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Kennon

Regional Melee

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The one in Connecticut next weekend is - for some reason, they are doing only overall standings, so if you want to place you must do melee.

The NYC regional will likely have casual melee the night before the joust, but nothing that counts.

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We as a play group here in Melbourne have told all of our retailers to not run a melee part of their regionals. Competitive melee, we feel, is not only a broken format (first person to play solitaire the fastest wins!), but a negative play experience.

Casual melee is somewhat OK when everyone brings tier 2 or worse decks..

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You are aware that the World and European Championships (the most important tournaments each year) run both Joust and Melee with the winner of each (as well as the overall winner) getting the right to design a card. If you are able to play solitaire in a melee, then something is very wrong with how your opponents are playing.

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We as a play group here in Melbourne have told all of our retailers to not run a melee part of their regionals. Competitive melee, we feel, is not only a broken format (first person to play solitaire the fastest wins!), but a negative play experience.

Casual melee is somewhat OK when everyone brings tier 2 or worse decks..

 
Hate to say it, but I agree. In light of last year's championship event, the unfortuante DQ (I know the feeling) and someone else winning the "over all" championship because of that; pretty much to me, makes the format invalid as any measuring stick for AGOT card game skill. If we're talking about AGOT melee skill (deal making, backstabbing) fine, but I can't confuse the two.
 
People are proud of their Melee wins. People are proud of their "Overall" champ wins. Fine. I'm not knocking  that. Melee and Joust format are very different expriences. So are most of the players who prefer one format over the other. Why mix them? And for those who always invoke how Melee captures the "AGOT" feel, isn't the classic line: "You win or you die. There is no middle ground" ? Yet overall champ is exactly that. People have won the title by not winning either event. Rather silly, I have to say.
 
From a different angle, its hard to ask people who travel 2+ hours to make an event to play either Friday and Saturday or spend an unreasonable amount of time for a one day event. I went to the Cincy regional and that event was pretty smooth. We drove 4 1/2 hours to make it. Getting up at 3am and getting home around 10:30 was rough. If they added a Melee event no way we could have played.
 
I'm not trying to rant (I probably failed at that)  but if regional events had the over all title feel it might discourage players from traveling who have families.jobs or other obligations who lack the time to devote to an entire weekend.
 
You also have to be careful when you do they deviations from the tourney document. I've been to plenty of regional events that had some pretty bad "house" rules. (2 out of 3 games per match, no top cut) And combining Joust and Melee is just that; a bad idea. Players like myself read the tourney document, go in expecting Joust .For isolated metas, traveling to events might be the first time you get to play in a tournament all year before a con (as in my case). Getting thrown a curve ball when you drive 3+ hours is a bummer.
 
I'm not passing judgement on those who run their events this way, I hope their events are sucessfull. But I just wanted to point out that there are people like me who can't or won't attend these type of events for the reasons I've mentioned. I think it is important to consider this: how many people would go to your event because it has melee and counts towards the title  vs those who woudn't? My guess is the latter.

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Just wanted to touch on the statement above about how World and Euro champ events have both formats.

First off you're right. They do. But comparing a regional event to those other events is apples to oranges. Gencon, WCW and Euro stuff is pretty much a product showcase for FFG, a chance to get their base to buy more product, get their friends hooked and make money in the future. These events, while fun, have decent prizes for the winners. There isn't a huge different between getting top 8 in Gencon and top 8 in a regional event. Only difference is the amount of people.

The regional stuff is break even for FFG and the venue they sell it to. Sometimes the stores lose money. It is a "for the players, by the players" event. That is why people who run these events 99 times out of 100 run Joust and Joust only. They paid their money for the kit, it is their tournament. Now the same thing applies to those who want to run little variations of that. They can do as they choose. But they aren't trying to make FFG's business better and capture every dollar. They do it for the love of the game.

So my point is that FFG reinvented this game (a smart move) as an option for the casual player market, the board gamers and beer and pretzel guys. That is what Melee is. I wrote a beta draft of the rules in 2004, and that is what I had in mind. Add it together with the LCG model and it just makes sense that they support it and make it legit by making it matter. That is smart business. Is it fun? depends on who you ask. But based on turnout, I have to say plenty of people do and that is why it continues. That is good for the game, and good for all of us.

