Boardgame Players Association Board of Director’s Tenth Seat
Dec. 1 , 2005

Some members wonder why they can’t have access to all the whys and wherefores associated with the decisions made in governing WBC. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that an open forum to all that goes on beyond closed doors is not in the best interests of BPA or its members. Many sensitive subjects dealing with contracts, negotiations, and personalities simply should not be aired in public. Then, too, your Board dedicates many hours without recompense to discussions, compromises and planning. Agreement among the nine seats is seldom unanimous so you can well imagine that these folks don’t need the dissenting comments to be found among another 1,000 listeners to deal with as well. However, in an attempt to control the rumor mill and mistruths that usually circulate in the vacuum of direct feedback from the Board, we offer this sanitized list of questions and answers in response to comments from our most recent survey taken at WBC 2005.

Consider the following your Board’s feedback on the issues they have been discussing in their post-WBC meeting. Submit your questions to the Board for answer in the public record on “the Tenth Seat” to


Why can’t new games or Trials be voted into the Century any more?

The 2006 Century was selected entirely based on 2005 Player and player-hour totals without culling 10% to be replaced by membership vote. Instead, the annual membership event vote will select the 25 eligible events to be retained as Continuing Trials. This change has been proposed and debated for several years but only recently saw passage as part of the compromise that expanded the Century with Legacy additions.

In fact, this compromise was not reached until after the Thanksgiving weekend—necessitating a restatement of the 2006 Century list. This change means that all new events must prove themselves first as a Trial before being elevated to Century status based strictly on their performance in the preceding year. It also means that no Century event will attain that status without actually drawing a minimum field in the preceding year.

How does an event earn Legacy status?
Legacy status is extended only to those events that have withstood the test of time and proven that they can—year after year—draw consistently satisfactory fields while honoring all BPA requirements and deadlines. To be granted Legacy status, an event must:
  • have met minimum standards of event fields and BPA requirements for ten years
  • receive a 2/3 vote from the Board of directors

These standards must continue to be met in succeeding years. Once an event fails to draw a minimum field or honor its GM obligations, it loses its Legacy status.

Is WBC really as contentious as one would think based on all the on line politic’ing that takes place in your ConSimWorld folder?
No. It’s easy to get the wrong impression from Internet flag waving. In reality, WBC is as cordial a setting as one could ask for in which to play games. However, WBC is also unique in that it is owned and governed by its members rather than by private ownership that convenes behind locked doors to make policy. That encourages members to whine and cajole for changes in policy that they prefer but may be equally opposed by other members who are, thus, encouraged to respond in kind. The resultant public airing of “dirty laundry” often doesn’t exactly paint WBC in a favorable light. Still, it occurs largely because the members feel empowered to make changes that would not even be considered by a privately-owned conference. In fact, much of what you read is actually friendly ribbing between old friends moreso than serious heated discussions, although we have our share of those too.

It is an unfortunate consequence that our public folder is used as a platform for change because the members know the Board reads it and stirring up controversy there is likely to get the ear of the Board. A simple email to a Board member would often accomplish as much without giving the conference a lasting image in the public’s eye as the second coming of Peyton Place.

Will WBC expand to a full week?

No and Yes. Our surveys show a clear majority of our attendees favor the present six-day (Tuesday-Sunday) format for the main festivities, which we will continue. However, counting Pre-Cons and our Game Auction, WBC-related events currently run for nine straight days, starting the weekend before WBC and extending into WBC proper.

Pre-Cons have enabled those who travel great distances to enjoy dedicated play of longer events with fewer schedule conflicts and without missing any of the normal hoopla that is WBC. Thus, they get a bigger bang for their travel buck. 2006 will see the return of the four previous Pre-Cons—ASL, Paths of Glory, Hannibal and Victory in the Pacificas well as two new offerings.

