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Ben

Plans for the future of the Masters and Rankings

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The Future of the Masters 

I love warhammer.  

I love the community.  I love getting together with my mates and playing games, I love meeting new people and having this wonderful hobby in common.  I love to see the wide and varied communities from all around the world doing amazing things to do with Warhammer.  

Tournament gaming is a massive part of this.  The ETC is a fantastic example of what is possible, but so are events like Adepticon, Cancon, Gencon, UK Games Expo and even our own UK events like Blood and Glory, SCGT, Facehammer GT, BOBO, Blood tithe and all the way down the local stores running club nights and weekend one dayers.

The Masters has always been my way of celebrating the game, and giving a thank you to the community for supporting my podcast, events and hobby. 

I have a vision for the Masters where it is an amazing weekend of warhammer, with the top players from all across the world getting together to celebrate the game and find the champion.  Events like the Crossfit Games and the League of Legends worlds show that amazing and huge live events, for the niche topics can be possible, and if there is enough interest it can be made to happen. 

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If this is the dream of an Age of Sigmar Masters event, what does it look like next year? 

A full on spectator event in front of a live audience! 

A knockout tournament where the entrants are seeded by their rankings position, with the final game played between the last players standing to see who takes the title of Age of Sigmar Master! 

The champion will be crowned in front of a live audience. 

Next year I will be running the Masters alongside the Bad Dice GT in the summer of 2020.  The Masters event itself will be switching from a Swiss style 2 day tournament to a single day 4 round knockout event with the final taking place on the Saturday evening of the infront of a live audience.

We have the venue booked already with a theatre hall and tiered seating that can seat the entire field from the GT plus spectators.  We have a local company who we can work with to supply huge screens and media walls, and of course the option to live stream the whole event.  The current rankings season is going to run for the next 18 months for this season to allow for the date change of the masters. (yes this means that Jan-June event will occur twice in this season, but going forwards will settle back down into a routine)

This means the rankings season that started 10th December 2018, will run until the summer of 2020, roughly an extra 6 months. This should put us in line with the traditional GHB and game system updates for future years. 

The details for this are still in progress, and plans can be made and ironed out over the next 12-18 months. At this stage all that is set in stone is that in 2020 the event is moving to the summer and running alongside the Bad Dice GT.  

So how can it be the best it can be? 

I'm looking for feedback, ideas and support from the community to make this the best event possible.  I have ideas but I am sure there are things that can be done I haven't even considered and I would love for the entire community to pull together to get behind this.

Please let me know what you think, and what you could suggest that might make this the worlds greatest Warhammer Event!

 

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I spoke with the players at this years masters already.  It would be good to hear your feedback on what its like to take part in the masters and how you think this could change in the future

@Jack Armstrong @Russ Veal @JustPlay-Ritchie @Age of The Erstwood @Kanamorf @Dan.Ford @Fireborn33 @Beardyface @Donal @ravman @Ben Johnson

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First off, congrats on running this. It's clear  you have a passion for this, and I'm sure you'll make it the best possible event.

My concern, and my curiousness about how you'll manage it, is over the key difference between video games and Warhammer.

League and others don't have to worry about opponent cooperation, weighted dice, judges' rulings, confusing conversions, evaluation of art, and so on. The game is played and a winner emerges. There's nothing subjective whatsoever.

Warhammer and it's kin are open to so much interpretation and cheating, that it just feels like a horrible moment in waiting.

If there is no prize money (or sponsorships) involved, and just bragging rights are on the line, you still get very upset people who lose due to a grey area or judges' rulings. I can't image how messy it could get with tangible assets on the line.

So, how are you going to keep this monster from hatching?

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This sounds amazing @Ben! I was expecting tweaks to the rankings system. Instead, we get something momentous! I think competition to make the Masters may be a little hotter this year! 

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26 minutes ago, Sleboda said:

First off, congrats on running this. It's clear  you have a passion for this, and I'm sure you'll make it the best possible event.

My concern, and my curiousness about how you'll manage it, is over the key difference between video games and Warhammer.

League and others don't have to worry about opponent cooperation, weighted dice, judges' rulings, confusing conversions, evaluation of art, and so on. The game is played and a winner emerges. There's nothing subjective whatsoever.

Warhammer and it's kin are open to so much interpretation and cheating, that it just feels like a horrible moment in waiting.

If there is no prize money (or sponsorships) involved, and just bragging rights are on the line, you still get very upset people who lose due to a grey area or judges' rulings. I can't image how messy it could get with tangible assets on the line.

So, how are you going to keep this monster from hatching?