However, you can't deny that as a competitive format, it is garbage. Fun, but it is garbage. So we find ourselves again that most regionals run Joust because they view melee as a fun diversion, but not much else.

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I want to clear something up: by Regionals, I mean tournament designated as such by FFG, usually with prize support and maybe some kind of qualification for WC or EC. If your regionals don't have that, then go ahead and organize them however you wish, as long as there's no confusion with FFG Regionals.

In France, all of the big tournaments run Joust and Melee, over a full week-end. Some people do drive 4-5 hours (or take planes or trains). Some people do have families. And some people choose to participate in only one format (you just need to participate in both to be overall champion). Each of these tournaments is attended by more players than the Ohio tournament and most are bigger than Ohio and SF combined (I mean, we have FLGS tournaments bigger than SF). However, only one is a FFG Regional, the French Championship, which is bigger than WC (about 100 people in joust and 80 in melee).

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I quite don't understand the hate melee is usually getting and how overall title is blamed for it. Here's an old Quote from WWDrakey on the same subject that I found to be spot on:

"Okay, could someone explain to me, why the Overall title causes so much bad blood over there? It almost seems like Joust players feel that it's a Joust-prize, but with some evil forced inclusion of Melee. While to me it seems to obviously be an extra prize for people that genuinely like both formats. It's like a professional swimmer complaining that he hates cycling since it's a part of a triathlon. *scratches head*"

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I'll address what Kennon and Khudzlin said first. Obviously, you need to do what if fun for your meta. If that means having Melee count for something, fine.  But I think you're coming from a place (and this is aimed at Kennon since I don't follow much of the Euro scene) that has three pieces of criteria:

1. Larger meta with other metas within a reasonable distance.

2. Great players in these metas

3. Resources

 

In the states off hand I can name a few of these groups:

1. MO / Tulsa

2. CA 

3. DC/ NY

 

All former champs, all have people that won or should have won the Melee championship over the last 3 years, all have Joust winners and finalists, and have people who play constantly and travel all over to play.  It is frankly, awesome to see how dedicated they are to playing this game. 

So while I look at that I think sometimes people can come from a place of good intention, (making Melee legit) it is hard for someone like me who comes from a meta that doesn't really have 2 out of the 3 criteria to focus their energy on playing that format.  If say, booster draft was the next thing to count for a championship (and I feel high level draft takes a ton of skill) I would feel the same way. Why can't we just run things seperate but equal?  People who like Melee can do that. People who like Joust can do that. People who enjoy both and play in both, but what I can't understand is why we combine them. Perhaps it is because most players might not show up to an Melee only regional tournament?

No other format is supported in this game at the moment, so I get it. It is nice to have something different to play and consider when deck building.

Ok now this:

Okay, could someone explain to me, why the Overall title causes so much bad blood over there? It almost seems like Joust players feel that it's a Joust-prize, but with some evil forced inclusion of Melee. While to me it seems to obviously be an extra prize for people that genuinely like both formats. It's like a professional swimmer complaining that he hates cycling since it's a part of a triathlon. *scratches head*"

Overall championship is a farce to say the least. Can you tell me (since I wasn't at worlds) if people indeed cheated at Melee? I ask that because the same group of guys dominated the year before. I honestly think those guys used clever deckbuilding and strategy to beat the system. It wasn't their fault the Melee format was bad. They just took advantage and proved it.  (2 years in a row!) So I'm to believe that this should count for a world championship? Or is it cool to have someone else win by default due to DQ? Both sound lousy.

Melee is inherently much more random than Joust, and gives the impression of a crap shoot. If I wanted to play fun random stuff I would pick up something with dice.  Many players probably disagree but in order to get consistent results you gotta team up. So if I want to be world champion, I need to be extra lucky or be paired with meta mates? Joust forces players to play for themselves and they control their own destiny.  No king making here.

