Laying to rest the specter of impropriety.

Discussion in 'TCG News & Gossip Discussion' started by Adv1sor, Mar 15, 2004.

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  1. Adv1sor

    Adv1sor New Member

    Now let me start off by saying that I am very fortunate in that most of the tournaments I play in are hosted by the Pokemon ‘Sensei. Also, the groups of players at our local store are a good bunch of people. As such, the rules are well known and well followed. If you have never had the pleasure of playing at a tournament hosted by ‘Sensei then you are missing out on some of the best ran tournaments ever. I encourage you to take a trip to Stafford Virginia some time and see for yourself.

    I’ve been to a lot of tournaments both Pokemon and MTG, even a YGO once. I’ve seen a lot of things that shouldn’t happen, happen. So I offer this thread on how to lay to rest the specter of impropriety. A list of ideas that, if followed, can greatly reduce even the impression that any wrong doings are going on.

    The Deck Swap

    Have you ever played in a sealed deck event and wondered if the person across from you, the one with all the killer cards, was really just that lucky?

    I suggest that all future sealed deck events include a deck swap. This means that players open and record the cards from their six booster packs. The cards and the lists are then rubber banded together and handed back in to the TO. The cards and lists are then randomly distributed to the players. The players then check to make sure that the cards have been recorded properly on the list and then make their decks, checking off the number of cards used. At the cost of about 30 minutes, the deck swap removes even the impression of the idea that some unscrupulous player might try to sneak some of his or her own cards into the sealed deck event.

    Viewing the Tournament Management Program

    Have you ever wondered just why it seems like some players are always paired up against each other, or are never matched up against each other? Ever wondered just what is going on between rounds or at the end of a tournament, before the results are read?

    I suggest that the PC being used to run the Tournament Management Program be placed in such a way so that any and all can look over the shoulder of the person running the PC. This may require some furniture or fixture rearrangements prior to the start of the tournament but it will give everyone who wants to watch a real appreciation for the work that goes into entering the results, printing the pairings and standings, and producing the final, and sometimes age modified results lists.

    Deck Lists and Deck Checks

    Trading cards is a great part of the gaming experience. But I’ve actually had to remind players that, once the tournament has started, they are not allowed to make changes to their decks regardless of how good a trade they just made.

    I suggest that all sanctioned tournaments require deck lists and that deck checks be performed for all of the top eight players, with some random deck checks throughout the tournament. The penalty for having a deck that doesn't match the list should be disqualification from the tournament. Kind of harsh, but anything less penalizes all the prior players that lost to the adapted deck. Depending on the number of available judges, this can add a few minutes to the start of a round, but it eliminates the feeling that that last great trade that went down is somehow impacting the tournament.

    Helpers and Distracters

    In the Pokemon cartoon show Misty and Brock are always shouting helpful ideas to Ash as he battles his opponents. This seems to have carried over to some real life Pokemon battles as well. I have seen some tournaments where the reminder of not interfering in a match is repeated continuously throughout the tournament as, usually, the same people gather around the tables and voice their “encouragements.”

    I suggest that the TO and judges take a more active role in reminding people that interfering in a match is not allowed. This should be followed with a zero tolerance policy in which those who interfere are told to leave the store, whether or not they themselves are in the tournament.

    So that’s my list so far. Anyone have any additions? And again, let me say that most of these things are already done where I play most of the time. (My sincere thanks to ‘Sensei.)
  2. GymLeaderPhil

    GymLeaderPhil New Member


    Bringing in another monitor and attaching it to the same computer with the TMS program is quite easy to work out.

    When finding an illegal deck, if there is a small change in cards, a miscount, or a card that is not legal, it's best to replace that card with a Basic Energy card. If it is a whole new deck, yes, a DQ is in order.

