The thrill of competition has been around for as long as people have been around. Before the first Olympics in Greece, someone had to organize it. Before the first fan-run vs system event too, someone had to organize it. What exactly happens in this organizing process I hope by the end of this article will be clear. It is worth noting that events will vary, just like formats do. And that is just one change. You’ll have to answer many questions before the first round of your event starts – How much is the entry fee? Will there be food available? How much does it cost to rent the venue? How many people should I expect will be at the event? How do I drum up support for the event and get as many people there as possible? What should be ordered as prize support? Is there any potential issues that can arise with third parties? Is (insert action) legal in the country I’m running an event in? Do we have access to rules references in case there are disputes during match play? Will we be able to get video or picture coverage of the event? What is transportation going to look like? Is the venue at a place that is accessible to the most players possible? The list goes on, and on, and on.
Now that your head is spinning with all these questions and you’re completely overwhelmed, we’re going to let that laundry washer cycle of a head of yours settle down a bit before throwing you in the drier to get ready for your own event by telling you the things that I went through when I began running events – what it took to set them up, the day of the events, and the sorts of things I kept the same and changed going forward to future events I would run.
Our story takes us to the summer of 2008, the first year of the VS System Mega-Weekend series (also the only year that they were run by UDE). The event was worlds. This is where I met fellow Council Member Onyxweapon, where we played in a Friday night Golden Age event. It was one of the craziest games of golden age I had ever played, and we’re here at this super serious event and we’re just having a blast. We would catch up throughout the weekend and see how we were doing in the main event. When we returned to our respective homes and the forum chatter continued, I forget who made the suggestion but Aaron, Cliff, Chris (Gdaybloke) and I decided to make an excuse to see each other again to turn cardboard sideways more and for the laughs to continue.
We began the organization process from a desire to meet up with fellow vs players for a good time. In no point did it occur to any of us to use this opportunity strictly for winning the big cash prizes (The final Pro Circuit was in the late summer of 2007, after all). That said, if you’re able to support big prizes and get people who would otherwise not go to attend, great! It can be hard to justify a long drive, and walking away with something you are proud to have won (whether for value or for its meaning) can go a long way to making your players happy!
Originally, John “TauronNox” stepped up to take the role as the organizer for the event; I live in southern NH, he lived in northern NH, Cliff is in NY, Aaron is in New Brunswick, Chris is near Toronto. Location-wise, northern NH made sense as a central location to us and since John happened to live in the area, it also made sense that he would organize the event.
The location was chosen based on the needs of the players. In this case, so was the organizer. This will not be true for all events, and the organizer does not need to live near where the event will be. In December, Cliff and I co-ran the Mega-Weekend last December in NY while I live 5 hours away.
Worlds 2008 happened at Gencon in August. The event we were organizing took place the first weekend of November. Unfortunately for John, life took a turn for the busier and he asked me if I could take over the reigns being in NH as well. I did. John gave me all the information he gathered to that point, including connecting me with a group of people who would sell me boxes on the cheap, and he also told me what locations he tried going to to run events. He couldn’t find one that met our needs.
Finding the right venue isn’t easy – you need to make sure that you are able to fit the players comfortably as well as make sure that the venue doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg. The reason we needed to find a venue in the first place is because where John lived, there was no game space at the local game store due to a store reconstruction happening at the time. Having a gamestore able to host your event is the most likely way to get people together as an event organizer, because quite simply that’s less money you have to spend.
I searched online for viable locations, and one thing I did was to be as thorough as possible. That means calling the businesses up, checking out the venue, making sure the schedule lines up and that you can justify the cost. I found a small inn run locally that happened to have a room for events; anywhere with space for people and tables and easy access to utilities should do the job. At one point I even considered renting a tent and space heater!
The next step is to find prizes appropriate for the event. We decided that we all would bring prize support potluck-style, at least for a share of the prizes. Will there be play mats? How many should be ordered? What should the image be of? What sets do we need sealed product for? Where will the prizes be obtained from? These are all considerations event organizers need to factor in long before the event happens. First, the play mat. Your printers may vary, I typically use a group based out of northern California where a member “cassanovapooh” from the vsrealms.com days works, I can forward you that information if you want although there are many places that are able to do this sort of work. Be very careful to read the guidelines that the printer has to make sure the play mats turn out the way you want them to.
For this event I ordered boxes by the bundle; I found a site that was selling a bundle of 5 boxes where each was a different set for $60 (which at the time was a great deal for those sets). Your internet-fu should be enough to find sealed product, but if there’s something you really want to find for an event that you’re having trouble with ask in the forums and we’ll give you all the info we know. Lately, I’ve been buying packs from a buddy of mine who bought out a store’s entire stock when they went out of business and he’s keeping them sealed. I figure help a friend out than send money to a company I don’t personally know. Also, there’s more to prizes than packs and play mats! These days, people are going to be interested in non-vs system prizes as well. At the Battle in the Apple Feburary 2009, they put a new wii up for first place. You can find graphic novels, gift cards, T-Shirts, and things that don’t have a price tag on them like getting the chance to pick the format for the next event for people who are able to play regularly. You can even craft your own prizes! Ever see people who make 3D trading cards using multiple copies of a card? Or altering them with paint? Or using nail polish remover on a foil to print new cards on existing vs system cardstock? The possibilities are endless.
Prizes out of the way, let’s talk about the day of the event. We had a laptop set up with mantis (the UDE event software) at the Battle at the Border 2008 event, but with that for the most part long gone I have defaulted to using a blank excel spreadsheet. Using it is rather straightforward – a column for the players, who they play against round one, a column for each possible result (with the actual result put in as you go), repeat for each round afterwards, total points, game win percentage, opponent game win percentage, standings. The percentage ones don’t matter too much, I would use them for events where it is possible where someone can make it to the top 4 or top 8 if you choose to cut to a series of single elimination games. If you don’t use them and end the last round of swiss and find that this happened, it is easy enough to calculate. For win percentage, that’s games won divided by possible games they could win (as in if they go undefeated). Opponent match win percent is the average of a players’ opponent’s win percentages. That’s what I use. As long as whatever you use is fair, things should be fine.
Be sure to announce what the prizes are as soon as you know how they will be assigned, preferably long before the event even begins.
Be sure to take lots of pictures, maybe some video recordings of match play, and smile! There isn’t much that is better that the scene of an event you are running where everyone is having a good time.
I hope this guide helps you to run your own events. In the end, you only really need to ask two questions: What do you want, and what needs to be done to get it. Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to having an event that results in lasting memories, and may inspire you to run more! It happened to me. Be well fellow VS fans! – OSM