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How long should tournament games be?


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This thread was prompted by the news that the next Vassal event will use clocks:

https://themostexcellentandawesomeforumever-wyrd.com/topic/159218-trials-of-time-the-next-event-in-the-mws-includes-chess-clocks/

Also, a local tournament was flashing the idea of two-hour rounds with chess clocks. (Which was thankfully abandoned since the event was also supposed to be a beginner-friendly thing)

Now, I can definitely see the appeal of chess clocks. A Malifaux game that ends on turn three isn't a normal Malifaux game and skews the game massively. And if the game not getting to later rounds is the fault of one player, the other one can definitely feel robbed.

At the same time, the game is getting more and more complex. The amount of profiles is staggering and being even somewhat familiar with every keyword and Master is basically impossible if you have a normal life and don't live and breathe Malifaux. We are also expected to be able to accurately juggle nearly hundred points of Poison a turn. And there's more and more of Markers and Upgrades and card tricks and so on and so forth. Keeping track of the opponent's Configuration and what its current state enables each opposing model to do sounds complex.

Two hours and with chess clocks will skew the game as well. I would never take a truly complex Master into an event like that. Something like Somer juggling his Auras and complexities of his keyword or Brewmaster2 with those 100 points of Poison would both be impossible for me, at least, to get an even remotely competitive game out of.

So what do you feel is a realistic game length for tournaments?

I kinda feel that I'm leaning towards three hours, personally. It would allow people to play the more complex Masters and would allow one to play without a chess clock as with a longer game length you can easily see if one player is taking forever with his decisions. Of course then you would need a robust system for handling those kinds of situations and I would definitely be interested in thoughts on that front, as well.

Or are chess clocks the only solution?

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I think the question is also how many rounds you want to pack into a day, normally.

For a two day event I will either do:

  • Five rounds, 2.5 hours each.
  • Four rounds, 3 hours each, and something fun in between rounds 2 and 3.

I find five rounds of 2.5 hours each is quite competitive (and leaves times for flights in the evening), and four rounds gives a more relaxed experience for everyone if you're aiming to be more new player friendly.

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Most local players have families and can't give up two days of a weekend for an event. That immediately locks us locally into three round, one day events. Many local game stores don't even open until 10am and most players don't want to be playing past dinner time. So... it's kind of irrelevant how complex the game is or should be. When I set a local event I want three rounds played and finished within 8 hours. 2.5 hours per game, which includes deployment and packing up post-game, is the absolute maximum I can allow a round to go for, and ideally I'd like it to be less so that there's actually time for a lunch break.

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8 minutes ago, Azahul said:

Most local players have families and can't give up two days of a weekend for an event. That immediately locks us locally into three round, one day events. Many local game stores don't even open until 10am and most players don't want to be playing past dinner time. So... it's kind of irrelevant how complex the game is or should be. When I set a local event I want three rounds played and finished within 8 hours. 2.5 hours per game, which includes deployment and packing up post-game, is the absolute maximum I can allow a round to go for, and ideally I'd like it to be less so that there's actually time for a lunch break.

Do the games get to the end of turn five regularly?

And yeah, 2.5 hours is, I feel, kinda the minimum and it works but I would prefer three hours, personally.

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7 minutes ago, Azahul said:

I want three rounds played and finished within 8 hours. 2.5 hours per game, which includes deployment and packing up post-game, is the absolute maximum I can allow a round to go for, and ideally I'd like it to be less so that there's actually time for a lunch break.

I think for meatworld gaming, this is spot on.

3 minutes ago, Math Mathonwy said:

Do the games get to the end of turn five regularly?

My distantly remembered experience is that it did, usually, but a significant chunk did not. Caveat - all long before Malifaux Burns.

In an ideal world, or flexible online world, I think 2.5-3 hours with an equitable split clock is sensible - it allows an excess of thinking time if needed, but also clearly shows if one player is consuming 70% of the table time.

An alternative would be 2.5 hours with 1.5 hours each on a deathclock - there's room for using up more than your 'fair share' of time, but if that is abused, that player will immediately lose the game. The obvious problem for this is that it simply shifts the problematic area away from crews that are complex to play as, onto crews that create excesses of interactive dilemma for the opponent.

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9 minutes ago, Math Mathonwy said:

Do the games get to the end of turn five regularly?

And yeah, 2.5 hours is, I feel, kinda the minimum and it works but I would prefer three hours, personally.

I find that basically anyone who wants to make an effort to finish games will finish their games with 2.5 hours.

We used to have a lot of unfinished games, but developed a culture of playing faster and now most games finish I believe.

NZ Meta.

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8 minutes ago, Math Mathonwy said:

Do the games get to the end of turn five regularly?

And yeah, 2.5 hours is, I feel, kinda the minimum and it works but I would prefer three hours, personally.

2 hours and 15 is preferable in my view. Not getting a lunch break is a pain.

