Boardgame Players Association Board of Director’s Tenth Seat 2006
Feb. 13, 2007

This list of questions and answers provides insight into board decisions during the most recent meetings. If you have further questions that you would like to see addressed here, submit your questions to the Board at or to the Convention Director at See also Tenth Seat 2005 and WBC FAQs.

Public Discussions | MESE | Team Tournament | Post-Midnight Gaming | Teen Gaming | Family Memberships | HMGS | Junior Events | Feedback

PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS. Probably the most important thing we can tell you about the latest Meeting of your Board of Directors is why we can’t make public most of what is said behind closed doors in those meetings. Why not publish the Board’s votes so that members can see who is for or against their particular pet peeve and vote accordingly to “throw the bum out"?

In a democracy, that’s a reasonable request. But corporations are not a democracy and BPA is not a government. It is a non-profit corporation. If you investigate such organizations, indeed any business, you’ll find that their Board votes are not made public and with good reason. They discuss matters whose details could negatively impact their business if made public. As a stockholder in XYZ corporation, I certainly don’t want my Board of Directors to divulge information that could negatively impact the stock’s performance.

Most reasonable people would agree. However, some of our members see BPA more as a club than a corporation, and they liken their Board as their representatives who should be held accountable for their votes so they can be singled out and held accountable for views that do not coincide with their own. That’s how its supposed to work in congress, but not in a corporation. In the latter, Board members are charged to protect the stockholder’s (i.e., member’s) interests without any politicking as to how they do it.

Keep in mind that your Board members are fellow gamers who are highly motivated to help the organization and do so at considerable sacrifice of their own time without recompense. Not only do they donate the considerable time it takes to attend Board meetings, but they also tend to be the first and most prolific volunteers for other tasks that need doing. Their reward for this often takes the form of public criticism from those with different viewpoints. Anyone who thinks it is possible to discharge the duties of a Board member no matter how perfectly without gaining the ire of someone is on a fool’s errand. No truer words were ever spoken than “you can’t please everybody."

So, for starters, we don’t publicize votes because doing so would discourage qualified people from serving on the Board. I, for one, want no part of serving on a Board where I have to incur the public wrath of every Tom, Dick and Harry who disagrees with my vote. Experience has shown that there is virtually nothing about WBC on which everyone agrees.

Secondly, any public accounting of votes would discourage a free exchange of ideas in Board discussions if members are more concerned about winning re-election and what would be popular as opposed to what is best for the organization. Any Board vote is always preceded by a frank and often spirited exchange of viewpoints, both pro and con. Any sterile reporting of votes without a full accounting of the testimony and reasoning that went into the vote does a disservice to the voter. If Member X has his vote reported, he will be obliged to also tell his constituency why he felt compelled to vote that way. Not only will the member be thus inconvenienced by having to report the reasoning of that decision all over again, but he may find it difficult to do so without revealing sensitive information that does not belong in a public forum.

Lastly, we live in a litigious society. During the give and take that precedes any vote, issues can be discussed that may give rise to nuisance lawsuits were they made public. We pay hefty annual premiums for insurance against such eventualities as a constant reminder of the need that we must conduct business with a tad more decorum than is exercised in the average gameclub.

There are those for whom the above explanation will not suffice … their curiosity will not be appeased by a need for discretion. For instance, what can be hurt by disclosing who voted for or against Legacy status for event X?

Ok, let’s look at that. First, you have to understand that the Legacy rules encompass more than just whether we like a game. Most of those inclined to be upset by an event’s failure to earn Legacy status are motivated by one thing: they happen to like that game. In actuality, whether a Board member likes game X should not enter at all into the decision to vote yay or nay.

Instead, we look at the qualifications. Has the event met the ten years service requirement with satisfactory attendance? Has the GM met all the conditions for running the event? Is the attendance trending down, up or stable?

Let’s assume event X was denied Legacy status because the GM has consistently failed to fulfill his obligations. Should a Board member be criticized for failing to vote it Legacy status? Of course not! But if we publicize the vote, we’ll then have to publicize the reason why it failed the vote—causing some degree of public humiliation for the GM in question. That is not how we choose to operate. We’re happy to praise excellence where merited but we have no desire to ostracize those who fail to meet our standards.