The proof is in the pudding. There is exactly one Melee tournament at Gencon and WCW. One.  There are at least 3 Joust events scheduled at each. Drunk draft? Joust. Tournament reports people read and care about? Joust. Demo the game at Gencon? Joust. Do you see people playing pickup games of Joust or Melee more? Exactly.  The casual players who love Melee the most don't travel to play as much as the Joust guys. So you kind of see why the dedicated players who don't love Melee see how it feels forced.

Again, I'm all for doing what is best and fun for your meta, I just feel like having a winner come from an competitive event that they didn't actually have to win either tournament is silly.

 

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ccgtrader99 said:

I'll address what Kennon and Khudzlin said first. Obviously, you need to do what if fun for your meta. If that means having Melee count for something, fine.  But I think you're coming from a place (and this is aimed at Kennon since I don't follow much of the Euro scene) that has three pieces of criteria:

1. Larger meta with other metas within a reasonable distance.

2. Great players in these metas

3. Resources

 

In the states off hand I can name a few of these groups:

1. MO / Tulsa

2. CA 

3. DC/ NY

 

All former champs, all have people that won or should have won the Melee championship over the last 3 years, all have Joust winners and finalists, and have people who play constantly and travel all over to play.  It is frankly, awesome to see how dedicated they are to playing this game. 

So while I look at that I think sometimes people can come from a place of good intention, (making Melee legit) it is hard for someone like me who comes from a meta that doesn't really have 2 out of the 3 criteria to focus their energy on playing that format.  If say, booster draft was the next thing to count for a championship (and I feel high level draft takes a ton of skill) I would feel the same way. Why can't we just run things seperate but equal?  People who like Melee can do that. People who like Joust can do that. People who enjoy both and play in both, but what I can't understand is why we combine them. Perhaps it is because most players might not show up to an Melee only regional tournament?

No other format is supported in this game at the moment, so I get it. It is nice to have something different to play and consider when deck building.

Ok now this:

Okay, could someone explain to me, why the Overall title causes so much bad blood over there? It almost seems like Joust players feel that it's a Joust-prize, but with some evil forced inclusion of Melee. While to me it seems to obviously be an extra prize for people that genuinely like both formats. It's like a professional swimmer complaining that he hates cycling since it's a part of a triathlon. *scratches head*"

Overall championship is a farce to say the least. Can you tell me (since I wasn't at worlds) if people indeed cheated at Melee? I ask that because the same group of guys dominated the year before. I honestly think those guys used clever deckbuilding and strategy to beat the system. It wasn't their fault the Melee format was bad. They just took advantage and proved it.  (2 years in a row!) So I'm to believe that this should count for a world championship? Or is it cool to have someone else win by default due to DQ? Both sound lousy.

Melee is inherently much more random than Joust, and gives the impression of a crap shoot. If I wanted to play fun random stuff I would pick up something with dice.  Many players probably disagree but in order to get consistent results you gotta team up. So if I want to be world champion, I need to be extra lucky or be paired with meta mates? Joust forces players to play for themselves and they control their own destiny.  No king making here.

The proof is in the pudding. There is exactly one Melee tournament at Gencon and WCW. One.  There are at least 3 Joust events scheduled at each. Drunk draft? Joust. Tournament reports people read and care about? Joust. Demo the game at Gencon? Joust. Do you see people playing pickup games of Joust or Melee more? Exactly.  The casual players who love Melee the most don't travel to play as much as the Joust guys. So you kind of see why the dedicated players who don't love Melee see how it feels forced.

Again, I'm all for doing what is best and fun for your meta, I just feel like having a winner come from an competitive event that they didn't actually have to win either tournament is silly.

Personally I have not attended Worlds or GenCon, but I have attended the European Championships in Stahleck… so I cannot comment on Worlds on a first hand basis. What I can say is that I have not seen Kingmaking or any other shady multiplayer tricks at Stahleck, of course it could be that I've just missed them. As a Judge last year, the only things I saw were the regular rules misconceptions that would and did happen in Joust also.

