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"Fall In GMs: How Full Were Your Games?" Topic

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47Ronin11 Nov 2017 1:43 p.m. PST

Part One of a post-Fall In survey, directed mainly at GMs.

There were many good looking games at the convention. Some were full; some not so much.

Some veteran GMs who usually have a full table of gamers reported half-empty tables.

How was you game?

Players are welcome to respond also.

Thanks in advance.

PJ ONeill11 Nov 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

All 5 tickets gone (1 kept one in reserve) 1 showed up.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 4:46 p.m. PST

Mine were full and had to turn several away. Two WW2 Stalingrad games and a zombie game

redbanner414511 Nov 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

8 slots only 5 players

historygamer11 Nov 2017 8:22 p.m. PST

Mine was fluid. My game started at 5pm Saturday. I would not choose that time again. I had four players (or more) at any given time. I think only two ticket holders. Not sure how many tickets were taken.

My game won the PELA for that time slot.

I have long held that the amount of work that goes into the pre-reg ticketing is not worth the effort. GMs used to get a name sheet, but that was before they switched over to the tickets. Then it all went south when the no-shows became anonymous.

The Wargaming Company11 Nov 2017 8:23 p.m. PST

At Fall-In 2017 we ran two games, four available slots each, all tickets were taken.

1st game had three ticket holders and one walkup with a couple observers who would have played had there been slots open.

2nd game had two ticket holders and two walkups with a waitlist of four to get in beyond the two walkups who joined.

This is a very common occurrence. At Historicon 2016 we had eight slots available for a game, all eight tickets were taken, none of those players showed for the game, we got eight walkups and ran the game with them. We have a similar experience at every HMGS convention we have attended: Historicon, Cold Wars, Fall-In, Little Wars, NashCon. None of these conventions charge any per-game fee.

The ticket system is highly problematic for many game hosts as it is currently implemented.


michaelk177611 Nov 2017 8:57 p.m. PST

On Friday (Gladiator Game) 12 tickets gone, 5 actually showed up and three walk-ons.
Saturday 7 Tickets gone (Chariot Race game w/ colosseum) 18 showed up for 16 slots. Friday seemed to be down, but Saturday seemed about average.

Rotundo12 Nov 2017 1:53 p.m. PST

No interest in my son's Friday morning 8 am start (Star Wars). My game 1pm Friday was only three tickets out of four. I did have a couple of walk ups.

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Nov 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Need to also add in…. from a player's perspective… how many players went to a game where the GM was a no show…. I went to 2 events…. both NOT officially cancelled… both had almost all tickets gone and the GM was a no show…

This IS a real problem…. perhaps why folks try to get tickets for other games they "might" want to play in.

Just a thought.

TSD10113 Nov 2017 6:42 a.m. PST

6 man game, all tickets gone in pre registration. 4 showed, 1 walk up, for a total of 5. I had to GM and play a force (game required an equal number of people)

pvi99th Inactive Member13 Nov 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

I had 4 players but three of the four were walk ups. The one that had a ticket said that he had checked and all four tickets were gone.

We waited about fifteen minutes before starting to see if anyone else showed up with a ticket but they didn't.

One of the players was supposed to be in another game but the GM couldn't make it. Also had a very upset younger (teenage) male, that was looking for the GI Joe game and couldn't believe it wasn't happening.

JohnBSnead Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 8:49 p.m. PST

My games were a little light. 2v2 in the first run through and 3v2 on the second. Could have handled up to 4v3.

historygamer16 Nov 2017 5:37 a.m. PST

"Need to also add in…. from a player's perspective… how many players went to a game where the GM was a no show…. I went to 2 events…. both NOT officially cancelled… both had almost all tickets gone and the GM was a no show…

This IS a real problem…. perhaps why folks try to get tickets for other games they "might" want to play in."

Dan, that is not something HMGS controls, but the ticketing system is. Don't conflate the two as they are two separate issues.

The best you can do for the no-show GMs would be to track them to see if the GM has a pattern of no-showing. You can also check to see if the badge was picked up too. If so, then charge them for the next con. Of course, how you address family emergencies if a GM has to leave is something to consider as well.