 

I would say on average half our games go through to Turn 5. We have a lot of newer players though and some of the older players don't always get to play regularly. 

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14 minutes ago, Azahul said:

I would say on average half our games go through to Turn 5. We have a lot of newer players though and some of the older players don't always get to play regularly. 

I feel this matches my experiences as well.

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We usually go with 2:15-2:30 hour rounds on torunaments in Budapest, Hungary. This leaves usually a longer, about 40 min lunchbreak and two shorter ones. We usually sit there from 11 AM until about 7-8 PM. The pros usually get a full match, I competed as a complete newb and usually got to turn 3 or mid-4. 

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Looking a little backwards at the question I think you should be aiming for 5 rounds in a game, and as such consider the speed of your players to achieve that, and so set your game times to do that. Although possibly with slower groups with the idea that you might be speeding rounds up in the future so that they will either need speed up or miss rounds. 

Ideally you will get to a time probably between 2 and 3 hours that you're happy with. 

Personally I prefer a 4 game event to a 3 game event, so would be happier with the lower end of that time, but I'm not sure most groups would agree. 

Edit- that said I'd prefer 3 games of 5 rounds rather than 4 games of 4 rounds.

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UK. Meta is 2h15 and i feel that most games get finished but there is still the odd game that lasts maybe 3 turns.

In the case of chess clocks i just feel that there is too much back and forth for them to be effective in any way.  take the following example

Model  declares attack against model with focus with focus

Declare attack *Click* defender decides if he is using focus *Click* flips attacker wins *Click* defender decides to cheat *Click*  attacker choses to cheat. *Click* SS user decides if they want to put a negative flip *Click* damage flip*Click* damage prevention *Click*  ACTION FINISHES

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3 minutes ago, im_open_to_suggestions said:

UK. Meta is 2h15 and i feel that most games get finished but there is still the odd game that lasts maybe 3 turns.

In the case of chess clocks i just feel that there is too much back and forth for them to be effective in any way.  take the following example

Model  declares attack against model with focus with focus

Declare attack *Click* defender decides if he is using focus *Click* flips attacker wins *Click* defender decides to cheat *Click*  attacker choses to cheat. *Click* SS user decides if they want to put a negative flip *Click* damage flip*Click* damage prevention *Click*  ACTION FINISHES

I used to be against chess clocks as well, but I find in practice it turns out to be mostly the time is yours during your activation, and you only end up passing it if the opponent is actually being slow.

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1 hour ago, Maniacal_cackle said:

I used to be against chess clocks as well, but I find in practice it turns out to be mostly the time is yours during your activation, and you only end up passing it if the opponent is actually being slow.

but then how do you define slow? even a 30 second pause every time its your decision during an opponents activation will very quickly eat into your opponents time. 

To the person taking the pause 30 seconds wont seem long at all. for the person whos clock its eating into it will feel like they are being slow played

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Generally speaking I think a grace period of at most 5 seconds is warranted before flipping a clock to someone during opposed duels.

My experience has been folks are generally knowing whether or not they are going to cheat the majority of the time within the first five seconds.  

I acknowledge that's subjective - it is, after all, my experience - I think it's reasonable to say that you don't need to flip a clock on *every possible* instance of the decision takes less than 5 seconds.  

Once it takes more than that, totally flip it over to the opponent.  But I think if you extend that grace period it comes out in the wash with the opponent extending the same to you.

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23 minutes ago, im_open_to_suggestions said:

but then how do you define slow? even a 30 second pause every time its your decision during an opponents activation will very quickly eat into your opponents time. 

To the person taking the pause 30 seconds wont seem long at all. for the person whos clock its eating into it will feel like they are being slow played

In general the person who last made a decisions on their clock can decide if it seems the opponent is going slow with their decision and switch over. Once experienced with using clocks, it becomes a habit to just flip the clock over when it is time for the other player to make a decision (and they flip it back quickly once the decision is made). This can definitely cause problems for players less accustomed to using clocks as they may forget to switch back or take too long to determine the opponent is taking time and decide to switch the clock over.  Once both players become accustomed to a clock the process is much smoother. 

This is a summary of my initial lack of experience with clocks in WMH and my later more practiced experience with clocks in GB.  I haven't used clocks in a while, so I imagine I'd be back at being terrible at using them if our local group decided to start using them for Malifaux (they won't) or MCP (they might).

Part of me wants to start using a clock for myself in Malifaux just to make myself play faster, as I know I'm slow, but I don't want to put off my opponent by having a clock on the table.  I might try having it just face me but that can still put off some opponents.

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From Guild Ball times, there was a lot of constant verbal interaction that negated the need to ask "do you want to clock over?"

As said above, players usually already know if they would cheat a duel before the cards are flipped, so if your opponent doesn't announce "no cheat" within a couple of seconds, you can ask, and tap over if there's no answer immediately forthcoming - perhaps 5 seconds of running on the wrong clock.

