TL;DR

After much talking about tournaments for multi-player games, let’s look at a practical example for a tournament of 3-players matches.

First things first: BoardGameArena is an amazing site and you should consider becoming a premium member to support the folks.

If you just jumped here and want to know a bit what this is all about, start from Allocating games in tournaments and then come back.

Here, we will consider the practicalities of setting up a tournament for games that are good for 3 players (e.g. Tokaido, 7 Wonders, Roll for the Galaxy, and Takenoko come to mind).

Find players

You will need 9 players for this tournament.

If the game restricts table creation to premium players, you will need to make sure that 5 of the 9 participants are premium ones.

Personally, I think this is the most challenging part of organizing the tournament!

Agree about timing

Each player will compete in exactly 4 rounds; all matches in a round are played at the same time, so there are very limited wait times.

Discuss with the participants how long the playing sessions can be, or better start with a proposal (e.g. one-hour long). Depending on the specific game, you might be able to arrange a single round, several, or all of them in the agreed amount of time.

After this, head over an online poll tool to agree when to allocate the needed time slots, e.g. Doodle or one of its alternatives.

Decide on points assignment & other rules

Before starting, make sure to set (or agree) all relevant constraints for the tournament.

Point system

Make sure that your points system is fair across all matches. One possible arrangement is as follows:

  • $A$ points for first place, $B$ points for second place, and $C$ points for third place
  • If two players end up with in the same place, they divide the points of that place and the following one evenly
    • if they are both first, they get $\frac{A + B}{2}$ points each;
    • if they are both second, they get $\frac{B + C}{2}$ points each;
  • If all players end up in the first place, the divide all points (i.e. they get $\frac{A + B + C}{3}$ points)

One easy way to do this is to set $A = 6$, $B = 4$, and $C = 2$; in this way, any situation will yield an integer amount of points, like this:

points awarded

No-show, timeouts

Agree on a policy for players that do not show up or time out. Example:

  • not showing up yields 0 points and gives the match to the participants that showed up, who end up 1st place.
  • $0 < t \leq X$ minutes: 1 point penalty
  • $t > X$ : last place in ranking (to allow calculating the points of other players) and no points

Set up tracking

To track the tournament, you can use this spreadsheet.

If you have an account on Google, you can go to File, then Make a copy and start filling it on the spot. otherwise, you can download it (via File, then Download) in a number of formats, and use some tools on your PC to customize and update it.

Adjust to your needs:

  • sheet Dashboard: set tournament name and other relevant data, as well as the participants nicknames in the yellow/green cells. Cell colors are meaningful only for premium games; ensure to fill the yellow ones with premium users in this case;
  • sheet Rounds: adjust the points assignment table according to the rules you agreed;
  • sheet Policy: write down a reminder of the rules agreed (e.g. penalties) so that everyone is cool with them.

Play!

Now you just have to play! Head to sheet Rounds and set up matches according to the table for the relevant Round. Participants with the same color compete in the same match.

For premium games, the tournament scheduling is such that each match contains at least one premium user, who will be in charge of creating the table; otherwise, any player in a match can do this, of course.

After each match is concluded, put the points awarded to each player in the match, taking into account penalties in the Policy sheet if any.

Sheet Dashboard provides an updated view of the leaderboard with the data available. At the end of the tournament, you will be able to see who is the winner!

So long for now…

If you want to take a look at all posts, here’s the list: