17 Dec 2019

UK Ancients Competition Scene - 2019 year-end update

With the dammed election noise and nonsense now over (for some of us...) the really interesting surveys and polls are now able to be released, including my now-almost-as-traditional-as-sprouts snapshot summary of how widely played the leading basket of rulesets each are amongst UK Ancients competition players right now.

These December stats only cover the UK "player universe" numbers for competition players across the 7 most popular Ancients mass-battle rulesets. The data is drawn from competition results that I've found published online - so if I wasn't able to find it, it's not included.

The measurement period is all events held in the UK in the last 12 months - or, more catchily, the 2019 calendar year. The only exception is the very last event I'm aware of, the Tradeston club's traditional post-Christmas 1-day ADLG competition. I've included the 2018 edition in the 2019 numbers basically so I can get this out before Christmas and forget about the blog for a bit over the festive break!

One additional important factor which has become increasingly significant in recent years is the number of overseas players taking part in UK competitions, such that non-UK players can now make up as much as 10-15% of the 'UK' pool of players for some rulesets. To give a clearer picture of what people in the UK are playing I've therefore split out the numbers to show the numbers of both overseas players and "UK-based" players, giving a clearer indication of who in the UK is playing each set.

The more detailed annual analysis will again be out in a few months, but as of today the headlines for how many people have played what at competitions in the last 12 months are as follows:

Total Player Numbers  (UK based players / UK+Overseas players):

1.   ADLG     189 / 210
2.   DBMM   73 / 84
3.   DBA        67 / 68
4.   TTS!        64 / 66
5.   MeG        61 / 71
6.   FoGAM   48 / 48
7.   DBM       43 / 45

Net Change 2018-2019  (UK based players / UK+Overseas players):

1. TTS!       +36 / +36
2. ADLG     +28 / +30
3. DBM       +6 / +6
4. DBA        +3 / +3
5. MeG        -1 / +6
6. DBMM    -7 / -4
7. FoGAM   -11 / -11

New Players first seen during 2019 (UK based players / UK+Overseas players):

1. TTS!       43 / 43
2. ADLG     41 / 48
3. MeG        13 / 20
4. DBA        12 / 12
5. DBM        8 / 8
6. DBMM    5 / 7
7. FoGAM   2 / 2

Players who appeared in 2018 but not 2019 (UK based players / UK+Overseas players):

1. ADLG       23 / 32   (UK player pool churning out this year = 12% of current UK total)
2. DBMM     16 / 20    (22%)
3. DBA          17 / 17   (25%)
4= FoGAM   14 / 14    (29%)
4= MeG        14 / 15    (23%)
6. TTS!         7 / 7        (10%)
7. DBM        4 / 4        (8%)

Ruleset Details

ADLG remains the most widely played ruleset by some margin, with 35 events (yes..) held in the UK during the year and a player pool that topped 200 (if you include overseas players) for the first time. Despite it now being almost 5 years since ADLG was first introduced to the UK, player numbers increased in the last 12 months an even faster rate than in 2018 with a net increase of 30 comfortably topping the net increase of 19 last year. 41 new UK-based players joined the circuit, offset by 23 who dropped out (a fall in attrition rate compared to last year when 30 dropped off the circuit between 2017-2018). A handful of lapsed players returning to competitions rounded out the net increase. The proportion of players who took part in just one event also stayed flat at 38% year on year.

Since the first UK ADLG event at Roll Call in April 2015, 251 different UK-based players have entered at least one competition in the UK, and have been joined by 41 overseas-based players as well. 77% of this all-time UK player universe remained active on the UK circuit in the last 12 months.  

The size of the DBMM player universe across all UK events dipped a little in 2019 with overall participation down 4 year on year. counting internationals (a few of whom took part in the new London GT team event), or 7 based just on UK attendees alone. As is usual with DBMM, a number of players returned to the circuit after a break as well to offset the in-year attrition which saw 16 UK-based players not return after featuring at events held in 2018. The proportion of players who took part in just one event also stayed pretty much flat at 36% year on year, with the one-day events in Milton Keynes and Guildford contributing many of these players to the UK pool.

DBA has continued its recent trend of increasing UK player numbers in recent years, ending the year wit 68 separate players taking part in the 12 events staged across the country. DBA however also continued to see a relatively high rate of churn of players joining and leaving the circuit for such an established ruleset, with almost 1 in 4 players joiing or leaving in the last 12 months. 31 players took part in just one event, representing almost half of the UK pool of DBA players - one of the highest ratios for any of these rulesets, but which given the wide geographic spread of DBA events is perhaps not surprising. 

To The Strongest!
TTS! lept into the limelight in 2018 as a result of, erm, staging more than just one event over the course of the year. The five events staged ranged from Glasgow down to London and across to Cardiff, and clearly tapped into a significant and previously unfulfilled demand for TTS! events amongst the 'social' player universe in the UK.

The end result was a universe of 64 UK-based competition players, of whom an astonishing 43 had never played in a TTS! event before this year. 7 out of the 30 who entered the 2018 TTS! Worlds in Chalgrove however failed to reappear on the expanded UK circuit in 2019, giving a "since these records began" universe of 71.

The number of people taking part in one of the 18 MeG events held across the UK in 2019 increased by 6 over 2018, driven entirely by increased numbers of international travelling to the UK, most notably at the MeG World Championships and Britcon. The UK-based players was almost unchanged at 61. Almost a quarter of all players churned both in and out during 2019 and 25 players took part in just one event, placing MeG firmly into the almost-weirdly-standard 35-40%-ish range against this measure.

