Gencon 2018 from a Judges perspective
Gencon has come and gone, as fun as ever, only made more special this year as Star Wars Legion released this year, a game I had thought would never happen but wished for since I first played Warhammer 40k. I always hoped we could have a scale game in the Star Wars Universe, FFG made it happen and so far, the response has been fantastic. This Gencon hosted the first Maximum Firepower Tournaments, going undefeated would give the players an Invitation to High Command at Adepticon next year. I had every plan to play, but I ended up being invited to Judge the event and jumped at the chance. While playing the game is glorious, I know that Judges and Organizers of large event also have a large Impact on the success and direction Competitive play goes for games, Years of Press Ganging had taught me that. So, I accepted the opportunity with relish, I would still meet and get to know fellow gamers and get to interact with them just from a different perspective.
The smell of competition was there day 1, as people filed in I knew the tables were set up and the terrain was not what the players expected, I did what I could to adjust but we had the terrain we had and I had left mine back in Louisiana. I did what the Organized Play TO Josh would allow me to do and watched and chatted with players as they expressed some dismay over the lack of terrain on many tables. The Marshall Luke Eddy and I adjusted the tables once we knew we would not be using them all but we were still limited with what we could do. Mental plans were made to arrive earlier day 2 and try to set the terrain and adjust it to make the tables a little more acceptable to the second day players.
As the players arrived I waited for the sound of disdain or haughtiness from players with fully painted armies towards those who were not, I was pleasantly surprised, No one cared, they just wanted to play. A few players realized they had forgotten items needed to play, there was no shortage in the people offering everything they could to make sure everyone played. The crap attitudes were nonexistent, it was a serene image. 2 Dozen gamers all gathered for the love of the same game. We went into Round 1, people were laughing, having fun, giving me hell… Just the most enjoyable experience as a judge. If I ruled against someone, they didn’t argue, they didn’t give dirty looks, they just played the game. The day wore on, miles were walked, questions asked, answered and gameplay continued. Everyone was happy, ready to come back for day 2. The first few rounds had gone to time and then finished the round, by the end only one table was going to overrun time. We finished around 10:00 PM.
We had maybe 5 minutes after the final game ended until pairings. The time constraints were real but as people get into how the Setup works I feel that will ease up some. A lunch break for players is really needed at this level though. If you cannot readily get food it can be a long day, if you are going to NOVA I recommend you pack food.
As a side note, most of the questions I had come up were Cover, Suppression and some timing of effect questions. It is obvious that some areas are still working on figuring out all the intricacies of the game, but as I answered these questions the players asking were encouraged as now they could go home and correct their local meta in the way things worked. Many surprised looks, but no angry ones. It was a relief, I learned a long time ago to prepare for the worst, hope for the best. And my hopes were answered.
Day 2 was much the same, although the TO had me set the terrain up and I managed to make most of the tables playable, the players seemed to like the changes and we had a lot less issues with the Terrain. We had more people show up, new people and others who had played the day before. We had people who had barely played, everyone helped the newer players. Their opponents, Luke and I would stay nearby, Questions flowed, Explanations occurred, and people learned. The entire group was less like strangers gathered from all over North America and more like a local gaming group that knew each other well. The laughing and joking were a welcome change over other Tournaments I have had the displeasure of overseeing, griping, complaining, people were genuinely having fun. Which is at the heart of matters what we do this for, to enjoy playing with our plastic army men. Day 2 Wore on and I managed to get some shopping done, as why else would I want to go to Gencon. The Rounds sped up a bit and we finished before 930 on day 2. Exhausted I retired to my hotel room, where I realized I had doubled my Facebook Friends list…
Day 3 was much the same, the community with lack of sleep and exhaustion never turned on one another, more loaning of models and cards and tokens, Painting advice running rampant. Everyone was ready to play and more of the same, teaching newer players, having close matches with other experienced players, and the laughter and enjoyment. I did have a Bozo moment day 3 when I went to get food and had my watch set on Walk Timer, as I returned one of our players asked how much time remained and I glanced at my watch and called 17 Minutes, it was 35 minutes. Luckily it had no real impact this time, but as weariness sets in I must take a moment to make sure those calls are correct, it could ruin someone’s tournament and that is the last thing I want. So, for those who see 17 Minutes left comments running around, there is your context for it.
Day 4 was a Team tourney and much of the same, we had a few players play solo so no one had a buy as it was only 1 Round, these players were very selfless in that regard and helped make sure everyone was able to play.
My biggest takeaway from this Gencon is that Legion is not an overnight game, it has and will have lasting power, the players who play it love it, and want it to succeed and thus it will. The rules are easy to learn and with just a few questions most players barely had to call me over again except for Cover or LOS calls. I had only 1 Disagreement between players all week, and it was short lived, I gave my ruling and it stopped. Loaning of stuff, helping new players, it was a sight to see. I also realized I need to go buy some very expensive orthotic inserts for my shoes. 43 Miles in 4 days on Concrete and rarely leaving a 200-foot area of tables.
Oh and 17 Minutes left, Always 17 Minutes.