Should you provide extra prize support?

by Roy Rogers

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about prize support – partially because we just held a Store Championship here a week or two ago and I am running another in New York City soon but also because I’ve been traveling a good deal over the last few weeks to different events and each has had its own level of additional swag. The question I’ve had is: Should it be custom for metas to offer additional prize support at Regional and Store Championships?

The default prize support for Store Championships this season is pretty solid – the mats in particular are very nice. Sure, if you go to several you may end up with more copies of The Eyrie than you (or your children and grandchildren) could ever play with. But, generally speaking, the prizes are very good. In New York we tend to add to this with a Tyrion prize (for bubbling out of the cut), a Sansa prize (last place), and raffle on random stuff drawn from the organizers’ own Thrones-related collection, including an occasional “top of faction/house” prize. From my experience, this practice is a relatively standard thing, particularly for larger Store Championships and Regionals.

Yet, is this sort of additional swag absolutely necessary to running a successful tournament?

The benefits are obvious: folks have a lot of things they can spend their weekends doing and additional prizes encourage more people to make the event. Thanks to the new edition’s popularity, there is also competition now for hosting events. Having extra prizes makes your event stand out among other local tournaments. It also “spreads the wealth” around; even if you may not make the cut you have a chance to win something by doing best in a faction or through a raffle. This is particularly true if you award prizes for additional things beyond direct performance – bringing extra people to the tournament, traveling the furthest distance, etc. People love swag and having more chances to earn some tends to get people come out to and is also a great retention mechanism; in other words, folks come back for the next one.

There are costs, however. The most obvious is financial. Extra prizes cost extra money. Some tournament organizers offset this by increasing the cost of an event (from, say, $15 to $20). But increasing the price upsets some players who do not want to pay any more than the cost set by the store. Other organizers just eat the cost of additional prize support as part of the price of building a meta. And that’s not particularly fair, either. I’ve also observed that additional prize support tends to leave middle-of-the-road players out. Often Sansa prizes are given out or additional raffle tickets when folks lose games. This practice often leaves folks at the top of the bracket winning the official FFG swag and the bottom winning supplemental prizes, with folks with average records (say, 3-2) left out.

There is also the fact some people take supplemental prize support for granted. They don’t entirely realize, or just does not click with them, that raffle prizes, Tyrion prizes, or what have you are extra – that the tournament organizer took the time and effort to put this swag together. To use a personal example, I once had player scoff at the Tyrion prize we were offering for an event as though it weren’t worth it to him, which I suppose is yet another cost of offering additional prizes: some players will just treat them as a given or not value them at all.

So rather than wax on, I’ll pose the question to the community: Is additional prize support something to expect from a tournament (particularly a Regional or Store Championship)? Or it is just icing on the cake? If you’re a tournament organizer, what kind of extra swag do you usually offer your players?

Let me know in the comments or the Facebook group.

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