Concept: A "unified championship" or "tournament of champions" pitting the winners of various competitions during a given calendar year up against each other in the following calendar year. For example: Near the end of 2021, invites went out for the 2022 Top 10 Invitational based on players' achievements during the 2021 calendar year.
Format: Round robin pitting each of the 10 players against each of the other 9. There is not a strict schedule but each player will have one game each that needs to finish by the end of each successive month. Players are free to play games out of order as long as no individual games run past that game's own deadline. Playing more than one game at a time for some stretches is allowed, and even encouraged.
Games: Players are free to set up a match however they both agree, e.g. face to face, real-time online play, or asynchronous online play. I expect that most games will be played online and asynchronously using a player aid such as Vassal. The default will be asynchronous email play with text exchanges of positions - this default only coming into play if the opponents do not agree on another method.
For die rolls in asynchronous games, players may use email@example.com or http://www.vwroller.com/ (or any other method they can agree on). Rolls may also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org which serves as an "archive" in case one player doesn't receive the results.
Ratings: The results of all games will be reported to AREA.
Invites: For the upcoming 2024 iteration, the 10 invites will be given as follows:
Alternates after this point will go to anyone who attained the #1 ladder spot for a single round only, in order of AREA rating. After that, pure AREA Rating, highest to lowest, as long as the individual is rated at least 5500. In the unlikely I event I exhaust all players over 5500, the event will start with fewer than 10 players.
Individual Matches: - Players may use any optional rules they both agree on, but the default will be the Second Edition rules as written, plus official clarifications. Sides may likewise be determined however players agree - e.g. if two players want to pick a fair bid first and then roll a die for sides with 50/50 chances, I'm not stopping them - but the default method will be the following bidding system. At the beginning of the tournament, players will be given player numbers from 1-10 based on AREA Ratings - the player with the larger player number will make the first bid. A "bid" is defined as an offer to play either Allies or Axis, with a modification to the POC score (integer or 0.5-POC increments only) that will be applied at the end of Turn 8 only. A bid must either be accepted, or else the modifying player must make a bid to play that same side, in a worse position than previously suggested for that side.
Example 1: Alice starts the bidding by saying "I bid 1 POC to play the Allies". Bob may accept this, in which case he plays the Axis - and if the game makes it to the end of Turn 8, the POC will move 1 away from Allies and towards the Axis side. If Bob does not accept, his next bid must be to play the Allies with even more of a disadvantage; i.e. with at least 1.5 POC being deducted from them instead.
Example 2: Alice starts the bidding by saying "I offer to play the Axis at +2.5 POC". Bob may accept this, in
which case he plays the Allies - and if the game makes it to the end of Turn 8, the POC will move 2.5 away from
the Allies and towards the Axis side. If Bob does not accept, his next bid must be to play the Axis with a smaller advantage
or at a disadvantage; i.e. with them receiving 2 POC or fewer (including 0 POC), or with them giving POC to the Allies instead.
NOTE: Yes, this means you can use the bid to try and play whichever side you prefer with an offer to take or give POC.
Email Play Order of Exchanges - Only if playing a game online and not in real-time, then the official order of play is slightly altered to avoid extra exchanges that are often skipped in practice when playing online anyway, and to avoid simultaneous decisions, as follows:
Players are free to conduct their own steps early or pre-announce decisions in order to save time, but cannot mandate that their opponent do so. Example 1: If the Graf Zeppelin cannot be affected by Allied airstrikes, the Axis player could conduct the Axis airstrikes first, right after u-boat attacks, and declare if GZ will fire her surface guns or not. This would allow the Allies to conduct their own airstrikes and then immediately afterward, their first round of combat. Example 2: If u-boats cannot affect Allied airstrikes, the Allied player might place the air unit and then roll for both ASW and airstrikes together. Example 3: If the Axis has no possible oilers or basing choices, Allies could count POC and go ahead and place the next turn's reinforcements, roll availability, and make their deployments.
In many cases players may agree to roll dice for each other to save time as well, such as in 1 on 1 cruiser pursuits. But do not roll dice for your opponent without permission, even in situations where there is only one option available.
Disputes/Conduct: Other than the above changes to asynchronous play, the Second Edition Rules and the Official Clarifications will prevail. If there are any questions about the play of War at Sea itself, or about tournament procedures, please email the GM. Note that for game rules and procedures only, if an issue comes up that is not in the rules or the clarifications, the GM will be consulting with Jonathan Lockwood to make the decision. If Mr. Lockwood is in the Top 10 himself and is one of the participants in the game, or if it's one of the final matches of the tournament and he has a vested interest in the outcome, then Vince Meconi will be consulted. Note that this applies to gameplay rules and procedures only - any tournament protocol questions are the sole domain of the GM.
NOTE: Both are long-time War at Sea players and GMs who have more standing to make a ruling on such a situation than I, especially since it may become part of the Official Clarifications later and affect other tournaments. Still send the question to me if it comes up in a Top 10 Invitational game - I just wanted players to know who the rules authorities are that the GM may be consulting with.
In addition, good sportsmanship and courtesy should rule the day. While this is hard to define, keep in mind that things like sarcasm, crude jokes, and quips regarding hot-button issues often come across poorly over email. When in doubt, leave it out. You may think your comment was hilarious, and you might even be right about that, but if it sours your opponent to the game, then it wasn't worth it.
If you believe your opponent made an illegal move, typo that could affect play, or obvious omission, point it out and allow it to be corrected. If an opponent's decision is ambiguous, clarify before proceeding - if you do not, any valid interpretation of the ambiguity by your opponent will stand. While excessive whining and ranting are cautioned against, as it can make it seem like one is trying to rob the opponent of credit, you are supposed to do some complaining about sufficiently bad die rolls.
Reporting: Once sides have been determined, please inform the GM that the game has begun, who took which side, and at what bid. Once a game has ended, please inform GM at minimum of the result, what turn the game ended on, what the final POC count was before and after bid, plus any "unusual circumstances" (you played face to face, you used a variant, etc).
As far as who should send in the report: The Allied player should notify the GM when game begins, a resigning player should carbon-copy the GM in the resignation email, and if it makes it to the end of Turn 8, the winner gets the reward of reporting the triumph. If it's a draw, Axis sends the GM the email. In all cases for accountability's sake please make sure your opponent and the GM are both being sent the email.
Winner: The winner of the Tournament will be the player with the most wins, draws counting as 50% of a win. If there is a tie, the following tiebreakers will be used in the following order:
Tiebreakers will only be used to determine a winner or to determine spots for invites to the following year's Top 10. Other tied players are just tied in the final standings. If in a given tiebreaker with 3+ players, some players are tied again but some aren't, I'll execute a sub-tiebreaker procedure with just those players, starting back at step 1.
Feedback: Please send any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions or feedback to the GM, Daniel Blumentritt