Grognardcon will appeal to veteran wargamers by providing preliminary matches for a host of traditional hex wargames using the Free Form Scheduling format. Under the watchful eye of the original grognard himselfGM Bruno Sinigaglioplayers will be paired in qualifying games of such old favorites as Anzio, Gettysburg, Waterloo, Afrika Korps, Fortess Europa, Panzerblitz and Bulge ’81 from Saturday thru Tuesday. On Tuesday, the events will continue under the watchful eye of their own individual GMs, allowing those arriving later in the week to participate and qualify normally for the elimination rounds. Those participating earlier will simply have more opportunities to qualify in more events or perhaps free their schedules for something else later in the week.

We haven’t left out the non-wargamers either. On Monday afternoon, WBC Sampler Showcase commences with Attika, to be followed by Die Macher on Tuesday morning. WBC Sampler Showcase will also offer Demonstrations and organized play of 10 games new to WBC in a Wild Card event format similar to the one used at Euro Quest. Players will compete for free games and raffle chances at a prize table. You can participate in all three events with one WBC Sampler Showcase Pre-Con admission.

Perhaps best of all is that despite rising costs, WBC has not only held the line on prices but actually lowered them for those contemplating the full week by making all Pre-Cons free to those with a Tribune membership.

Given its admitted emphasis on gaming over commercialism, will WBC expand its Vendor presence at the cost of more gaming space?

A major consideration in moving WBC to the Lancaster Host was providing greater Vendor presence in a larger, more secure Vendor room. The initial year at the Host was encouraging with our greatest Vendor presence ever. Yet, gaming space did not take a hit, because our meeting space likewise expanded—enough to dedicate an entire Ballroom to Open Gaming. There is still more space to be had at Host, so further expansion of the Vendor area poses no risk to gaming space. In any case, WBC will remain true to its original mission—providing the best competitive forum for the play of games. Will the future see even more publishers/vendors at WBC? Only time will tell, but we certainly have room for and are anticipating an expanded Vendor presence.

Why aren’t Vendors open throughout WBC instead of only the final three days?

Most vendors would prefer not to expand their hours. Sales for a six-day show would only be marginally better than that for a three-day stay but their expenses and time commitment would double. If they had to man sales tables for the full week, some would opt not to attend. So the Vendor area will remain open only for the final three days of the show when attendance and sales are the highest. However, we will continue to have a retail presence throughout the show with a sole distributor of many lines for the early days.

Why did WBC move to a less accessible site in Lancaster?

There were many reasons, but increased space and greater affordability were the prime motivators for the change in site. The Host is also a far more family-friendly destination, offering a wide option of vacation diversions for “significant others” who don’t play boardgames. For most attendees arriving by car, there is little or no added travel burden. For some, there is less. Air travellers are the most affected, and for those whose flight connections to Philadelphia are better than they are to BWI and who rent a car anyway, are better off. (See the travel tips on our hotel page.) The difference in room rates more than compensates added travel costs for most attendees.

Why is WBC always the first week of August?

We just can’t pick up the phone and make a hotel reservation. Our six-figure contracts are negotiated years in advance and are based on the availability of a particular time slot at a facility. Most facilities large enough to accommodate us are already booked years in advance, except for a few major convention centers, where the costs soar correspondingly. In any case, every week is inconvenient for someone, and the first week of August has become WBC week on the calendars of many of our regulars.

Why can’t you send us a program in the mail?

We mail programs to anyone who is a member by June 1 and resides in the United States. Our programs are not cheap or light to mail. The cost to produce and deliver one exceeds an Associate member’s yearly dues, but we send them anyway. Further, far too many programs are left at home and replaced on site. Every year we produce more programs than we have attendees, yet we run out of programs before the convention ends.

Why does the Team Tournament force you to pick a single game rather than recording the results of all the events you play?

Besides being much more work, it would be very unfair to those who play long games and get fewer opportunities to score. Even if the points were weighted for player hours, it wouild unbalance the competition by making the winner of the long events worth far too much. The current system works and has the added benefit of increasing the likelihood of upsets, as evidenced by the fact that no team has ever repeated.

