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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Army List Validation for Large Events

a : to make legally valid : ratify
b : to grant official sanction to by marking
c : to confirm the validity of (an election); also : to declare (a person) elected
a : to support or corroborate on a sound or authoritative basis
b : to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy

This article is intended to demonstrate the benefits of validating army lists well in advance for large competitive style tournaments. It's not the intent to say this is necessary and some events don't. The logistics are very intensive in terms of the time and resources required so obviously it's much more feasible for smaller events (128 players or less) than a really big event that may actually have several tournaments over the course of a weekend.

This could a good business opportunity for the right people if they could offer this as a service such as how Torrent of Fire 
has developed a seamless system for pairings and results. There are large events (200+ players) that do validate army lists in advance such as the ATC so it's definitely possible.

If you run a large event and want to check army lists in advance you have to dedicate resources in order to get the task properly done. Ideally you need a team of veterans that are familiar as a whole with all the various codices and rules. This is more difficult now that there are so many sources for armies and new rules are more frequently released. There was a time not too long ago when it was possible for one person to be familiar with all of the rules but I don't really think it's possible any longer. Forge World adds yet another twist as they have multiple books with rules for the same units and their can be drastic differences between the various versions.

A good deal of time is required as well - there will always be some players that wait until the last second to submit their lists and it may require several attempts on their part to create a legal army list. You may have to even goad them to turn in their lists. While most people would not try to sneak one over there is always the potential for an unfair advantage to occur which if unchecked can potentially lead to public ridicule. My experience has been that there are always a few players that will require the most of your time and resources—in a way this can act as a distant early warning for who to watch during the event.

If you do require army lists to be submitted in advance then there must be a deadline when they are due by for all attendees. A good rule of thumb is one month in advance of the actual event. This means that any new sources that are publicly released after the deadline are restricted from use. The deadline allows the player base time to familiarize themselves with all the rules which is a good thing. Personally I do not allow two codices for one army to be in use at the same time as it can potentially lead to unnecessary confusion... There will always be some people that want to use the older existing rules and those that want to use the new rules.

Stern Policy
If you do require army lists to be submitted in advance then you must adopt a stern policy. Everyone playing must turn in their lists on time. Ideally the overall goal is to create a system that's as fair as possible for everyone. If some players have more time to submit their lists then they gain an advantage. Let everyone know well in advance when is the deadline—as I said above there are always some that wait until the last second for whatever reason... e.g., were deathly sick, dog ate the list or they were away on an extremely important business trip with no access to contact you - you'll get all kinds of crazy excuses. Dock players points from their final overall score as a deterrent to entice everyone to submit on time.

While it does require a lot of diligent work on your part to review every army list and make sure they are all kosher there are also lots of good reasons to make the effort. Here are a couple good reasons why.

No Big Surprises
Joey (i.e., hypothetical player) brings an illegal army and its not discovered until one of the final rounds so what do you do? According to Murphy's Law Joey will have won every game up to the point in time when you finally realize there's a really good reason why. How do fairly compensate all the players that lost to Joey? You can't really and that's potentially a big problem—especially for you the tournament organizer (TO) since it'll more than likely make windfall on the Internet and there you are caught with your pants down (proverbially speaking of course)... What can you say? Even worse if Joey happens to be your friend - believe me when I say you'll have a lot of explaining and many to answer to do why his list slipped through the cracks. Sure you can disqualify Joey but there are going to be some sore people and some of them will probably speak out about it. People have cried about army lists being only five points or even less over the set limit. Of course it's Joey's fault but you're definitely responsible too. Believe me when I say you'll take a lot of the blame for letting it happen and you'll be the one stuck holding the bag. At worst it could cause your event to cease to exist and/or from then on there's always going to be a dark cloud over your head, neither of which you really want to happen.


The best course of action is to automatically immediately disqualify (DQ) the player with the illegal list plus points for other players may have to be adjusted as a well... This is a nightmare in terms of logistics and It won't make everything right either which is the truly sad part. Preparation is ninety percent of being totally successful. Try your best not to let it ever happen.

People are fickle too - maybe people decide to let it go assuming it was just an honest mistake but I'd never count on it going down like that knowing how a lot of people will tend to react. So by validating army lists ahead of time you've potentially saved yourself a lot of grievance... win - win scenario !

Total Knowledge
If you properly validate all lists in a timely fashion then you know what everybody is bringing so it'll be that much easier to sort any questions regarding the rules rather than working on the fly and shooting from the hip. There's always going to some problems if you're not properly prepared in advance. These types of problems can ruin the event too. Ideally you want a highly controlled environment such that everything is known well in advance. This can be a big time saver too during the actual event.

What to Do if an Illegal List Goes Unchecked
Should this occur you need to have already set in place a well thought out contingency plan. If it's obvious it was intentional then you have no choice but to DQ the offender. You should also adjust points for their opponents and even award them some door prizes as a gesture of good will. Even if it's not obviously intentional you'll still need to take some action which could still result in the DQ, barring them from winning awards plus making them play on the lower tables from then on throughout the rest of the event. It's not fun but it's your responsibility—the worse thing you can do is attempt to sweep it under the proverbial carpet. If you're caught doing so it'll appear to everyone else you were in collusion with the guilty part. Why help them as they did nobody any favors.


This article is intended to demonstrate the benefits of validating army lists well in advance for large competitive style tournaments. It's not the intent to say this is necessary. However doing so can bare fruit.

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