I'm not sure people getting upset by judges' rulings is an issue in the long term. People in sports complain about referee / umpire decisions constantly. Ultimately, it doesn't mar sports. 

And anyone found cheating is banned, permanently. Can't see any argument against that. 

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A few ideas:

1) Getting GW to attend - perhaps if you get enough bums on seats making it a big enough event that they will want to announce something at the event. Getting them on board early with dates and ideas of numbers would be great; if its a big enough event whilst I'd not expect them to change their schedule they could certainly use the event to announce some future releases/details. It gives something for those attending and tuning in to have other than just the games. 

2) Solid commentators - likely something you're already thinking of. What I think would help tremendously is if you use the time until the event choosing and training those commentators so that they are ready for covering the matches. This is great for both live and also those viewing online. Plus you can use it as solid marketing before the event - if the commentators already have a fanbase by the day its going to help your viewing and likely attending numbers. Plus it lets you make sure they are in top top condition to commentate on the day - not spending it hmming and harring or dropping flat jokes or quips or the like. 

3) Day 2? You mention making it a weekend event and you've focused this on a one day tournament event. What's for Day 2? 

4) What's to do except watch. I'm not saying watching is boring; but what else is there at the event? What is the room and space for? Open play tables? AoS Champions and RPG game tables/minor events? Displays and artwork etc... Stalls and local retailers? What's going to be there for people to have things to take away with them at the end of the event besides viewing the games. 

5) You mention that you're going to stream the events - will that be live and all matches at once? Can your camera system allow you to have each game viewed on live stream and then have the feed split so that the commentators can get a feed from it to display on the "commentated" feed. Will they be able to pause, rewind and reshow key moments etc... 

6) Dice cam. Often when viewing life streams you sort of have to take the gamers word on what the dice rolls mean; if its recording a live game that's competitive and on a timer you can wager that the players won't be saying much. Plus even for the commentated game its a lot easier for the commentators if they can read the dice clear. A dedicated dice rolling box with its own separate camera would work well - viewers could easily see dice and their results; it keep dice in a contained area etc... However this is adding more complexity - having to merge two camera outputs into a single stream output. 

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30 minutes ago, hobgoblinclub said:

People in sports complain about referee / umpire decisions constantly. Ultimately, it doesn't mar sports

Yes it does, often in fact. Refs have been bribed (NBA), fined, and fired over bad calls. That's not the full point, though. In sports, everything is ... big ... enough, I suppose, that even the folks who get harmed by a judgement call just sort of take it. Nobody sues* the league or the ref because of a bad call. Even if they did, the leagues are big enough to absorb or pay off the lawsuit.

That surely would not be the case here. All it would take is one good case to destroy the event.

*The current Saints instance is a non-serious PR stunt.

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1 hour ago, Sleboda said:

All it would take is one good case to destroy the event.

What possible grounds for a suit is there? That seems like a real slippery slope. You'd need an actionable complaint and all it takes is a pretty simple form disclaimer to isolate you from almost all liability. 

Also if we're concerned about that - why aren't the losers of any other major event where cheating has been confirmed (ATC, NOVA, and Adepticon all spring to mind) suing those events? 

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@Ben you should take a look at the order of phases UI for magic the gathering arena. It’s located in the bottom right corner. My biggest issues at tournaments have been players wanting to do something out of sequence and the two players disagreeing whether it is appropriate to go back.

In MTGA you click pass to move to the next phase and can not go back. 

This has to be possible to implement as AOS transitions to a esport. 

Even a simple counter that the player moves to indicate which phase they are in separate by start of hero, hero, start of move, etc etc...

could be displayed in the big screen as well along with the score of the battle plan.

admittiviely, this should be much less of a problem when two quality players face each other since each should know the rules of the game well.

Edited by svnvaldez

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This is something that Honest Wargamer has been advocating for a couple years, you should have a chat with Rob. Just look at the coverage of BOBO and CANCON to see the future of T-Sports broadcasting

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The only way I can see this working is if the players have WWE style entrances and UFCesque nicknames.  

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Have you thought about a ‘framework’ of what qualifies for results submissions ? This is possibly a narrow minded point of view from me (because I don’t know how the current results process works) however, how will you seperate our thouse that qualify by way of quantity rather then quality? Only top 4 results are taken into account maybe ?? 

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Nice idea. Making the scene bigger and better has always been a goal of yours and I believe this is a great step forward. It’ll take a huge amount of organisation from yourself but I’m sure your aware of that but what is most important is buy in from the community. Build up towards an event. Great coverage and live in-depth commentary from knowledge people would be a must. 

This must be a spectacle for it to work. 

