game Group, so I'm not really worried about assembling that.

However, this forum may be the better location to consolidate any ongoing discussions surrounding the tournament (Q&A, suggestions, etc). You're highly focused on the game, have no commercial interest in the proceedings, and forum posts related to the tournament are less likely to be casually trolled / driven off-topic.
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greatexpectations

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2012, 03:21:26 pm »
+1

i have been trying to maintain a list of tournaments on this site's FAQ thread. you can find the relevant post here. i try to include the date, location, event web page, and any forum thread discussing the event.  of course, there aren't a lot of available events to list right now, but we do have a place on this forum attempting to organize a list of the events.

if you would prefer a standalone web page, perhaps you can work with theory to include it on the dominionstrategy.com site?  that might allow you both the freedom to have a separate page dedicated to the events while still associating the event site with this blog and forum.  as far as i know, this blog/forum is the biggest online dominion presence out there, and you will probably see more traffic by associating with this site instead of starting something separate and fresh.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 03:32:52 pm by greatexpectations »
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2012, 05:12:07 pm »
0

I would definitely want to keep this forum involved, and will consider that option. The most important thing is that you have a clear and updated source of available qualifying tournaments, and that you know where to go to have conversations with organizers regarding the events.

Your efforts to maintain accurate event listings are ultimately what led me here, so good job on that! When I see two posts regarding dominion tournaments from a tiny FLGS here in Chicago (Cat N Mouse), I know you're being as thorough as possible.


if you would prefer a standalone web page, perhaps you can work with theory to include it on the dominionstrategy.com site?  that might allow you both the freedom to have a separate page dedicated to the events while still associating the event site with this blog and forum.  as far as i know, this blog/forum is the biggest online dominion presence out there, and you will probably see more traffic by associating with this site instead of starting something separate and fresh.
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metzgerism

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2012, 12:45:59 am »
+1

I started the first online Dominion league that I am aware of (ask theory about that), so in addition to most of the concerns I'm seeing here, there are some things to remember:

1) The BGGDL (my league) was tailored to my own personal ability to run it, but there were some critical developments that came from it:
a) People played 2-player games almost exclusively (this actually makes organization significantly easier).
b) One-off games didn't suit most people (we ended up on a best-of-3 system for even the most basic matches). My playoff series ended up best-of-5, which I liked very much. In a live tournament, this might not be the case...who knows :)
c) For the most part, players preferred all-random setups and all the official rules from the game (with some exceptions relating to Alchemy).

2) There was a 256-person single-elimination tournament here not too long ago, and there's some ongoing stuff as well, I believe. Even those had best-of-7's (which I don't prefer over best-of-5's). You may want to look into those for formatting.

3) Online tournaments are very different from face-to-face...and most of us here prefer playing on isotropic, anyways...this is a tricky ground to try and walk, but I'm not saying that it can't be done.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 12:52:32 am by metzgerism »
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Invincible Overlord

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2012, 11:21:16 am »
0

In terms of feedback, to me by far the most important improvement to be made in the process is communication.  I've found the disorganization and lack of communication around the qualifier events to be very frustrating...with no centralized source of information of qualifying tournaments, spotty announcements if any about when and where they are held, and no page for potential organizers of events. 

By far the biggest improvement in my mind would be a decently run website that acts as an information source for both players and tournament sponsors.  Beyond that, I'd suggest requiring all events to be scheduled (as in having a date set, not actually holding the event) by a certain period of time (say 6 months) before the overall championship.  Although this might somewhat reduce the number events, it would allow a fixed schedule of qualifying events to be published, which would be a major improvement over what we had this year.

I would just like to echo Toaster's comments here.

I was at Origins this year and played a casual game or two of Dominion at the Rio Grande Games area, and saw no notice for a tournament/qualifier event (although someone said that there was one there...). Nor did I see one in the program book for the convention.

I'll take another look at the program book just to make sure, but I'm sure I didn't see anything... ::shrug::

I was just told about the Chicago qualifier (in April) this past Saturday... heh...
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2012, 12:45:54 pm »
0

I would just like to echo Toaster's comments here.

I was at Origins this year and played a casual game or two of Dominion at the Rio Grande Games area, and saw no notice for a tournament/qualifier event (although someone said that there was one there...). Nor did I see one in the program book for the convention.

I'll take another look at the program book just to make sure, but I'm sure I didn't see anything... ::shrug::

I was just told about the Chicago qualifier (in April) this past Saturday... heh...

Thanks for that; I wasn't aware to what extent the Origins qualifier was marketed, as I did not make plans to attend Origins this year.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2012, 01:29:27 pm »
0

a) People played 2-player games almost exclusively (this actually makes organization significantly easier).

This is more doable in later rounds of a live tournament. While I agree 2 player is preferable, 4 player pods are going to be easier to supervise and manage on a larger scale. Its also more manageable for elimination purposes; you could eliminate 4th (and possibly 3rd) place finishes if necessary.

Quote
b) One-off games didn't suit most people (we ended up on a best-of-3 system for even the most basic matches). My playoff series ended up best-of-5, which I liked very much. In a live tournament, this might not be the case...who knows :)

Yes, this will likely have to change for most live tournaments. I think its fair to say that most smaller tournaments will occur in the span of 5 to 6 hours (10am open for registration, noon commencement, 6pm completion), and even larger tournaments may need to complete in the same time frame. Online tournaments have substantially more flexibility available.

