WBC GM Guidelines
Feb. 10, 2014

Orphans | Qualifications | Event Form Guidance | Other GM Information | GMs of the Year | GM 101 Seminars | Event Selection FAQs

So, you want to be a GM? Welcome to the club of the most underpaid, over-dedicated boardgame Game Masters in the world. But we are also the best—because we are volunteers who do it for the love of the game and the hobby—not to collect a quick buck for collecting event tickets. What do you get out of it? Nothing except the satisfaction of seeing the event run by someone who cares…and a neat GM polo shirt. The following information is very important for GMs to read and understand.

GAMEMASTER QUALIFICATIONS

Only members of the BPA may act as a GM for an event. Basically, all we ask is that you do the deed from start to finish even though you’re not getting anything out of it other than a warm, glowing sensation for helping the hobby and seeing this type of event take place. Volunteerism is what makes the BPA work. You’ll be expected to pay for your own membership and lodging plus “work” your event without compensation. Through experience, we have found that this type of GM does the best job of running events at WBC.

EVENT FORM

To apply to be a GameMaster (GM) at the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) submit a valid Event Form to BPA via the Internet or via postal mail to the Boardgame Players Association (BPA), 1541 Redfield Road, Bel Air, MD 21015. All applications are subject to acceptance by the BPA. If you have any questions, contact BPA at cd@boardgamers.org. Deadlines are as follows:

  • Returning GM for Same Event: Any GM who would like to run the same event as the previous year must submit an Event Form for that event by Dec. 31 to be assured of returning as GM of that event.
  • New GM for New Event: If, by Nov. 20, a GM volunteers to run an event that was not offered in the previous year, that event will be listed on the Trial Ballot. Review the Orphans Page to determine if an event requires an Event Form to be listed on the ballot. Any Event that was run the previous year, but that did not attain Century Status, will be listed on the ballot, regardless of Event Form submission.
  • New GM for Unclaimed Event: Only events with a confirmed GM by March 15, will be run at WBC. Beginning Jan. 1, any BPA member can volunteer to run an unclaimed event by submitting this form. The first person to submit an acceptable Event Form will be designated the GM.

Let’s work our way down the Event Form and explain everything there is to know about GMing at WBC. Event forms should be submitted as early as possible.

GM Information

GM GUIDELINES: Check the box after you have read all of the guidelines listed in this document. Compliance with these guidelines is vital for all GMs.

GAME: Name the event. Unless you are a vendor or sponsor authorizing a new event, it must be a Century Event or one of the Trial Events selected by membership vote during December. NOTE: Before Dec. 1, you may submit an Event form for any game not currently listed as a Century Event or Continuing Trial. (See the Orphan List.) Such games will be listed on the Trial Ballot and available for selection by Membership vote. Selection as a Trial Event is NOT automatic. Such new events are limited to board and card games of a non-generic nature. Collectible card and miniatures games are not eligible. Multiple Events in the same game are allowed only if they are sufficiently different in rules or number of players. The minimum requirement for hosting a variant tournament is that the variant MUST have been published and a copy of those rules must be available from the GM before the convention to any player who requests them and be posted to the Event's Preview Page. All Events are subject to BPA approval. Inquire if you have questions about the eligibility of an event.

Events are reserved until Dec. 31 for GMs who ran them satisfactorily in the preceding year. Those GMs claim their event by renewing membership and completing an Event Form by the deadline. Events that are not claimed by the deadline may be run by any member who competes an Event Form by Feb. 28. If more than one member volunteers to run the same event, the Convention Director will use his discretion to select a GM. Earlier submissions will be given extra weight. GMs may run only one event at WBC per year, with exceptions granted by the Convention Director for veteran GMs on a case by case basis.

A limited number of Junior Events are run for attendees who are 12 and younger. Any game may be run as a Junior Event, provided it is suitable for children of that age group and is available in sufficient numbers to allow all children present to play. All Junior Events are run as Coached events and only members who are adept at teaching games to children should volunteer to run them. All Junior Events are subject to the approval of the Convention Director and the Junior Program Coordinator.

EVENT WEBSITE ADDRESS: If you will provide a website for the event, list the address. Regardless, all GMs must provide by the established deadlines a description of the event for its Preview Page and a 400-word (or longer) After Action Report. GMs who do not meet these requirements jeopardize the standing of their events (Century Events become Trial Events and Trial Events are not eligible for reinstatement the following year).

DAYTIME/EVENING PHONE: These numbers will only be published with your permission. Otherwise, they will be for the Convention Director's use only.

CELL PHONE: If you will carry a cell phone at the convention, provide your phone number to enable convention staff to contact you in case of emergency.

ASSISTANT GMs: All GMs, regardless of playing status, should indicate the names of two assistant GMs. Choose carefully! These assistants must be prepared to take over if for any reason the GM is absent and must rule in any case involving a game in which the GM is playing. Assistant GMs are especially crucial for those games where time limits will require adjudicated finishes because it is much easier for players to accept a decision by a panel of three than by one person. It spreads the responsibility and frees the GM from the guilt of a close decision. There is safety in numbers. Only list Assistant GMs who have expressly consented to act as such for the coming year. Do NOT make any assumptions that someone will serve as an assistant. If you fail to designate two Assistant GMs before the event starts, you should NOT play in your own event in any role other than a non-advancing eliminator.

Event Class

 A. ADVANCED: Experienced players only. Rules will not be explained. Neither GMs nor players will teach the game to beginners during the event. GMs are encouraged to remind players about the Event Class to discourage anyone who ignored the printed warnings, especially in multi-player games. This is a courtesy to players who come to the event prepared to play without instruction and will greatly speed play.

