Apr 24th, 2012 by Terence Jason Dorman
by special guest, Terence Jason Dorman
Due to being extremely busy making sure Gen-Con 2012 goes off without a hitch, Will was unable to get a Blarg to me this week and asked me to fill in. I guess April is the month of Terence as you guys have gotten doses of me three weeks in a row.
While Will usually writes about the Organized Play program as a whole and the big picture, I am unable to do that as I have never been a part of that process. I was able to cheat a little when I filled in for Ken as I was once part of the design team and have some experience in that area, but I have no knowledge at all about how to be the Director of Organized Play.
I do, however, have experience being the Tournament Organizer for a local gaming store.
During my tenure as Assistant Manager of Grasshopper’s Comics (go Team Hopper!), I was in charge of planning weekly/monthly events for the various games played at our store. This meant that, aside from my duties with other games, I was in charge of planning Spoils events and making sure we had a set schedule that our players were aware of and interested in.
In essence, as a Tournament Organizer, I was a smaller and more localized version of a Director of Organized Play. The same can be said for Tournament Organizers all over the globe, and I’m sure there are plenty of them out there who do a much better job than I did.
As a T.O. it was my job to make sure that Grasshopper’s was running events that the players wanted to take part in while keeping the game fresh and interesting. Every game suffers from a bit of “release lag” when it has been a while between new cards, so it is up to Organizers to keep the game alive during these gaps. The same can be said about Will, only he operates on the global level, a task that seems extremely daunting and challenging to me.
For me and my local store, the key to keeping games alive was diversity. Players tend to get bored of games faster if they keep doing the same thing over and over again. This is why I would always make sure that our Spoils schedule had a nice variety of constructed, sealed, and draft tournaments. These would usually be on a set rotation so that players could plan accordingly for the evens they wanted to participate in.
Another difficulty arises, however, when this rotation causes stagnation. Some players, but not all, will even come to get bored of the variety. If you’re lucky and have a player base where this isn’t a problem then kudos to you.
If you do have this problem, or just want to spice up your rotation a bit, I suggest adding even MORE variety to your variety. Sure, switching between constructed/draft/sealed is fun, but how about morphing those three formats? Maybe you can try common/uncommon only constructed, a weird draft format (two packs 2nd Edition and one pack Seed 2, for example), or even a new sealed format (a competition pack and a random pre-con deck).
While these formats may not be provided at other venues (and therefore have no “competitive” scene if that is what drives your players), they are the kind of formats that are extremely fun and can lead to wild and exciting tournaments that will revitalize interest and, hopefully, keep your players coming back.
For instance, myself and the rest of Team Hopper once held a draft in which all three packs of the draft were First Edition: Part Two. First Edition was expertly designed so that the draft format was two Part One packs and one Part Two, so a format of all three Part Two led to a very strange, but fun, experience.
At the end of the day, no matter how competitive your group may be, gaming and The Spoils really are all about having fun. As Director of Organized Play, Will is definitely working towards making sure The Spoils is a fun and exciting experience for all, and I’m positive his next Blarg entry will feature some exciting news regarding the future of OP.
For now, though, try out some of my tips for spicing up your local Organized Play scene, if you need them, and be sure to report back here and let me know how they worked out for you.
And remember, Have Fun and Play Spoils!