Quote
c) For the most part, players preferred all-random setups and all the official rules from the game (with some exceptions relating to Alchemy).

This is OK for league play I think, but actual tournament play will work better with formal structures. Some random setups can lend themselves to really nasty, slow slogs or a single optimal path that every player follows as closely as possible. I think that all tournament sets should be carefully assembled to provide multiple viable paths to victory.

Quote
2) There was a 256-person single-elimination tournament here not too long ago, and there's some ongoing stuff as well, I believe. Even those had best-of-7's (which I don't prefer over best-of-5's). You may want to look into those for formatting.

Sure! Do you have a link to the posting?

Quote
3) Online tournaments are very different from face-to-face...and most of us here prefer playing on isotropic, anyways...this is a tricky ground to try and walk, but I'm not saying that it can't be done.

Agreed on many points.

The major issue with online tournaments (at least when being measured against live ones) would be whether Rio Grande would provide support for it or not, and in what form. I do not know what the relationship is between Rio Grande and Isotropic. My guess at this point is that multiple sanctioned qualifiers can be held, but whether or not there would be any level of promotional support is a coin toss as I see it. I can see good reasons to sponsor it, and I can see reasons to only let it occur on a free basis.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2012, 01:30:10 pm »
+1

I'd also like to note that I have really appreciated the input so far. Terrific community, excellent responses.
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greatexpectations

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2012, 02:11:36 pm »
+2

there have been a number of different forum organized tournaments.  each has used slightly different rules both to keep things interesting as well as to work towards the best tournament solution.

edit: the listing of all the tournaments was moved to a more permanent home here.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 01:47:30 pm by greatexpectations »
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Rabid

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2012, 03:04:15 pm »
+1

One Day Tournaments - Subforum

Thanks for gathering all the information, I just have a slight correction:
One Day Cup 1- 20 players, traditional bracket, best of 5

This was first to 3 wins, not best of 5. (drawn games get replayed, stop playing when either player wins 3 games)
And double elimination bracket format.

One Day Cup 2 - 14
This was play all 5 games, use game score (not match score) for ranking.
6 rounds of Swiss, cut to top 4 knock-out.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2012, 08:19:56 pm »
0

Fantastic! I appreciate the information, looks like I'm in for a little light reading on the plane tomorrow.
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2012, 05:58:20 pm »
0

Still have plenty of reading to do, but one thing that I saw in your rules that I *kinda* like is the identical starting hands. Is this mostly intended to avoid players leaping directly into 5-cost cards with powerful effects by turn 3 (or ensuring that all players get them)? Otherwise, its really only pushing the random factor back a little bit.
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ednever

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 06:09:59 pm »
+2

On some kingdoms 5/2 or 4/3 has a distinct advantage.

I played Fabian last night in a game where I opened 5/2 and he opened feast/chapel... He was in for a rough game...

But if it's a familiar/warehouse kingdom with the best $5 a counting house then the 4/3 opening is much much better.

The issue with identical hands is that it increases the likelihood of mirror matches.

The other push back is where do you stop? What about second shuffle. You could both open silver/silver and only one hits $5on turns 3/4...

I used to be in favor of identical hands, but I've recently changed my mind.

I think a funny idea is that each player chooses the deck order for the other player...

Ed
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Rav950

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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2012, 11:24:15 pm »
0

I guess it really does mostly come down to good kingdom assembly, though in live tournaments the availability of cards will do a lot to determine what the organizers can provide; larger tournaments will be very challenged to provide equal starting sets to all first round players.


On some kingdoms 5/2 or 4/3 has a distinct advantage.

I played Fabian last night in a game where I opened 5/2 and he opened feast/chapel... He was in for a rough game...

But if it's a familiar/warehouse kingdom with the best $5 a counting house then the 4/3 opening is much much better.

The issue with identical hands is that it increases the likelihood of mirror matches.

The other push back is where do you stop? What about second shuffle. You could both open silver/silver and only one hits $5on turns 3/4...

I used to be in favor of identical hands, but I've recently changed my mind.

I think a funny idea is that each player chooses the deck order for the other player...

Ed
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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2012, 11:55:28 pm »
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Is Jay the guy that insists tournaments be 3 player?
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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2012, 12:00:58 am »
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Is Jay the guy that insists tournaments be 3 player?

I believe he wanted 4 player and DXV fought for 3p.
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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2012, 11:27:52 pm »
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Is Jay the guy that insists tournaments be 3 player?

I believe he wanted 4 player and DXV fought for 3p.

DXV believes that only 2P is competitive and still had to fight hard to bargain Jay down to 3P.  (Jay here is Jay Tummelson, CEO(?) of Rio Grande Games.)
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Re: Request for comment on U.S. National Dominion Qualifying Tournaments
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2012, 11:48:17 pm »
+6

Is Jay the guy that insists tournaments be 3 player?

I believe he wanted 4 player and DXV fought for 3p.

DXV believes that only 2P is competitive and still had to fight hard to bargain Jay down to 3P.  (Jay here is Jay Tummelson, CEO(?) of Rio Grande Games.)
DXV believes that 2 players is the *most* skill-based number of players, obv., but there's always skill.

DXV did not fight Jay at all to get it to be 3 players. Jay just immediately went to 3, though preferring 4.
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