 B. BEGINNERS WELCOME: Players must have read the rules, played previously, or participated in a scheduled teaching demonstration. GMs are encouraged to remind players about the Event Class to discourage anyone who ignored the printed warnings, especially in multi-player games. This is a courtesy to players who come to the event prepared to play without instruction and will greatly speed play. GMs who run B Class events must list at least one one-hour demonstration day/time when you or an Assistant GM will be available to instruct players in our Demo area. The time should be no more than 24 hours before a scheduled first round heat. You may NOT substitute instruction during or just prior to the event. If no one appears for a Demonstration within 15 minutes of the scheduled start time, you may cancel the demonstration. Scheduled demonstrations give new players a chance to learn an event, but allow the tournament, itself, to run more quickly, which is better for experienced players.

 C. COACHED EVENT: Inexperienced players welcome. The game will be taught to anyone present at the scheduled starting time. GMs may also schedule a demonstration for the Event. Coached events generally require more time and effort to run and can be upsetting to more experienced players impatient with delays. Announce at the outset, that all players are expected to abide by the C rating and help newcomers. Class C should only be attempted for the simplest games or those for which the GM has enlisted additional help in instructing players in need of help. It is not realistic to expect all players to be willing to aid new players.

Event Format

A description of the allowed event formats follows.

SINGLE ELIMINATION (SE): This competition style can be used for both two-player and multi-player games. It is the ideal style for long games, and usually the most practical style for Events with many entrants. Participants play until they lose a game. Winners in a Round advance to the next Round. Thus, the number of players per Round is continually getting smaller. However, fans of some games would rather keep playing even after they lose once, so other formats may be preferable if you:

  • Can handle the added complexity and time requirements.
  • Realize that you can’t limit the number of entrants at start.
  • Maintain a safety margin to ensure that your event will end no later than Sunday at 4 PM.

Multi-player tournaments using SE Competition Style may advance alternates in order to field the ideal number of players for the next round (i.e., 5 or 25 in a five-player game). BEFORE the tournament begins, the GM MUST establish the criteria for selecting the highest alternates and post the criteria in the Event Preview and on the kiosk. All brackets should be established BEFORE the tournament begins. It is NOT acceptable to simply pair winners as they finish; otherwise, players can time their games to avoid playing someone. The GM is responsible to decide BEFORE the tournament begins if brackets should be created via random draw, seeded by past performance, or determined by some other criteria. GMs should keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • The traditional approach for head-to-head Single Elimination pairings is to match the best against the worst through each bracket. For example, in a 16-player event, the top rated player would play the 16th-rated player in Round 1. Although this results in the fastest games, it has the unfortunate side effect of not being much fun for the newbies who get fed to the sharks in Round 1. Further, it causes lopsided games that are less fun for both players. This method tends to discourage players from returning year after year and may damage an event's long-term prospects.
  • Another approach is to match players of equal ability. The drawback is that three of the four best-rated players in the event will be eliminated in the first two rounds. Further, the road to the Final tends to become progressively easier. On the positive side, those eliminated early will be free to enter other events.
  • If brackets will be determined by random draw, make a public show of lottery-style drawings to convince people they are truly random.
  • In multi-player games, the GM should make an effort to separate family and friends to avoid unfair alliances born of familiarity. Badges always include the hometown of each player to aid in such grouping decisions.
  • In two-player games, to ensure that frequent opponents—such as family members and friends—are not matched together early (why travel to play a frequent opponent), split the field into two brackets such that Pool A and Pool B meet only in the Final. Allow players to mutually exclude one other player so that they are in different Pools.
  • If insufficient copies of the game are available for the number of entrants, do not match game owners with each other. Have them set up their games and hold drawings to find each of them an opponent.

An advantage to Single Elimination play with fixed brackets over Swiss formats is that when two matched winners finish they can start the next round early. Single Elimination two-player game Rounds are usually scheduled for continuous play, but there is often the flexibility for players to schedule at their convenience, especially as the number of players involved decreases.

 SWISS: Any format of a pre-determined number of rounds in which players with the best records are paired against each other in every round. A fair tie-breaking system is very important. More than one tie-breaker is required. BEFORE the tournament begins, the GM MUST establish this criteria and post it in the Event Preview. When possible, also post them on the kiosk for the convenience of players at the convention. GMs should never create tie-breakers on the spot because they should have created them ahead of time to avoid the appearance of misconduct.

Players are free to drop out after losing a game, but the rounds continue for those willing to stay. Due to the time required, this format is recommended only for games with the most ardent following and is usually reserved for dedicated mini-cons where there are no other events to siphon off losing players.

 SWISS ELIMINATION (Swiss-Elim or SwE): A system using a number of continuous preliminary games in Round 1 in order to advance a pre-determined number of players into Single Elimination Rounds. In many cases, the Swiss Elimination Competition Style may advance alternates in order to field the ideal number of players for the next round (i.e., 5 or 25 in a five-player game). BEFORE the tournament begins, the GM MUST establish the criteria for selecting the highest alternates and post the criteria in the Event Preview. Round 1 MUST adhere strictly to the printed schedule, but the Single Elimination Rounds can often be scheduled at the convenience of the players and GM. This format is highly recommended for games with a devoted following who would be disappointed by early disqualification from a Single Elimination format. Indicate on the Event Form the number of games that will take place during Round 1 and the duration for each of these games. Also provide information about the number of players that will advance to Round 2. If GMs do not provide this information, a default number will be used. A GM who has a formula for advancing a different number (e.g., 20 or 25 for a 4- or 5-player game), depending on the number of participants, should indicate the two numbers in the field, with a slash between them. BEFORE the tournament begins, the GM MUST submit the criteria to the Convention Director for approval. Such criteria must be clearly described in the Event Preview. When possible, also post it on the kiosk for the convenience of players at the convention.

