War at Sea is conducted using a Swiss Elimination format. There are five 2-hour preliminary rounds. The first round is seeded by AREA ratings. After the first round, players play others who have identical won-lost records. For example, if after three rounds you have won two and lost one, you will play another player with a 2-1 record. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, you will find competition at your level, because after the first round you will always be playing someone with a similar record. Players may drop in and out of the preliminary rounds at any time, playing any one round, some rounds, or every round. Of course, players who do not play every round have a correspondingly smaller chance of advancing to the SE playoffs.
Players bid to choose sides. If both want the same side, players determine who has the first option via die rolls. The player winning the roll may either accept the non-preferred side or bid a POC-incentive to play the preferred side. If the first player bids, the second player may either accept the POC-incentive or bid a higher POC amount for the preferred side. The option passes back and forth in this fashion until one player accepts the non-preferred side and the POC-incentive.
A win by two POC or more is worth ten Victory Points, a win by less than two POC is worth eight Victory Points, a draw is worth five VPs, and a loss by fewer than two POC scores two VPs. After five rounds, the eight players with the most Victory Points advance to Single Elimination quarterfinals, semifinals, and Final.
The preliminary rounds will be played continuously every two hours beginning at 9:00 AM Thursday. The quarterfinals will be played immediately upon completion of the preliminary rounds, and the semifinals thereafter. The two finalists, as is the case with many events, can schedule the championship game at their convenience.
This event uses chess clocks. The Allied player has a total of one hour five minutes and the Axis player is given 50 minutes. If you have not previously played using a chess clock, there is no need to be concerned. Since 2004, no player has run out of time on his clock.
Players may use either the original Avalon Hill version or the new L2 Design Group version.
Additional Prizes: Framed certificates for best Axis and Allied players, Rookie of the Year, and occasionally Hall of Fame Plaque. The highest finisher not winning wood will receive a book with a wargaming theme.
The official War At Sea FAQ and Errata in effect for this event can be found at: http://www.nktelco.net/bdmonnin/WAS08Clarifications.pdf