    Requiring participants to leave the tournament area after their round is over is one way to restrict "guidance" from others. Parents should be asked to remain in that area if at all possible.
  3. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Furret saulutes Team Compendium

    Team Rocket's Meowth sits down to play a game with Team Rocket's James.
    Meowth evolves to Blastoise on turn one, uses 21 supporter cards one right after
    another, fills the bench up with Pokemon and rain dances lots of energy on
    every card.

    James gets mad.

    Meowth politely tells James that Meowth makes the "House Rules" here, so Meowth
    can do whatever Meowth wants.

    James throw his loaded dice at Meowth.

    Meowth hits James with a store display rack.

    James starts throwing merchandise at Meowth.

    The store owner gets out his Pokeball and releases Machamp.

    Machamp throws Meowth and James unto the sidewalk outside the store.

    James sticks his tongue out at the store owner.

    Machamp tosses James down the block.

    The store owner posts a sign in the window:
    "Team Compendium rules honored here."

    Furret walks by.

    Furret pauses.

    Furret gets an idea.

    Furret follows Meowth down the street and asks Meowth for an interview.

    To be continued...
  4. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Espeon wanders by.

    Looks like Furret stole Doug's password again...
  5. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Furret returns from an interview with Team Rocket's Meowth.
    Furret puts the papers on the desk and begins sorting them.
    Espeon trots into the room.
    Espeon "What's up?"
    Furret "I just interviewed Meowth, for a story on the PokeGym."
    Espeon picks up and paper and begins reading.
    Furret shuffles the paper around.
    Espeon shakes its head.
    Furret reads a few unfamiliar words.
    Furret "What do they mean?"
    Espeon "You are definately going to have to edit this."
    Furret "Ohh..."
    Espeon reads more.
    Furret "Hmm..."
  6. onederlnd

    onederlnd Administrator Emeritus

    onederlnd grounds Zuver from the computer and proceeds to call the men in white coats.
  7. mysterioustrainer

    mysterioustrainer New Member

    Some of these safety checks just isn't necessary for certain events, for example a deck check or deck list just isn't necessary for Unlimited events, the H.J. should be able to figure out if there is different decks during the event. Now for events like the State Championship that can be a problem.

    Now another factor I should point out is that prereleease events should be easy to run without Deck Swaping this is because players shouldn't be able to obtain these cards yet. Thankfully this last prerelease was a sucess because Target or other retailers didn't jump the start line as badly this year. Again it depends on the event you are running and how important it is.

    Now you couldn't be more right about Distracting bystanders. I will do anything to keep battles on their own. OF course work your way from a caution all the way up if the bystanders keep getting in the way.

    As for the TMS... its still crap. I am going to get SteveP's software to run my events to keep things intact.
  8. P_A

    P_A Active Member

    Hooking up a second monitor may be a little more preferable than having the computer turned to where other people can inadvertently or purposely fool with. We also bring a gamecube running Super Smash Bros. Melee to keep the unoccupied occupied.
  9. SD PokeMom

    SD PokeMom Mod Supervisor Staff Member

    The thing is, we need some official Penalty Guidelines. I'm sure most of us are still operating with the DCI guidelines as our standard...but until there are official POP guidelines posted where all can see them, it's easy to accuse a judge of 'inpropriety' =/

  10. NoPoke

    NoPoke Active Member

    Deck Swap : Younger players do not want to swap the boosters that they have opened.

    Keep the deck registration area kept clear and have it supervised so that players aren't tempted to the dark side.

    A second monitor doesn't prevent impropriety by the TO and invites parents to question said TOs actions. The last thing a TO needs is someone asking questions when they are struggling to recover form an error.

    If you don't trust the TO then don't go to the tournament.

    Even the DCI doesn't insist on mandatory deck lists.


    Mostly I trust my players to take part in the game in a spirit of friendly competition. If I felt it was necessary to take exceptional steps to prevent cheating then I'd conclude that this particular group of players aren't worthy of recieving OP.