Will there be a Flea Market in WBC’s near future?

No. The subject did not fare well in our last survey, and we do not want to detract from the auction, which has been very successful. We may experiment with an auction store during the auction on Tuesday.

Speaking of the auction, why aren’t the offerings categorized into different themes so someone could attend only the sessions of interest?

Our auction staff is always looking for ways to improve the auction. However, the problem with using themes is that sellers may not be able to arrive at the right time to deliver their lots for a particular cateogry.

Now that you have more room, why can’t the number of events be expanded?

Physical space is only one of the resources required to run events. There are many reasons to limit the number of events, but the best is hard to argue with—a shortage of qualified GMs. As long as we have to ask dozens of GMs to run more than one event because we don't have enough volunteers to run existing events, requests for expansion are likely to fall on deaf ears.

Why don’t you reward the GMs with free admission to entice more volunteers?

We believe that volunteers who do run tournaments for love of the game do a better job than those who are enticed solely by the prospect of saving a few dollars. Our Convention Director has been running gaming conventions for more than 30 years and has tried it both ways. There is no comparison in the quality of what you get using the two systems.

Why not pay professional referees the way bridge tournaments do?

For starters, it would bankrupt us—assuming we could find professional referees who are knowledgeable about our games yet who dont want to play them. Further, the analogy is even weaker than an apples and oranges comparison. There is a huge difference between finding officials for a generic game with one set of rules played by millions and finding someone who is knowledgeable about 150 games—all with different rules and more involved and less universally accepted than bridge—when, in most cases, any of these games has a maximum audience of a few thousand people in most cases.

Will you go to a quota system to ensure that wargames are not replaced by Euros?

Right after we do that, wed have to create one to ensure that Euros are not replaced by wargames. Any quota system would be constantly second guessed and criticized depending on which side of the aisle you’re on. We have a hard time deciding which complaint is the more frequent—the one that we have too many wargames at the expense of Euros or that one that we have too many Euros at the expense of wargames. All of which suggests to us that the current system is working just fine, especially since the only complaint we hear more often is that there is not enough time to play all the possible choices.

Since you’ve reversed your stand on auctions, will you similarly reverse your stand on seminars?

Lancaster Host’s Hopewell room certainly provides us the ideal facility for seminars. The problem is finding speakers and audiences. WBC embraces the play of the games, and that is tough competition for seminars. While the category did not drum up much support on the recent survey, we are not adverse to letting someone try their hand at gathering an audience.

Will you be starting a free lending library for games at WBC?

No. The Board considered it but decided the negatives outweighed the positives. We will continue to stock such a resource for the Juniors.

The Host has been criticized as not being very accessible to the handicapped. What will you do about that?

Last year we limited our meeting space to rooms that were handicapped accessible. Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot we can do. Certainly the hotel will not make millions of dollars in renovations just because we ask.* In 2006, we will be expanding our meeting space at the Host. This new space will NOT have handicapped access. The Junior’s room will be moving upstairs to the Heritage Room, and we will make use of Strasburg. Both require negotiating a few stairs. Anyone who needs access to such spaces will have to plan accordingly. We will accommodate attendees to the extent possible if we have advanced notice.

*New ownership has acquired the Host and will be investing in major renovations. Exactly what form these renovations will take is unknown at the present time.

What other space arrangements are in the works?

Cafe Jay was too crowded last year, so the B Demo tables will probably be moved to either the Paradise Assembly or Ballroom A. Sponsor tables will be reclassified as Exhibitor Tables, repriced and moved to Lampeter Hall or the Ballroom Foyer for increased traffic. The Kiosk displays will be moved to either Marietta Hallway or Paradise Assembly. Renovation plans for Paradise may impact this decision.

Why is BPA spending $10,000 on tables for Host?

