A few weeks ago I posted an article on how to run an effective tournament. This tends to be a mixed bag with Infinity as they have an incredibly easy and standardized tournament system (ITS), but they have not yet released what I would qualify as competitive missions. So, it is up to tournament organizers to develop those, at least until the campaign book comes out.
So, imagine my amazement and disbelief when, after asking repeatedly for the tournament missions to be played in the Battlefoam Tournament, they have replied that they will not be providing missions beforehand. I, and any other player in the tournament, will have to take a guess on what sorts of missions we will see when we get there.
There are multiple reasons why this is of such importance:
1. I, as a player, have no idea what I should bring in preparation for this. How many lists should I bring? Will I be able to bring multiple and choose, or just one and stick with it? Obviously, this gets into how much can I bring on the plane. I’ve been assured that I will know the point values beforehand, but without knowing the missions, I can’t practice my list(s) towards anything.
2. What if, God forbid, the missions suck? They fail to provide an adequate competitive game, and it is instead a one-sided bloodbath. I see a lot of missions posted on the Infinity forums, and I think a lot of them are neat for a beer-and-chips kind of night, but not suitable for a competitive, objectively based tournament. Of course, those that are hoping to become competitive are doing the right thing – asking people to playtest them and make improvements. That’s how you design a competitive mission: playtesting and iterative editing.
3. I’ll give Battlefoam the benefit of the doubt, and say that they’ve playtested it thoroughly. With whom? In the store? That’s quite a small sample (n < 25, for you engineer types). With the larger gaming community? So, now the locals have foreknowledge of the missions, but people coming in from far away are at a disadvantage. That’s the kind of favoritism I despise.
4. Finally, I have to ask: what benefit is there to keeping the missions secret? I have to believe it’s some sort of arrogance on their part. The scenarios they’ve built are perfect, so they don’t need to be playtested. Or there is the fear that people will “tailor their lists” for certain scenarios. Any Infinity player worth their salt will tell you that, the list is not as important as how you use it, provided you have the basic tools you need to succeed. If I need a hacker to win a scenario, what if I didn’t bring a hacker? That’s true of most game systems, not just Infinity.
I compare this directly to the Adepticon tournament that our local crew is going to. They are more than three months after the Battlefoam tournament (i.e. late April), and they already have point values up for every single one of their events. As of November 9, Battlefoam has failed to provide even this for most of their events. Adepticon even has mission packets available online for half of the systems already.
It would be one thing if they said, “We will be using scenarios straight from the rulebook.” That’s fine, for 40K and Malifaux. For Infinity, of course, there are no scenarios, so that presents a problem. But they are in fact saying that there will be alterations made to the mission scenarios in the rulebooks for the tournament. And they will not be published beforehand.
Let this be a warning to TOs everywhere: publish the primers early, allow the people who are coming to compete to playtest the scenarios, and commit to incorporating their feedback. Be devoted to running a good high-quality tournament, and everyone will be happier in the long run.