Greetings all, Geochimp here waxing lyrical with some tips and tricks to make sure you’re as ready as you can be for taking part in tournaments.

Now, irrespective of the game system, there’s no denying that out there in that big wide hobbyverse of ours there’s no shortage of like-minded players who congregate in gaming clubs and community centres across the globe in order to throw down in organised play to sort out who’s who in their respective pecking orders.

What follows will hopefully be of use to those of you of a competitive ilk, and fingers crossed get you through the time leading up to the event with the minimum amount of stress and fuss.

1: Plan Your Diary

The first thing to do is to scan the airwaves so to speak and decide on what events you want to attend and see where they fall in the year. This allows you to plan in advance and gives you a timeframe to make your preparations. Get out there in the wider community and ask around to see what’s happening. Twitter, Facebook, web forums, your local FLGS – anywhere there are gamers; don’t be shy, ask them if they know of any events going on.

Once you’ve got a list of possible events, you need to then start whittling them down to those you can feasibly actually go to. Think about it, you can’t go to every tournament you want to so sacrifices are necessary. I mean, it’s not going to go down too well with the other half if you bail on your anniversary weekend to go and play toy soldiers now is it? A good rule of thumb I’ve found is to aim for one big 2-day event once a quarter and then try and fit in 1-dayers where and when you can.

2: Event Logistics

Once you’ve got your potentially viable events sorted out, it’s then time to start looking at the logistics of actually going. As we all know, this hobby of ours is hardly wallet friendly so when you start factoring in tournaments, the cost can truly start to run away from you if you’re not careful.

Start by reading the event info, paying particular attention to the location and duration. If it’s a 1-dayer can you get there and back in a single day without having to spend 10 hours driving and sapping all of your energy needed to actually play? If you’re attending a 2-dayer, is the event venue close to available accommodation? If not, then how much time do you need to factor in in order to travel from your hotel/B&B/youth hostel/campsite to the venue each day?

For 2-dayers you also need to consider whether or not you need to book leave from work or not in order to travel up the night before so you get a good night sleep beforehand. If you do, and the company you work for is anything like mine, then you need to make sure you get your leave days booked well in advance to avoid being disappointed.

When it comes to travel, look at all the options and don’t automatically default to driving yourself. It might be more beneficial to get the train or coach instead so that you can get some sleep or set out a game plan on your way there.

Book your accommodation as early as you can, as the earlier you book, the better the deal on the room cost you’re likely to get, which leads me nicely onto the next bit…

3: Setting a Budget

As I’ve said already, attending tournaments can get expensive quickly so it pays to stay organised and work out a budget. This should include the following:
  • Event Ticket
  •  Model Purchases
  • Travel Costs (fuel, train/coach/plane fare, use of local taxis etc.)
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Beer Money

That’s obviously not an exhaustive list, but it covers the main expenditure that you’re likely to experience. Also, always have a bit put aside as a contingency, just in case.

If it’s a big event, then it’s worth putting a little extra aside in the months leading up to it so that you can really make the most of it.

4: Read the Tournament Pack

It’s pretty self-explanatory really, but you’d be surprised how often you hear “oh, I didn’t know about x,y,z house rule/exception/requirement…” etc. when you’re wandering around the gaming hall. To mitigate any face-palm moments on your part, read the tournament pack. The T.O hasn’t spent all that time laying out the guidelines for their particular event for the benefit of their health, they’ve done it so that all of the participants are singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak and to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible.

Things to pay particular attention to are any restrictions that may be in place e.g.  No Forge World in the case of 40K or fixed faction in the case of Malifaux to name two common ones. Also keep an eye out for deadlines for list submission and any army painting requirements, making sure you keep to them. If you don’t, you may end up getting penalised before you’ve even rolled any dice, severely hampering your chances of placing in the overall event rankings.

Many tournament packs also include the missions that will be played during the event. Pay close attention to these if they’re there as the mission types will determine what the most effective units to include in your army will be, which will then have a direct bearing on how you construct your army list.

5: Prepare Your Army

The best bit of advice I can give to you is get your army list sorted out and finalised as early as possible. By doing this, it then gives you time to buy any units you’re missing, get everything assembled and painted and get to grips with any army specific special rules that you’ll be using throughout the event.

Play as many practice games as you can in the lead up to the event to sure up your basic game plan and tactics. Re-read your rulebook and relevant army book/codex, and then read them again and again and again until you’re seeing stat-lines and unit rules on your eyelids! The key to winning is getting the basics down pat then getting to grips with all of the niche rules that’ll get you out of a sticky situation or force your opponent into one.  Knowledge is power as they say.

So there you have it, 5 simple steps to get you ready with minimal input for hopefully maximum output. If there's anything you do to prepare yourselves for tournaments that we've not mentioned but you want to share with the community, then feel free to post in the comments below.

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