FREE FORM: Free Form tournaments are a type of Swiss Elimination tournament with Round 1 lasting several days. After Round 1, four players advance to two rounds of Single Elimination play. Rules for advancement must be approved by the Convention Director and clearly described in the Event Preview. When possible, also post them on the kiosk for the convenience of players at the convention. Free Form events are very taxing on both the GMs and convention facilities. As such, their number is limited. Special approval by the Convention Director is required to use this format. 

In order to participate in a Free Form tournament, players must appear at the kiosk within one hour of the scheduled starting time. Match pairings for each game will be determined by the GM, subject to the availability of opponents. Players may particpate in more than one game during the same day. When opponents are assigned, they must determine when they will play their game during the day and inform the GM. If they cannot agree on a reasonable start time, they will be required to begin the game within one hour. If an assigned opponent does not appear for a mutually agreed upon start time, a player who has appeared must go to the kiosk and inform the GM. After the GM is informed and after waiting 15 minutes at the kiosk, the missing player forfeits the game to the waiting player. Results of completed games should be reported to the GM as soon as possible. Results not reported to the GM by the next scheduled starting time or by 11 p.m. on the day before Round 2 begins, whichever comes first, will not count toward the tournament. GMs have the right to adjudicate any game that extends beyond established time limits.

GMs must post a list of qualifiers and alternates to the kiosk by midnight of the day before Round 2 begins. Qualifiers who will withdraw should inform the GM as soon as possible and remove their names from the list, to provide time for alternates to be notified of their opportunity to play. Any qualifiers or alternates who fail to check-in at the kiosk by 9:30 a.m. on the day Round 2 begins forfeit the opportunity to play. Each player is responsible for checking his status on the kiosk in a timely manner. After reporting to the kiosk for Round 2, players may mutually arrange to play their semifinal game at a convenient time; however, all semifinal games must be completed by 6 p.m. on the same day unless ALL semifinalists agree to hold the Final at 9 a.m.on the following day. Barring such agreement, the Final will commence within one hour of the completion of the last semifinall game.

Free Form scheduling format allows players the most freedom in scheduling choices; however, it also requires players to be punctual and considerate of others. Consequently, GMs who use Free Form scheduling must exercise time and diligence to reduce tournament disruption and friction between players who do not mutually agree on playing times. As such, it is not recommended for inexperienced GMs. Tournaments with a Free Form schedule benefit when the GM remains near the event kiosk throughout the period allotted for Round 1 in order to arrange and record matches of convenience. Typically this format is only applicable to very long or very short games.

HEATS:A type of Single Elimination tournament that provides two to four scheduled opportunities (Heats) for players to participate in Round 1. GMs must specify the method of advancement for the next round and explain it in the Event Preview. NOTE: In many cases, it is necessary to advance alternates in order to field the ideal number of players for the next round (i.e., 5 or 25 in a five-player game). This format increases number of entrants by making the event more accessible with numerous starting times. It works well with multi-player games, but is NOT generally accepted for long two-player games. Events using Heats are penalized in the Prize level and Century qualifying formulas to offset their advantage in attracting more entrants. (See Century formula.)

Heats are only used for Round 1 play. Round 2—typically the semifinal—and Round 3—typically the Final—are played as standard Single Elimination rounds.

Note that GMs may schedule a quarterfinal Round only when the number of players participating in the tournament during the previous year warrants it. All scheduled quarterfinal Rounds must be approved by the Convention Director in advance and must appear in the schedule. Quarterfinal Rounds may not be inserted ad-hoc—regardless of the number of entrants. This policy is a courtesy to other GMs who are trying to attract players and to players who can make better use of their time playing to win in another tournament rather than playing for second or third place in a quarterfinal game to advance to a semifinal. It is also necessary to prevent wasting facilities needed for other events on scheduled quarterfinals that are seldom filled due to no-shows. 

 

Method of Advancement for Heats

Method of Advancement applies ONLY to events run with Heats. A description and examples of the allowed methods and tiebreakers follows. NOTE that in NO case may a multi-player GM add an ad hoc extra round (e.g., quarterfinal) to reduce the number of players. All rounds must be scheduled in advance.

Heats: Winners Only (HWO) - Only the winners from each heat advance to Round 2—no alterates advance. For example, the Circus Maximus tournament advances to the Final only the winners from each table. EVERY winner advances. There is no limit on the number of winners that can be accommodated. Further, anyone who comes in second may not advance, even if person who finished first has won previously or chooses not to play in the Final. Any tournament that cannot accommodate all winners from the Heats in Round 2 may not use this method of advancement. Indicate the number of heats and the duration for each heat.

Heats: Multiple Single Elimination (HMSE) - Each heat is played Single Elimination to determine one winner who advances to the next round. For example, there are two heats of Paydirt—one for the AFC and one for the NFC. Each of those Heats is played until there is only one winner. Only those two winners advance to the Final (i.e., Superbowl). This method of advancement is only appropriate for short games. Indicate the number of Heats in Round 1, the approximate number of rounds in each Heat (based on the expected number of players), and the duration of each round in the Heat.