As the Host’s table inventory is inadequate to provide our members with the number and types of tables our members prefer for their gaming, we have three choices: rent tables, buy them, or play with tables that are not ideal. Rental tables are not inexpensive and are often poor quality. Plus, we pay for them over and over again each year. Since we will be at the Host for at least the next five years, outright purchase seems a good investment given the terms of the purchase.

Can you get more of those oval tables?

No. Those tables are no longer made. The Host could sell their used ones for $500 apiece. We expect to purchase a mixture of round and rectangular tables to accommodate our needs.

Will there be any changes in food service?

Reviews of the food service at Host were mixed, but food was generally considered an improvement over past WBCs. We have convinced the Pennsylvania Dutch that we’re not really big on sauerkraut, so that is gone, replaced by a pizza night. We expect to add a food station to the one in the Ballroom Foyer. The new station willl likely be located in Lampeter Hall. At sometime in the future, we might add a buffet on Monday night for early arrivals.

Why aren’t the Board elections held at WBC? Doesn’t that disenfranchise anyone who registers at the door?

Because BPA board members are not all local to each other, the only place they can conduct live business is at WBC. Consequently, we need to know who will be sitting on the new Board before the convention begins. Another advantage of postal and e-mail balloting conducting during the months before WBC is that it is more secure—it can be monitored closely enough to guard against ballot box tinkering. Recent elections have thus far attracted just as many voters as the prior live elections.

Why are members’ votes weighted differently instead of treated equally?

Offering different classes of membership is accepted practice for social clubs and corporations. It helps raise the necessary revenues to pay the bills and provides greater opportunity for those who are committed to be more involved in the decision-making process. In addition, it protects the interests of the founding members without whose initial contributions the organization would not have gotten off the ground. It would be every bit as unfair to those founding members to have their interests subordinated to those of newer members making lesser contributions by following a one member, one vote policy.

Why did the Prize level for my event go down even though the number of entrants remained the same or even increased?

Most apparent prize discrepancies occur as a result scheduling incentives being enacted or withdrawn or playing times being corrected to more accurate numbers. In the past, GM-specified playing times for some events artificially inflated Player Hours. We now try to better reflect actual average playing times in player hours calculations. Prior to 2006, Century events received a one level increase if the GM allowed BPA to schedule the event rather than specifying a schedule. This incentive was intended to reduce conflicts and enable us to use the convention meeting space more efficiently. Its use has been abandoned, as we can now adjust the Trial event schedule, as needed.

Why doesn’t the BPA membership year run from one WBC till the next instead of by calendar year so people could pay for the next year as they leave WBC?

There are many reasons for our policy of using the calendar year. Most important is that the newly-elected Board needs time to assess the finances of the organization before setting prices for the following year. Since our fiscal year ends months after WBC, we are not in a position to determine prices for the coming year so fast. In truth, we feel rushed meeting the deadline for the December membership drive. Besides, most people postpone their decision to join until the next WBC draws near—even though it is more costly for them to do so.

Isn’t the practise of penalizing an event for a GM’s failure to comply with regulations unfair to its players?
No. For years we used the philosphy that it was wrong to penalize the players of an event for a GM’s failure to comply with his obligations. That accomplished nothing in terms of getting universal compliance from GMs. We could eliminate event writeups and a Yearbook due to the difficulty of obtaining universal compliance; however, the Board wishes to continue the Yearbook. We can’t have the Yearbook without the writeups. We can’t have the writeups without a rule requiring them from the GM. We can’t have rules that we don’t enforce—and therefore, are not respected. Experience has proven that past policies were not respected. Therefore, we come to the present policy.

We no longer respect the opinion that the players of a non-complying event are innocent. For an event to have featured status at WBC, it should live up to what it promises—including event Previews and After Action reports. If it doesn’t, the event doesn’t deserve featured status. If an event cannot generate a GM willing to comply with those requirements, then it should surrender its place to an event that does. Period. In other words, there is no such thing as an innocent player. A player who has not stepped up to run the event is just as guilty as the GM who did and failed to complete one of the requirements. Probably moreso—at least the GM did some of the requirements that enabled the event to take place. The player did none.