This is just my personal opinion, and take it with a grain of salt, but I saw nothing wrong in what the DC group did with the format or the competition until the point where in the Final table the talk went into scorings for Overall Champion. At that point, it wasn't Melee (and playing for your personal victory) anymore, but rather gaming the system for points. It's still a bit hard to be exactly sure about what the judgment made there was exactly based on, since we didn't recieve an explicit statement on it from FFG. However, what we did get from that were much stricter and clearer guidelines on how Melee should and will be played. Honestly, I think the format will benefit from these pretty nicely, since they function as an official guideline on what the approach to the format should be. This also spurred FFG into defining Joust floor rules more explicitly, which is also a nice boon towards a more 'professional' approach to competitive play.

While it can be argued that the Melee format perhaps isn't as straightforward as a competitive format, we still tend to see the same players in the top tables… which doesn't sound too inconsistent to me. And judging by the results from the events that do have Melee Championships: Gencon, Worlds, Stahcleck… we can see that it is clearly a format that rewards both skill and deckbuilding. And if there happen to be luck elements involved (ending up in a table with three Rush decks as a Control player), these aren't much larger than the Rock-Paper-Scissors -thing going on in Joust (both in the Swiss and the top matches).

As a comparison, this exact same discussion has been going on regarding Poker playing for ages, the format is said to be too random, but we still get the same guys sitting at the final tables.

Now what are the Joust players losing if there is a Melee event on another day, instead of there being none? Not much, but the players who like melee lose a lot. Is the problem purely semantical, and tied to the "Overall" in the name itself and nothing more? So, would it be okay if it was named something different, like 'Combined Champion'? I'm saying this because it sounds like it's the name itself, which is taking something away from the other format winners… not the fact that Melee (or a combined format of the two) exists.

Honestly, I think the thing to understand about Melee, and especially Competitive Melee is that you need to first try and forget all of the things you know about playing Joust (except for rules and card knowledge), then approach it as 'something completely different'.
- The flow of the game is very different (game duration, when you should challenge, what you should Marshall at which points, whether you should Reset at a given point)
- The power levels of cards are very different (as an example, consider Knights of the Hollow Hill vs. The White Book)
- The critical errors you can make are very different (in Joust you never over-extend and flood your board due to Valar, in Melee you never want to leave a gap in a certain icon, or you will probably get immediately hit in that hole by as many players as you have opponents)

The best way to look at Melee, as a Joust player, is that you get to take part in a whole different kind of cardgame, without having to buy a lot of extra product. What exactly is bad about that?

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There are rules used in Melee that are never used in Joust (the titles and all that goes with them - support, opposed, challenge redirection). About strategy, picking on the weakest is not always the best strategy; ganging up on the leader is often more useful (or the runner-up if you are the leader).

What we do in France with (big) tournaments is

  • they always have both formats
  • players can play in one or both formats, as they choose
  • entering for both costs only 50 % more than entering for only one
  • there are prizes for both formats and overall

Now, about the Worlds. I know the guy who won the Melee (after his 3 opponents were DQ'd). He managed to keep his cool while his opponents were colluding about standings. Now his forum signature includes a quote from Nate French: "We would like to see the game played like you did in this tournament". Melee is supposed to be a free for all, not a team affair, and especially not a format where some players team up (beyond temporary alliances during the game) while others play individually. The abuse began when they built together and teamed up in game. Kingmaking will happen in Melee, but it should happen rarely (only when a player can choose the winner but cannot improve their own final scoring); at that point, it's ok to choose a meta-mate or someone who's been nice over a stranger or someone who's been annoying (but if you can improve your own final scoring, you should, no hesitation).

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The competitive Melee game has grown on me over the years.  I used to hate playing melee and enjoy it much more now that it is part of the competitive scene, but part of that is because I am competitive by nature.

 

FFG has consistently made efforts to legitamize competitive Melee, and sometimes their efforts may not give the desired results.

 

Primary example is the new updated tournament rules, specifically the 2 pages describing Code of Conduct at an event.  

 

 

If a TO believes that he has encountered behavior 
that would be considered unethical by either the 
letter or spirit of the rules outlined in this document, 
he may and should, at his sole discrection, take the 
measures (including match forfeitures, penalties, and/
or disqualifications) he sees as necessary to ensure the 
integrity and fairness of his event.
 