    Unfortunately big prizes bring out the sharks so more visible policing is necessary at larger competitions.
  11. Adv1sor

    Adv1sor New Member

    NoPoke, I don't like swapping the boosters that I have opened. No one really likes a deck swap. But believe me, unless you would stop people from using sleeves, I could easily switch in my own cards with you looking right over my shoulder. Prior to the tournament I simply put the cards I want to use in sleeves in a deck box full of empty sleeves, make the right marks on the deck list, dump the sleeves, empties and illicit cards both onto the table and start sleeving the cards. This is almost impossible to detect but a deck swap stops it cold.

    Even more than that, the deck swap stops the impression that this type of cheating may have taken place when a player really does get lucky and pull a bunch of killer cards out of his or her six packs.

    Mostly I have seen nothing but great sportsmanship, outstanding judging, and great players. But as you said, the big prizes bring out the sharks.
  12. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Umbreon walks in and notices the pile of notes all over the table.

    Espeon looks up.
    Espeon looks at the calendar and sees the moon is more
    in squence with the sun right now, approaching a new moon.

    Furret engrossed in his notes continues reading.
    Umbreon offers to help edit.
    Espeon nods solemnly.

    Umbreon "This Meowth guy has been pretty busy!"


    Umbreon "I think what we really need is a master plan."
    Furret nods solemnly.
    Espeon "You mean upgrade security?"
    Umbreon "Right!"
    Espeon "An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure..."
    Furret nods solemnly
    Umbreon "Create a system that physically blocks cheaters."
    Espeon "They cheat as much as they think they can get away with."

    Furret "What about my interview?"

    Umbreon and Espeon begin planning...
  13. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Umbreon "Got it yet?"
    Espeon "Here is what I have so far:"

    It only takes a single person cheating to ruin the fun for others.
    Though the cheaters are well into the minority range for Pokemon,
    they do exist.
    The good players will not cheat no matter what happens, and they
    are not offended by extra safeguards.
    A weak players may be drawn into cheating, because someone else is doing
    it and security is weak.

    Some nice players are afraid to offend others by asking for security checks
    when it is needed. It is far better for the TO to have a good security system
    in place then to depend on others to report problems. Sometimes, players
    are too busy having fun to think about what is going on until later.
    Cheater do things fast and quick.

    Most TOs have staff limitations, with only so much time for things of this nature.

    Umbreon "So what do we do?"
  14. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Espeon "Look at this Meowth career info..."
    Umbreon "Here is some personal data..."
    Espeon "We sure don't need that."
    Espeon tosses those notes into the trash.

    Furret "What about my interview??"

    Umbreon "Here is some pertinent data about dice."
    Espeon looks it over.
    Umbreon "What do you think?"
    Espeon "Here is an area that is very easy to lock tight.
    Umbreon nods.

    Furret begins fishing its notes out of the trash....

    Espeon "We had a topic about that on the PokeGym
    just a few days ago."
    Umbreon "Very nice reading..."
    Espeon "20 sided dice??"
    Umbreon nods solemnly

    Furret "How will I ever become a World famous journalist
    if I don't finish my interview with one of the most notorrious
    characters in Pokemon???"
    Espeon glances over at Furret.
    Umbreon "Somebody's been reading Peanuts too much."

    Umbreon "So, we ask everyone one to use nothing but
    20 sided dice, correct?"
    Espeon "20 sided dice unless totally altered are almost
    impossible to load. You would have to move all the even
    numbers to one side of the dice and most of the odd numbers
    to the other."
    Umbreon "The dice would need to be easy to read. Some colors
    combinations don't stand out enough."
    Espeon "Do you think people might object?"
    Umbreon "Consider all the angles."
    Espeon "Totally blocking the possibility of loaded dice all
    in one sweep. The judges don't even have to mess with the
    Umbreon "No confrontations when one player accuses the
    other of load dice. No standing around rolling it for 5 minutes
    trying to figure it out."
    Espeon "No slip ups either. Look here."
    Espeon points at a page "A judge might miss this possibility in
    checking the dice."
    Umbreon "Nobody gets upset. No Parents calling Pokemon USA."
    Espeon "Right, take out the possibility instead of leaving room
    for a problem."
    Umbreon "Big problem if a 10 year old is giving bad dice by
    someone else and is crying about being accused."

