Wednesday, August 10

Tournaments: the time limit.

Right now planning for Feast of Blades (FoB) is in full "captain planet mode." This means that I have nothing but tournaments on the brain right now. As suchI wanted to talk today about something I heard one of my press-ganger buddies talk about, the random add-on time limit.

In 40k and fantasy tournaments we have a "deadlne," time limit where dice have to be down. This is all well and good, but let's go over a situation many of us have seen personally.

- it is turn three and your opponent looks like he could secure the win. He knows exactly how much time is left because it is on a projector or he synchronized his watch with the tournament clock. Because he senses the win is within his reach he beings to play slowly. At first it isn't obvious and you think he just might be thinking more, then it gets blatant. Even if you complain the time it takes a judge to come over just compounds the problem. Despite how the game ends you are not happy with this style of play as they aren't trying to beat you at being better, the are trying to beat you by playing the system.

Yes, sometimes slow play can actually hurt the person who is trying to implement it, but an experienced praticoner can manipulate thie game heavily by slow play.

*yes Duke, we know this already!*

Well, the main reason I brought this up is because until now I thought that the only way to handle this was by having tough judges and granting more time. This can be hard though because nobody actually knows exactly how much time was wasted.

-alternate solution?-

Now enter my press ganger friend, relasine. When I was talking to him about the schedule for feast of blades I wanted to know how much time each round takes so I could build out the schedule. He replied it is an hour per round plus a random amount determined by a dice roll. When I asked about the random added time he replied, "it helps control slow play if nobody knows how much time is actually left."

I then began to think to myself, "40k should do this too!" I was thinking of this. 2000 points in 2 hours 3d6/3 minutes extra. This would give me an average time addition of 10.5 minutes with a range of 3-18 additional minutes. If I was going for the average I might do 4d6/4 additional minutes which would give me 2 hours and 14 minutes on average with additional time and a range band of 4-24min extra.

To me this is a very interesting thing to do. It would be hard to slow play if you don't know how much time is on the random meter. What if you slow play into a bad situation and there is another 20 minutes left?

The other thing I was thinking about is a Chess clock. *AGHAST*  Many other tournament systems have implemented chess clocks to great success.  Here is how it works.  The tournament round is split in half and 100% of each half is put on each players clock.  That way both players have exactly the same amount of time to play.  If your time clock reaches zero you take a loss.

What are your thoughts?  Extra random time, chess clocks, or none of the above?  Let me know.



  1. the extra time, imho, is not a good option, as it makes it even harder to complete a turn or start a new one if you're not sure how much time is left.

    the clock is very nice, and i would love to see it implemented. But there's a problem (at least in fantasy) ; some army have more phase than other. Example ;

    an empire gunline, with some magic, will have one more phase (shooting), than an all melee army (like Dark Elf).

  2. I say Chess clock. Each player should have equal time in the game to do their thing. If a player builds a smaller army to give them more time to think, this is fine. If a player builds a huge army with 30 units or a giant horde of Orks to take advantage of certain aspects of the game, they should have the same time.

    Sure this will limit some builds, but going into a tournament you should have balanced all-comers lists, not lists with 200 dudes to move around, using up 80% of the time limit yourself and winning/drawing by default because you only play 3 turns per game.

  3. I almost really like the chess clock idea. The invitationals at Feast of Blades are a win/loss tournament. If you use Chess clocks like the chess tournaments then if your clock runs to zero you lose... Though I feel it is a little harsh to hand out a full "loss," perhaps 3 'clock-outs,' gets you some kind of demerit.


  4. You know I love inovative and new ways of changing up the game. As such I have always wanted to do the chess clock thing for a number of reasons.

    One being just to be able to look at my time used in games.

    My thoughts in a tourny would be not to count down but to count up. If there is a clock on the table that might be all the motivation people need to keep the game moving.

    If there is a problem the TO can look at the time at the end of the game.

    Example: Dark Eldar Dan thinks that Charlie Chaos is slow playing him. The TO then looks at the time and sees that Dan only used 40 min, while Charlie used 1:20 in a 2 hour game.

    This is assuming that in addition to doing everything else in the game, the two players remember to hit the clock at the right time every time.

  5. I have discussed the chess clock idea with a veteran gamer twice now since I forgot his original comments. The problem with chess clocks are the cheap ones fall apart quickly and the durable ones are expensive. Still it's worth looking into and I would be thrilled to play in a tournament that used one. It would be interesting just to see how long both players took. You could have an award/mention for the fastest player and the slowest player who completed all his games.

  6. Definitely a great idea for the final 8 games of the top bracket at Nova.

  7. I like the idea of random additional time. Though I think it will be hard to work with. Below 10 Mins extra time don't really help IMO.
    With the chess clock I see a great disadvantage for horde players. Horde builds can be good, but they do take more time to work with of course. So this supports rather the current "power builds" like Draigo-Wing.
    On the other hand, an experienced player knows how to work fast with his horde.
    So it really is up to the situation. I'd say go with chess clocks, but grant possibly additional time, if it is clear, that they did good with their time thus far.
    All in all, it's a delicate subject and can mean allot of shed tears. ;-)


  8. I think Swags hit it on the head... A good way to introduce them is as timers intended to help the TO judge slow play or not. HOwever, in a win/loss tournament like the Finals at Feast of Blades there needs to be some demerit/ discouragement for playing slow.


  9. I'd love to do more with chess clocks, but hot damn are they pricey. As a constant TO, I've found that no one ever volunteers to help pay for those things, and that the onus to purchase them is on me.

  10. Kinda posting a late reply, heh.

    I think the main problem with chess clocks in the game is that both players roll dice in each other's turns.

    If I wanted to slowplay with the Wolfstar, I could just hem and haw over who I wanted to allocate my wounds to, and when it was my opponents turn, I could take forever to count out my dice. Going quickly (or even just average) on my own turns would indicate that my opponent was the one who was slowplaying, not myself.

    I agree it's a problem, but honestly, I don't think chess clocks are the way to solve it. That being said, I'd still like to try it at a random tournament and see what people thought. Maybe it would work better than I think it would :-p

  11. Well, to begin with I think trying to play 2k in two hours is going to have a majority of games ending on turn 5 or earlier regardless of random game length. In a closely fought game, where one side hasn't quickly knocked out a large chunk of the opposing army, two hours finishes about 5 turns. Which is fine if the game randomly decides to end there, but 2/3 of the time it won't.

    When I'm playing in a tournament with a two hour time limit I assume that there will not be time for a turn 5. I have to go all out to clear an objective to claim it turn 5 instead of feeding it a sacrificial unit to contest and softening the defenders up at range for another turn like I might in an untimed game knowing I had a 2/3 chance of getting another turn.

    A two hour time limit at 2k changes the way I, and I suspect many others, play the game compared with a "standard" out of the book games of 40k because there is much less than a 2/3 chance of seeing a turn 6.

    I think adding 15-30 minutes would really improve the tournament because fewer games are being decided by what players have accomplished in four turns instead of the intended 5-7. When 5 turns is the normal games length instead of six it skews the game away from how it was designed to be played.