We fully understand that life intervenes and other things become more important. We also agree that, in some cases, GMs have excellent excuses as to why they could not comply. For our purposes, it does not matter. An event that has not complied, places a hardship on the rest—the weakest link in a chain theory—and should be dismissed from elite status as a consequence. This penalty is not intended to penalize the offending GM. Rather, it is intended to bolster the status of all Century events by proving that we enforce our standards. Century events involve both privileges and requirements. Note that any event that is given Legacy status will be immediately dropped if the GM does not honor his or her obligations.

Why do you allow casual players to be counted in tournament fields?

How would you prevent it…give each entrant a polygraph test? There has been much noise on the discussion boards about what constitutes a legal tournament entry and the practice of some GMs who pad their entrant numbers by adding players who do not actually play in their event. Just as the perception of cheating is much more widespread than cheating itself, so too is the practice of padding.

Perhaps we’re overdue to define what constitutes padding.

Padding does not mean only counting entrants who are there for a chance to earn wood and who, at the outset, have a chance to do so. A portion of every event’s field, especially newer multi-player games, includes entrants who are there only for a chance to play the game, maybe for the first time. These players simply use our schedule as a convenient way to do Open Gaming. There is no practical way to weed such people out or to be concerned about whether they are true competitors or not. (We do ask that such people inform the GM of their intent to drop out, win or lose.) Further, since we accept non-competitors as entrants at the beginning of an event, there seems little reason to bar late entrants. Neither has a chance to win the event, but we accept them as “entrants” as long as they have actually signed up with the GM and played the event with another official player in the tournament area. It might not be a shining example of competition at its best, but it is legal. No need to snicker about it.

Problems occur when GMs pad their numbers by recruiting people to play fictitious or forfeit token “games”. When this happens, we want to hear about it. This is cheating of the very worst kind and will be dealt with accordingly. Should someone ask you to take part in such a hoax or use your name as an entrant without your consent, you should report it to us. To be clear; playing a game in an event against other duly entered players makes you an entrant whether you care to advance or not. Conversely, if you win such a game, you are expected to report it rather than deferring to an opponent so that he or she can advance in your place. Your lack of desire to advance does not grant you the right to dispense byes to your opponent.

Why was my event expelled from the Century even though attendance increased and it had more players than other events that were retained?

No set number of players or player-hours qualifies an event for Century status. All events are measured in relation to other events—only the top 100 events as determined by the Century formula return each year. Legacy status is extended—by Board vote—only to those events that have withstood the test of time and proven that they can—year after year—draw consistently satisfactory fields while honoring all BPA requirements and deadlines. Others may be voted Trial status. Thus, if you’re looking for a “magic number” of entrants that guarantees inclusion every year, you’re out of luck—it doesn’t exist. Moreover, the criteria for multi-player games are different than those for two-player games.

Why are Continuing Trials determined only by those joining in December every year? Isn’t that unfair to those paying later?

No. As a practical matter, the decision of what events to run has to be made sufficiently early to enlist GMs, prepare websites, programs, kiosks, and plaques. Such things don’t happen overnight. As for walk-ons, they do get a say—they “vote with their feet” by participating in the events of their choice, allowing those events to accumulate enough players and player hours to qualify for the Century the following year. And if they are not able to support the convention with their early commitment for the following year by participating in the December Membership Games survey, it is not a stretch to say that they shouldn’t be determining the games to be played by those who are. It’s a very simple concept. Everyone in the prior year determines the next Century by their attendance. Limiting the selection of Continuing Trials to those dedicated enough to commit to attending the event seems an eminently fair compromise.

Boardgame Players Association Last updated 12/1/05 by kae.
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