by John Wright (handshaker6)
Note: This week, FFG announced their schedule for their annual World Championships event (https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2016/6/27/ffgs-2016-world-championships/). I’m sure you’ve heard people groaning about them. Maybe you’ve even heard me complaining about it elsewhere. But, I decided I needed to get this out of my system – so here it is. I’m laying out my main issues to the company. Now I can move on.
To Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play:
I’ve been thinking a lot about the schedule you put out for World’s this year. Unfortunately, rather than being excited for a weekend of competition and fun playing with friends from around the world, I am finding myself more and more put off by the problems the this schedule has created.
After thinking about the issues with the schedule they put out, I have reached a conclusion: You, FFG, do not really want us to come to World’s this year.
Why do I think you don’t want a big turnout? Let’s look at the schedule. Wednesday, the Championships for Conquest and AGOT start. Thursday, you begin events for Netrunner and Armada. Frida, you’re running all Star Wars events, and it continues through the rest of the weekend.
It’s hard to get to Minnesota in the middle of the week. Players arriving for a Thursday morning start have to take Wednesday as a travel day. Thrones players who want to play in the Wednesday tournaments are required to basically take a whole week off work. Star Wars players? They take a 4-day weekend. To me, this very clearly shows that you want to reserve the majority of your space for premier Star Wars events.
We see the same disinterest in Thrones with the events you are offering. Last year, we got the equivalent of four premiere AGOT events. This year, it sure looks like we are only getting one. In a historic move, you’ve listed Melee as a side event. I don’t know if it will ever recover to being taken seriously after being downgraded like this. Yes, it’s exciting that you are apparently going to have a 2.0 Draft format officially ready to go – but having two of them running on the same day immediately dampens the spirit of competition and dilutes the number of winners. Having events mid-week is one thing, but by labeling them as “Side Events,” we are being told, literally, that they are not as important as Championship Events. Rather than having a full slate of premiere events over the course of the week, you have given us a Joust on Wednesday and a few token side events, with nothing Thrones-related on the schedule past Friday. The majority of Thrones players will have their participation in official World Championship events will be over Wednesday night.
We know why these moves have been made. The FFG Event Center is not large enough for all of the different games they need to host, and Star Wars – particularly the miniature games – sell better, so they are going to get the premium position. As a Thrones player, this sucks. I want to be the one getting special treatment. And, frankly, I think we deserve it. I may be biased, but it sure seems like Second Edition has had an enormously successful release and reclaimed its position as your flagship LCG product; we should be shown a little bit of love. However, that’s not happening this year. If I’m unable to make the trip to Minnesota because I can’t skip town on a Tuesday (a scenario which is looking extremely likely), I’m going to be disappointed. But, I am going to strive not to take it personally. You are just directing the bulk of your affections to the ones that bring you the most money, and I can’t really expect anything else from a company. But, if you want to keep your LCG player pool growing and thriving, you’re not going to be able to keep treating us like a second-rate customer base.
FFG, you owe us next year. We know space is limited, and we know that you’re going to be splitting Star Wars properties apart from everything else so that the two groups don’t overcrowd each other. Personally, I can even tolerate being overlooked for a year. But, you cannot afford to have down World Championship Events two years in a row. That will kill a player base, and it will lead to hard feelings.
So, in 2017, I would like FFG to show their commitment to AGOT competitive events, in all their forms. If splitting Star Wars Championships to a different weekend really is the solution, then you should have no problem running the full gamut of premiere Championship events. Here are a few things I would hope for:
Start the Joust on Friday. Make travel easy for us, instead of requiring planning the whole week around getting to Minnesota.
Actually support Melee. As a SoCal player, I’m not allowed to actually speak out in favor of this format. But, let us do the insulting – this is supposed to be your product! By calling Melee a side event, you’ve burned it far worse than a hundred Rings memes.
Have a proper Draft event. Last year, Draft was awesome. Limited formats take a unique skillset, and that deserves to be recognized along with Joust and Melee winners. Running multiple drafts that weekend could be fine, but you really need to label one of them as the Championship Event.
After these three things get set – and only after you’ve done all three! – we can move on to:
Have a variety of side events. The Thrones Community has already shown you how to do this. European weekend events regularly offer a number of side events for players to choose from when they are not participating in the main competitions. Stahleck, for example, is offering five different varieties of events for players during that weekend of play. Perhaps most interesting (and easily applicable to World’s) is their Team Event, which groups players by nationality. With just a little bit of effort, I’m sure you can come up with some fun and interesting variants players can join in, as well.
Run your Championships over Veteran’s Day
This suggestion came from John Bruno. Apparently, this was something you have done in the past. Having an event that requires a lot of travel take place on a holiday weekend makes scheduling time off much easier for the majority of us. Why not make a switch that could help us out?
Whatever you do, don’t let this year’s World Championship Event become the new normal.
You just haven’t gotten it right here.