This goes to my often repeated mantra of HMGS not managing their game rooms. It was only because you personally checked that you became aware of the missing GMs. How often does that happen at the other cons? Does anyone even check? I doubt it. HMGS only becomes aware of cancelled games if the GM notifies you, or if someone comes all the way upstairs to complain about a missing game. Even then, what is the SOP to notify players and also record that information? Or is it all ad hoc?

Games are the man product of HMGS shows, yet little is done to manage them. Seems like you are starting to realize that though. I wonder if any of the other CDs are? And where is the Con Ops in all this? Shouldn't that be part of their job so oversight is done from con to con?

Best of luck to you. :-)

TSD10116 Nov 2017 5:40 a.m. PST

I hope the GMs who are no shows aren't grabbing their free badge and playing in other games. If anyone is caught those people need to be banned and publicly shamed.

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member16 Nov 2017 8:24 a.m. PST

Just know that we are all working together to fix things (all 3 CDs). Managing the events has become an important task at hand and is high on the priority list.

I want to say though…. please do not give me the credit… the other 2 CDs are fairly knowledgeable…. and it was their initiative. I did, of course, agree… and quickly was on board.

As for luck… I always am open for it!

TRUgamer16 Nov 2017 9:20 a.m. PST

Saturday night Brandywine game in 28mm (British Grenadier) (near fireplace in lobby)
4 out of 6 ticket holders showed and I was able to fit in 3 walk ups.

So far I have been lucky and I've not had to fold up my game for lack of attendance. The number of ticket holders vary, but walk ups fill out my games.


Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

Some GMs will subdivide a larger unit to accommodate a fervent request to play--it spreads the wealth and makes one more happy gamer. A wise GM might want to keep that concept in his back pocket when planning a game.

historygamer16 Nov 2017 11:57 a.m. PST


I was running virtually the same game, using the same rules, in 15mm, about an hour or so before you. This is also what I mean about HMGS not managing their games. It makes no sense for virtually the same game (same battle, same rules) running within an hour or so of each other. I'd love to see some photos of your game. :-)

Hope it went well too.

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member17 Nov 2017 7:08 a.m. PST

Micromanaging events to ensure they do not all overlap each other is something that I know I try to do, but as you saw…. doesn't always happen.

The event manager has a rough go of it just trying to meet all of the other requests…. like: put me on the same table as XYZ because we are using the same terrain….. but XYZ was scheduled 6 weeks ago ABC just submitted their game. Sometimes there is so much going on and you simply run out of time to cross reference every game, era and time slot. I am pretty spot on with Naval games, but there are so many others.

IN truth.. it is an awesome idea, I just beg that the GM's be malleable with their original time slot as they might be asked "if" they would consider moving their time slot.


Sheckk Inactive Member17 Nov 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

Saturday Night 7PM. D&D game. Received 7 of 8 tickets. Had 4 walk-ups.

My experience running different games (Hail Caesar, Infinity, Bolt Action) at HC, CW, previous FIs has been 75% of tickets show up and walk-ups fill up the remaining 25%.

TRUgamer17 Nov 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

I was told about about your game, but unfortunately I could not see it in person.
Also amusing that both games won a PELA :) Although, I can't figure out how the judges could see my game in the dark!!
Only a handful of images are worth sharing… I'll post a few pics soon.

I was originally scheduled for Distlefink, but needed to relocate to be with my groups club area. For all I know we were supposed to be right next to each other.
There's always that thing called free will…


historygamer17 Nov 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

Congrats to you.

I look forward to seeing them. :-)

TRUgamer17 Nov 2017 10:03 a.m. PST

Congrats to you as well…

Here is a link to my Flickr page. I wish I had more shots… lighting spoiled most of the images I took.



historygamer17 Nov 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

Gorgeous game. Nice job. :-)

historygamer17 Nov 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

Here's a pic of my game:


TRUgamer17 Nov 2017 5:24 p.m. PST

Very nicely done! Cool looking game.


114th Pennsylvania19 Nov 2017 7:17 a.m. PST

Hey Jim (HistoryGamer)

I gave Dan (Convention/Events Director) a list of our Clubs games. TRUgamer requested 7 PM on Saturday so he could do all his Flea Market purchases at all time slots, visit the Vendor Hall for all hours it was open, cleared his schedule to visit the late night Flea Market on Friday evening and have time to run his game on Saturday. So If Dan called YOU and said he had to move your Brandywine Game to Friday evening because he already had a Brandywine game for Saturday evening….you would be fine with that?????????????