That said, what is fair game to report from the Tenth Seat? Skipping over the more mundane, we can shed some light pro and con on some of the more interesting issues. In all cases, however, it is important to note that changes don’t come about just because someone has a new idea. For virtually any issue there usually are as many reasons not to do something as there is to do it and all such votes are preceded by often spirited discussion pro and con. Sometimes, change is slow in coming and the necessary votes just aren’t there until a palatable compromise can be reached. For instance, the change to the current Century/Trial selection system that took place two years ago had actually been debated several years prior but lacked the necessary votes to pass until 2005.

MESE: Perhaps the most controversial policy in 2006 and the one that used most of the Board’s time with extensive discussion remains the Board-mandated MESE tie breakers. This debate was held again—twice - both at the start and end of the fall meeting but failed to generate any significant changes. We resolved to stay the course on the policy, albeit with more emphasis on examples in the revised GM Guidelines. Not surprisingly, comments from the membership had both praised and condemned the MESE policy—reflecting the split opinions on the subject.

At the root of the problem is the basic issue of whether GMs should have the freedom to create any format they choose for their event. The Board’s response is yes—up to a point. The Board requires events to use one of WBC’s standard approved formats. Standardizing formats makes it easier for attendees to understand what is required without reading the fine print of myriad similar, but different, formats. Experience has shown that GMs tend to “game” the format rules and add their own twists in an attempt to outdraw one another. Left unchecked, we would eventually have 150 different formats to explain, formats with so many heats that the schedule would resemble a bronx phone book, and much more public confusion.

Fortunately, the Board has acted to standardize event formats to lessen the amount of explanation required. We also feel that the average attendee is best served by formats which allow each attendee to maximize his gaming time without being forced to endure delays in his schedule from added rounds just to eliminate a few players rather than resorting to pre-determined tie-breakers to advance players as efficiently as possible.

This policy, appreciated by some, is anathema to others who take the opposite tack. Often referred to as the “Win and You’re In” philosophy, these folks feel that perseverance should be rewarded and thus winning two out of three heats is better than winning your first and only heat when it comes time to advance. Taken to its extreme, this camp’s viewpoint would argue that anyone who wins any preliminary game should be allowed to advance even if it means adding an extra round to the schedule to eliminate one surplus player.

There really is no right or wrong to these viewpoints—both have creditable arguments. And given a dedicated field and sufficient time to determine a winner, one could certainly argue that the latter view is correct. However, it is our opinion that the majority of attendees are more interested and better served by the use of tie breakers that efficiently advance players to a conclusion as quickly as possible so as not to interfere with other pursuits on their gaming schedule. “So many games , so little time” remains ever so true…especially during WBC.

TEAM TOURNAMENT: 2006 saw the first repeat winner in 16 years of the Team Tournament and that prompted discussion of what has become an increasingly apparent tendency for teams to be based on their championship resume as opposed to a common club or regional background. The Team Tournament was originally envisioned as a fun “trash talking” device to encourage camaraderie among local gaming groups. Lately, too many teams seem to be formed based on their pedigree rather than common backgrounds. To combat this trend somewhat, we have added a level of handicapping to the Team Tournament that goes beyond the posting of odds by the Happy Handicapper. Henceforth, any player without a history of having won that event previously will be eligible for a bonus point in scoring the Team Tournament. Sharks will still be the most likely winners but now it might be more advantageous for a champion to test his mettle in a fresh event rather than go for his xth consecutive championship in his specialty. At the very least, the pretenders among us will have more incentive to do battle with the contenders.

POST-MIDNIGHT GAMING: An annual point of discussion is whether WBC should run gaming events around the clock—be they tournaments or other fare. The argument has always been it is going to happen anyway, so why not organize it? The Board’s position remains that while we do not wish to stand in the way of those who want to game until the wee hours, we do not want to encourage it. People tend to overdo it at gaming conventions and it is widely believed that those who forego adequate sleep for a few more hours of fun enjoy it less in the long run—as do those who find themselves paired across a board with the sleep deprived. More importantly, we feel there are legitimate safety issues at stake with so many of our members climbing behind the wheel for long trips home. We don’t want them making that drive with drooping eyelids. Then too, parents have a hard enough time keeping track of their children without our adding to their plight by creating official excuses for kids to stay out all night. It is not our place to make parenting decisions, but neither do we think we should be adding to the stay-out-all-night desires concerned parents must combat.