The Other Coast podcast, among others, had a good episode about clocks. Most of the 'bads' can be avoided or significantly mitigated by a talk at the top of the tournament - run the clock while you are active, flip the clock if your opponent is doing a lot of thinking, try not to be a dick about aggressive clock flipping.

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The clock topic has been hashed out a ton. I think we're at the stage where people need to try it or see it. Hopefully a lot of these upcoming MWS games will be recorded, so people can watch the matches and get a sense of how it actually works in practice.

As for meatspace gaming, I don't have trouble finishing 5 rounds in 2:15 unless things get particularly crunchy or an opponent isn't playing quickly. Vassal games feel downright leisurely to me at 3 hour time control.

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Round timers already guarantee games are only going to go a certain length. The point of clocks is to more fairly distribute a resource that exists within the game. Namely, time.

But I also feel that clocks should punish slow play, which isn't the same as the slower player. This is why I prefer formats like the increment or delay, or time divisions that provide each player with more than 50% of the time.

I also don't understand why people actually like the time out consequence to be "you have to sit there and watch your opponent keep playing." To my mind, that feels like an intensely negative experience. Extra points for the opponent, penalty points for timing out, or death clocks all feel a lot better than sitting there doing nothing for the rest of the game.

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1 hour ago, LeperColony said:

 

I also don't understand why people actually like the time out consequence to be "you have to sit there and watch your opponent keep playing." To my mind, that feels like an intensely negative experience. Extra points for the opponent, penalty points for timing out, or death clocks all feel a lot better than sitting there doing nothing for the rest of the game.

I assume it sounds fair ," I've had to spend 90 minutes watching you play, making you spend 90 minutes watching me  is equal".  It also has the potential that it might not change the outcome, so you can win even if you run out of time. 

I don't like death clock ( assuming that's lose the game if time ends), because it doesn't feel like it fits in malifaux scoring.

Not sure what would work, vps for time could be a way, but it wouldn't work the way guild ball did it ( 1 vp for each activation after you run out of time). I'm not sure how I would want to issue points. 

Possibly after time is out you are limited to 1 minute activations and when the time ends the activation ends. Not always a punishment but enough to make it undesirable. It would mean you probably only give everyone 80 minutes for a 3 hour game, as the game should carry on after one side is out of time.  

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33 minutes ago, Adran said:

I assume it sounds fair ," I've had to spend 90 minutes watching you play, making you spend 90 minutes watching me  is equal".  It also has the potential that it might not change the outcome, so you can win even if you run out of time. 

I might have misunderstood, but I have went out from the case that people don't purposefully stall time. Does this issue happen often? I have played against a nasty Zoraida crew once where the guy took 20 sweet minutes on an activation, because of all the obeys AND he also stalled for time (not letting me play is also a win, I guess). I think some crew schemes and themes couldn't be played out wholly with a deathclock.

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43 minutes ago, Adran said:

I don't like death clock ( assuming that's lose the game if time ends), because it doesn't feel like it fits in malifaux scoring.

I think Deathclock worked in Warmachine/Hordes because there is/was always the “Your leader is dead, you lose”  condition for everything.

To be practical for Malifaux, I think it would have to be done as “If your clock runs out, your opens gets max strategy points, and you don’t get any more reveals on your schemes.”

 

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19 minutes ago, solkan said:

 

To be practical for Malifaux, I think it would have to be done as “If your clock runs out, your opens gets max strategy points, and you don’t get any more reveals on your schemes.”

 

That's something that sounds really unfair. It may be me, but I'd rather not do anything for 15 minutes but still earn rewards for what I'd done earlier, rather than just be that's it you used your time, you can't score anything any more. 

 

33 minutes ago, DemiMurgos said:

I might have misunderstood, but I have went out from the case that people don't purposefully stall time. Does this issue happen often? I have played against a nasty Zoraida crew once where the guy took 20 sweet minutes on an activation, because of all the obeys AND he also stalled for time (not letting me play is also a win, I guess). I think some crew schemes and themes couldn't be played out wholly with a deathclock.

I've not seen anyone stall deliberately, but there are people that take longer than others ( hence wanting to use clocks). I don't think an outright win/lose condition fits malifaux, but I do agree the game is set up that you really want 5 full turns to score properly, and clock play is one way to try and make sure you can get those 5 turns when you also need the game to end by a set time for some other reason. 

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To clarify what the MWS system is, it is basically you get what you already have.

Captured four leyline points? Sure, get the points for it. Killed the enemy leader already? Score assassinate. But you can't do anything further to secure points.

However the system for the penalty is largely mute.

Players should be playing to finish their games in time. It should never come up if people are playing appropriately.

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1 hour ago, LordZombie said:

So who's time is used on the end phase and start phase?

For the MWS it is shared evenly between the two players but if you finish up you can pass it on.

In practice the end phase is pretty quick unless the there's effects to resolve. And then it is clear who the time belongs to.

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