Sorry, but I strongly disagree with you. The GMs are a big part of the show, but if an Events Manager told me I could not run when I planned, you would find less GMs. Hey all you WWII guys…Forget about it!!!! (What a night mare for the Events guy/gal)

Congratulations to you both. These two were really very impressive games.

114th Pennsylvania19 Nov 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

Hello 47Ronin,

To answer your question. All my games (4) were well attended and I was able to fit in all walk ups. Saturday evening game had NO Ticket people show up but I was full with walk ups and had to run the game a second time to get a 2 kids involved)

However with a BIG mix up at Events registration, 2 of our major games (Afternoon Friday and Saturday) were said to be cancelled. They removed the tickets but did not put it up on the board. When asked they said "someone from our group said the GM was not at the show" When pressed on who that person was, no further information was provided.

As a result our massive Shiloh and Quatre Bras games, we were scrambling for players, but we ran them just the same. (the show must go on)

After talking with Dan, we agreed that only a GM or Point of Contact for the group can cancel a game, so going forward we hopefully will not have this issue. It will be hard for me to get these 2 award winning Game Masters back to run games for a while due to this mishap, A big loss for the HMGS Shows.

historygamer19 Nov 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

114th. I appreciate your efforts to coordinate your club games, but you are completely missing and confusing my points. I'll clarify shortly. :-)

historygamer19 Nov 2017 11:50 a.m. PST

For a conflicting game situation – the Events Manager, when they notice that similar games are being run – could contact both GMs, let them know, and ask if either wants to move. Note – I said ask, not tell them what to do. I would certainly have considered moving, but not sure why you only gave me a Friday option when there were plenty of other time slots to have considered.

How I would manage the gaming areas and tickets:

1. Tickets – anecdotal evidence seems to indicate a problem, namely that the tickets don't guarantee a gamer gets into a PEL game (Dan said there was an extremely high no-show rate of GMS), nor does it guarantee the GM gets gamers (anecdotal evidence of a very high no-show rate). So then what is that program accomplishing? It takes time for the staff to execute it and it appears it might not be worth it.

Bit of history – I believe the pre-reg system was created for a way to ensure income prior to the con. It was created way back when HMGS didn't have $300,000 USD in the bank. Not necessary now. See above for the system not guaranteeing anything. I would also suggest that if someone really wants to get into a game they should pay more, not less. The pre-reg gamer gets both a discount for registering early and a guaranteed slot (if the game shows up). That's more than a pretty good deal. Problem would be that if the game no-shows, then you'd have to reimburse the gamer for his extra cost – that's if he even shows up at the con, and if he even shows up at the game he paid more for.

2. Gaming area (excluding club rooms) – There is a consistent rate of no-show games. Dan can tell us what it is (10-20%?), sometimes even going higher than the average. It makes no sense to put all that time and effort laying out a room for such a high no-show rate. I'd manage the gaming area like a restaurant. I'd have the GMs check in first at the GM desk, then assign them a table. I am pretty sure the gamers can find their game if the program says what room it is in (Distlefink, etc.). If they need extra tables, then have some standing by. I'd lay out the room with a lot more space than is currently done (which is based on 100% game attendance – has almost no aisle ways, nor much room around the tables). I suspect that would be a much more efficient way of utilizing both the space, tables, and volunteer staff time. The staff would put more effort in at the con instead of pre-con, when much of it appears wasted.

In regards to managing the games – I'd lay out a blank schedule. I'd pencil in different types of games at different times, then as the pre-reg games com in I'd fill in the blanks (say three Nappy games at 1000, two ACWs, etc.). The events manager could then see any conflicting games, or an overload of the same types of games at any given time. As I said previously, they could then contact the GMs to make them aware and see if they wanted to move. I'd do that based on who registers first (e.g., the guy who registered later would be contacted, not the first registering GM). That way the games could perhaps be managed better. That system might also push some more games into Saturday evening and perhaps the benefit would be more evenly space games over the weekend and a reason to stay over Saturday.

I am sure there are other ways to go about all this, but the present business model is an inherited one – one that never envisioned so many games, so many no-show GMs (or players), etc. Remember, tables have costs.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

There is a consistent rate of no-show games. Dan can tell us what it is (10-20%?), sometimes even going higher than the average.