TEEN GAMING: Which leads us to another annual source of angst: trying to make WBC more attractive to the younger set. The Junior events have gone a long way to making WBC a family friendly destination but making the transition from Junior to regular fare seems daunting to some. Consequently, there have been calls for the formation of age group divisions to promote teen play. The argument against that has always been that we want teens to join us in our games—not create more barriers to segregate them from the general gaming population. While young teens may be at a disadvantage in the more skilled events until they gain the requisite experience, there are many events at WBC—arguably a majority of them—where they can—and have—held their own against their elders.

Nevertheless, while we do not feel age division tournaments are appropriate, the creation of social events just for teens may be helpful in helping them make the transition to adult fare. So, in 2007 when the Junior’s room closes in the evening, it will reopen at 9 PM for three hours of teen gaming. Each night will feature a demonstration and play of an age-appropriate game with snacks and just enough adult supervision to keep smaller siblings and “old fogeys” at bay without being oppressively uncool. Hopefully this compromise solution will make WBC more teen friendly while coaxing the youngsters into more challenging fare in a safe environment.

FAMILY MEMBERSHIPS: The family membership discount fell victim in 2007 to continued abuse as the Board eliminated the rate to simplify membership pricing. The family discount has long been erroneously claimed regardless of qualification by those seeking the lowest price. It was initially intended to defray the attendance expenses of the standard nuclear family living in the same household but was often claimed by individuals ignoring the multiple membership, habitation and relationship requirements. The last straw was when a couple ignored the pre-registration requirements as well and demanded the rate at the door. Since we can’t require proof of qualification, the honor system fell victim to the need to enforce a fair admissions policy.

Our budget expenditures increase every year but the admission price remains the same. It can well be argued that it is fairer to the majority to subsidize family attendance less than to increase everyone’s admission. In truth, everyone still subsidizes family attendance somewhat as the free Juniors events we offer are far and away the most expensive events we run. So, anyone bringing children is still getting a reduced admission relative to everyone else and that was the original intent of the Family membership. Consequently, we solved two problems (simplification of membership and a more equitable admission policy) while postponing any price increase by eliminating the Family discount.

HMGS: This summer’s Pre-Cons have been curtailed somewhat in length due to the presence of the Historicon gaming convention at the Host the preceding weekend. While this confluence was not planned by either organization, it does present both with a rare opportunity to market its showplace conference to the other’s members. There is considerable crossover appeal between historical miniatures and board wargames and some of our respective members attend both conferences. This rare conjoining of the two premier conferences in their respective genre’s at the same location and point in time presents an opportunity for adherents of both groups to sample what the other has to offer at a considerable savings in travel time and expense.

The two conventions will literally merge into one prolonged gaming extravaganza as our Pre-Cons commence on Sunday afternoon even as their show winds down in a seamless union of miniatures and boardgaming. Consequently we are working with HMGS to pool our marketing resources to bill this summer’s events as a rare “2 fer 1” gaming opportunity for an extended gaming vacation. We anticipate a return of a few Saturday starts for Pre-Cons in 2008. There has been a $10 price decrease in several Pre-Cons but to realize these savings you must pre-register for the event. Walk-on prices will remain higher.

JUNIOR EVENTS: We have set a limit on the number of Junior events we run at no more than 24 after years of having trouble finding GMs for the 14 we used to run. Some well-meaning volunteers may have had their offers to run Junior events declined and wonder why there should be a limit on Juniors events. The answer is simply, that “more is not always better". For years we ran Juniors events so that they did not overlap to avoid scheduling conflicts and overcrowding in the Juniors room.

Last year, we did too good a job of Junior GM recruiting and increased the number of such events by more than half. That increase was not accompanied by more Juniors—quite the opposite—as the number of youngsters enrolled fell despite an increase in overall attendance. More importantly, the increase in events was not accompanied by an increase in assistant GMs which are vital in running a Juniors event where supervising adults are often needed at every table.

Increasing the number of events just added more stress to kids who are too young and have too limited attention spans for non-stop boardgaming. Taking away pool time and other physical recreational activities for yet more boardgames is not always a good idea. It is also too taxing on our well-meaning volunteers who end up sacrificing too much of their own vacation time pulling double and triple junior duties.

FEEDBACK: Lastly, all members are reminded that they can get the ear of the Board for any WBC-related topic simply by emailing the Convention Director at, or any Board member for that matter. All reasonable requests are aired for the entire Board during our annual meeting.

Boardgame Players Association Last updated 2/13/07 by kae.
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