Discussion: Creating a ‘Hobby’ Event & Army Comp

Army Comp - Fate's AngelsLast November my FLGS ran its first big 40K tournament. We run monthly tournaments but this was a 30 player event with a big buy-in and lots of freebies and awards to be had. Overall the event was a success and next month we’ll be hosting a scaled down version of that event.

Anyone who has organized and put together a tournament will tell you it’s not easy. There are a lot of considerations to be made and ultimately you want to run an event where every player leaves happy regardless of how they did at the tables; not an easy task. Amongst the considerations are the scoring metrics: comp, painting, sportsmanship, etc. The metrics you choose give direction to the type of event you’re hosting. Take ‘ard Boyz. The only score that matters, and in fact the only score that exists, is battle points. The goal of the day is to beat face, plain and simple. You also have those ‘hobby’ events where soft scores are used and there are awards for best overall or renaissance man, whatever name it goes by at a particular event.

Army Comp - Standoff Awards
The kick-ass trophies we fought for in November at The Standish Standoff

Now, the event we ran in November, and the one we’re running next month, would be considered hobby events. One of the always touchy subjects is army composition. Love it or hate it you’ll often see it at one event or another you attend. Now, I agree with those that say scoring comp is not a science and it’s far from perfect. It really does often come down to the bias of those creating the rubric for which comp is scored. At my FLGS I railed against it when we used it in our monthly tournaments and we no longer use it. However, at these events I’m discussing we do use it.

What I want to discuss is not the use of army comp, at least not specifically, but what it does and if there’s a better way. I feel that what army comp does do is set the tone of the event, like it or hate it. Usually the goal of comp is to say that the event is less about who has the best list and more about creating a more casual environment for gaming and awarding various aspects of the hobby. I know, I know, fun is subjective…blah, blah, blah. I stand on both sides of the fence with this stuff, it’s not the point. My point is this. Is there a way to create a hobby event without comp but still keep the tone of the event?


Now, Amberclad feels that by using soft scores for sportsmanship and painting is ‘enough’ to set the event as such but is it really? I don’t feel it is. These events draw a particular crowd. The people who generally attend such events do so knowing that ‘cheesy’ lists will be minimal. Comp doesn’t eliminate these lists entirely but there’s no arguing it severely reduces them.

For next month we’re introducing a new award, the people’s champion. The award is given to the person with has the highest soft scores. We’ll have best general (battle points), best overall (all points), and people’s champion (soft scores). Is having an award like people’s champion the answer? Let’s say, which we aren’t doing for this event for the record, we have comp but only use it as a factor for people’s champion. So, best overall would be battle points, sportsmanship and painting (though a new name would seem appropriate in this case), and then people’s champion is sportsmanship, painting and comp. All type of players stand a chance at winning a category, which is always true but you know what I mean.

It seems a partial answer in that everyone is rewarded but with 2 of the 3 categories not factoring in comp it also changes, in my opinion, the tone of the event. However, is it a fair compromise? Hell, does there even need to be a compromise? Those who choose to attend these events do so knowing what they are and thus are cool with the scoring system. If you show up at an event like this and bitch about comp then isn’t it not your own fault for going?

Ultimately though I’m curious if a hobby event can be run that sets the tone of more ‘casual’ gaming and can do so without comp. Thoughts?

  • therhino

    A successful “hobby” event requires implicit particiapation in the theme by all attendees, which in this day and age is an impossibility. You’ll always have the individuals who show up to a hobby event with a non-hobby army, list, and attitude.
    The trick to success lies int he TO and his or her backbone. If you want a “hobby” event, MAKE it a hobby event. Army lists can (and must) be presubmitted, reviewed, and approved. Seriously. Anything that doesn’t fit your criteria gets kicked back for a rewrite.

    The problem with this? It assumes everyone wants to play that format, and that everyone has a hobby collection from which to choose. Many players only buy the units that kick asses, and don’t own anything that isn’t designed to be brutally efficient.
    The other problem is a perception of snobbery. If you start kicking peoples’ army lists back to them, they get resentful. Who are you to tell them what they can play? The truth is that you’re the god of that event, andif they want to play in it and win your fantasic prizes, they do what you command.

    However, the only way to ensure enugh participants at your event is to try to walk the middle ground, which is where it all falls apart. Hobbyists and gamers don’t mix well. There’s an underlying sandpapery quality when the two meet, and then a vinegar rainstorm.

