Nothing about WBC generates more noise than the schedule. Reading
between the lines, the average comment goes something like: “Greenwood,
you moron, any idiot could schedule events better than you.” And, indeed, many idiots have tried. The fact of the matter is
that there is no such thing as the perfect schedule and there
never will be. And if those wanting even more events and/or a
shorter con, get their way—schedule conflicts will get worse
rather than better. It’s basic math—150+ events—some of which
take days rather than hours—do not divide into seven days without
overlapping. And those who think genre tracks are the answer might
as well believe in the Easter Bunny too, because no one shares
the same opinion as to which games belong in which track—let
alone their favorites within each track.
One such non-believer was Eric Freeman who once upon a time
took me to task for the Euro scheduling. Big mistake. His reward
is that he now runs the Euro track for all those GMs willing to
sign on to it and he gets a share of the abuse. And while his
considerable efforts have definitely pleased some, it is far from
a unanimous verdict. For if he ends an event too early, the late
attendees howl. If he delays a heat for the final weekend, others
complain about the surplus of conflicting finals late in the week.
And on it goes. And Eric, for all his efforts, doesn’t deal with
the problem of making those events fit into the available space.
His puzzle is just two dimensional—time and event. I have to
deal with a third dimension—space.
I take a lot of abuse over the schedule, but I have the perfect
excuse. I don’t make it. You do. Collectively, that is. At least
those of you who participate in the process by becoming GMs. I
wax on and on about WBC GMs being the best there is and willing
to go the extra mile without recompense. But everything has its
price. The only way we get those GMs to serve you besides their
inherent desire to do the job the right way is to let them decide
how and when to do it (within reason). I don’t schedule
their events—they do.
Could I make a better schedule by dictating where and when
everything is run? Absolutely! Not perfect, but better certainly.
But then I’d have a lot less events because many of those GMs
would tell me where I could stick my event form! Oh sure,
some GMs would gladly relegate their personal schedules for the
common good and run their event whenever, and a few of them do
just that. But it is a small minority. For most, a GM runs an
event to ensure that it will not conflict with what he wants to play. It’s much like the tradeoff of allowing GMs to
play in their own events. I’d much prefer GMs did not play in
their own event because it would eliminate any perception of them
taking advantage of their position. But I know that if we disallowed
playing in your own event, that we would have far fewer GMs—and their events. So a less efficient schedule is the price
we pay to get quality GMs. What comes first—the GM or the schedule?
You can’t have the latter without the former.
|What You’d Like to See…
||What You Want Not to Change
||How I See It…
X with Y 5: Why do you always force
me to choose between my two favorite games? / Quit scheduling
the events I want to play in against each other. The heck with
everyone else. Accomodate me.
||Tournaments as Scheduled Open
Gaming 23: I know that I can
sit down at a specified time to play a game I like…if I do
well, it’s an added bonus! / Scheduled rounds so I know that
I can play Game_A at 9AM, Game_B at 11 AM, etc. (None of the
“What do you want to play?” “I don’t know, what
do YOU want to play?” crap.) / I know I can show up at a
particular day/time and play a game I want to play. This is far
preferable to the open-ended scheduling of other cons where I
might often walk around the Open Gaming room for an hour trying
to find a game I want to play that has a seat available. / The
ability to use the tournaments as pre-planned Open Gaming. I
like knowing that if I show up at the right time and location,
I will get to play a great game with people who know how to play.
I like not having to advance if I don’t want to and still get
to play in the round. / I am a big fan of the organized tournament
format with the well-defined schedule in place now, which is
a wonderfully time-efficient way to play games—I find it too
difficult to find players in Open Gaming. / Tournaments allow
you to meet people where all too often Open Gaming consists of
cliques of players in their own tightknit groups.
||I’m at a loss to improve upon
the comments in the second column, but I’ll try. I’ve always
felt that the popularity of the tournament portion of WBC has
more to do with the convenience of the schedule than it does
with the testosterone level of the participants.
to Prevent Conflicts 14: Better coordination
of scheduling on a voluntary basis between GM’s in the same game
category—(e.g., a volunteer for Euros who would get copies
of incoming GM schedule suggestions and troubleshoot thru email
cases where too much competition can swamp an event out of the
Century). We should have lists of previous competitors in each
game. Using those, it should be possible to write a schedule
where games at the same time are less likely to have the same
people attending. / At least
three times I’ve totally missed a desired event due to conflicts.
see how the WBC can fix it though, since I don’t like Free Form
scheduling. / Better scheduling with fewer conflicts for the
wargames. I believe the Euro games and railroad games are much
||OTOH 2: The effort to avoid similar game overlaps is awesome (EX: CCA
We already have a Euro event track coordinator.
Eric Freeman for several years has been doing a lot to coordinate
those Euros whose GMs are willing to cooperate on a coordinated
Rail games are easier to schedule simply because
there are less of them. Wargames suffer both from their number
and greater length. They also lack an event coordinator who hounds
all known GMs to get their cooperation timewise the way Eric
does. However, most wargame events do not change their timeframe
from year to year—especially if the GM remains the same. So
such coordination is less necessary. It is the new wargame events
which have a harder time carving out their niche.
|Light Days 8: Last two years there have been very few events on
Monday/Tuesday that I like. Either do not start the Eurogame
heats until Wednesday, or have enough heats earlier to make it
worth coming a day early. / A few more Saturday late afternoon/evening
events. / Try to increase the number of tournaments on Friday
evening and Saturday as there seem to be an awful lot of Finals
then, which means the convention is less attractive to people
who are unable to attend during the week.
||A lack of weekend events
contribute to the overcrowding of Open Gaming on the closing
weekend. I’ve long encouraged the addition of quicker events
for the weekend when competition is less, but ultimately, the
GMs make the decision.
