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Commissioner's Guide (in progress)

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General Jason:
Thunderbowl as a league was established back in 1999 with 6 players. Of those only 2 original players remain, myself and Lord Chaos. Throughout the years we made our share of mistakes that we have learned from and have been able to make the league even stronger, but also there were constants that throughout our history - no matter how many players there were, that have aided us greatly and made us the league we are today.

Below are some of the things I believe Commissioners should be aware of when setting up a league of their own, based on our own experience with progressive league play of what works and what doesn't:

01. Schedule:

A fixed schedule handed out to all the participating coaches at the beginning of a season is a Commissioner and a League's best friend. There is a fear of the fixed schedule amongst Open League players that Fixed Schedules discourage membership where in fact it is the opposite. Many Open Leagues play at fixed locations but often since it is a 'play whoever shows up' free for all many coaches end up playing lots of games and some coaches barely at all - and they are prone to play even less once their team starts lagging behind.

Fixed schedules allow everyone to play an equal number of games like any professional League, but the beauty about fixed scheduling is that if you play at a fixed location say once a month but you know you can't make it, you know exactly which coach you're scheduled to play beforehand and you can make the necessary arrangements to play the coach offsite. Fixed schedules weed out the flakes that probably wouldn't have played in an Open League for too long anyway. The world has plenty of tournaments for casual players that want to play Blood Bowl in one-offs and once in a while, League play is for the committed that want to participate in team progression and multiple seasons with the same teams. There are plenty of Open Leagues that thrive but nothing beats a fixed schedule in my honest opinion.

02. Frequency of Play:

Thunderbowl has always employed a rule since 1999 that one game is played every two weeks. Mind you this was back in our basement days with no venue and we played at each other's houses all the time. This rule still stands today only modified - we play 2 games a month, only we usually do them in one day at one fixed location provided both your opponents show up to a Game Day. This format may be too intense and starting Leagues may want to restrict themselves to one game a month, but I wouldn't recommend anything less than that.

03. Length of Season:

A length of season could be anywhere from 3 months to a year. This variable is respective to how many games you want your season to last as well as your Frequency of Play. Thunderbowl has had a constant 6 month schedule since the beginning - 5 months of the regular season and 1 month for play-offs. I wouldn't recommend anything over a year though. Long seasons have potential problems in that people lose interest, or somebody might be just sick of their team early on and is forced to play out a season. Short 3-6 month seasons allow coaches to switch up teams in between season breaks, allow the league to weed out the coaches that can't commit, and allow Leagues to recruit other players faster as the breaks between seasons are more frequent.

04. Number of Games:

This variable could be made entirely on how many players you have or it could be a constant. For example, a 6-man league might play everybody once and play a 5-game season plus play-offs, or opt to play everybody twice and play a 10-game season. A 12-man league might play everybody once for an 11-game season plus play-offs. Thunderbowl has always employed a constant of 10 regular season games plus play-offs regardless of how many players participate. A constant fixed number of games is good for a continuity of stats between seasons. A 10-game schedule plus play-offs is a good length to build up a rookie TV100 team to a veteran team if you happen to play divisions.

For overall balance of regular season games vs. play-offs, it is recommended that Leagues that play with 5 or less regular season games and still do play-offs should not play for any Cup other than the rules found for the Other Tournaments found on page 33 of the LRB 6.0, namely the Far Albion Cup and the Goblin Tribal Leeg. Rules for the Glittering Prizes, namely the Blood Bowl, the Chaos Cup, the Dungeonbowl and the Spike! Magazine should only be incorporated into Play-offs for regular seasons with a length of 8-12 or more games per year. 

05. Number of Coaches:

The minimum number of coaches a functioning league should have is 6. Coaches should preferably be able to participate in a round robin style setting and still play around 5 games to warrant playing a proper season in my honest opinion, and that should not require players playing the same guys 3 or more times in the same season because they started with 4 players for example. 6 coaches allow you to play round robin x 2 which will give each coach about 10 games each for a season which in my opinion is a good length for a proper league.

06. No House Rules:

I hate to admit it but Thunderbowl was plenty guilty of this back in our basement days. But this was when third edition and the LRB 4 were the rage and proper mechanics in the rules were not there for progressive league play and team development. Since 2006, with the advent of the LRB 5/6, League settings are now balanced to the point where house rules are no longer required. The game as written is great and fairly balanced provided you don't expect to win with Halflings. House rules only discourage membership, especially when new members have to start learning a whole other set of rules just to play with you guys. There are plenty of optional rules on page 34 within the LRB 6.0 if you want to tweak your league, but again these are rules found in the official ruleset.  Just play the straight game that anybody can download for free, is official, and universal to everyone and your league will remain open to anyone who may want to apply.

07. Venue:

Depending on how you set up your league, whether all coaches are required to set up their games on their own and travel to each other's houses, or whether you have a venue where all coaches of the league play at a set time and day. Coordinating set days with multiple players only get's harder and harder the larger your league becomes, but having set days and having a venue where everyone can meet at least once a month is a must for Leagues wishing to expand as well as for ease of scheduling progressive league play. For leagues that are just starting out with about 6-12 players this may be in somebody's basement. A little larger it may be in somebody's conference room, but provided you guys have a place where the league operates and gets together at least once a month, the schedule is smoother for everyone involved, and the social interaction with multiple games going on as oppose to mono e mono cannot be beaten, and this atmosphere will only cause your league to grow to where you may need to rent a classroom or a ballroom for your league someday. Our league boomed once we obtained a venue and set up Game Days once a month.

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