Heats: Most Wins (HMW) - A tournament with multiple chances to enter Round 1, followed by Single Elimination rounds. Indicate the number of Heats in Round 1 and the duration of those Heats. GMs should also specify the number of players who may advance to Round 2. (If GMs will base that number on how many winner emerge from the heats, indicate more than one number, e.g., "16/25".) Any GM who needs to trim the field or identify alternates to fill out the field, must use the standard set of tie-breakers below. The first criterion is "Most Wins." GMs should carefully review the tie breakers in order to be able to apply them properly. Standard tie-breakers enable players to make more educated decisions about which tournaments to play and whether or not they qualify to advance to later rounds of play.

  1. Most Wins (e.g., total in all heats entered);
  2. Win in first Heat entered;
  3. Win in second Heat entered;
  4. Win in third Heat entered;
  5. Win in fourth Heat entered;
  6. GM specific tie-breaker, provided it has been clearly described in the Event Preview;
  7. Average finish in all heats entered (e.g., a 2nd and two 3rds = 2.67 and beats two 2nds and two 4ths = 3); and
  8. High dice roll.

For example, if Monsters Ravage America had four Heats in Round 1. Players who won four games would advance before players who won three games. If the GM decided to advance 16 players to Round 2, and more than 16 players won four games, then the remaining tie breakers would be used to determine which of the players would advance. NOTE: It is rare for all qualifying winners to appear for the advanced rounds, and an alternate list at least as long as the number of advancing positions is wise.

Heats: Most Wins with GM-specified Tie-Breakers (HMW/G) - A tournament that advances players into Single Elimination Rounds. GMs should specify the number of players who may advance to Round 2. (If GMs will base that number on how many winners emerge from the heats, indicate more than one number, e.g., "16/25".) Any GM who needs to trim the field or identify alternates to fill out the field, must specify all of the tie-breaking procedures after the first requirement of Most Wins. Tie-breakers must be specified in the events preview page and approved by BPA no later than March 15or the event must use the standard set of tie-breakers. For example, if Monsters Ravage America had four Heats in Round 1. Players who won four games would advance before players who won three games. If the GM decided to advance 16 players to Round 2, and more than 16 players won four games, then the remaining tie breakers would be used to determine which of the players would advance. NOTE: It is rare for all qualifying winners to appear for the advanced rounds, and an alternate list at least as long as the number of advancing positions is wise. GMs MAY NOT add an extra, unscheduled round in order to advance the optimum number of players. GMs must use specified tie-breakers to advance the proper number of players.

Heats: Single Win (HSW) - A tournament that advances players into Single Elimination Rounds. GMs should specify the number of players who may advance to Round 2. (If GMs will base that number on how many winners emerge from the heats, indicate more than one number, e.g., "16/25".) Any GM who needs to trim the field or identify alternates to fill out the field, must use the standard set of tie-breakers, below. The first criterion is "Win in First Heat Played." GMs should carefully review the tie breakers in order to be able to apply them properly. Standard tie-breakers enable players to make more educated decisions about which tournaments to play and whether or not they qualify to advance to later rounds of play.

  1. Win in first Heat entered;
  2. Most Wins (e.g., total in all heats entered);
  3. Win in second Heat entered;
  4. Win in third Heat entered;
  5. Win in fourth Heat entered;
  6. GM specific tie-breaker, provided it has been clearly described in the Event Preview;
  7. Average finish in all heats entered (e.g., a 2nd and two 3rds = 2.67 and beats two 2nds and two 4ths = 3); and
  8. High dice roll.

NOTE: It is extremely important for the GM to post a list of qualifiers and alternates for advanced rounds on the event kiosk in a timely fashion. Players who win the first heat they play in are likely to advance to the next round. Players who win a heat will always have an advantage over players who finish lower. For large tournaments, players who have more wins are more likely to advance than players with fewer wins. In most cases, there is no disadvantage to participating in more than one heat.

This Method of Advancement for Heats allows ALL players (both winners and non-winners)—but does not require them—to play the game again during Round 1 by participating in another Heat. There is generally not a disadvantage for participating in more than one heat.

Indicate on the Event Form the number of Heats that will take place during Round 1 and the duration for each of these Heats. Also provide information about the number of players that will advance to Round 2. If GMs do not provide this information, a default number will be used. A GM who has a formula for advancing a different number (e.g., 20 or 25 for a 4- or 5-player game), depending on the number of participants, should indicate the two numbers in the field, with a slash between them. BEFORE the tournament begins, the GM MUST submit the criteria to the Convention Director for approval. Such criteria must be clearly described in the Event Preview. When possible, also post it on the kiosk for the convenience of players at the convention.

Extended example: GMs may find the following tips useful when seeding players for advancement using the tie-breakers listed above.

Our example event is a four-player game with four heats. There are up to total 24 table winners qualified for 16 semifinal slots (fewer if one or more players wins more than once). The records of some players are illustrated in the table below:

Players in Event and Tie-Breaker Calculations
NOTE: Not all players shown.
Player
Heat 1
Heat 2
Heat 3
Heat 4
Won First Heat Played
Total Wins

GM Tiebreaker
(e.g., % of 2nd place score)

Average Finish
Player A
1
2
1
1
x
3
156%
5/4=1.25
Player B
1
1
2
1
x
3
156%
5/4=1.25
Player C
4
2
1
1
 
2
147%
8/4=2
Player D
3
2
1
-
 
1
133%
6/3=2
Player E
2
2
2
1
 
1
150%
7/4=1.75
Player F
3
1
-
-
 
1
120%
4/2=2
Player G
2
-
1
-
 
1
120%
3/2=1.5
Player H
3
2
4
2
 
0
100%
11/4=2.75
Player I
2
2
2
2
 
0
100%
8/4=2
Player J
-
1
-
-
x
1
200%
1/1=1
Player K
-
-
1
-
x
1
100%
1/1=1
Player L
-
-
-
1
x
1
156%
1/1=1
Player M
-
1
1
-
x
2
180%
2/2=1
Player N
3
1
1
1
 
3
126%
6/4=1.5

To seed all of the participants and determine which of them qualifies to advance, fill in the grid (or use the Entry List), indicating each participant's finish. For each Heat, add participants who have not played a previous Heat to the bottom of the list. Use a dash ("-") to indicate any Heat the participant did not join.

