A little more about the Invitational event of TSHFT before I get on the actual coverage. As I said before, I’ve always wanted to throw a fantastic tournament for the miniature hobby, but was held back after some reality checks. How do I assure that all the players are not only veterans but also fantastic sportsmen as well? How do I make the event not only interesting but challenging as well? How do I make the event into something more than just another tournament? These were constant questions and concerns that prevented the Invitational from taking off from the past.
I addressed the first question by making all my attendees run through the TSHFT gauntlets first. My thought was that if they qualify, they should already be good enough general and have decent personalities. The hardest part was to make the event entertaining while challenging. I took some liberty and tried some special scenario at a few TSHFT championships but didn’t feel like they were right for the event. I wanted something unique and different. Luckily I started designing my own board game late last year, and while making the cards for the playtesting beta, an idea struck me, how about card based objectives? This way, I can offer players the freedom to carve their own gaming experience while challenging them to score the maximum possible points. It was only during the final sleeving part I regretted a little about my decision. 12 cards per player with 28 invited (at the moment) required me making 380 cards (with extras ), and the cutting and trimming and sleeving part alone took 7 1/2 hours to finish. One of the reason why it took so long was that the company that made sleeves decided to cut their cost and shrunk their card sleeves from 67mm to 66mm. And since my designs were based on a few sleeves I had on hand(which are old sleeves), it added a few frustrations after I bought new sleeves and found that they were unfit for the print outs I had.
Then came the TSHFT Invitational Saturday morning. I found out that morning two of my attendees couldn’t make it. But since I had paired them up already, I had to change the pairing on the spot. But since a few other attendees were late, that really didn’t impact me as much.
After the last couple stragglers stepped into the hall, I had the players picking up their cards and their score sheet and sent them on their merry way. It was then I realized that despite the fact that I posted objectives online prior to the event, over half of the invitees didn’t have a clue what they were as they feverishly read through them.
So after another 15 to 20 minutes of delay, first round games are finally on their way. Some players, Nick (Tastytaste) for example, just picked them at random to save time. (though he admitted that he could probably performed better had he studied them a bit longer) The clock struck 1020 at the time. I am now 50 minutes behind the scheduled time.
I ran over to the bar and talked to the kitchen manager and found a few more problems: The AV system was not working (which resulted in a few players missing the announcement that all information pertaining the tournament was printed on their scoring sheet), the bar was scheduled to open at 1400 (what?), and the lunch was scheduled way too early. Thankfully Jay, the catering manager, was quite resourceful. He quickly fixed the AV system, briefed the cooks, and called his bartender in early. The only thing that we weren’t sure was when the bartender was supposed to get here considering he was last briefed wrongly and lives quite the ways away.
I crossed my finger and ran back and made a quick announcement with the now fixed mike regarding revealing the tertiary objectives. I then started laying out the trophies and trinkets that I planned on handing out.
All of these trophies took me awhile to conceptualize as well. I thought of giving away cups, stands or some generic trophies before, but they seem, well generic. Chris Michaelson suggested ordering some military ID tags and hand out to the Best overall and Best general winners. But after I got them in hands, they seem really flimsy and cheap. (well they were pretty cheap ) and just doesn’t fit well with the event. So I called up one of my former clients when I was in the advertising business and he suggested me to one of his partner’s company in California – specializing in coin making. I was originally going to have the winners name engraved on each of the coin, but that would be very expensive and the engraver didn’t have the proper font. So I opt to keep one side clear. That actually ended up very useful to some players after I handed them out as they used them for objective markers. Genius!
Master Tactician [Golden Bullet]
The Master Tactician trophies were a pain in the butt to make. It wasn’t until a month ago the idea came to me as I couldn’t find the proper item to identify the qualities in a master tactician. I thought of using, fans, pens, parchment, but all of those are more Asian tactician related rather than something commonly used in the Western culture. Then it hit me while chatting with an old battle buddy of mine from service, how about a bullet? “One shot, one kill” for our master tactician sounded like a fitting choice. But getting them ready took even a bigger undertaking than the coins. All I had to do with the coins is to design the vector graphics and send to the printer (something I used to do on a daily basis when I had my publishing business), but the bullet cartridge required me scouting them out first…
It turned out there are only 2 gun dealers in WA authorized in dealing brass casing and only one of them (thanks goes to Kessering’s) had the brass casing of what I wanted. But I must get a bag of 50…. Why not? That means TSHFT will have another 25 years to go, right? Unfortunately the brass were for those gun hobbyist who wanted to do their own reloading so they came quite dirty. Doh. So I used a formula I made up when I was in service by mixing a few cleaning agents (don’t ever do that!) and spent a few hours cleaning and polishing them. They turned out alright. But when I picked them up from the engraver Friday morning I realized he spelled couple names wrong, and had I not in a rush to get those cards done, I would probably throw a fit at his store. They are alright, probably need another polish from some gun oils to bring out the natural brass shine. And if a player wants, he can get some key rings and make a key chain out of it. (I thought of it but it would take even more of my time).