 
So what happens when the judge/TO is also a participant in the event?  At the World Championships, this isn't an issue since there are FFG employees TOing the event.  But at the regional level, most players don't want to give up their right to play, so there is rarely a non-player TO.  Which means you have a player(s) that are vying for the championship in the Melee event but they also have the authority to enforce disciplinary action at their discretion.  This creates an incredibly clear conflict of interest, and lays the groundwork for the possibility of one of the greatest controversy's this game could ever see: A Player judge/TO subjectively enforcing a forfeiture in a game they are participating in.  I think the boards might explode if that ever happened.
 
So the new rules put many of the regional events in a sticky situation, particularly regarding melee and the opportunity for more subjectively rulings.  The easiest answer is to have a non-partial, non-playing TO (good luck with finding that!).  Another answer is not make melee part of the championships and avoid the possibility.  The third possibility is to simply run melee as part of the championships and HOPE that no conflict of interest events arise.  
 
Here in Missouri, we have prided ourselves on regularly making Melee part of our regional event championships to match FFGs world championship standard.  We have often had very good turnouts, and vibrant melee events.  But all of our players want to play.  Finding a player who is willing to sit out and be a TO is next to impossible.

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What we do here is:

  • There are multiple judges (always an odd number, usually 5), with one of them being designated Head Judge
  • A judge cannot judge a match in which he or she is participating (which is why 5 is a good number)
  • A ruling made by a judge may be appealed to the Head Judge
  • Important decisions require all judges (except those who would be impacted by the decision) to come to a majority agreement (ties are broken by the Head Judge)
  • If the Head Judge is implicated, all remaining judges must come to a majority agreement (a tie benefits the Head Judge)
  • Once the elimination rounds begin, no judge is allowed to play (any qualified must be replaced)
  • Deck checks are performed by non-players (former players are allowed to check decks before the elimination rounds, provided they didn't qualify)

We believe these rules remove most of the conflicts of interest (suggestions for improvement are welcome).

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You know, I'm not saying there's a conspiracy, but all of the past and present Joust Champions who still play the game are against including melee.

 

Interesting….

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Kennon said:

You know, I'm not saying there's a conspiracy, but all of the past and present Joust Champions who still play the game are against including melee.

 

Interesting….

 

I'm not against Melee.  I always still play it.

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I am not against Melee myself(and thoroughly enjoy it casually), however I am against forcing players to play it in order to be crowned a champion or to win any prize support.  I would not combine the 2 formats into one tournament and they should be treated as separate accolades.

If you want to crown champions, then do so treating each tournament as separate.  If you want to combine the results for any accolade, then do so but only for the "World" champ.

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I have nothing against giving an accolade to the best overall performer btw the two formats, I just hate giving them the designation of "champion" when they haven't won anything (or at least it is possible to win overall without placing first in either event). Call it the Tywin Award and suddenly it doesn't seem so pretentious.

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I'm all for more thematic names for prizes and things in the game. Tywin award sounds awesome. It would make a really nice counterpoint to the Sansa award!

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I have no problem with the overall award or the existence of competitive melee tournaments. I just don't enjoy them. At all. In fact, not one (out of approx 20-30) players in our meta has a desire to play melee in a tournament format, which is why all 4 of the regionals in Melbourne (with FFG prize support) will not have a melee component.

Every single time we've tried (and we've tried many times) super fast rush decks win, and it's basically luck with whoever gets the best start. Cool/combo decks or even control decks are absent. There is no incentive in melee to play control, because by design it hurts you. Investing resources into controlling 1-2 players hurts you because you aren't investing in winning (power rush). Deal making and titles just don't do enough and there's no reason to keep deals.


For us it's

#1: not competitive; we may aswell roll a dice instead to determine the outcome of the final table
#2: not fun (when played competitively)

Casual melee can be very fun, until some wanker decides to break the game by playing a degenerate super fast rush deck.

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For anyone who is playing in or running a Regional melee event. Do make sure you email stats for the event to the show email address, as I'd like to give you as close to equal attention as possible. As well, I'd be interested in decklists or commentary from those who play in/win said events.

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