Specific Days 3: I
would like to see the Eurogames spread across more of the week.
As a game designer, much of my time is spent demoing, and the
last 2 years in particular I haven’t been able to play in ANY
Eurogame tournaments because they are all jam-packed together
on the weekend, which is when I must do the most demoing. / I’d
like to see less Finals at the same time on Sunday.
More Events Later in the Week 8: I can’t come till later and by the time I get there
my events are already over. / As early as Friday it can be tough
to find a game of interest if I’m not in a semi or Final. I would
be in favour of increasing the number of tournaments by maybe
20 to facilitate this./ More short events on the weekend. / Sunday
is a veritable ghost town save for Finals.
More Events Earlier in the Week 14: I know this happens to everyone, but it seems like
every Final for every tournament I play in is between 12 noon
and 12 midnight on (the last) Saturday of WBC. / In order to
equalize facility utilization, move some Thur/Fri/Sat events
to earlier in the week.
More 1-day events 6: I
would love to see more events played on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday
or similar variations where those events are done by We/Th. I
really enjoyed playing Sekigahara this past year on Monday and
being done with it that day. / I would like to see more tournaments
be slated to finish mid-week as opposed to back-loading so many
tournaments that overlap each other at the end of the week. /
Cram more events into just two adjacent days, to better accommodate
those who only attend part of the convention.
Less 1-day events 5: Less tournaments that are centered on one day. Open up the rounds
to have multiple days.
The cross purposes shown in the left column
speaks for itself. This always brings out the cynic in me. The
tendency of those who criticize the schedule who do not take
a hand in making it happen is unmistakable. They complain but
they’re not willing to run an event—let alone run one at a
designated time to accommodate facilities or other people’s priorities.
Sad but true—if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part
of the problem.
The best way to lessen schedule conflicts
is to use continuous play formats, but most GMs opt for multiple
heats. And those who complain the most about the resulting conficts
invariably subscribe to multiple heats and “win & you’re
in” formats which cause the most conflicts.
Sunday is travel day. That’s just a fact.
No amount of Sunday events is going to hold people who must catch
a plane or start home on a long drive so Sunday events are pretty
much limited to locals with less distance to travel. That said,
I always encourage more late weekend events—but it is again
a matter of GM preferences.
|Better Room Coordination
with events 5: Better organization
in terms of not putting lots of people in a crowded space (like
Circus Maximus usually is) which makes it uncomfortably hot.
/ There are times when the ballroom is virtually empty.
||This is the problem that annoys
me the most, because it is easily correctible if I were actually
scheduling events according to the facilities rather than GM
time requests. Virtually no one gives a second thought to making
events fit the various rooms. The only way to have enough room
for the mega events is to clear the ballrooms of events like
Circus Maximus which take four hours so that it will be empty
when an event drawing 150+ starts. As long as events are scheduled
based solely on non-conflciting times with other events rather
than actually fitting in a room, this problem of inefficient
facility use will persist unless we move to a convention center
with huge rooms. Table reservation placards can be moved; walls
|10 AM Starts 1: Another thing that kills the schedule (and this really
should be addressed because it takes little work) is the occasional
10am start times for some events. There are rarely 9am events
that last an hour, so it’s hard to see the benefit of a 10am
start for an event, and these invariably add to overlap because
they overlap an extra hour on the back-end.
||The number of 10 AM start requests
is far greater than revealed by the schedule. That is because
I insist on moving most of them to 9 AM to better make use of
the available space. GMs and players both like to sleep in after
a long night of gaming and tend to hate early starts. But if
everything is scheduled for midday, it doesn’t fit. One of my
scheduling rules to counter this is that if you insist on having
four heats, at least one must be at 9 AM.
|8 AM Starts 2: Would you believe 7 AM?
||I disallow starts earlier than
9 AM for two reasons. One is safety; forcing drivers to forego
an extra hour of sleep before departing on a long drive is just
not wise and can have tragic consequences. Second, exceptions
are almost always a bad idea. If the convention rule is nothing
starts before 9 AM there is less chance of someone missing a
round by forgetting when a round starts.
|Longer Round Lengths
1: More realistic time slots for tournaments.
If a game needs almost 3 hours to complete, don’t try to squeeze
it into a 2-hour time slot.
||The more frequent complaint is
that round lengths are too long. GMs are instructed to round
up to the next hour when choosing round duration. If they truly
feel a game is a 2-hour game, they should choose 3-hour rounds.
All too often, GMs—especially new ones—underestimate how
long a game takes because they tend to be very familar with the
game—and familiarity generates faster play. But a tournament
can only move as fast as the slowest player—and that’s where
adjudication should come in.
2: I would love to have an “any
time” Final for events. I realize this is nearly impossible
for 3-6 player games, but this really saved me a couple years
back when the GM and other player were willing to wait 45 minutes
to start a Final that I was in. / Allow semifinalists/finalists
some flexibility when semifinals/finals will be
held; too often, I end up qualifying for the next round only
to have to miss out because of another tournament. [I realize
that space limitations may preclude this sort of flexibility.]
||The “I want my cake and
eat it too” syndrome. When you ask for alternate times from
the posted schedule to accomodate your own schedule you are asking
other players to adjust their planned activities for your convenience.
GMs are free to adjust Finals for the MUTUAL convenience of all
players involved. However, if anyone objects (including
a GM who feels undue pressure is being exerted) the default time
must be enforced. This flexibility cannot be extended to semifinals
both because the number of players impactd is greater and space
allocations are affected.