TSHFT Championship Trophy [Marble Obelisk]
Arh, the Championship trophies. I promised my players them roughly 2 years ago when I started the ranking system, but wasn’t sure what to give a away. I thought of a trophy made up by TSHFT’s acronyms, but that seemed too campy; I then thought of cups or plaque, but those are way too common. So I walked into the awards/trophy shop and asked for something different. While the sales was trying to show off some of their glass trophies, my eyes were drawn to a piece of obelisk stuck deep in the corner, away from the common area. I questioned him how come this wasn’t out in display, he told me that since most of his customers are looking for sports related trophies, the marble obelisks are too heavy for them. Perfect. I placed an order for 5 right away. I actually wasn’t sure how they would turn out. Thank god that they turned out as they did.
1130 came too soon after I set up the trophy table. I quickly gave the 1 hour warning then rushed to the bar. Luckily the bartender showed up on time and was setting the bar. I took a few shots and walked away with a Guiness in hand. It seems everything had gone under control, or was it?
The belated lunch started at 1230 and plenty pasta and sandwiches were served. While I was trying to get a quick bit bite after recording the scores, I realized Chris Dinsmore is lingering the event hall with nothing in his hands. When I questioned him, I found out that he is a vegan. I did plan ahead for vegetarians in my guests (I knew at least 2) but I did not realize I had a vegan. Thankfully Jay was willing to help out and had his chef whip a fruitveg salad for Chris or poor Chris will had to substitute beer for real food (not that he wasn’t doing that already ). And when I picked up my sandwich the second times, I realize Dan Root is sitting next to me, not eating. Further inquiries told me that he doesn’t like vinegar and thus mayonnaise. And it just seems everything presented (pasta, sandwiches, bread?) had them on it. So I had to ran back to the kitchen again and pulled the chef away to make a special sandwich for Dan. Problems averted, time to eat. Unfortunately the time was around 1310 when I was done running about, which didn’t leave me much time to socialize with my players.
I gathered everyone around 1330 and made announcement for our past winners and handed out trophies. Since I also had 2 no shows. I borrowed some physical labor and moved a few of the tables around to make sure players had plenty rooms to place their gaming pieces. The clock is now 1340 when round 2 starts. I am now 40 minutes behind.
So I started rushing everyone through the rounds, and most of them managed to finish their games in time (without stopping short in the middle of the turns). By the start of 4th round, I am finally back on the schedule. Yeah me!
The dinner was worth mentioning as the chicken in white cream/vinaigrette was quite delicious. They were so delicious Flugey thought they were fish at one time and kept helping himself with seconds and thirds (the hotel was generous to provide plenty chicken but only 1 serving of pasta). I manage to chat a little bit with my players finally since everything is back on schedule.
The rest of the evening went uneventful (thankfully) with round 4 finishing around 2100. I then went out with some of players for a bite and talked about baseballs and NFL drafts. Maybe we talked about gaming a little bit, but after spending the last couple of days making sure the event will go smoothly and a day running it, I crushed in my bed around 0130..
Day two started out great. Corey and JP couldn’t continue the tournament due to family concerns and I bid them farewell wishing them luck with their loved ones. The 1000 starting time for day 2 was great as I finally get a chance to enjoy my meal. It also give me a chance to talk to my invitees and getting some feedback from them.
I then realized I paired Bentley a fourth time with a GK player. The Invitational is different from the regular TSHFT, since there is no soft scores and everyone is expect to compete, I care less about matching arrangement. And had Bentley lost a few rounds, it would be great too, so I could pair him downwards. But he didn’t, he had been winning and drawing against GK players and considering all 5 GK players made to the top, he was stuck playing them again. He did throw me a fit during the round, but after I explained everything to him and 4 margaritas, he calmed down. (send in the margaritas first in future instances)
Round 5 ended with little unplanned events and I got a chance to sit with everyone outside during lunch and enjoyed the sun as well as the conversation. It is apparent that Ben Cromwell is going to walk away with the title since Jeremy failed utterly (or his dice failed utterly according to him) during their match and wasn’t able to limit the BP Ben could’ve gained. Since Ben had already played all the players from 2nd place to 6th, I had to pair him against Joel Talley at 7th place. Joel shook his head and informed that the only results that he got playing Ben in the past were draws and he thought the same result was going to happen again. In truth, since Ben stumped over Jeremy in round 5 and was smart about his secondaries (he kept the easiest secondary and tertiary till the final round) unless Joel beat him and deny him completely on the tertiary objectives, Ben is going to finish top no matter how well the runner-up performed. (Chris Dinsmore ended up getting a perfect 25 and still finished 6 points behind him).
The end of round 6 finished with a quick announcement of our grand champion – Ben Cromwell. It seems that almost everyone had a fantastic weekend of 40K gaming and quickly bugged out of the event.
Below are the attendees for the first TSHFT Invitational. Unfortunately some genius chose a background with lights and messed up the exposure adjustment for the smart phone. So everything is a blur if zoomed in.
Until next year.