Today, I played in the Illinois state championship for the Pokemon TCG. I had a lot of fun, but went 1-3-3 in the seven-round Swiss tournament. Ties are a new element to the competitive play that have not existed since Wizards of the Coast lost the license to the game.
In fact, the ordinary design of the game has a tiebreaker available in the sense of Sudden Death, so that ties should not be required. However, since tournaments must be played with time limits to avoid matches running super-long, other tiebreakers (or match determiners) can be used.
For the longest time, when time was called in a round, the game ended at the end of the active player’s turn, and the person with the fewest number of Prize cards left won the match. If they were tied, it was essentially played to sudden death.
The tournaments have a non-elimination Swiss and a single-elimination top cut. Prior to this year, Swiss matches were single-game matches, with the time limit sometimes changing from year to year. In the most recent years, the time limit was 30 minutes plus three turns (if the game wasn’t decided by the 30 minute limit).
This year, Swiss rounds have been changed to 50 minutes, best-of-three, but with the stipulation that incomplete games do not count at all. In previous years, the best-two-of-three had a rule saying that if either player had taken more than 50% of their Prize cards (i.e. taken 4 or 5), then that incomplete game counts.
I had three draws today by having three of my matches go to Game 3 and then time run out. The first was, in some sense, me getting bailed out by the horn. The second, I had a good setup and probably would have won (but it was the very beginning of the game). The third, I had him essentially checkmated, but I could not actually score the Prize cards.
From what I have heard, the main intent of the best-of-three in the Swiss rounds was to give people a chance to recover from a bad draw in game one. However, because of the rule that incomplete games don’t count, a loss in game one usually means that person can at best hope for a tie. That is certainly true in my case, since I play decks that are somewhat slow to set up, so that a bad game one makes it a near certainty that I will either be swept or have to settle for a tie.
I don’t know if there is a better way to settle this issue, but I do not think that ties for incomplete game-threes are the answer. If a match has gotten to a Game 3, I feel that there SHOULD be a winner (unless the Game 3 just started or is actually tied).
This is not sour grapes, even if it seems like it. I was just musing a little bit on the structure. However, if I am able to go to the National Championship, this will mean a VERY long day. Seven rounds of Swiss took from 10:00 to 19:00, with a lunch break built in. Allegedly, the first day of Swiss at Nats will have nine (!!) rounds.
Well, I guess this tournament was a “marathon” training session for me!
Today is the seventy-fourth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes ten weeks and four days.