Monday, March 20, 2017

What If Warpstone Flux ran a Horus Heresy Tournament?

Hypothetically, what if the guys from Warpstone Flux were to run a Horus Heresy Tournament?

This is a question that I (we) have been pondering lately. The main question I have for my readers is: would you attend?

To be clear: I am 100% serious here. This blog has taken a deep interest in the Horus Heresy and the local players are very knowledgable about the game. But I could only run a Horus Heresy tournament if I were reasonably sure that I could recoup the initial outlay costs. It is a chicken-and-egg situation really. I don't know if people will come, but the only way of knowing is to run the event. Yet I cannot afford to make a big loss on such an event for self-explanatory reasons. Hence in this post, I wanted to take a "temperature check" on whether this would be worth undertaking, or whether I should just write it off and not bother.

In order to make that evaluation, I want YOUR input please. Please use the polls on the right hand column of the web-browser version of the blog, or leave a comment. And please: be honest. Don't just fill it in without thinking or being honest.

Prior Experience.
What makes me think that I could pull a tournament like this off?

Well, I have nearly two decades worth of experience in organising conferences for my professional work and day job. This includes doing donkey work like making bookings, insurance details, working with venues and everything else associated with making sure that such events are pulled off smoothly. I am personally very confident that I can make arrangements for hosting a tournament with a minimum of fuss and make the day enjoyable for attendees. I have dealt with various conference sizes ranging from a dozen or so people, right up to 400-500 attendees.

Obviously, running a conference is not the same as running a tournament, but I have attended so many tournaments in both Australia and the United Kingdom to realise the details involved in a tournament, ranging from swiss-pairings to prizes. Again, I am personally very confident of all of this.

My motivation in wanting to run a tournament is to create a great experience and to see some of the wonderful Horus Heresy armies out there in person. Plus to meet some of you fantastic people in person finally. 

In order to run a tournament, I need to set an entry fee per person. The fee would need to cover the hiring of the venue and anything else associated with it (e.g., a hot or cold lunch buffet, tea, coffee and any other sundries, in addition to any prizes or trophies that might be awarded).

Looking at a number of recent tournaments, the price tag for entry varies quite a bit from free (usually local events hosted by a Games Workshop store), up to something like the SN events in Gibraltar ("No Retreat Horus Heresy" for instance), with a price tag of GBP 75.00.

So, assuming that you would want to come along, my second question is how much of an entry fee would you be willing to pay? Please answer in the polls to the right, or leave a comment below.

To be clear from the outset, my goal is to not make much of a profit. Any cash profit would be immediately re-invested in purchasing extra scenery for potential future tournaments (and yes: if successful, this would not be a one off event and we would consider running more Horus Heresy events, Warhammer 40,000 tournaments, and even Age of Sigmar tournaments in this part of the UK). However, a larger entry fee would enable better venues, better tables, more and varied terrain features and scenery and so forth. So what price would you be able and willing to pay for an entry fee?

In organising a tournament, the venue is probably the singular biggest factor for the organisers to arrange. It is also one of the most expensive.

My next question is therefore about a venue. Assuming that the tournament would be held locally for the Warpstone Flux team, that would mean somewhere in the East Yorkshire region of the UK. In all probability it would mean the UK City of Culture 2017: Hull! This is just because of (a) accessibility from mainland UK and nearby Europe; and (b) it has the venues needed due to being a city. As a city, it is well served by roads (M62 motorway and A63), rail (Paragon Interchange is a major terminus for trains from London, the North and the West), bus (good links to regional destinations including York, Lincolnshire, etc.) as well as National Express, airport (Humberside airport is reasonably close; Manchester airport has reasonably direct trains to Hull too), and ferry services (regular services to nearby Europe / Rotterdam and Zeebrugge with P&O ferries). Of course, it could also be a nearby village or town -- Beverley in particular springs to mind as they have a train station and lots of possible venues. 

There are three broad options that I could envision undertaking such a tournament at:
Option A: an upper end venue. This would be somewhere "unique" like the KCOM stadium (a football / soccer stadium from the English Premier League in the UK) or The Deep (a nationally acclaimed aquarium). Both have the venues needed to pull off a tournament like this, and would offer more besides. Entry fee would certainly have to be in the GBP 75.00 range, depending on numbers. And that's before I contact them to see if there are any available slots (they tend to book out well in advance with wedding receptions and the like). 

