‘Ard Boyz season is upon us, and there’s a lot out there for the players to chew on; strategy, preparation, armylist composition, etc. There’s not as much info for the organizers though, and they’ve got just as much to worry about as the players before and during the event. I’ve run both the preliminary and semifinal rounds of ‘Ard Boyz every year they’ve done it, so I’m acutely aware of what a challenge it can be. With that in mind, here are six quick things I have found to be helpful, and/or learned the hard way, when it comes to organizing your ‘Ard Boyz event.
Before the event:
Establish your Event Capacity – We all want as many players as possible at out event; it makes our store/club look good, and it makes for a fun day. It’s important, however, to determine just how many players you can accommodate and set a cap. Be sure to utilize all your available space; players will be happy to play in the middle of the sales floor as long as you can fit a 6x4 there. But be honest as well. If someone arrives to your event and can’t be fit in, they may not have time to get to another location. And while you’re figuring out exactly how much gaming you can cram in your space, you should be getting a feel for roughly how many people are coming. Talk to your local players to see which of them are planning on attending, and always plan for more than that. There’s a certain level of “meta” when it comes to choosing a location to play in the ‘Ard Boyz preliminary, and if you’re a smaller venue in a large area, you’ll probably have some people you’re not familiar with calling about your event. Establishing your capacity early on helps you avoid surprises and disappointments on the day of the event.
Make Sure You Have Enough Terrain – Nothing makes for less enjoyable games, or more skewed results, than poorly laid-out tables. GW recommends “about a quarter” of the gaming surface be covered in terrain, but it’s easy to make the mistake of simply putting four or five big pieces on a quarter of the table, then spreading them out and calling it a day. A well-laid out table is an art (and an article) all to itself, but in general, a table needs to have
- At least 25% coverage. It’s ok to go over by a bit! The 25% benchmark is not an absolute.
- Terrain that blocks LOS. Yes, it’s harder in 5th to fully block LOS, but you have to be mindful of not making a table that is completely porous.
- Terrain that provides cover. Nearly everyone I talked to was full of ZOMFG!!! After reading about cover saves in 5th, but it’s how the game is played, and with the increased strength of mech and true LOS, infantry forces need cover to have a chance.
- Linear terrain that provides cover but does not impede movement (much) or block LOS (much). It’s easy to fit in a few hedges, walls, barricades, tank traps, etc, in between your larger pieces when filling out your terrain, and they add to the game immensely.
It doesn’t take much to set-up a good table, and having tables that are well laid-out with pre-set terrain will make your event run more smoothly and give you better results.
Know the Rules – If you’re the T.O., it is invariably the expectation that you know the rules. All of them. Exactly. That’s not realistic, but it is incumbent on you to be familiar with all the rules in the book, as well as all the FAQs. At the very least you’ve got to know where to look when something comes up. Some things of note that I’ve seen more than a few times:
- Inqusitorial Allies. It has happened without fail at every ‘Ard Boyz that someone shows up with a list that includes Allies, particularly Witch- or Daemonhunters with inducted whatever, but also IG or Marines with Inquisitorial Allies, that is completely illegal. Make sure you know how the Allies rules work these days from the various FAQs, and scrutinize those lists before the first round!
- Independent Characters. It’s only a couple pages in the book, so there’s no excuse for not knowing how the IC rules work completely. In particular, I’ve had to answer more ‘Judge!’ calls regarding how ICs can and cannot fight in assault than nearly anything else.
- Cover Saves. In particular, when units get a save and saves when LOS is drawn through elements of Area Terrain comes up a lot. Surprisingly, I’ve also been called to deal with vehicle cover saves enough times to merit mentioning it here. Finally, don’t forget about 5+ or even 6+ cover saves for uncertain situations. You’re the judge; it’s your call.
If you’re comfortable with the main rulebook and the official GW FAQs, you should be well-equipped to deal with anything that comes your way during the games. The INAT FAQ is also a good read for clarifications on some of the more interesting interactions, but remember that it is unofficial as far as GW is concerned. Ultimately, the call is yours to make when something comes up during the event, but if you are familiar with the rules of 40k 5th you should acquit yourself well.
During the Tournament
Pair Players With Skill in Mind – It’s a fact of tournaments that people who really shouldn’t be there will show up, and that problem is in even more glaring at an event like ‘Ard Boyz. Each time I’ve run a preliminary round, at least one person shows up who’s totally new to the current edition, or to the game completely. And on the other end of the spectrum you’ll have your hard-bitten veterans with the most torqued-out, killer lists and skills to match. These two groups of people should never meet on the table if you can help it. In most standard tournaments, you can use a simple pre-round composition consideration to make sure people are playing around their own level, and guys that have tear-your-head-off armies full of glistening fangs don’t square off against guys with… “fun” lists. In ‘Ard Boyz, however, there’s no comp, and the expectation is that everyone brought the best of the best. That, again, isn’t realistic, but you can endeavor to make the event more enjoyable and challenging for everyone by trying to pair them based on their skill level and expectation of the event.
Keep an Eye on Time – Time is the most important factor once the event has begun. You must have a schedule somewhere, preferably written down, so you know when things should be happening. Your schedule is not absolute. It’s there to make sure you keep things moving, within a reasonable amount of time. Equally important is making sure to keep your players moving along. Deployment can take an hour if you’re not there to make sure it doesn’t, and there’s always the threat of someone stalling or slow-playing to gain an advantage. Make sure you’re moving around the event while games are going, and asking your players where they are in their games. If everyone’s at the bottom of three but you have a table that’s just wrapping up top of two, you’ll want to keep an eye on that table and make sure they’re moving along. Nothing is more frustrating for players to hear that they’ve got about 30 minutes left when they’ve barely made it to the half-way point, but if you’re keeping your eye on the clock and making sure your players are aware of the time, you can help make sure your games get finished on time, and your rounds run as scheduled, or as closely as possible.
Stay Organized – It’s difficult, wandering through a sea of tables covered in cool models, hearing the plaintive wail of ‘Judge!’ every half-hour, to keep everything together. I keep a clipboard with the sign-up sheet, my mini-rulebook, a copy of the scenarios, and some scratch paper for keeping notes with me at all times. This also applies to the scoring at the judges’ table too. It’s worth the extra few minutes to put together a simple spreadsheet to track players and battle points, so you’re not running around with a notepad trying to keep everything together. Keeping yourself organized means you’ll be able to keep on your feet throughout the event and it will help your event run smoother.
‘Ard Boyz should be lot of fun, heated competition for your players, but it doesn’t have to be a gauntlet for the organizer, either. The key is in the preparation.