    It happened at the Standoff. While everyone enjoyed the event, there were hobbyists who rankled at having to play some of the “harder” lists after the first-round matchup, and gamers who were upset that not everyone enjoyed playing against them and showed it with sportsmanship scoring.

    There isn’t a perfect event that is run with anything less than an iron fist. Tournaments are a Catch-22.

    •  Well said.

    • You have some very good points.

      I think another aspect to consider is prize allocation.  A competetive event should have top heavy prizes.  If you want the goods you’d better bring the game.  This can create an environment less appreciated by the hobbyist but that’s not really the point.  The emphasis here is competition and if you’ve willfully brought a less competetive build to a competetive event you have nobody but yourself to blame when you don’t win.

      A hobby event should have more evenly distributed swag.  Trophies and maybe small prizes for whatever categories are being rewarded but the big prizes should be avoided in favor of more freebies for everyone.  This rewards participation more than competition.  It doesn’t matter if you didn’t take first place; you had fun and still go home with some goodies. 

      • This is very true. The Standoff did relatively well in that regard, nobody left empty handed at least. Only two trophies were for gaming, best general and best overall. The rest of the trophies didn’t involve gaming at all. It’s something the Dorka guys did too that we all liked, lots of rewards for lots of different things.

  • BenitoSenence

    I’ve been following along this thread from our forum and it’s hard for me to fully chime in as I come from playing when “cheese” list were the norm. The only other prize was paintin, what was sportsmanship? But since I have been playing awhile a minor suggestion from the apparant make-up of the codexes, what about the tournament not allowing “special characters”? In my day of third you couldn’t play them anyway and I know this hits a little of what therhino is saying about possibly offending but aren’t these the “units” that change the army competitiveness. Play GK without Corteaz or Draigo and how over powered are they? It does suck to those that take Crowe just to field Purifiers but if the tournament is about the “hobby” then true hobbiest can build a army without hinging on a character or two that change how an army can function or be built. Any other comp will be subjectitive and unfortunatly not every codex is on equal ground with so many out dated. In particular I’ll deal with Spam units over some of the special characters anyday! 

    • When I started in 4th special characters were basically the same; you just didn’t field them. 5th Edition changed all that though. They’re more balanced, most at least, and for some armies those alterations are essential for function.

      The thing is that comp as a whole is subjective, no way around it. What the judges feel are cheesy power builds are what gets penalized. As Todd was saying above, there’s a clear answer but then you run the risk of people just not bothering to come.

    • therhino

      I think that would be a viable ruling. Some events do “No special characters who don’t alter the FOC”, but that was pre-GK codex, which we know has two powerful ICs who alter the FOC (Draigo and Crowe, though Crowe is a chump as a unit, but not as a force multiplier).
      No SCs would certainly be interesting, as it forces people to rely on the CORE of their army, instead of the fringes or “best” units. Without Draigo, there’s no Draigowing. All those Paladins become GKTs, which are far easier to face off against.

    • khorneinquisitor

      Fluff is a huge part of hobby tournaments, and special characters add to the fluff a lot… when used correctly. Playing creed with the 7th Cadian or Skarbrand with a mono-khorne army is fluffy. But Crowe with a bunch of purifiers? By fluff, isn’t there only a handful in existence? Or Draigo in a 1500 pt list? Why would a supreme chapter master fight in such a small skirmish? Gaz in an ork army, fine, but have the paint scheme to match. I love to see armies that are built around the fluff of a special character, but just chucking them in and saying “it adds flavor”, especially when I hear it most from Draigo-Wing guys, gives me a nasty taste in my mouth for ICs in general.

  • Amberclad87

    This was one of the best articles I’ve read about 40k in a long time. I REALLY like the idea of a peoples champ.

  • stealthystealth

    Well put Rhino

  • ming from b&c

    Frankly I thought the standoff went far to be a bit different (allowing forgeworld items), and other thingss, mostly at the demands of the players.  As a judge, things went pretty well, and you knew not everyone would be fully satisfied.  We almost had too many trophies.  I’d have fewer trophies and more random draw door prizes.  Overall a tournament is just that, a tournament.  It is a combination arms race and best luck and best tactical knowledge and math-hammer event.  The best prepared and practised player will always do very well.  Full knowing what the scoring rubric is – following painting and comp and being a well-behaved sport, is all part of the game, and should be the focus of the well rounded, best general. 

    I love the earlier post about sandpaper and vinegar….

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