With just over two weeks to go until the Deadzone Overkill tournament here at Mantic HQ (only one ticket left, by the way), we thought it was an apt opportunity to give some advice if you’re planning to run your own Deadzone tournament. Although actually a lot of this advice will be useful for a range of games, including Kings of War and The Walking Dead: All Out War. Anyway, without further ado, here’s Andrew Sharp from the Deadzone rules committe with his tips for running a tournament. Over to you Andrew…

Why run a Deadzone tournament?

So why would I want to run a tournament rather than just play with my friends?

Well there are some real advantages:

  1. You get to play lots of games in one day
  2. You get to engage with your community
  3. You get to play people who you might not normally play, from outside your local area or even internationally
  4. You get to play different factions or builds you might not have come across before
  5. You get to compete against great players and prove you are the best!
  6. You can design something amazing and unique
  7. You get to have a huge amount of fun
  8. You get to promote your club, shop or local area

Disadvantages of being a Tournament Organiser (TO)

The main one is it can be a lot of work to organise an event and it’s likely to all fall onto you. Try to engage friends in some aspects to share the work.

You will be expected to know the rules well and be available for rules queries. Don’t worry about this too much, the community is friendly and there is often someone around who can help you out if needed. Also remember that if you are challenged but cannot find evidence for it one way or another you can make a judgement call and as the TO your decision is final.

You should plan not to play at least for your first event or two. It can be a lot of work to make sure terrain is laid out, people are having fun, food is available, scores are dealt with, prizes sorted and rules queries answered. If you are playing as well this can be very tiring and stressful. This is even more of a problem if your event gets quite large.

Size of event

Things to consider are how many games, the size of the factions and how many players

How many games: it is possible to manage up to 5 games in a day (9am-6pm) even at 200pts if you are organised. But this can be quite tiring for players and TO.

Generally it is probably better to run 4 games on a day with 90 minutes per game at the 200pt level.

It’s a good idea to limit games to 5 rounds of play to ensure that each game reaches a conclusion promptly.

Size of the factions: this depends on what you like playing. 200pts allows a lot of list building options but may be a little intimidating if you have a lot of new players where you may prefer to choose 100 or 150pts.

Number of players: this really depends on how many people you can engage to come. I would suggest that you fix a date when you know a large number of your local players can make the event and this will give you the core of an event for you to then seek more players.

Aim big but be realistic, the more players you have the more terrain and space you need etc. If this is your first event you want it to be manageable. Also don’t forget it’s likely that at least 1 player will not come on the day due to unforeseen circumstances so bear this in mind, especially as it may mean that you, as TO, have to drop out or play to make the numbers even.

Getting people to come

The first thing you need to do is ADVERTISE! This can be as simple as in your club/shop or more importantly in dedicated groups for players of the game such as Deadzone Fanatics Facebook page. In this way you are more likely to get people outside of your local area to attend.

Likewise sell your event, let people know what the prizes are and keep them updated on how many people are already signed up and if places are running out. In this way you create a buzz about your event and excite people to come.

If you are charging an entry fee you would ideally do this electronically such as with PayPal so that you have commitment from people before the event and even if they fail to turn up you are not left out of pocket.

Video/Facebook updates during an event also allow people to feel engaged with it even if they cannot come and generate a buzz for people to aim not to miss the next event you run.

Narrative

There are three main ways you can run a Deadzone tournament;

  • Standard tournament format with missions from the rulebook
  • Modified tournament with custom scenarios
  • Campaign style tournament

Each has its merits. Using standard missions from the rulebook is easier as players should know the missions beforehand but the custom or campaign styles allow your players to become invested in the narrative of the event and feel that they are really affecting the story arc. Campaign style tournaments allow players to gain something that directly influences their faction as a result of winning/losing in a similar way to campaigns where you gain resources or items.

Whichever way you choose it is important to have a strong narrative. Why is my strike team on this planet? What do they hope to gain from it? Are there any secrets they should be uncovering? This can be as simple as an intro paragraph and maybe a sentence between games to link them or can involve in depth fluff and writing competitions to engage players even before the event.

