Friday, March 5, 2010

2010 SWAG Heavier Gaming Champion

I started a contest to determing the best Heavier Gamer in our group for several reasons:

  1. I'm hoping that it will give participants a reason to attend more often and increase interest in the club in general.
  2. I'm hoping that the way that I've structured the contest will encourage participants to get to know the 10 games that we're using in depth instead of playing a whole bunch of games one time. By the end, we should all know these games pretty well.
  3. I want to know who's the best.

In an ideal world, we would find our gaming champion by having each participant play in a round robin tournament using a variety of different games. Each player would get a chance to test his skill versus each of his opponents, and everyone would play each game an equal number of times. Points would then be awarded according to order of finish, and the player with the highest total at the end would win.

We don't live in an ideal world, though. There is simply no way to get all the participants together in the same place long enough to play all the games, so, in lieu of the perfect solution, I came up with the best one that I could.

The first thing I needed was a list of games. Since we're specifically trying to find a "Heavier Gaming" champion, the list needed to be comprised of games with a decent strategical weight. I also wanted ones that were enjoyable and to have a good variety. I chose 8 games to definitely include, and then let the potential participants decide on the last two. The final list is:

Agricola
Endeavor
Power Grid
Princes of Florence
Puerto Rico
Race for the Galaxy
Shogun
Steam
Stone Age
Tigris and Euphrates

Next, I needed a point system. Ideally, if all participants are playing against each other with an equal number of plays, points based on order of finish is superb. The problem is - what do you do when I might attend all the gaming sessions, and a good competitor may only attend half? I would get more points simply because I played more. I tried to make it work, but I couldn't.

In the end, I chose to go with points scored in each game. Only your highest score is counted, so number of plays only gives you an opportunity to improve your score, a slight advantage instead of a huge one. With Manny's input, I also decided to take the highest score for each game and make it be worth an adjusted score of 100, scaling the lower scores based on the ratio of the participant's score to the high score. This way, all games are worth an equal number of points, so a high score of 11 at T&E isn't dwarfed by one of 40 at Agricola.

The person who has the highest total gets a trophy and title of 2010 SWAG Heavier Gaming Champion. The person with the highest total who attends the final meeting and isn't me gets a copy of Twilight Struggle (a roughly $40 game and ranked #3 on BGG). I'll also throw in 2nd and 3rd place prizes based on the number of participants.

I'm not sure that this contest finds the best gamer or simply the one who can score the most points in these 10 games. Still, it ought to be interesting to find out what happens, and I'll chronicle the events on this blog.

Some additional thoughts:

  • Only games played at official Heavier Gaming Sessions count, and the contest will end at the conclusion of the 12th Session. We are considering a modification to this rule to allow participants to play official games during the monthly SWAG Fiesta.
  • Participants must play all ten games at least once. Even if someone has the points lead playing only 9 games, they will not be eligible for prizes until they complete the 10th. We're going to do our best to ensure, however, that you can complete all 10 games in just 4 Sessions.
  • The thing that worries me the most is scoring differences playing the same game with different numbers of players. I don't really have a way to combat this problem because the number of participants in a game is solely determined by who shows up at a given Session. I'll try to keep track of the results, and see how much impact that it has.