I believe Dan said (on another thread), "I can attempt to answer one more question: The fill rate of monitored games is an average of 70% I think I was told."

I don't know what this means. So 6 players are required for your game and all 6 tickets are taken. However, the 6 people actually playing are divided up as two ticket owners and 4 walk ups. Is that considered a 100% fill rate as all the player spots are taken? Or is the fill rate actually 33% according to the ticketing system?

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Nov 2017 5:25 a.m. PST

Little Wars used to have that problem, but they're restricted Pre-event-registering to 1-2 games for the weekend, to make sure that the tickets didn't get taken out in advance.
They also encourage people who aren't going to be there, or leaving early to turn their tickets back in, where some lucky winner(s) might get a chance to play.
My Pulp game two years ago was filled by seven of eight ticket takers and one walk on.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member20 Nov 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

Also, the question about "No Show" GM's is a good one. Both of the games that I pre-registered for last year at LW, were cancelled. I can't blame the GM's as the weather on Saturday was absolutely awful.

Ploogak20 Nov 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

Bowman – At Fall In we only counted butts in seats without checking to see if they players were ticketed or not. So in your example, that was counted as 100% fill rate.


historygamer20 Nov 2017 5:44 p.m. PST

Good that you are collecting data, but doesn't help the organization decide if the efforts and perks put into the pre-reg ticket system are worth it. But glad you are starting to actually look at what is going on in the gaming areas. Good job. :-)

Ploogak20 Nov 2017 6:56 p.m. PST

History – You're right. It's a first step and it wasn't meant to address the pre-reg ticket system issues, I felt I needed the information to better address spacing issue for Hcon in 2018.

As for the pre-reg issue, we could have collected the data while doing the head counts but it would be more disruptive to the games to be polling the players after the game starts as to whether they're ticketed or walkups. We're working on it.


Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 8:06 p.m. PST

Thanks, Joby.

historygamer21 Nov 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

So what as the GM/game no-show percentage/numbers at FI?

Reason I ask as this needs to be factored into the game attendance considerations. So, in other words, if 40% of the games registered didn't show up, and the games were still missing players, or were just full (haven't heard anyone complaining about not being able to get into some game), then that might lead to some conclusions about number of games needed vs attendance.

Taking all games that want to register might not make sense if they aren't being filled. Also, tables have costs too, more so when not filled.

cleo liebl Inactive Member22 Nov 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

Six slots, 7 gamers showed up. All played. (we always have a regiment or two handy for the overflow.)

Ploogak23 Nov 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

Okay so fill rates were 75%. That doesn't include Hobby University, Tournaments, Seminars or games added at the show. It includes all games submitted whether they ran or not.

Games that did not run, either because GMs cancelled, GMs didn't show or the game didn't have enough players were about 17%. It's also possible that games moved and if it wasn't noted at the event board they were not counted. We didn't have enough volunteers to devote all their time to this so the data likely isn't 100% complete but should be robust enough to start making adjustments based on this data.

As for the discussion about number of games vs attendance: The more valuable metric for this assessment is seats vs attendance. 300 four person games is very different than 300 ten person games. We're drilling into those numbers. As an example, Saturday at 2pm had 350 available seats; 195 were from ongoing games, 155 were games starting in that slot. Of those seats starting at 2pm, we filled 79% of them (which is pretty good).There were 2 cancelled events in that slot which, if taken out, raised the fill rate to 87%. And you're right, taking all games that want to register doesn't make sense.

Another factor we're looking at is table usage and whether we can improve that on our end. Tables can generally run about 10 hours of games a day. Are we scheduling them to be full that whole time? With all show positions being handled by volunteers there are some places we know we can improve but just haven't had the time to do it. With the CDs working more closely together and pooling our resources hopefully we'll have the time to do more regarding these issues.


Evil Bobs Miniature Painting23 Nov 2017 2:02 p.m. PST

Are the no-show GMs due at least in part to games
Having to be registered so many months (too far) in advance then they have to cancel due to various reasons (health, work, family, etc)?

Duncan Adams23 Nov 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

And you're right, taking all games that want to register doesn't make sense.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the above statement is that the 2018 HISTORICON director believes that there should be a limit on the number of games accepted.