When any participant wins the first Heat he or she plays, put an "X" in the "Won First Heat Played" column. These are the players who are at the top of the list of qualifiers to advance to the next heat. Those players have been moved to the top of the list below for illustration purposes. It is not necessary to physically reorder the list.

Keep track of the total number of wins for each player in the "Total Wins" column. This number could change after each Heat for anyone who plays in more than one Heat. All players who won their first heat played, are sorted by the number of wins they have in the tournament.

Depending on the GM-specific tie-breaker, you may need to track it for each game played. For example, if the tie-breaker were "Percentage of Second-Place Score ", it would need to be recorded for each player for each Heat played. If it were "Brought Copy of Game", it could be recorded once, with players bringing games to more than one Heat receiving extra points. "Average Finish" could be calculated after each Heat.

Seeding Order for Tournament
NOTE: Not all players shown.
Ranking
Player
Heat 1
Heat 2
Heat 3
Heat 4
Won First Heat Played
Total Wins

GM Tiebreaker

Average Finish
(lower avg. indicates higher finishes)
1 Player B
1
1
-
1
x
3
156%
3/3=1
2 Player A
1
2
1
1
x
3
156%
5/4=1.25
3 Player M
-
1
1
-
x
2
180%
2/2=1
4 Player J
-
1
-
-
x
1
200%
1/1=1
5 Player L
-
-
-
1
x
1
156%
1/1=1
6 Player K
-
-
1
-
x
1
100%
1/1=1
7 Player N
3
1
1
1
 
3
126%
6/4=1.5
8 Player C
4
1
2
1
 
2
147%
8/4=2
9 Player G
2
-
1
-
 
1
120%
3/2=1.5
10 Player F
3
1
-
-
 
1
120%
4/2=2
11 Player D
3
2
1
-
 
1
133%
6/3=2
12 Player E
2
2
2
1
 
1
150%
7/4=1.75
13 Player I
2
2
2
2
 
0
100%
8/4=2
14 Player H
3
2
4
2
 
0
100%
11/4=2.75

HWO is a type of Single Elimination tournament. Thus, the first six players are at the top because they won the first Heat they played. Just as with a Single Elimination tournament, winning the first game played is key to qualifying for the next round. Among those six players, players with the Most Wins are listed higher, followed by players who score highest on the GM Tie-Breaker and then by Average Finish.

Qualifying after the players who won in their first game played are players who have the Most Wins during Round 1. This rewards consistency. (As in Players B, A, and M.) Players with the same number of wins, but who didn't win in their first heat played, are ranked based on when they won (participants who won after playing fewer heats—regardless of which Heat— are ranked higher). That is why Players G and F placed above Player D and why Player D is above Player E. To rank participants who tie for the first two tie-breakers (as in Players G and F), use the GM Tie-Breaker, which must have been clearly described in the Event Preview. If participants are still tied, use Average Finish. (Thus, Player G qualifies before Player F.) If participants cannot be ranked based in Tie-Breakers 1-7, use a die roll to break the tie.

Generally, no more than half of the total players in a tournament should qualify for a semifinal Round. Remember, it is rare for all qualifying winners to appear for the advanced rounds. An alternate list at least as long as the number of advancing positions is wise. In at least one case at WBC, a player who was the 25th alternate advanced to a semifinal game and won the tournament.

Worksheets will be provided to assist with calculations. Contact the Assistant Convention Director with questions.

Event Features

MULLIGAN ROUND: An extra Round that occurs before Round 1 and allows winners to skip Round 1, advancing directly to Round 2. Losers of a Mulligan Round are not penalized for their losses. Thus, all players who play in Round 1 begin with no losses, regardless of performance or participation in a Mulligan Round. Mulligan Rounds are often used for Single Elimination tournaments, guaranteeing players the opportunity to play at least two games and providing them a chance to reacquaint themselves with the game without penalizing them for a loss. It also allows Mulligan Round winners a break between rounds. Typically not appropriate for events with very large attendance that use tie-breakers to determine which players advance. Events using a Mulligan Round are penalized in the Prize level and Century qualifying formulas to offset their advantage in attracting more entrants. (See Century formula.) Only Single Elimination tournaments may hold Mulligan Rounds.

Event Style

 CONTINUOUS: Rounds continue with breaks of not more than an hour until a winner is determined. No Round will begin after midnight without the consent of all players. The next Round must continue at 9 a.m. the following morning. Continuous scheduling is recommended for most tournaments since breaks between Rounds will tend to increase attrition of players wandering off to enter other events.

 SCHEDULED: Play has scheduled breaks of six hours or more between rounds. This Scheduling Format is recommended for long multi-player games where continuous play becomes too much of the same thing. The tournament is limited to three such breaks. Requested breaks of less than six hours are considered Continuous format.

Event Length & Duration

NUMBER OF ROUNDS: At WBC, there is no limit to the number of players who may participate in a tournament, provided there are enough copies of the game available. No player who registers by the scheduled starting time and brings a copy of the game should be turned away without a documented reason that can be defended to the Convention Director (e.g., such as unreasonable behavior). Thus, for two-player games, it may be difficult to predict the exact number of rounds required to complete a tournament. GMs should make an educated guess, based upon previous participation or other data points. Be prepared to lengthen or shorten the number of rounds to accomodate the actual number of entrants.