Since the first UK MeG event held at the BHGS Challenge in 2016, 89 different UK-based players have entered at least one competition in the UK and have been joined by 14 overseas-based players as well. 69% of the all-time UK player universe remained active on the MeG circuit by attending events held in 2019.

2019 saw 15 players dropping out of the AM circuit after trying V3 in 2018, and 2 new players entering their first FoG event (each with a single appearance as part of the same doubles team at Burton). 12 players (exactly 25% of the FoG universe) took part in just one event making FoG the only set to deviate noticeably from the "just over a third play only once" norm in this respect.

Following the introduction on FoGAM V3 in January 2018, 62 different UK-based players have entered at least one V3 competition in the UK. 77% of these remained active in the last 12 months.

Numbers for DBM lept upwards this year by almost 15%, or more precisely 6. That gave DBM a total of 45 competition players in 2019, with 8 new players mostly from the handful of clubs where DBM is played competitively were persuaded to enter competitions - often at events hosted by their own clubs. Only 4 players dropped off the circuit, a couple returned after a break and - of course - a near-textbook 39% of players entered only one event. The 2 regular overseas-based players continued to appear in UK tournaments in 2019.

The Conclusion

In summary as 2019 draws to a close these 7 popular Ancients rulesets have attracted 549 UK-based players and a further 42 international visitors to make 591 different players in total taking part in a UK Ancients competition in the last 12 months.

That total is almost 100 up on the prior year count of 496 (although the addition of TTS! to these numbers does accounts for two thirds of this increase alone).

That also still represents an 80% share across the 7 most popular UK Ancients competition rulesets for the "Barkeresque" concept of one unit = one base, although to be fair TTS! isn't really a DBx derived set in the same way that DBM, DBA, DBMM and ADLG all are. 

So, numbers on the up, international visitors on the up, but even so the near-30-year-old DBx engine is still going strong as 2020 hoves into view!

(Whilst some players appear in the stats twice because they played two rulesets over the course of the past year this is discounted for the analysis as numbers are too low to impact the main trends. And it's too much work to de-dupe them by name as well)


Vexillia said...

Well done but I feel you should post a trigger warning about this article: your use, and abuse, of the word "universe" is likely to cause an outbreak of chuckles throughout the hobby and people should be warned.

Madaxeman said...

I'm confident that everyone will just dive for their own preferred set of rules, get into a tizzy and throw their arms up in the air anyway... no need for a linguistically precise trigger phrase!

peter.f.model said...

This is an excellent report. Do you have any numbers for micro-armour figure-gaming players as well. I am always rather interested in what gets played around the world, i expect Flames of war will be number 1, but i wonder where spearhead, FFT3 and other platoon/company element scale rules rank?

GPearson said...

As there has been a steady reduction of places available for some of the rule sets at the larger competitions it calls into question whether comparisons can be made between previous years gains and falls.

Madaxeman said...

I've not seen Spearhead or FFT played at any competitions that I can remember, so whilst I suspect you are right about FoW being the clear #1 (even though that's clearly fallen away significantly since V4 came out) I doubt there are any other 'sub 25mm' sets being played at competitions in any menaningful numbers at all

Madaxeman said...

As far as I know only 2 UK competitions have routinely had to impose a venue-capacity-driven upper limit on overall player numbers over the last few years. These limits have applied across all of the rulesets being played, and it's only 2 events out of the entire calendar (which can be as many as 35 events in a year for any given ruleset).

So, whilst it's undoubtably true that there would have been a handful more entries for some rulesets in any given year if every event ran with infinite capacity, it's hard to see how that would make any difference to the total number of different players playing in at least one event a year for each ruleset, which is the only thing these interim stats are measuring.

The only way this could impact the numbers would be if there were players ho wanted to play, could only enter these 2 specific events in any given year, but who then weren't quick enough at booking in to secure one of the places at either.

Unknown said...

Tim. Good and useful analysis once again. Thank you for doing this. In the DBM numbers you have said athat all 45 players are UK based. I am assuming that Chris Smith is included in the stats at least for DBM. He is not UK based and has not been for many years. He is Finland based. Also I am not sure if Ed's name came up but if so he was not UK based last I heard. Tim

Madaxeman said...

Aaaah - the challenges of guessing locations when someone is called "Smith" !

SK-BLitz said...

Excellent report. Do you have any info in who's winning? Are the same players hogging the limelight with each ruleset?

peter.f.model said...

Thanks for the comment. I do know someone ran a BGMR competition in the UK earlier this year. With the changes at yahoo groups the posts are lost, but i think about 12-18 players were involved. Apart from that i am unaware of any competition type games being played anywhere, although i suspect there may have been something occuring somewhere in the US?

Madaxeman said...

SK: pretty much all of the rulesets run rankings systems,:most of which are hosted or linked to from the bhgs.org.uk website

There are barely any players who play at multiple systems, so I’d be astonished if anyone was actually winning in more than one at a time!

SK-BLitz said...

I didn't mean players competing using different rulesets but, with each ruleset, are certain players winning most of the time?
For example, in FOG-AM a handful of players seem to dominate (Paul Bartlett, Terry Shaw, Pete Dalby, Graham Briggs and Dave Ruddock). Does this happen with other rules?

Madaxeman said...

There are “good” players in all rulesets and they (by definition I guess) tend to do better at events - the number of “winners” in a year is probably more about how many events there are for each ruleset and how many of those any given player can physically enter in a single year though. For example, MeG, FoG and DBM have a handful of players who enter almost every single events, but ADLG has far more events than it’s physically possible for any single player to enter, so there’s more different “winners” throughout the year.

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