How To Run A Tournament in 9 Easy Steps
As a special sneak preview for NAF members, here is a chance for you to read my "How To Run A Tournament..." guide a few months before it gets published in Blood Bowl magazine!
How to Run Your Own Tournament in 9 Easy Steps
By Dave "Indigo" Candlish
Although I've commissioned a fair number of leagues in my time, I've always wanted to run a proper tournament. With the advent of the NAF and the recent surge in the popularity of Blood Bowl I thought to myself that there was no better time than now to try it! I compiled this guide as I went along to keep a record of what I did so other prospective tournament organisers can avoid the mistakes I made.
1. Find a Venue
This is probably the most important part of setting up a tournament, and arguably the hardest. Although you may have an idea in your head for a tournament date, you are completely reliant on the availability of a suitable venue. Look around in your local area directory for nearby community centres or church halls, then try to organise a visit to the best potential candidates. It's no use booking a hall perfect for 40 people, only to turn up on the day and find the nearest parking is a mile and a half away! Try to find somewhere that allows you to pay after the event, and without a cancellation fee - church halls are often ideal. I managed to find a church hall capable of holding about 50 people just 5 minutes from where I work, and I provisionally booked the 20th & 21st September without paying a thing up front.
2. Create a Theme
I lied - naming your tournament is the hardest part! Although it is perfectly acceptable to choose an entirely descriptive name, like "Newcastle Bowl 2003", I tried to theme mine around the host city Cambridge. After much deliberation, and requests for help online, I finally settled on the CamCarnage name. Although this is fairly general, it dawned on me that I might have moved home before the next tournament, so I wanted to create a "brand" that would be recognisable for future tournaments and thus the "Carnage" theme was born. This will let me host the tournament wherever I want but still allow continuity from one event to another.
3. Set a Date
With the recent explosion in popularity, the tournament scene has become increasingly crowded and for a prospective tournament organiser it can be hard to find a gap in the calendar that doesn't conflict with another, more established tournament. To avoid clashing dates with another tournament, I advise checking the NAF site at www.thenaf.net and TalkBloodBowl at www.talkbloodbowl.net as they both maintain comprehensive lists of all upcoming tournaments. Avoid booking near Christmas & public holidays, or immediately after the "Majors", like the Blood Bowl held at Warhammer World. Of course, this all depends on the country you are hosting it in, as major tournaments like Spiky or Mannheim are not as likely to draw off competitors from the USA or Canada! Yet...
4. Advertise Early
To stand a chance of getting some interest in your tournament you need to advertise it well in advance, and in as many places as possible. I made some full colour posters for CamCarnage and mailed them with a covering letter to as many nearby GW stores as I could, as well as any local gaming clubs as I could find. The best stores to target are those with dedicated store clubs, as they tend to have avid followers of the Fanatic games range. I also heavily promoted it on the NAF website and the rest of the Internet community. By getting an idea of numbers you can then make initial estimates of how much tickets should cost.
5. Plan Your Budget
You are not expected to pay for everything when running a tournament, and most people are more than willing to pay for a ticket to attend. Once you have organised a hall and decided on your prizes you can calculate how much tickets will cost. It is perfectly acceptable to add a little extra to cover yourself when the inevitable last minute cancellations occur, but profit making is not the aim - we play Blood Bowl for the fun of it after all! By now, your advertising should have given an indication of how many people are willing to attend, and you can calculate the minimum number of attendees you need to break even. I chose to set my ticket prices at £30 for non-NAF members with a £5 discount for NAF members. Calculations showed that I would need about 8 non-NAF members and 6 NAF members to break even, and I deemed that was feasible given the levels of interest my advertising had indicated. Typical costs include:
6. Make a Tournament Pack
You should make a tournament pack to send to everyone who is attending, containing a ticket and any special forms they need to bring or return before the event. As well as this, a tournament pack should contain the following:
7. Choose a Tournament Format and Prizes
There are many different styles of tournament to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. I opted to use the Swiss approach as it makes every game competitive and maintains people's interest to the very end. It often helps attract interest if you have a stunning main prize, and I found mine when looking for trophies on the Internet. The CamCarnage trophy is a 7" tall, solid crystal ball. It is actually a rugby ball designed as a corporate gift, but it fit in so well I knew as soon as I saw it that it was perfect! As well as the main prize you should aim to have awards for the "lesser" accolades such as Best Painted Team, Most Sporting Opponent, Most TDs Scored, Most CAS Inflicted and many more. I contacted the Fanatic Events Team to see if they could help me out with prizes and found they were more than willing in providing prizes! Covering the main awards is probably enough for most tournaments, but I decided I wanted to make CamCarnage especially memorable for all competitors, so I looked into getting a special gift for everyone. Although ideally I'd have preferred some kind of special miniature, inquiries showed it was a little too expensive for my proposed budget! I settled in the end on a personalised pint glass - a lot of the fun of tournaments is savouring your victories in the pub afterwards (or bemoaning your defeats!). After checking the extra cost of this would fit into my budget and not push the ticket price up too much, I went for the idea.