Option B: something mid-range. This might be a large hotel such as the Royal Hull Hotel (next to the Hull Paragon Interchange train & bus station), the University of Hull, or the Mercure Hotel in Willerby (in a village near to Hull). Again, these kinds of venues are used to running things like weddings and conferences and we would be well set up in such a venue.  Entry fee would likely be GBP 50.00 or thereabouts, depending on the exact details.

Option C: something at the lower end. This could be a church hall, or perhaps an assembly hall in a high school that had sufficient room. The main negative for me in these venues is the lack of facilities provided by the hosts and the lack of experience that such a venue might have in hosting these events. It would be a lot cheaper though. Attendees would likely have to walk further / drive further / take a taxi from the train station. All that said, it could be great for a starting event in the series before going up in scale or venue and would certainly allow much more scenery to be bought! Entry fee would be well under GBP50.00 in all probability.

Tournament Format.
Assuming that all of the above is okay, what sort of format would folks want for a tournament? Let's take for granted we use the current 40k rule book and some of the standard missions from that rule book, and from the Horus Heresy publications (at least ones without attacker / defender distinctions). Obviously I have my own ideas here, but let's hear yours too.

Firstly: how many rounds? Up to 3 rounds would mean a one-day event. Up to 5 rounds would make a two-day event. For a two day event, note that the costs would go up as the venue would obviously have to be hired for a second day. My personal preference would be to do a one day event and see how that goes first. But if there is enough interest and cast-iron guarantees of attendance then a 2-day initial event is certainly possible and feasible. 

Secondly: what lists should be allowed? Unbound (not my favourite due to the potential for abuse)? Only one faction or legion (most Horus Heresy tournaments tend to favour this)? One faction or legion with one Lords of War? One faction or legion with Primarchs but no other Lords of War (this disfavours those legions without primarch rules, of course)? One Age of Darkness FoC with one ally (but points restrict the allied detachment)? Regardless of this, I don't think that I would like to see folks use true titans on the battlefield as they're mildly unbalanced in the points range that I'd like to consider. Use them as scenery only(!) and nothing larger than an Questoris Knight in play realistically.

Thirdly: how should the winner be determined? All on game outcomes (not favoured as people can get dispirited and quit early)? Game outcomes plus sportsmanship? Plus painting (how does one prove that the army was painted by the entrant?)?

Fourthly: points limit. Larger points limit means longer games, but we could cap the length at 5 turns per game and impose a strict time limit. Some 1500 points is probably the lowest rung of the points ladder that would be playable for the Horus Hersey, but is very low all things considered. At the other end of the scale, 3000 points is about as high as one should go to ensure a game can be finished within a reasonable amount of time (say 2.5 hours). My own view is that somewhere in between is the optimal spot, but where exactly is this sweet spot?

If there are any people out there reading this that would be willing to sponsor such an event, please let me know either by writing to me via email (warpstoneflux AT gmail dot com) or leaving a comment below. Sponsorship could take many forms and I would be happy to chat. I would particularly be interested in hearing from anyone in the terrain making business. And I will think about emailing such folks for sponsorship if numbers are sufficient to justify running this tournament. If anyone could put me in contact with such folks, I'd also be happy to explore that at a later date once I'm confident such an event could be pulled off.

Alternatively, straight-up donations would also be welcome. 

Of course, we would be open to working with other entities out there to make a combined effort or collaboration (I certainly would be happy to work with other mature bloggers known for their Horus Heresy content). But the fact is that if I am making the initial outlay and room bookings, then it is on my shoulders ultimately if others don't pull their weight.

Other considerations.
Finally, the number of players would also be a consideration. At this stage, I don't want hundreds of entrants to cope with. I think the minimum number of people that I would need to make this a success would be in the region of 12. This is about ideal for an initial tournament in some ways as it means less initial outlay for purchasing of terrain. [Additionally, if there were an odd number of people, I would step up with my Alpha Legion forces to ensure that everyone had an opponent every round.]

At the mid-range, about 20 players might be about right for the kind of event I would ultimately like to run. Anything over that and I will make the tournament invitation only (invites being sent to those with full application forms and pictures of painted armies -- our interest here is in having awesome games with full terrain and seeing fully painted WYSIWYG armies on the battlefield; WAAC players not particularly welcome). That said, I could also do much larger numbers than this, but I simply don't have the terrain.