OK, fine.

What is the limit?

What is the criteria that determines which games get accepted and which get rejected?

Both are difficult questions. Here's a hint – you are going to Bleeped text off a lot of people however you limit games.

Duncan Adams

Ploogak23 Nov 2017 11:03 p.m. PST

Duncan, You don't get to decide what I mean. There are no obvious conclusions to be drawn about anything. If you want to know what I mean then ask me, don't jump to conclusions that may or may not be accurate.

There's no set number of games that are the right answer, there are a lot of factors that go into figuring how many games are needed and it may not even come to having to make those decisions. I don't think it has in the past. I have no intention of "bleeping off" a lot of people, even if it comes to having to limit games. From what I've seen from the data we've collected so far, using space better may be all that's needed.

So with all that said, no CD that knows what they're doing is going to support a position of we'll accept all games, no matter how many are submitted, especially moving into a smaller facility. You're right though, there may end up being difficult decisions to make. I have full faith in the Hcon staff to handle them.


Duncan Adams24 Nov 2017 1:05 a.m. PST

especially moving into a smaller facility.

HISTORICON has been at the Host before. Since it was last there the convention has shrunk and the facility has not. Why is there a space problem?

Duncan Adams
HISTORICON Events Manager (2006-2011)

Evil Bobs Miniature Painting24 Nov 2017 3:48 a.m. PST

There won't be a space problem. Between the way they are treating dealers, and the way they have been treating GMs, and the direction this seems to be moving it may shrink small enough to fit in a fire hall.

The more I hear of what the current people in charge are doing and want to do the less confidence I have in them.

Ploogak24 Nov 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

I can't control what anyone thinks.

Duncan, as one example, the Expo Center is down to 19k sq ft, with no more overflow. It's smaller than what we had to work with when there previously. And it's great that you were an events manager before. Thanks for having helped. I was a convention organizer for years myself before stepping up here so I assure you I have the experience to do the job, I can't assure you that you'll agree with every decision I make.

Evil Bob, I don't know what you've heard and you haven't communicated with me so I'm not sure to what you're referring therefore I can't comment on it one way or the other. Is there something specific you're concerned about?


Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Nov 2017 5:54 a.m. PST

Yes, I am very curious also…. Evil Bob… The vendor hall manager bent over backwards to try to accommodate all of the vendors this year. I am not understanding your concerns there? HMGS had no control over any changes in the facility. I personally found it brighter, better and much more modern.. when it is finished, it will be beautiful. I am not sure what you mean about "how they treat vendors"???

Also, for GM's, GM's are treated very well. As an event manager with a little more time behind the wheel than Duncan, with more than one show per year for events. I am again confused? Fall In! has continually grown… so events requires a lot more work, etc… GM's have become more hands on and that requires a lot of work to accommodate them. It isn't a bad thing at all, it is called customer service.

If everyone is referring to events moving up a week for closure.. it is one/1/ ONE week earlier for opening and closing. You still get plenty of time to submit as a GM.

Personal logo capncarp Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Poniatowski stated: "Fall In! has continually grown…"
Speaking of which, do we have firmer numbers for Fall-In! 2017? How many poor benighted unhappy miserable unfulfilled gamers did we sucker into attending, to purchase from the beleaguered abused put-upon merchants? <snark mode disengaged>

Grumble8710606 Dec 2017 9:24 p.m. PST

Well, I got distracted by Fall-In Verdict and originally posted this in the wrong thread. So here goes:

I had all the players in my game. I think most of them had gotten a ticket. A walk-in offered not to play (thanks, Jake) in order to make sure all the ticketed people could fit in. One other friend had talked about joining the game but when he saw it was full he played elsewhere. The guys who played were great -- thanks to all of you!

I thought it was a good con. I bought what I wanted in the dealers' area. Nothing in the flea market, but that's life. I didn't sell anything Sunday morning, either, but that's also life. Full disclosure -- I volunteered on staff, and I thought people did a great job (pat, pat -- muscle strain from trying to reach my own back). ;-)

Virginia Tory07 Dec 2017 5:43 a.m. PST

I ran a French Indochina game on Friday at 2pm. All 4 ticket holders showed, and we added two walk ons.

I hear HG on game "deconfliction." Seemed odd to have a Double Brandywine situation.

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