This report is just about the PPTQ on February 21st, but the judges from the Super IQ on the 22nd can add stuff here, and I’ll drop in details about the recent Super IQ on April 19th, as well, where they relate to the practices and logistics we developed in the first go around.
With that, here’s the good stuff:
First, event logistics: Victory Comics is divided into two major sections: a “back” room that’s used as the primary gaming space, with a counter devoted to TCG supplies (and that becomes a scorekeeper/judge station for tournaments), and a “front” room that is primarily where the store keeps the comics and other collectibles, but with enough open space to add some tables for additional players. After setting aside one large table to have side event drafts, we had 16 tables in the back room, meaning player counts above 34 necessitate extending into the front room. I didn’t note the exact player count, but it was around 40, so a few matches were played in the front, and after a draft, we moved the pod into the front for deckbuilding and playing, freeing up the big table for another draft.
Once the player base is separated like that, it’s important to make sure all of the players feel like a judge is accessible to them. This led to the staffing of a head judge, dedicated scorekeeper (to handle the multiple events), and two floor judges. The two floor judges were tasked with, essentially, trading positions on an ad hoc basis, making sure both rooms always had a judge in them. (For the second weekend, the HJ clarified this process by assigning a judge to each room by round, and then assigning each room’s judge a duty – For example, the back room judge, being closer to the scorekeeper, is the paper judge for the round.)
One other thing we did with the separated players was have two opening announcements. I took a copy of the Head Judge’s notes and gave a mirrored opening announcement in the front room while he gave the announcement in the back. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than having some of the field stand (and be out of order after trying to seat everyone alphabetically) or double the length of the player meeting by doing the announcements twice.
Now that players are seated and judges are distributed, we can start playing. We didn’t dedicate any time to count decklists. The scorekeeper was free to do so during rounds in that downtime before slips start coming in, but we dove right in with deck checks, counting the lists when we checked the deck (if they hadn’t been counted by that time already, mostly just in the first round or so).
In the third round, I and the scorekeeper went on break. Some additional logistical notes: Of the 4 staff members, 2 were L2 and 2 were L1. This meant that the breaks could be arranged such that there was always an L2 still on the floor.
Starting in round 4, another side event started: this one was a GPT. It was cleverly arranged to be in the same format as the PPTQ, so players could play the same deck if they wanted. If players did, we asked them to take a decklist sheet, but let them write on it something like “Same deck as before” since we still had the lists from the PPTQ (and since these players had dropped out of the PPTQ, we didn’t need them in that pile anymore). This helped us push less paper around, helped the players get ready faster, and just kept things generally moving swiftly (probably our biggest goal at Victory Comics).
I peeled off to be the Head Judge of the GPT, but the field of the PPTQ had reduced to the point where it fit entirely in the back room. I used about half of the front room for my GPT, and there was still room for the players that were drafting to use the other side of the front room. I handled the deck checks, manned the floor, and just in general was in charge of this side event. Occasionally, the other floor judge came out and checked on things, and the PPTQ head judge came out when he saw and heard an issue that I needed assistance with. (More on that in a moment.)
During the GPT (my notes on the incident don’t include exactly which round, but it was round 2 or 3), a situation developed between two players in a match surrounding a spectator, and things got a little heated. This is when the PPTQ HJ came over because he could tell I was a little overwhelmed, and his presence definitely helped, both to help me learn how to handle this type of issue, and also just to have another person nearby.
At the end of the swiss rounds of the GPT, we paid out pack prizes based on standings and then proceeded to cut to the playoff. (It was a top 4 because we had fewer than 16 players.) After asking each player in turn down the standings if they wanted to play for the byes, we actually ended up actually cutting to Top 2, and the final 2 players played for their GP byes alongside the finals of the PPTQ in the back room.
In summary, to have a successful feature event in a local store, you have to:
• Know your venue – Every game store is a little different, and floor layouts will influence your staffing needs. Victory Comics isn’t a particularly huge place, but with a good plan, we can accommodate up to about 60 players pretty comfortably (and even more somewhat less comfortably). (As far as gaming spaces inside the Beltway, it’s actually the biggest; it just feels small because of being split up.)
• Know your staff – The team was set up based on each of our past experience: I was the more senior floor judge with some experience running smaller Comp REL events, so I was in charge of the GPT and mirroring the opening announcement. The scorekeeper was the other L2, and essentially served as the Appeals Judge for when the head judge was on break, or if they were to become unavailable momentarily (which didn’t happen, but could have).
• Have a goal – Just like each judge should have a goal for an event, the event overall should have a goal. At Victory, it’s usually “keep things moving.” Of course, event integrity and fun are all paramount, but if we start on time and keep the players playing, everything else works. We’re basically trying to replicate the experience of something like a GP or SCG Open event, but on a local scale.