After taking time digesting the amazing experience that was the Bay Area Open 2012, here are a few thoughts. First off, I had a great time and was proud to win the Best Daemon player and place 20th overall, even going undefeated on Day 1. Having played in the Bay Area Open last year it was fun to see how seemly small changes make a big difference in year two. Here are my highlights of those changes.

  • 1750 down to 1850
  • More Terrain (still needs more)
  • Removal of Bracket points
  • Addition of Best Army prizes

The first change was bringing the tourney down from 1850 to 1750. Of course, for those who know me I would prefer 1500, but I think 1750 is the best point level for avoiding revolts from players that just love more toys. Like 1500 it still makes you think about what is important to bring and what you cannot spam.

This year saw more terrain for tables, but still not enough. This seems always a problem for new events and it really isn’t anything that won’t be cured with time. As years go on events typically gather enough terrain to cover tables properly. In the meantime though I think mixing up terrain periodically during the event, (especially for the top tables) helps to keep the tables fresh and avoid players that are sitting at the top tables getting accustomed to the same placement over and over again

The first year of Bay Area Open resolved tie breakers for W/L/D with something called Bracket Points. This year draws and total victory conditions accumulated determined pairings and rankings. This simple system was much simpler from year one, succeeding without gimmicks like forcing VPs into the equation.

The biggest and best psychological change to the system was Army specific prize support. This idea is an old one with GW instituting it for the Throne of Skulls events. What it does is two-fold. First off it alleviates a major problem with W/L tournaments where one loss = player losing interest. As seen with the early player exodus at NovaOpen on the final day. Having this element creates incentive for players to have more skin in the games. It is also hard to track for an individual player; keeping the mystery of where he ranks. This is a better than creating “loser” brackets (like Nova) where you still run into the problems of losing one game and your out– just in time to still check out of the hotel.

The other important thing is it incentivizes players to bring other armies. Personally I assumed I was going to be the only Daemon player to show up, but instead at least five attended. The same sort of thing happen for many players. This is mute though if the prize support isn’t good enough to make players take older armies. So the Bay Area Open had a Battleforce of your choice as incentive enough. Remember also that most players are not ego crazed like many competitive chatter boxes on the Internet and thus having something else to play for is just great.

I also had a few other takeaways from the Bay Area Open as it relates to the current meta.

I am coming to the conclusion that one of the best ways to deal with the current “Grey Knight problem” is having them play each other in the first round of every tourney. Irrational or not people just don’t want to play them and watching a few people concede gamjus enforce rolling any dice tells you something. Now the clearest way to avoid a bias against Grey Knights in particular is for tournaments to institute a threshold (percent) in which an army reaches before automatic pairings against each other occurs. This still means that the best players rise to the top even if they are playing the current flavor of the month and all done with minimal rigging of the event. It also creates another incentive for players to not run the current Matt Ward dex and try something else. So unless we get some national 40k pairing system in place this is one simple way for a tournament that doesn’t have clandestine agendas to minimize some player fatigue against the most hated army of the day.

The last thing I took away from the Bay Area Open was my continued defense of draws. Much like quantum physics were everyone is trying to break down the system into ever smaller quantifiable parts the Higgs Boson of W/L is never going to be achieved.

Even in real war many battles have draws and a draw can mean many things. It can mean you clawed your way from a horrible defeat. For me personally, draws often help me not feel cheated and the fact they exist always gives me something to shoot for even in the face of terrible odds. Draws also keep me focused in the game (boots on the ground) and instead of creative ways for point denial or other tricks. Draws also act like de facto battle points without the inherent problems of being untested or superfluous; it is right built-in the rules and provides another way to keep players engaged in the tournament. Most of all if its good enough for Hockey and Soccer its good enough for 40k.

Like I said before the Bay Area Open was a great experience and I can only see it getting better. Thanks to Reece and Team Zero Comp for running it. Glad I was able to make the Austin crew trip it California affordable and fun. If you want to see pictures and find more information about the Bay Area Open here is a few helpful links.

Here are the few pics I was able to take from the event myself.