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Would be a good opportunity to look at the rankings again, whether it's little things like making sure allegiances are recorded properly and not split between different names for the same allegiance, or a complete overhaul considering some of the ideas that @ianob came up with, definitely worth a review anyway.

Edited by BobbyB
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I think good idea would be split tournaments into group stage and knock-out stage. Take 16 players 

4 grups of 4 players which opens up huge opportunities rules wise for example to use different realm for each group (for example Aqshy groups, Ghur group) 

Day 1 they play each other - so every player plays 3 games. 

Then 2 players from each group advance to knock-out stage and player further games 

1/4  

1/2 

3rd place match 

Final 

It gives players possibility to recover from 1 loss to win torunamets and creates huge possibilities. 

 

Another idea is to create spots for non UK players for example 4-6 spots for international player 

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I think side board point values would add a lot of depth to the game and is currently missing in war gaming. Maybe 2500 point lists that field 2000 points.

 

Also all games going to round 5 is important or a chess clock to confirm who caused the time shortage and that they lose due to it. I think once spectators are involved, people want to see something fair.

 

I loved the Cancon coverage, the honest wargamers + aos shorts did an amazing job. Something at this level that broadcasts the event but also cuts to the other tables coverage is great. In the case of a last game coverage type thing this can be analyzing replays of the last few moves to fill dead time. I think a lot of ideas can be had from watching some chess tournaments. This is very close to what aos should aspire too. Its likely your avid spectators are also going to be great players watching to improve their game as much as for the fun of it.

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So here are my thoughts.  Assuming that the masters will retain a 16 player cap then I would propose the following:-

Friday afternoon/evening first round elimination - if possible to stagger the games you could stream two of the 8 games.   The eliminated 8 go into the weekends GT and as that doesn't start until the following morning there doesn't need to be any messing about with adding wins etc.

Saturday game 1 - the winning 4 players go through to the semi finals - the losers will go into the GT with their Friday night game score carried into their GT score effectively giving them a win and accurate VPs, secondaries etc.

Saturday game 2 - the remaining 4 players play in a semi final game with the winning two players going on to a play off

Saturday game 3 play off - afternoon game (in line with game three of the GT) where people who finish early can start to come though to watch

Saturday game 3 final - evening game so any attendees can watch

 

I really can't think of a fair way of adding the 8 finalists into the GT once they get to the semi final stage.  I would assume that the last 4 would not take part in the Sunday of the GT.

Edited by Countmoore
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The core problem with side-boards in wargames is that you can't just swap one unit for another easily. In card games its easy because each card has the same "value" in terms of building the deck. You swap one for another. In AoS one unit might be 200points and another 150. AoS is even more like this because the units are built in larger blocks.

That said they could do what Warmachine has done which is to have a two or three list system. So instead of a player bringing one list they bring two or three and can then choose to vary which army they use. Of course the army must be the same faction and you might even impose other restrictions on what can and can't change. This would give the ability to slightly list tailor for each opponent even if its only at army choice level. 

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Good idea in general Ben. Aligning it to GBH release is a good idea, moving the 'seasons' summer-summer.  I'm not personally a fan of watching warhammer but I know people are, and as long as players are miked, the commentators are on the ball and viewers can see and know what's going on you may convince me!

If I was playing in the GT I probably wouldn't want someone parachuted in day two. Better to do the masters on the friday night as others have suggested, or like @Countmoores excellent idea above.

The rankings site would need an overhaul to match the professionalism forecast; auto-submission of results, correct allegiance banding etc.  Look again at weighting so that sub 2000 point events don't get equal merit. Exciting times.

 

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My thoughts...

Firstly I think this is an amazing idea. Whilst I hate the idea of the 'hobby' edging into the esport arena (mainly as the subject of cash prizes comes up and something that is fun can often be taken too seriously), I do enjoy watching battle reports and following coverage from people at an event. Plus having it as a show down final bit like the Super Bowl (... Go Pats... ), would be brilliant to see. 

So my thoughts. I might ramble and jump around but bear with me...

Format

I like the idea of a one day knock out event. I would assume that people being knocked out of the event would end up being seeded in the GT event on the side? Only concern with this is that players who can see themselves being knocked out in the first few rounds may just bring a standard list rather than thinking about beating the Masters Meta (it was nice seeing the lists this year). Does this mean that Masters players need two lists or even different armies/races? If being knocked out does this mean that get that result replicated into the GT going along side or because they have made the masters it means they get a win?  Personally I think players being knocked out of the masters, get their result replicated into the GT but they need to switch over to a GT list.