ROUND LENGTH: When estimating the length of each round, err on the long side to accommodate even slow players. Allow extra time for seating players, collecting score sheets, and slow play. Round up to the nearest whole hour. GMs should announce the schedule and stick to it. To ensure all games end within the scheduled period, announce that the round will end at a given time and give warnings 15 and 30 minutes before that time. Do not allow excessively slow players or late arrivals to delay an event beyond the scheduled finish. In doing laggards a favor, you perform a disservice to the rest. When necessary, GMs should be prepared to adjudicate slow matches. In making any decision, note which player or players have caused the delay, and give faster players the benefit of the doubt for close calls.

ACTUAL PLAYING TIME: Actual average playing time is used in Century calculations. Specify the average number of minutes required for players to complete the game. Do not round up. This value should be less than the Round Length, which must accommodate all players, not "average" players. Consider a single Round. Do not round up. Must be less than Round Length. For example, average playing time for a Round with three games that end in 3 hours and one game that ends in 1 hour is 2.25 hours, not 3 hours.

Scheduling

PREFERRED START TIME: GMs may may designate a preferred time for their event to start. Event Forms that are submitted earlier are more likely to be assigned the requested schedule. GMs should also indicate in this area any time when they ABSOLUTELY cannot run the event—perhaps because of arrival and departure times. Most GMs get their requested time slots, and most schedule changes are only by an hour or two. Start times must be at the top of an hour (e.g., 1:00 instead of 1:15 or 1:30). Those events requesting four heats MUST designate at least one of them for a 9 AM start. 

In general, smaller events that can be completed within a span of six hours or less should avoid morning starts for starts later in the afternoon or evening. When running MESE events, consider scheduling at least one Heat later in the week to provide an opportunity for late arrivals to play. For shorter events that can be run from start to finish in a few hours, GMs should consider Sunday morning or Saturday starts.

Allowing the Convention Director to schedule at the most appropriate time, as facilities allow makes orchestrating the convention much easier and may increase event attendance by reducing overlaps with other events.

SCHEDULING CONSIDERATIONS: GMs may request that their events be scheduled in close physical or temporal proximity to one other event. When possible, the Convention Director will honor such requests; however, the likelihood increases if GMs have coordinated their schedules BEFORE the Event Form is submitted. In addition, GMs may designate a single tournament that should not be scheduled opposite their event.

TRIAL EVENT SCHEDULING: GMs of Trial events should indicate their Preferred Start Times; however, the Convention Director will schedule the event to reduce conflicts and maximize facility use. Such GMs may exclude one day and one event from conflicts with the tournament, but they MUST be willing to run the event as scheduled. GMs who are unwilling or unable to comply with such scheduling may withdraw their events. Any event that is withdrawn will be replaced by an alternate, at the discretion of the Convention Director.

GM Playing Status

Some believe that propriety is best served if GMs do not play in their own events. GMs may choose to not participate; however, they should not feel obligated to sit out. Not only does BPA allow GMs to play in their own events, we encourage it. GMs come from the ranks of the players who enjoy an event. If we excluded everyone who ran an event from playing in it, we would have an even more difficult time recruiting the GMs that make WBC what it is. However, if you are a playing GM, you MUST predesignate Assistant GMs to oversee any game in which you play.

PLAY SIMULTANEOUS EVENT: If you want to play in another simultanenous event, be sure to list it here. There is no guarantee that this event can be scheduled for your convenience, but your selection will be taken into consideration.

ELIMINATOR: To those contemplating the above ethical question, consider playing as an “Eliminator" ( i.e., an entrant who is ineligible to win overall, but who can eliminate others, entering play only as needed at any point). This method works well in reducing uneven tournament fields and providing the optimum number of players for each game/round and is MUCH preferred to issuing byes.

Facilities

TABLE REQUIREMENTS: Proper scheduling requires knowing the Number of Games Per Table and the Optimum Number of Players Per Game. The best person to provide that information is the GM. Specify a first and second choice. Do not assume the Convention Director knows the proper answer for participants in the tournament. Table requests are honored as often as possible. Please make accommodations, when necessary, to make the available tables work for your tournament. Tables selections are

  • 8' x 30" Rectangular,
  • 6' Round,
  • 5' Round, and
  • 4' x 8.5' Oval.

ROOM PREFERENCE: Room choices are granted in order of commitment. That means GMs who return their Event Forms early are more likely to get the room assignments they request. Specify a first and second choice. In most cases, more than one tournament will take place in a room. Events are scheduled for a finite period. Ensure that a room is cleared before the next event is scheduled to begin. It is a courtesy that all GMs should grant and expect. Available rooms include

  • Ballroom: Largest area grouped with many ongoing events;
  • Salon: Medium-sized area for large event or grouped with similar events;
  • Conference: Smallest area, with max capacity of 30 in a more isolated area; and
  • Theater: Tiered seating area that holds only one event.

Event Description

It is vital that GMs carefully consider how to resolve any questions BEFORE their tournament begins and document this information in the Event Description. Thus, the Event Description should contain detailed descriptions of any errata, Frequently Asked Questions, House Rules, requirements for advancement, any non-cash prizes offered to participants and similar items that are important to players. Submit this description to BPA by March 15 for posting to the WBC site. Use the Event Form or e-mail the description to the Convention Director. It is preferable to use the same Event Description as used the previous year if no changes are necessary; however, before checking the box, examine last year's Preview Page.

