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First, this forum category seems to be the one that best suits the nature of my question. I apologize if it is in the wrong area and my thanks if a moderator could move it to the appropriate forum. This is a question I have for both 40k and fantasy players; so, I have posted this in the 40k section and the fantasy section.
While reading this forum, I have came across several references to "escalation league". From reading the posts, I have figured that it is a series of games starting with low points and then incrementally increasing points over a specific time period.
Intrigued by this, I did a search of LO to find out how to establish an escalation league. But most of the posts were questions requesting help for army lists. So, here are my questions.
How does one start an escalation league?
What is a good minimum points to start with?
What point increments are best?
What has caused failure in escalation leagues?
Are entry fees appropriate?
Do you have any other tips not covered so far?
And the most important question, what makes for a successful league?
I'm not going to lie - I've often seen the same posts about army list help for escalation leagues, but never any information on what one actually is structure-wise. Great question to pose, I look forward to seeing what ansers you get!
'War does not determine who is right, only who is left'
I am President of the Brunel University wargames society - PM me if interested.
- What starts an escalation league?
They're absolutely a great excuse to start painting or continue painting models you have or about to buy. Now you can start one yourself with friends you know (i bet everyone is thinking about trying out a new army at some point)
Escalation leagues are often started at a local store/GW by several people who want to start a new army or need an excuse to start painting their unpainted legions.
it's possible to start it elsewheres, but it's important that all players are able to play warhammer with eachother. After all, its about showing off your new troops and sneaky schemes. (Tactics if your one of the good guys )
- Where do we start?
Well there's an old codex floating about called "Mighty Empires" which contains a ruleset for campaign settings, very usefull for running an escalation league (it includes tiles for a map that the players can fight over and fancy nitbits like that) That book is outdated though if we want to use it for 8th edition campaign, it's necesary to adjust some of the rules.
The idea of the escalation is to start small. Minimum is often about 500 points for each player. You make a list and make sure you have the models, then you get to challenge or fight at least one other player with that army. Next step is then either 750 or 1.000 pts. If you play a 'everything must be painted, cus thas why were doin it!' league then smaller steps are good to keep the slow painters in, but it might take too long to keep the interest in it. lets assume you do 500 pts every step up. 500, after a while it's 1.000, 1.500, 2.000 and at the end of the league everyone has 2.500 pts worth of fresh troops. If you do 500 pts per month or (two months), this league can keep you painting for half a year (or a full year).
what can go wrong
thats exactly where it might go wrong. Focussing on the same army for half a year is a challenge for many players. Maybe not for you, but a league contains more players and it's almost garanteed that some lose interest after a while.
It is therefore crucial and i mean utterly most important to have good communications. Everyone must have acces to the info going about, if someone drops out, it must be made known, and dealt with, or it domino's the whole league down the drain.
A good way to communicate would be to have every player a member of the same forum/site (think LO ;D ) where they all check and chat. Or perhaps they are all regulars at the local gameshop.
what about entry fees?
Entry fees can be asked. It discourages players who would drop out soon and it improves the motivation after it started out. If a prize is available for the campaign winner, or the best painter afterwards, then a fee would be even more justified, stores tend to sponsor this kind of league, because of obvious reasons and may even offer to hand out prizes!
be aware of your painting speed before joining a paint-o-thon
starting a new army is allways fun, but you may after a week discover you dont like the army at all. Don't jump headfirst into a random army to regret it later on. Not only do models cost money, if you're in a league, you might continue buying the stupid models longer just because your in the damned league! If you don't know which army to go, just go for Goblins, theyre awesome!
im not a real expert at escalation leagues by the way, just the way i see them right now. I'd like to see this discussion started :p
Warchief Diggah o da Bloodmoon Squiggahs
What makes a succesful escalation league?
You know those guys that 'live' at the local hobbycentre? aside from being the usual annoyance, they also make sure the game stays alive and kicking! Theyre right there, painting the models that will be used so others can see there's progress and the armies are really growing. And maybe they have some cool ideas for your other people's armies aswell. These no-lifers will make sure that a league is fun and stays fun.
Warchief Diggah o da Bloodmoon Squiggahs
Digger's got it down pretty well. My only disagreement is that you don't need to play a campaign. I've always played Escalation Leagues, where wins and losses are recorded at each step of the way, and then a winner is declared at the end.
-- A good way to keep people motivated is actually to break up the prize support or winnings. For example- if a player has all of their stuff painted, run them a discount for that night's purchases. If you're doing prizes/cash, give them out at milestones like reaching 1500pts or being ranked in the semi-finals.
--NEVER use a ladder or a tree system if you choose a league. Dropping people from the league leaves them with a half finished army and no incentive to carry on. Simply keep the Wins and Losses marked down to keep track of who's coming out on top.
--I've found that the 500pt jumps are best, and then perhaps meet on a biweekly basis. 250pts is too small, and people will be making frequent commutes, and they'll probably buy their stuff in 500pt lumps anyways, thanks to getting biweekly paychecks. 2 Weeks is long enough to paint up some 500pt blocks, get a break from your hobby-store crowd, and 500pts means that you'll still get your tournament done with time to spare. It also gives you a 'free' week somewhere in there, if everyone's family decides to vacation on a night that you planned to meet up- you can rain check to any of 13 other days.
-- Keep the Painting aspect secondary to the collecting and gaming part of it all. Sometimes people won't have time to get their new models finished- their kids were sick, they had to pull extra shifts at work, they went on a vacation, decided to try painting 500pt of Goblins to GoldenDaemon standard, whatever. Don't penalize the people who don't paint- the idea is to build new armies and keep interest in the hobby alive. Instead, reward the people who DO paint. Meeting your requirements, or keeping your army on schedule is worth points, provides a discount, or wins you prizes. Have a mini painting competition at each meet, where people show off their new stuff. Don't penalize the people who don't paint- reward the ones who do, and you'll see that a lot of people will do their best to keep their models looking sharp.
-- Also, you should start around 1000pts. I know it sounds crazy, but it helps a lot of armies out in a big way. 500pts is so small that a lot of people will have a hard time fielding a tiny army. Don't restrict them on unit choices either- if they want to add or remove units from the table as they work their way up, allow it. In fact, as long as the replacements are painted, or the upgrades are modeled on (Switching Swords to Spears etc) then you should encourage it. If nobody can scratch together a 1000pt army that's already painted, then do it like this:
-give them 2 weeks prior to the tournament to paint 500pts of a 1000pt army
-the first "step" is 250pts, but they need to paint 500pts. That means that they have 750 of their original points painted, and 250 'new' points painted.
-the next step is 250pts, but they still need 500pts painted. That's enough to catch them up with all 1000pts of their originals painted, and 500pts newly painted.
-the next and subsequent steps are to add/paint 500pt blocks.
This only adds 1 'cycle' to the tournament, but this is offset by starting with a larger army. Going from 500 to 1500 takes two cycles. Going from 1000 to 1500 in this method, also takes 2 cycles, but it gives players a chance to start off with a slightly more feasible army size.
I hope this helps! I've played escalation campaigns, tournaments, leagues, and just simply subjected myself to paint-a-thons. I'd have to say that the simple League is my favorite method of play, and that working in quick bursts of about 500pts is the way to move forward.