Venue

This very much depends on your local situation. Most clubs will be able to accommodate the space for a decent sized tournament as Deadzone doesn’t require much space using only a 2’x2’ mat. What does become a problem though is terrain, as a lot is required for Deadzone and the best way to play is with lots of scatter terrain as well. Bear this in mind as it takes time and money to build and paint unless you already have a large stock. This is an opportunity to ask friends to lend you stuff and even some people travelling to the event will likely be able to bring a mats worth of terrain. Don’t be afraid to ask, it’s always better to have more and not use it than bare tables.

If you are hiring a venue then bear in mind the cost of the venue and any catering you are offering as it is generally good to aim to keep within budget as this is a hobby and not a charity. Also don’t forget the cost of prizes etc.

Secret missions and recon tables

Both secret missions and recon tables can be quite random which may mean they are not suitable for competitive play. Secret missions particularly are probably best avoided.

An effective modification to the recon table would be to use the recon result to determine first player as normal. But rather than rolling all the excess successes on the recon table limit it to a maximum of 2 or 3 rolls possibly also rolling a D6 rather than a D8 for the recon table as well which would remove the flanking manoeuvre and free choice options.

Charity

Some TO’s like to have a charity element to their events as well. This normally takes the form of a voluntary payment to a named charity which then allows some minor bonus to those that donated. This could be something like an extra command dice or reroll once per game. Whatever you choose you need to be careful that it doesn’t unbalance the games. Remember to give evidence to players after the event that the charity did receive the money in the end, such as an email or screenshot.

Scoring

For competitive play it is best to have a random draw for the first round and then to play a Swiss system. This involves pairing up players based on previous results. In this way the best players will continue to play other good players so that everyone throughout the event has a fair game matched against people of a similar ability. For example the player in 1st place with 16 Tournament Points (TPs) will play the player in 2nd with 13TPs, whilst the 3rd placed 12TPs will play the 4th placed also on 12TPs etc.

You can score games however you wish but something like Win 4TPs, Draw 2TPs and Loss 0TPs is a good start. Wins should be determined in the usual way dependent on games size. Keep a record of total victory points gained in each game as well, as this can be used for a tie breaker.

You may want to consider bonus TPs in games for killing leaders or achieving a particular objective especially if you are using custom scenarios.

Soft scores

These are usually given out for best painting, best sportsman or anything else you want. You might want to give further rewards out for the most 8’s rolled at once, most cinematic moment, best back story or worst dice roll in the tournament. These can be spot prizes, formal presented prizes or contribute to the tournament scores (best to do at the final tally to prevent it affecting Swiss pairings). The choice really is yours.

Prizes and prize support

You can really do whatever you want with prizes, I’ve seen some fantastic prizes that were very expensive and some just as fantastic prizes that were a simple certificate. It can be tempting to think you need to produce the best prize ever and if that’s feasible then go for it but you don’t want to spend more money than you will receive. Remember the main prize is playing lots of games and potentially winning the tournament or placing well. Having said that it is nice to have prizes and traditionally they are given out to 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed and sometimes also a wooden spoon for last place!

Prize support is when you are gifted vouchers or product from companies and I would advise anyone to try to get as much as possible. It’s advertising for the manufacturer and costs them very little if they provide product. If you get enough you can be quite liberal with these maybe even giving something to everyone in the event or a goodie bag! It’s also a great opportunity to approach a wide range of sci-fi model or terrain manufacturers which can make prizes more attractive if it’s something not seen in the usual Deadzone/Warpath ranges.

Rankings

The rankings table is a new thing for Deadzone and is designed to encourage people to go to more tournaments and for those tournaments to be larger. The rank is determined by the number of games played and the number of players at an event. You will score less points for winning a small tournament than you will for coming 2nd or 3rd in a larger event. Tournament results can be submitted to me with each player’s name, faction played, number of games and final placing. Many players might not car about rankings and that’s fine but for the more competitive minded it can provide very useful comparisons for players and TO’s.

Final thoughts

I hope this guide has been useful in planning your own Deadzone tournament. If you want more detailed information feel free to send me a message on Facebook or via the rules committee email. The most important think though is to just get out there and play in and run more events. The more this great game is played and seen to be played the more our community will grow.

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