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How to act at a tournament
By Ray "Monk" Powers
As everyone who reads my articles weekly knows by now, I am
retiring from tournament organizing for everyone but Wizards
of the Coast. A couple of weeks ago was my last WizKids
event, and this past week was my last events for Upper Deck.
For Upper Deck this meant a Yu Gi Oh Prerelease. If you
haven't been to one of these, the new set up is pretty
interesting. They do a 16 person flight system which you
should be familiar with, but they also have an Open style
side, which is basically "Arena League - The Prerelease."
Each player gets the packs, builds a deck, then goes and
finds anyone they want in the open area, plays them, repeat
five times, then turn in their sheet showing they played
five people, and get a pack. How they actually did is
irrelevant, everyone gets a pack just for playing five
people. Kind of a weird setup, and a small pain in the butt
for a tournament organizer for one big reason; the last
entries are kind of screwed. If you are doing sign ups for
this all day long, the last few trickle in players are going
to have a very difficult time finding five people to play
against because everyone else is done playing already, so
its going to be a fairly unhappy experience for them. But
that's the way it goes, and it was a fun experiment at the
While sitting at this event, I kind of had a numb feeling.
Its weird to realize I may not be seeing a lot of these
people again. But, even with the numb feeling, there was
still the minor annoyances that come from some of the
players. Let's face it, even as a player you can see that
there is a number of "challenging players" out there for us
organizers. Players who seem to make the whole day more
difficult for everyone. I started to wonder if these people
do it on purpose, or strictly out of ignorance, and decided
I had my article for this week!
How not to be an Annoying Player!
This quick easy guide is written, admittedly very selfishly,
to make life easier for the organizer. I know it sounds like
its not very useful to you, but think about how much nicer
your day will be when your organizer is in a good mood and
willing to make your day great for you. Grumpy organizers
are no fun for the judges or the players, so if you follow
some of these easy rules, you will make the event better for
the organizer, and for the staff, which should mean the
event ends up better for you.
1.. Registration begins at 9am, means registration begins at
This is probably by far my personal biggest pet peeve as a
tournament organizer, but it might just be me. Every event
that I run has a published registration time, and that's
when I will start taking registration and do some initial
announcements so everyone knows what's going on. By its very
nature, this means that, for the hour or so before
registration, what do you think the staff is doing? They are
setting up to get ready for a vast influx of people we are
going to have at the registration start time. Somehow tho,
to a large number of players, this translates to "the hour
before the event starts where we will do everything we can
to distract the judges and organizer asking them questions
they don't have time to answer because they are trying to
set up the event.
You want to make me happy, step away from me and my staff
the half hour before the events starts. I am happy you
wanted to be here, and showed up early, and when I am ready
for registration I will do some announcements telling you
everything you need to know about registration, and if you
have any questions AFTER that announcement feel free to ask
me. But for that half hour before we start, PLEASE LET US DO
OUR JOB AND SET UP THE SITE FOR YOU.
Every person who comes up and distracts me or my judges is
setting back the time we get to start for everyone, and
that's just not fair.
2.. The night before is not the time to request information
Events are announced very early on nowadays. I have events
on the web site normally MINIMALLY one month before the
event actually occurs. There is the web site to find out
information, fliers, and my cell phone number is on most
advertisements so you can call me directly to get
Use it. Feel free to call me, feel free to e-mail, feel free
to check out the web site. But, not the night before. The
night before is when an organizer is packing everything,
doing a final inventory check, and making sure he has
everything ready for you tomorrow for setup so he can run
the event for you as best as he can. Try not to disturb him
Even more importantly, REALIZE THAT WE HAVE LIVES, and that
we are not at your beck and call. Every event I run, EVERY
SINGLE ONE, someone decides that, at say 11:30pm the night
before is the time to call and "make sure"
that registration is at 9am the next morning. For my Yu Gi
Oh event this past weekend, someone called my number at 1:30
in the morning. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE
Please learn some sense of courtesy for your organizer, and
that they need to sleep if they want to run your event the
2.. We do not have extra free stuff just for you
This is probably the biggest complaint I hear from other
organizers across the world, and its probably my second
choice of pet peeves. For many events we run, there is an
enormous amount of free stuff and "included giveaways."
We will tell you what they are, and are more than happy to
give them to you as supplies last. We want you to be happy,
and we want you to get your money's worth.
We do not just carry extra packs just for you because you
ask for them. We do not have a secret stash hiding because
we're thinking "You know, everyone else gets five packs for
this event, but hey, if someone ASKS, why not give them an
Uh, no, it doesn't work like that. And at the end of the
day, when we have packs left over, that does not mean they
are to give out to you. It means we need to return them, or
maybe save them for the next event. They are not free packs.
We had to pay for them. We can't just give them to you.
Admittedly the first asker normally doesn't bother me. Most
of these people are kids, and they don't know better. After
all, everything they get from their parents is essentially
free, so why wouldn't other people give them things for
free? Its the continuous askers that kill me. "Can I have
this for free? How about this? What about this? Well, then
why not that first thing again?"
Its not hard to say no once. Its annoying as heck to say no
2.. Judges get judge questions, organizers get organizer
As a player, this is the hardest to understand, so its easy
to be patient with these people, but it really is a time
crunch for the staff when a player continually asks the
wrong person the wrong questions. The short version of this
is simple - If you have a question about a card or a ruling,
you ask a judge. If you have a question about how the
tournament runs, you ask a organizer.
2.. Listen to announcements
Almost every event you ever go to, there will be a
microphone. The organizer and the judge will often use the
microphone. Please listen to them. When you hear someone
talking on the microphone, stop talking to your friends for
a second, stop playing for a second, and listen to what is
being said. If we are talking on the microphone, it means we
feel what we are saying is important enough to try to
communicate it to all of you. Please listen to us. I can not
count the number of times I have made an announcement on the
microphone, only to have someone walk up to me less than a
minute later and ask me a question that was covered by the
announcement I had JUST made. I guarantee you that by
listening to the announcements you will have a better feel
for the event as a whole because you will know what is going
on, and won't be just kind of wandering the event wondering
what is going to happen next.
2.. Ask questions
I know a lot of this sometimes sounds like the organizer is
saying "LEAVE ME ALONE!" but that's really not true. We want
you to understand what is going on in the event, and we want
you to feel comfortable here. If you are confused about
something, please come talk to us (using number four and
number one as a guide of course). The only way we can clear
up something for you is if we know you have something you
need cleared up. We will be happy to answer anything you
ask. Don't wander around confused. Help us help you.
Follow these simple steps, and hopefully you will have a
better time, and your organizer will have a better time, and
everyone will have a better time.
We can hope.
See you next week!