2012 BPA Survey Results—Prizes
Jan. 12, 2013

One of the earliest “controversies” I recall about WBC was the harping about the desirability of the tournament prizes. Some loved the plaques—others saw them as worthless. Most would be surprised to know that I am among those calling for replacing plaques as prizes—mostly because I am tired of producing, inventorying and carting the things around—but the Board will have none of it. We surveyed this long ago and the results haven’t changed. If anything, the plaques have grown even more popular. 57% of our respondents in the recent survey preferred plaques while 22% opted for a combination of first-place plaques and vendor certificates for other places. Only 12% opted for vendor certificates alone and 8% preferred no prizes whatever.

What You’d Like to See… What You Want Not to Change How I See It…
More Plaques 7: There’s nothing worse than finishing in 5th place in an event with only four plaques. / Certificates up to 6th place whenever plaques are not given. / I would like to see more plaques and prizes. That’s a real part of the fun of the event. I know they cost. I heard (and perhaps this is inaccurate info) that there were fewer plaques last year even though overall attendance rose. I would think that the number of plaques available would rise (or fall, I suppose) in proportion to the number of attendees. / More plaques for “trial” events that are not in their first year as an event at WBC. / Every event should have three plaques—like the Olympics. Plaques & Laurels 10: I really like the plaque/laurel system, and while Vendor vouchers are nice, I prefer having the souvenir to look back upon in later years. / Plaques are WBC! / Plaque only awards—it’s all about pride in being champion. Money and other awards sully the achievement. / Competitiveness/“Wood”—the WBC is special to me over the typical game convention because it is a big deal to win your unique plaques as well as the competitive nature of play and quality of opponents. Don’t let that go away—without those things, I’d have no motivation to make the trek to WBC over game conventions much closer to home

People “hear” lots of thing about WBC. Based on what gets back to me, very little of it is factual. The number of plaques continues to grow. Take it from the guy who has to inventory and cart them around. What you probably heard is grumbling from someone whose favorite event lost a prize level due to lower attendance or GM penalties. Many events are right on the fault line between event levels and can vary easily from year to year but the formula for determining prize levels remains the same.

Providing more plaques for older trial events would reduce the distinction between Century and Trial events by adding yet another category and we are already criticized for having too many rules. Simpler is better.

Desirability of plaque prizes is itself an issue—thus the survey question. I can’t tell you how many dozens of the things I’ve thrown away over the years because the winners didn’t want them. Frankly, as a reminder of a past achievement I think they’re great, but when everyone gets one, they become so many dust catchers. We annually award well over 500 plaques already. Once they become the equivalent of “participation" certificates I can do wtihout them.

PBeM 1: Online tournaments shouldn’t count toward laurels. That’s a huge advantage to guys who play a specific list of games.

PBeM Credits 1: Allow pbem tournament entry numbers to increase chance of WBC official game status.


Again, we don’t choose the games featured in email play; the GMs willing to put together the tournament do. There’s nothing that says you can’t run and promote your favorite games by putting in the same effort.

On the flip side, I doubt those who think PBeM laurels shouldn’t be given equal status will be very pleased with crediting their attendance numbers to the competition.

Cash Prizes 1: I have become a 100% open gamer after years of playing in tournaments because I found the tournament “prizes” failed to compensate for the uneven play experience. At least back in the days of AvalonCon you could win a gift certificate to AH but now you just get “bragging rights.” It seems like there has been a sort of culture shift where meaningful prizes are seen (at best) as at odds with the spirit of WBC and (at worst) as mercenary or even unsportsmanlike. Were this to be reversed I think it would swell the competitive field in many games and do much to put the C back in WBC. But doing so would not be without cost, and so I would gladly pay more for either my registration or some sort of per event fee so as to have meaningful prizes (a la what you see at chess or CCG tournaments). Prize Money NA 3: Do not attach prize money in the form of vouchers or “dealer” dollars to winning wood. One of the unique things about coming to WBC is the fact that “winning” wood is more important then any financial gain. / The focus is on the gaming, not prizes/rewards. / People play to win, but winning is not the reason they are playing. I believe the lack of cash/big prizes is what generates this, so please do not allow tournaments that have large prizes.

WBC already gets a bum wrap as far as I’m concerned from internet stories about cheating and “win-at-all-costs" types. Admittedly, our resources are not such that we can flood events with paid officials to guard against illicit behavior. So replacing strictly “honorary” prizes with monetary ones that attract the wrong element for the wrong reasons is not something I’d ever do.

We decided long ago that “bragging rights" was all the prize we needed. I pity those who have to cheat to win such an award—knowing full well that they cheated to do so—and knowing that—have won nothing but the contempt of those they have cheated.

Publisher Support 1: Get the game companies to sponsor a tournament and give certificates for their products.   Easier said than done. We’ve floated that idea in the past with few takers. GMT and MMP to their credit do award prizes annually in support of their WBC events.
Allow Choice of Plaques or Vendor credits 1   The problem with that is that plaques must be made in advance. Having them made individually and mailed after the fact would greatly increase the cost and time involved—plus send people home without any prize in hand.
Base Prize Levels on # of Players 1: More emphasis to number of players and less emphasis in player hours to determine prize levels. It doesn’t seem right to award 6 prizes to a tournament that accommodates 30 people, and only 3 prizes to an event that draws 80 people, regardless of game length.   Spoken like someone who plays a lot of short events. Doing what you suggest would be very prejudicial against those who play long events. Our formula for prize levels takes both number of players and event length into consideration and therefore is fairer for all concerned.
Stop Prize Penaltties 1: Stop punishing events for the flakiness of the GM. Explicitly publicly shame the GM, repeatedly. Announcements. Listing in the Yearbook. A flag on their badge, etc. GMing is a social contract; violations have consequences.   While I live by the principle that “my word is my bond” and a promise made should be kept, there are consequences for every action and what you propose would limit even further the number of GMs willing to step forward to serve. The fact is that a GM who completes his other duties but falls short in the report department has still done far more for his players than everyone else who failed to take on the job in the first place. His penalty is that he will not be asked to GM again without a few mea culpas and a promise to do better. Anything more severe than that is excessive. No attendee is entitled to have someone else serve him in a particular tournament because the event simply does not happen without a GM taking on the task. The prize penalty is simply a reminder to the fans of a game that the event does not happen without someone willing to fulfill that role. That GM gave you a tournment you would not otherwise have had. If you want a better one, step forward and run the next one yourself—and, in the process, pay back those who have carried the load thus far.
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