I was listening to one of my favovirite podcasts over the weekend, just trying to stay caught up with Warhammer 40K things. The Long War. Episode 127.
Overall, the episode is kind of a misnomer. Most of the episode is banter that has nothing to do with the topic. But, ultimately, in short, there was a GT in the Southeastern US recently. Lots of players. A guy wins using a multi-detachment, cherry picking, no consistent themed Astra Militarum list. List gets posted on the internet after the event. readers immediately see the list was illegal - the player had selected more or less as his only free artifact a Cadian one, considered to be awesome. But they placed the artifact on a detachment HQ that could not have that specific artifact by written rule. From there it turns into a half apologetic, "he never meant to do it", he's a buddy, it did not really matter, but maybe it did, what canya do about it, discussion. "List errors are happening alot".
I am rarely if ever or never a TO.
I'll give it to you from a long time player's perspective.
I am disappointed but not surprised.
Thinking about it from an expectations standpoint, these visible list cheating events in the past few years of major events range from too many points to misuse of wargear such as artifacts. Non-list related issues include stretching the ruler (moving a unit further than allowed), to pushing a personal interpretation of a rule beyond what was written or intended, to models played not reflecting the wargear on the list (extra missile launchers anyone?).
It is probably pretty easy to do in a pickup game where you figure out a list on the fly and calculate numbers quickly on your phone in order to just get a game underway. I think I found once after a pickup game that my "list on the fly" was 6 points over. Overall, that game was for fun, and I corrected the list before the next club night to make it accurate and right. As you know, I sometimes play the same list for weeks at a time. Playing the list over and over allows me to check it and make sure I get the special rules and tactics right (eventually).
Why does this happen in major events?
If I recall right, some of these guys (over the past few years) caught are recognized "majah playahs" in the 40K world.
I'm told that these guys spend months and weeks and huge numbers of beats lab games honing their lists and ability to win before going to these events.
So why are they showing up with inaccurate lists? Lists you cannot clearly read? Lists that show they clearly did not read the actual entry for the wargear or read the special rule for a model before they put it on their list? It does not pass the straight face test of experience and list development by "experts". You put in the time but don't think accuracy and quality control count? In a game of rules where the rules and distances are all that matter beyond the actions of the fickle dice gods?
Eventually the podcast talks about how they suggest to solve the problem.
In some cases it is hard for a TO to police the lists. Surely. Imagine a tournament with a hundred lists. That nominally means 50 to 100 hours of volunteer proofing time. 500 lists. Eek!
Frankly, we only get to see the issue when it reaches the top tables. We have no idea how widespread the issue is. For all we know it is just as common at the bottom tables.
So I have my own suggested fix, easy for any event with a single TO.
I was just at an event this past weekend as an observer. It was clear to me there.
A possible solution.
The TO needs to start checking the Table 1 lists, beginning with round 1.
Think of that. How hard is it for a single TO, at an event that actually asks for you to provide a list to the TO at registration, to actually pull out two lists from Table 1 per round, and proof the list? Pull out the codex, check the math, check the detachment construction, etc. At the end of the round, a Table 1 player with a list in error is docked 45 points (or your value of three perfect games). Heck, don't even tell them till the end. Let the play go on. Overall, if you have already checked the top table lists, move to Table 2. Overall, in a 3 round tournament you have a goal to have checked 6 lists, 2 per round. Out of a 9 to 10 hour day the TO spent at most 3 hours checking the 6 lists. What else are they doing? If you have soft scores, don't dock those - things like painting, pub quiz, whatever. At the end, post the results, and let the player appeal if they have an issue with it. The appeal could be heard by the TO/Event team and rechecked if needed. Then make the awards final. You could also have lists checked vs models for WYSIWYG by opposing players before turn 1 begins. Do the models match the list? Do the rugs match the drapes?
Did you know that in Alpine ski racing, judges can DQ a skier during the event (each race, for things like improper gear, missing a gate, etc.) and appeals happen at the end of the day? The process of appeals are set in the rules. You pay cash up front for an appeal. Then the appeal discussion is conducted between the judge(s), the coach/racer if needed. Evidence may be provided to offset an observation. Final rulings are then made by the head judge. I know this because I've been in the position of posting cash for an appeal on behalf of one of my ski racers at a major event. We won the appeal. We did not get the cash back. Every racer and coach and family who attended had to wait for the appeal process to conclude. All for a medal. Extra beers were bought that day. Everyone wins.
So yeah, fixes can be made pretty simple. In the case of the OP/podcast, I'm not sure how it played out. Apparently there are calls for the player to self-DQ. Regardless, the event is an annual one, a major, and the result right now is a sense that the event lost a bit of its integrity.
Certainly larger major 40K events can have their own issues - does simply checking Table 1 do it, or do you often see the winner emerging from as deep as Table 3 in the last round? Does it mean before awards the actual winner's list needs to be verified before awards? Well, that might be needed.
Regardless, list checking (and score double checking, but let's save that for a different day) in some fashion before the awards is a critical thing that needs to happen so protect your event. Integrity is important for events, and leads to greater confidence, which leads to better attendance.
You know you can count on this blog to bring up game issues for discussion. It is good to have a forum for things like that. I hope you enjoyed the read.
Anyway, happy gaming!
As always, that is my opinion, and I value yours. Feel free to leave a comment.