Coverage

I've not had chance to properly catch up with the coverage of the masters. I've seen some of the tweets and updates via Facebook and Instagram, but as I've been looking after a sick child over the weekend, I found it to be very disjointed. Would have been nice to have seen a written write up after each round for those of us who are limited with watching videos (it's been a weekend of being very quiet or trying to keep sane whilst Peppa Pig is being played over and over again). Please don't take this as a criticism for what coverage you did do @Ben, as I know you do the Masters is totally off your own back and just as much a weekend for you to enjoy as it is for the players. I think when entering the realms of what you are proposing, it needs something that some other people can concentrate on. Also when watching the main event in the theatre/hall, will it be like the Snooker Masters with people watching in silence (and cheering when something cool happens)?

Eligibility

As this is a multi national forum, I feel this needs to be asked. To gain access to the Masters, I would assume it's just competing in UK events? Is it worth looking at opening the field up for international players, so if they have a similar ranking system they can join the event? Not sure how this would work but would be cool to see, especially as I can see this sort of event attracting International players.

So I think this is a great idea and know you will do a great job ;) 

PS would be cool to see a 40K version of this too..... 

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Anything that pushes a professional tier of AOS with legit prize support like the FFG games get would be in my opinion most welcome.  Everything  you posted I would be all for.

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As an international player, I'm also curious about what @Gaz Taylor asked about eligibility: 

33 minutes ago, Gaz Taylor said:

As this is a multi national forum, I feel this needs to be asked. To gain access to the Masters, I would assume it's just competing in UK events? Is it worth looking at opening the field up for international players, so if they have a similar ranking system they can join the event? Not sure how this would work but would be cool to see, especially as I can see this sort of event attracting International players.

------

@Ben

Do we currently maintain an international ranking? If not, how do we go about doing so? If Masters is only open to uk players, by which I mean those that performed well in tournaments in the uk, then the idea of having top players from around the world attending will never happen, unless I'm missing something obvious ;) On a side note, it is perfectly okay having it be for UK ranked players only, as long as it is clear that that is the intention. If it ever intends to expand into an international playing field then we, the players outside the UK, need to know what we can do to qualify.

Edited by Mayple

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1 hour ago, Countmoore said:

So here are my thoughts.  Assuming that the masters will retain a 16 player cap then I would propose the following:-

Friday afternoon/evening first round elimination - if possible to stagger the games you could stream two of the 8 games.   The eliminated 8 go into the weekends GT and as that doesn't start until the following morning there doesn't need to be any messing about with adding wins etc.

Saturday game 1 - the winning 4 players go through to the semi finals - the losers will go into the GT with their Friday night game score carried into their GT score effectively giving them a win and accurate VPs, secondaries etc.

Saturday game 2 - the remaining 4 players play in a semi final game with the winning two players going on to a play off

Saturday game 3 play off - afternoon game (in line with game three of the GT) where people who finish early can start to come though to watch

Saturday game 3 final - evening game so any attendees can watch

 

I really can't think of a fair way of adding the 8 finalists into the GT once they get to the semi final stage.  I would assume that the last 4 would not take part in the Sunday of the GT.

I think this is a really solid idea, and helps avoid issues of people parachuting in to an ongoing event.

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I think this is really exciting Ben so kudos on putting it together.

Format:

I think the knockout style works well (basically what Chris did for Dorset masters and I'm copying for London).

Eligibility/Rankings:

I understand the appeal for using the UK rankings system next year but it could limit the audience and if you are looking for CrossFit style may be better going more ambitious and creating an international masters (the Master for each country qualifies). Way more expensive, so potentially is something to consider for future years.

Build Up and Coverage

What is going to set the format apart is much more coverage & streaming. Twitch seems to be the best place for streaming and I'd look to piggyback on existing audiences. The two clear choices for experienced commentating (which I think is essential to make it a success in the UK are WHTV team & The Honest Wargamer team). 

I like both, and they have good pros/cons which I won't get into here. I think creating a social media coverage to make it more of a "live streaming" event, combined with on side large TVs is the way to go. 

You can create alot of tension & build up for the Final by doing list run downs, getting "experts" on to cover the factions. interviews with the finalists, and creating drama. 

Getting GT participants to Watch Final

In some ways this could be a big challenge. Even with the best intentions i know after 3 games of AoS the last thing I want to do is watch more AOS...

Might be worth considering doing something radical (event wise) and only do 2 games on Saturday to allow for streaming the final. Though that could be an issue as many may not want 3 games on a Sunday.


 

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An international ranking structure and streamed finals open up all kinds of awesome things and sponsors and endorsements.

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