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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Setting Up a 2-Player Game Tournament

We’ll be bringing back our annual Two Player Games Tournament to Gamestorm this year – in fact it’s next Friday! Since we designed it a few years ago, I thought I’d bring it out early in case some of our readers have some better ideas that will enhance any feature – organization, ease of play, fun, etc. I’ll be happy to work any input into the final setup that I can.

After we do some sign-in and orientation, up to 16 tournament players play four game rounds with a new 2-player game each round. Each round we offer a choice between two 2-player games, the games are taught, then contestants play 1 game. If time allows, contestants may play the “best of 3 games” between them. We tally scores and award prizes at the end of the night.

We’ll have 8 games total. So far the list of possibles has a few extra so we can make a final selection based on what we can get at least four copies of. Our game group often supplies us with their home copies on loan, for which we are publicly grateful (even before the fact!).

  • Take It Easy – a new entry this year, played as 2-player, this should be fun.
  • Ghosts (Geister) – we’ve used this in the past, a simple tactical board game.
  • Can’t Stop – a Sid Sackson classic, again played as just two player – you win by achieving four columns on the board instead of the multi-player three columns.
  • Solodice (Choice/Einstein) – another Sid Sackson game, we supply rules and scoring sheets for everyone to take home. Both players use the same dice rolls but make their own choices on how to score them.
  • Lost Cities – a classic Knizia 2-player. We’ll encourage players to play to a given number of points.
  • Odin’s Ravens – of the Kosmos 2-plyer series, here’s another easy-to-teach entry that plays well.
  • Battle Line – another fine Knizia title, we’ll debate playing it without the military tactics cards (which I guess makes it nearly the same as Schotten-Totten except for deck size and hand size.)
  • Yinsh – a new entry this year, and a very popular title from the GIPF series.
  • Ingenious – another Knizia game, this time tile-laying, and usually multiplayer but should work fine for 2 players.

This tournament uses a Swiss 4-round system and matches players with the same/similar Win-Loss record. A tie is scored as 1/2 Win – 1/2 Loss. After the four rounds everyone will have scores ranging from 4 wins 0 losses to 0 wins 4 losses. Ties will be broken by comparing the total Win scores of each player’s opponents. The tourney is really for fun, but we do get some very competitive people!

We try to keep the sign-up short, but people sometimes stumble in late, and we adjust as we go. We hand out first assignments and ask groups to pick one of the two games offered for that round. We’ll have one or more teachers for each game, and usually set aside about 15 minutes for teaching and 45 minutes for playing that game.

Then we tally scores while we introduce the next two games, hand out new assignments and teach and play. Wash, rinse, repeat, towel dry. At the end of the night we tally the final scores and hand out prizes. Gamestorm has donated some prizes each year, and we’ll also have some prizes from Sunriver Games and possibly some others.

We encourage all players to stay and have fun playing all 4 rounds of the tournament. We have prizes not only for the top 4 players but 4 prizes also for good opponents and good losers! We ask players to leave their tournament card with us (the hosts) if they have to go early. It goofs us up a bit, but sometimes it happens.

I think we’ve done the tournament for six years now, and it’s always fun. To those of our past players and champions especially, I hope we’ll see you Friday night.


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