Speaking of terrain, I do have enough of a collection to cover several boards already. However, I would need to purchase additional gaming mats/boards, terrain and scenery to cover the remainder. This represents another outlay of investment for me, but the price tag would include most of this. I am loathe to borrow any terrain due to prior negative experiences (e.g., someone says that they will show up with a full board, but they are ill on the day of an event and therefore the terrain never materialises. I have seen this happen in person and it means that people at a tournament are forced to have a "bye" for one round. I would not want this to happen for a Warpstone Flux tournament). Having run some calculations, the more players, the more scenery outlay would be needed and this would take the ticket price for an A-class venue nearer to 75-100 GBP if there were (say) 12 to 20 players in the tournament. Subsequent tournaments could be run at less of a price tag though as I would then have most of the scenery needed for this. 

If desirable, I would also advertise on Front Line Gaming to ensure it would be part of the tournament circuit (i.e. using ITC rules for the main part) so folks that are so inclined could accumulate points.

Time of year is also a factor. Would a tournament be best run in a certain month of the year, or day of the week? Certainly weekends are the favourite spot for this, but venues tend to get booked up in advance for weekends more frequently than (say) Fridays. 

Summing up.
My main question in all of this remains if Warpstone Flux ran a Horus Heresy tournament (in Humberside / East Riding of Yorkshire, UK), would you attend?

There are lots of ancillary questions alongside this. Please let me know your thoughts. Use the polls to the right. Write comments below. Send me an email (warpstoneflux at gmail dot com). Be honest.


Kraggi said...

I would be very honest, while I am not playing 40k that much I am looking to get back into 30k myself, with enough lead time to get the money together & travel I would love to attend something like this even from Scotland to Hull.

I think you have covered most of the biggies ( I will add my answers to the polls as well), but here is my view:

3 game event
2,000 -2500 points
Lord of War allowed
1 Allied detachment no more than XX% of the total army
Red Book Missions
Standard FOC

For price its worth bearing in mind I would pay a certain amount for a 1 day event but would obviously pay more for a 2 day.

For determining the winner, tournament points from the game bonus points for voting in best army (to make sure everyone votes), bonus points if 3 colours and based.

might be worth adding another poll later to see how much a prize motivates someone to attend the tournament, I dont attend a tournament because it has prizes on hand or not, and by not offering prizes you can probably reduce some of the cost.

Hope that helps.

jabberjabber said...

Hi Kraggi,

Thanks for the comments and the positive response! Its much appreciated. I am starting to think that such an event would be viable (financially, practically and with good folks like yourself indicating to me they're interested).

Not sure about dates yet, but thinking a late May or June weekend would be feasible for most.

I am going to start pricing up venues and different options…

Knight of Infinite Resignation said...

Just some thoughts- I'd be unlikely to come since I live on Orkney and its an overnight ferry to Aberdeen then 7 hours of driving to Hull. There is a slim chance if I can get a gig nearby to defray the cost...

Anyhow with regards to scenery offer a discounted ticket to anyone who shows up with a table's worth of terrain (which they don't themselves play on for obvious reasons!). I've seen this be successful, especially if most players are coming by car. give good discounts for mats in bulk or if you are part of the Gaming Club Network.

I favour one AoD FoC + one AD, but make the allied detachment no more than 20% of the points. Likewise limit to one LoW, but no more than 20%. I've found 2250 works OK and is moderately fast.

Segmentum Obscurus Studios said...

I would be very interested to attend, it would give me the incentive to actually complete a force and use it in games. However that said I would go completely against the comment of the first poster and rather play in something smaller and more managable - something along the lines of 1850 points, no LOW, no allies etc. Should still be able to get 3 or 4 games in on a day.

Also, does warhammer world not hire out anymore? That would be the obvious choice no? If not, I know mantic hire out their gaming area....could that be another option?

jabberjabber said...

Hi Knight,
That you would even consider coming is a good sign for the demand for such an event from my point of view.
A discount for bringing scenery sounds good, but could also be a risk. I'll have to think on that one. Otherwise I agree pretty much with your other points -- thanks!
Depending on what flavour of "gig" you are after, Hull might be a good place at the moment with City of Culture events happening. Just a thought.

jabberjabber said...

Hi Segmentum,
Great to hear that you would be very interested! I'm really encouraged! Thanks also for the opinions too: much appreciated.
Our desire is to host something in this region of the UK, rather than travel to Warhammer World and play a tournament there. Hence the thoughts about doing it locally to plug a regional gap. Plus, it is a part of the UK that is very under-rated and under-exposed.

Ted Williams said...

Definitely up for this, let me know if there is anything I can do to help, I used to be involved with GW events back in the day

jabberjabber said...

Hi Ted,
Thanks for the comment. Feel free to give me an email -- I would very much like to hear your insights on GW events and what works.

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