Many misunderstandings and much confusion can be avoided if the Event Description is accurate and up-to-date. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the importance of the Event Description to players. GMs are encouraged to post a printed copy of the event description, including any updates, to their kiosks.

SIDE DETERMINATION: In two-player games, sides should not be resolved randomly or by player choice. Instead, players should bid increments of Victory Points, supply, combat factors or other game resources for the right to choose a particular side. That way no player can gripe about receiving the perceived disadvantaged side. In multi-player games, some random method should be used for choice of sides or seats. In either case, the method of side determination should be specified on the Preview Page.

BYES: Byes should be avoided or postponed whenever possible. Always keep the most people playing and the least people waiting. See also “GM Playing Status”. Ideally, an “Eliminator” can be provided in the form of a playing GM or other party—perhaps an earlier eliminated player—to prevent byes altogether. However, if an Eliminator is used in one round to prevent a bye, an Eliminator should be used in all rounds where byes might otherwise occur. GMs should describe their policy for regarding use of byes or eliminators on the Preview Page.

If a bye is required in the first Round of a Single Elimination event, it should be given to the most recent past champion present, as listed on the event kiosk. If additional byes are necessary, they should be given in order of past champions until all past champions have a bye. A champion who elects to pass on his or her right to a bye is not allowed to postpone its use until later in the event. Any additional byes should be given to participants who have provided copies of the game. No person can receive a second bye until all remaining players have received one. In Swiss or Swiss-Elim events after the first Round, byes should be offered to players with the worst records to ensure that players who finish the highest are less likely to have received such a benefit. Regardless of format, GMs must treat a bye as a full win.

TOURNAMENT TIE-BREAKERS: Draws are an acceptable conclusion according to the rules of some games, but they aren't acceptable for tournament play. At WBC, there is no such thing as a tie. A plaque cannot be split down the middle. On the Winner's List, each of the top six places must have one—and only one—recipient. GMs are responsible to create tie-breakers to resolve the top six places of their event, particularly when there are fewer than six players in the Final. There are many valid ways to determine final standings, but unless GMs announce them ahead of time they leave themselves open to charges of bias. In elimination-style events for two-player games, GMs may determine 3rd- thru 6th-place based on the final standings of the player causing elimination. Thus, players who lose to the eventual champion place 2nd, 3rd, or 5th, depending on the round when they lost. Players who lose to the runner-up finish 4th or 6th. If players are tied after using all GM-specified tie-breakers, resolve the ties with a winner-take-all dice roll. All tournament tie-breakers should be specified on the Preview Page.

Privacy

It is helpful to players to be able to contact GMs about their events before the convention. It may help avoid delays and reduce confusion at the tournament itself. GM addresses, phone numbers, and emails are NOT published in the printed pre-registration form or program. To make such information available on an event’s Preview Page, check the appropriate boxes on the Event Form. Otherwise, this information will NOT be made available to the public. No selection will result in NO contact information being listed on the Preview Page.

Above & Beyond the Call of Duty

This section lists extra things you can do to go the extra mile. They are not not mandatory or even expected, but if you are interested, checking the boxes will allow BPA to work with you. Gamers are the life blood of the convention. If BPA can assist you in getting the word out to a local Game Store or Gaming Club, we would be glad to accommodate. If we all brought one new gamer to the convention next year, it would be even better.

Letting us know if you use the electronic versions of our public relations material allows us to devote our resources where they are the most valuable.

Some GMs also furnish additional prizes to supplement those supplied by BPA. This is permissable and appreciated. Commencing in 2014, such extras will also be credited to the Century formula fofr prize level and Century status consideration. (See WBC Frequently Asked Questions for infofrmation about how events are selected for WBC and the Century formula.) Please remember that cash prizes are not allowed, because they detract from the spirit of the competition. Additional prizes will be credited on the event's Preview Page with proper notice.

GM Remuneration

GMs receive one Free GM Polo Shirt in the size indicated. If you feel you have enough Polo shirts, check “None Necessary”. GMs may order additional shirts for the listed fee. Contact the Convention Director.

OTHER INFORMATION

KIOSKS: Each event has its own kiosk, a three-sided display, listing past winners, alternates, elimination brackets, qualifiers, or whatever else a GM might need to provide information to players. GMs should pick up this kiosk from the Paradise Terrace before their tournament begins. The kiosk is used both as a beacon to help players find the event in a large room and as a message board for the GM to post information for players. It is the best place to post lists of Qualifiers and Alternates. One side of each kiosk contains a plastic pocket containing all paperwork GMs need to run their events. DO NOT tear the envelopes or remove them from the kiosk. Extra forms are available from the Registration Desk. GMs should return any completed forms to the Registration Desk as soon as possible after the conclusion of an event. Kiosks should always be returned to the Paradise Terrace when not in use, including after each Round. If you want your Cell Phone # printed on your Kiosk, be sure to indicate that on your event form. Otherwise, it will not be disclosed. 

PRIZE STATUS: The top Centurions names are memorialized on the BPA Champions Photo Spread, which is displayed at WBC and in our Archives. Winners of all Century Events receive a shield plaque. Plaques may also be awarded for lower finishers in Century events. The number of plaques available is based on the number of player-hours logged in that event at the preceding WBC and is listed in the program. Centurions also qualify for a Centurion shirt. Winners can decline the shirt when picking up their plaque. However, Centurion shirts must be ordered in specific sizes in a timely fashion so those who leave WBC without making arrangements for their shirt forfeit that prize once the order has been placed.

Winners of Trial and Junior events receive smaller plaques.

