Episode 7 – Tournament Game Master Basics Part 3: Be the GM!

In this episode, I conclude the series covering the basics of running a game tournament.   Rob Kircher co-hosts  and my son Rich joins us as we explore the problems that can come up when running a tournament. Alas, we discuss cheating and the more common errors and what to do about it.

We talk about some games we played recently as we get ready for WBC 2015.

The next episode will be about our experiences at WBC.

Points to remember:

  • Herd the cats by addressing the crowd. You or someone needs an outside voice.
  • Introduce the Assistant GM.
  • Review special rules.
  • Get help with paperwork if you have a crowd.

A discussion on cheating follows. Remember that making a mistake or otherwise messing up is more common than cheating. To minimize problems:

  • Keep game components on the table.
  • Perform transactions in the game visibly. Appointing a “banker” is usually good.

If Rich and I sound a little paranoid, please remember that he has a shiny new doctorate in computer security and I am certified in that field. Its not paranoia when they ARE out to get you. Cheating in board game tournaments is rare. Messing up the game through misunderstanding or just clumsiness is more common. Any of these may require fast and decisive action by the GM.

The goal is to restore the correct state of the game if at all possible. Players should know that problems need to come to your attention immediately, so you have the best chance to fix the problem.

We also discuss time limits, stalling and adjudicating games that don’t finish on time.

The most important point is that if you have thought about potential problems ahead of time, you are more prepared to deal with them decisively.

Some fun suggestions:

  • Get your own photos, don’t rely on the convention staff to get enough
  • Post about the tournament online. Players like it

We played St. Petersburg to prepare for WBC. It is always good to review the rules or play a game ahead of time. I seldom do well at the game (buy more buildings early), but it is always fun.

We played Through the Ages and had fun. We didn’t play with a lot of conflict. I led in military most of the game, but only glared at the other players. Rich went to war using Joan of Arc and Rob spent more defending himself than he would have lost losing the war. I am pretty sure that is what gave me the win.

San Juan is a tournament we all enter although I never do well.

Concordia is in its second year at WBC. We like the game a lot. Give it a try if you get the chance. Its the kind of game I enjoy even when I am not winning. Every move is a puzzle and there is a lot of player indirect interaction as the other players make things more expensive for you and you always have to consider rethinking your planned move based on what the other players just did.

We discuss tiebreakers and the importance of reviewing online info about the format of tournaments at WBC.

Next time, I’ll talk about what happened at WBC and lessons learned. I hope Rob and Rich will join me on the podcast. A few Recon style reviews will come up next and a new series on playing better.

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One Response to Episode 7 – Tournament Game Master Basics Part 3: Be the GM!

  1. Marcy Morelli says:

    I thought this was really coverage of some of the issues that can arise during tournament play. Thanks for doing this!

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