On Wednesday I discussed what worked with the Bodger Bowl. Today, I want to discuss what didn’t work, and how I would do it differently next time (because yes, there will be a next time).
What Didn’t Work
As I mentioned Wednesday, the format of the league worked pretty well. The few times we had people unable to play a particular date, they rescheduled their play time. The only confusion there was we had a set of games that had to be moved for a player out of town for just over a week, and they were played in the opposite order because of other people’s schedules. We worked around this by saying that bonding and injuries applied to the next game played, so there was no chance of getting an injury and not being penalized, or missing out on a bond roll or potential bond because of a weird play order.
This was a minor problem, and I think the ad-hoc fix I came up with was the right answer. I will make sure to call this out in the rules explicitly next time, as I am pretty sure that this will happen again.
The big thing that didn’t work was that we had a player who had to drop out of the league for personal reasons. I am a big proponent of “Real Life Comes First,” but the way it worked out was unfortunate (he didn’t notify me until he had already missed a game). I had to fill in for him for the rest of the season, which meant that there were some people who were suddenly hit with playing a different army and player than they were expecting to.
Put explicit rules in there about missing games, and enforce them. I didn’t do this very well. Also, put in explicit rules on how someone can “bow out.” This will help allow people to step out if real life calls. Part of the impetus to not bow out is that there is a drawing at the end, and we did NOT refund their money if they needed to step out. I liked this, as it helped keep people engaged throughout the league.
Creating the schedule by hand took a lot of time, and was error prone. In fact, I had to fix several errors in the schedule throughout the league as people noticed problems with it (duplicate matchups, same faction matchups, etc).
Technology. Specifically, I am working on some software (I am a software engineer by trade) to handle generating a schedule for me. While scheduling is an NP-Complete (translation: can take a really long time) problem, the number of players is small (16-20 at most) so it won’t be prohibitively slow. And this will help to eliminate (barring bugs) the scheduling snafus. It will also reduce the amount of time I spend creating the schedule, which was a major problem as well.
I had a requirement that people sign up by the Sunday before the first game so that I had time to generate the schedule. This meant there were some people who were unable to play in the league because they missed the signup. Actually, only one person I am aware of. While one person misunderstanding the sign up requirements is not a huge deal, it is something I want to avoid.
I need to be better about being very explicit with the requirements. I will be notifying the mailing list throughout the sign up process, as well as reminding people every game night next time leading up to the league. Also, having a quicker generation system (i.e. the software as noted in the previous problem) will help me to be more aggressive on the last time people can sign up.
Games took too long. We had several games go over 4 hours, and at least one go to 5. I did not require timed turns, and this lead to some overanalyzing by some players.
Timed turns. This will help to reduce the chance that a game can go super long. Have one, or even two, extensions, and a liberal amount of time for the turns, but enforce the times for the turns. No one likes long turns, not on either side, so removing the ability helps to speed up games and rewards aggressive play.
The bonds and injuries were too hard to keep track of on paper. I wanted an app, or a web site, where people could record their games and the results of bonds and injuries, and it would track it for the next game(s).
I am also working on a web site (with the help of some friends who are also developers) to track all of this information for next time. It should be pretty easy to do, although there is a lot to do still.
There were some nights where we did not have enough table space for all the games going on. One unintended (happy) side effect of the league was that more players started showing up to play on Wednesday nights for free games. That was interesting, but it lead to a shortage of table space. Add in the occasional game of other systems (Flames of War, Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, etc), and table space was tight.
As our Warmachine and Hordes community continues to grow, we will need more table space. There is space in the shop for it, and I am in discussion with the owners to get that space cleaned up and ready for use. We currently have 22(!) people who have expressed serious interest (i.e. have all but put money down) in the Journeyman league. We are going to need the table space.
Overall, the Bodger Bowl was a huge success, and I am looking forward to Bodger Bowl II later this year. If I can implement these changes, I think it will be an even bigger success. We already have people saying how much they want to play in it, so maybe we can get 16 or even 20 players this time – that would be awesome!
Any other ideas, from people in the Bodger Bowl or others who have done similar leagues?