    Furret wanders over and listens...
    Furret "I could buy some extra 20 sided to loan out?!"

    Umbreon "What about the way 20 sided roll."
    Espeon "That's why they are so perfect, it doesn't take
    much of a toss at all to make them random."
    Umbreon "What if they roll off the table?"
    Espeon "People will get used to rolling them.
    Remember all the little kids at league trying to flip coins?"

    Furret "Little kids have trouble with using their small hands to
    shuffle or flip coins"

    Umbreon "Yes, lets look at shuffling next, shall we?"
  15. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Espeon "Shuffling???"

    Furret watches as Espeon shuffles the papers around.
    Furret wanders under the table and gathers some up.

    Umbreon "Hmm..."
    Espeon "How about the TO asks all the players to
    shuffle their Opponent's decks before each game?"
    Umbreon "Nice..."
    Espeon "Would the increased security decrease the
    Player's happiness??"
    Umbreon "The way I look at it, increased security lends
    prestige to the event, especially a larger one."
    Espeon nods solemnly.
    Umbreon continues "This is something that would not take
    up a lot of time either, and it certainly would not increase the
    burden on the staff of the event. You also would not need to
    explain why, just tell them to do it. That could be better than
    an explanation that you can shuffle your opponents deck and
    why you might should shuffle it."

    Furret appears from below the table with some paper and
    starts smoothing them out.
  16. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

    Umbreon "What shall we tackle next? Deck Checks???"
    Espeon "Ohhh...that one is big and difficult."

    Furret begins taking notes off the notes that were on the floor.

    Espeon watches Furret.
    Espeon "Hmmm...."

    Umbreon "Conference time!"
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2004
  17. RainbowRichards

    RainbowRichards Active Member

    Douglas - it's getting 'late', so will have to peruse your always-entertaining prose tomorrow!

    Advisor - deck swapping will not deter those bent on subbing in their own/other cards after receiving a different set of cards...

    myst - with multiple prerelease events in the Mid-Atlantic area, getting the cards isn't hard at all.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2004
  18. Prof. Douglas Zuver

    Prof. Douglas Zuver New Member

  19. DaytonGymLeader

    DaytonGymLeader New Member

    I couldn't have said it better myself. The problem with big prizes at big events is that they're harder to staff. Everyone wants to play and not help out with running the event, thus you have less people to try and catch what some people will try to slide past people.

    Deck lists and deck checks should happen at any event that has Championship in it's name (hint hint, expect this for Nationals). These really tend to keep people honest. People have tried to swap out cards before even when you do deck lists/checks and get caught then ejected.

    I disagree with "viewing" TMS. The Scorer/Judge Station is a "No Player Zone" when they're not turning in results IMO. The less distractions a Scorer has, the better as they set the pace for making the event run smoothly time-wise. It's no fun when the software blows up (which it's prone to do) and players are constantly bombarding the scorers/judges with questions on when the next round is when they're trying to pair a round by hand and figure out OpMatchWin%.

    Something that some of the 'Clix game venues and judges do is buy a large amount of casino dice that are loaned out to the players, then returned at the end of the event. Outside randomizers are not allowed. Not really feasable for large scale events, but works exceptionally well for small ones.

    Sealed Swap does keep people honest, but it doesn't limit a player from bringing their own cards and adding them to their deck.

    The best way to keep the event honest is to have a crack staff and an expectation of decorum. A good staff can usually pick out when something in hinky and zero in on it. Your staff also sets the tone for player behavior.

    I do agree that we need a clear-cut set of Penalty Guidelines. It's a huge hamstring. Having this would let players know that if they do make a mistake, what they can expect to happen.
  20. Adv1sor

    Adv1sor New Member

    When combined with random and top eight deck checks I believe that Sealed Swaps do limit players from bringing their own cards and adding them to their deck.
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