GMs must turn in all paperwork to the Registration Desk before any prizes can be awarded. Even when only one plaque is available, GMs must provide the names of the top six finishers for the event. Ties must be broken before the paperwork is presented. (See Tournament Ties, above.)

SIMULTANEOUS PLAY: GMs should NEVER allow ANY player to participate in two events simultaneously. While it may not cause problems for the GM, it inevitably inconveniences players in those events and creates hard feelings. Players who qualify for advanced Rounds in different events with conflicting schedules must choose ONE event to play and forfeit all of the others. GMs may allow players with conflicts to schedule games at off hours—such as after midnight—but only if all involved players agree. GMs who violate this rule or allow players to violate it may be barred from future GM duties.

LATE ARRIVALS: GMs may use their discretion when someone who arrived after the scheduled starting time asks to participate in the tournament. Some formats can accommodate late arrivals fairly easily. However, do NOT allow late arrivals to, in any way, inconvenience others by delaying the start of the tournament. NEVER award a bye to someone who arrived late and who would not otherwise have qualified for it. It is permissible to allow several players to start a late game and adjudicate the finish to ensure that the Round ends within the scheduled period. Keep in mind that the final call as to what is a reasonable accomodation is up to each GM to decide, balancing obligations to all players—including those who were on time—against the need of the late-arriving player(s).

ACCESSORIES: Do not expect players to furnish chess clocks or other accessories. Written records or notes (including those kept on a computer) that are not part of a game’s original equipment are not allowed, except as deemed necessary by the GM. To improve the perception that everyone is playing fairly, GMs are encouraged to adopt the following procedures in games requiring dice rolls:

  • Players should use dice cups, towers, and round-cornered dice. If provided, both players must use them.

  • If dice cups or towers are not available, all dice rolls must be thrown (not dropped) into a box. If any dice miss the box or are cocked, all dice must be rerolled.

  • Games requiring simultaneous rolls by both players should be resolved using different colored sets of dice being thrown by the same player—presumably the attacker—to avoid charges of purposely missing the box after seeing an opponent’s roll.

  • Official dice should be made available to all players. No substitution of dice or dice limited to one player’s use should be allowed.

KIBITZERS & DISCIPLINE: Allowing bystanders to give information to any player or to hassle or otherwise distract a player is prohibited. GMs who see this taking place should announce that onlookers are welcome only if they remain silent. Those who violate this rule should be removed from the premises. A GM’s authority is unquestioned in his or her tournament. A player who disagrees with a GM’s ruling has the right to request a ruling by majority opinion of the GM and the GM’s two designated assistant GMs. Beyond that, there is no appeal. BPA WILL TOLERATE NO DISSENSION. A player or bystander who becomes unruly should be removed—not by the GM—but by Hotel Security. Summon the Convention Director or Hotel Security immediately, if necessary.

CONDUCT: GMs should monitor their players to see if anyone is being abrasive or unsportsmanlike in any way. Such conduct should be met with a warning that any further such behavior will result in disqualification. Before taking such action, ask Assistant GMs to confer with you regarding the situation and deliver the verdict as a committee decision. Any GM unwilling to protect his or her players from such behavior should not be a GM.

Any player who leaves a multi-player game in progress before the scheduled end of the Heat or Round without advance permission from the GM should be barred from that event in future years. All players should be reminded of that penalty before play begins. When necessary, GMs may adjudicate any game that will not be complete within the established timeframe.

BADGES: Compared to many conventions requiring individual event tickets, WBC events are gamer friendly with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape. However, GMs must never allow anyone to enter an event without a valid badge, regardless of the excuse or the identify of the individual. Any GM failing to enforce this rule will be banned from future GM responsibilities.

PAPERWORK: A GM’s job is never done until the paperwork is complete. An Event Results form (.xls; .pdf), which is a combination Entry List/Winner’s Claim, is in the envelope attached to the Event Kiosk. GMs can use the “has game” column to help assign matches. Whenever possible, allow players to use their own copies of a game instead of lending them to strangers. Circling the “Heats Entered” numbers helps GMs record the number of games played. Keep the following in mind:

  • Do not allow players to sign the Entry List (.xls; .pdf). It is not a signup sheet! The GM must legibly print the names and badge numbers of all participants. Print-outs of computerized entry lists are allowed.
  • The same person should never be listed more than once on an Event List (.xls; .pdf), regardless of the number of Heats or Rounds played.
  • All paperwork must be turned in to the Registration Desk within one hour of the conclusion of an event.
  • The Winner’s Claim (.xls; .pdf) requests Sportsmanship nominees, an accounting of all games played and event details. The latter two items should be submitted, preferably by e-mail, within four weeks of the end of WBC. It is important to know the total number of games played, the number of players in each, and the AVERAGE playing time of a game.

Yearbook coverage of an event should consist of a 400-word (or longer) report featuring interesting anecdotes that occurred during play, house rules in effect or under consideration for future use and statistics regarding bids or play balance. In order to write a good report, GMs need to plan in advance methods for gathering the information. Requests for written details from participants is rarely forthcoming, though GMs may ask an assistant to handle the writing duties. Providing players with forms requiring statistical data pertaining to the games helps compile an interesting account with useful information. Refrain from commenting on entrant numbers or finalist places since this information is already provided by the BPA based on the information on the Winner’s Claim.

Reports should be emailed to cd@boardgamers.org or mailed to BPA, 1541 Redfield Rd, Bel Air, MD 21015.

GMs who do not submit reports in a timely fashion are suspended and may not GM the event the following year. They also penalize their event by dropping Century Events to Trial Status and making Trial Events ineligible for inclusion the following year.

Boardgame Players Association Last updated by kae.
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