Showing posts with label DBMM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DBMM. Show all posts

9 May 2018

Who's Playing What - the 2018 update


If "once a year" can possible be counted as "fast", here is my annually updated "fast becoming a thing" analysis of the relative popularity of various "competition" Ancients sets in the UK taken as a snapshot right now.

For those of you who remember this stuff from last year (and the year before) the key thing is that this is based on actual, observable factual numbers of players taking part in events in the UK - well, those events that have a web footprint of some sort anyway.  


That means if your local meta, your friendship circle, your local game store or even your Wiccan coven plays something different that's fine - this is just a count of those weird people who enter competitions.

And there's certainly been plenty going on!

As of today we are just at the end of Year 3 of L'Art de la Guerre as a competition set (it first appeared at Roll Call 2015, with its' first "full season" in 2016), there is a new version of FoG Ancients on the tabletop, MeG is just a few weeks away from its' second anniversary, DBA appears to be having something of a second (third? tenth?) wind right now and - of course - DBM and DBMM are still chugging along too.

Well, how does that all look today when you add it all together, shake it about a bit and pour it onto the page? 

Let's have a look shall we...

DBMM

Last 12 months: 18 events, 86 Players, 264 entries

The excellent DBMM rankings website at http://partridges.org.uk/rankings/ has been running at full steam for the last couple of years making the task of capturing all players and games much easier.

Last time around there had been 17 DBMM events in the previous 12 months, featuring 84 different players, including a 5-strong overseas contingent  (Irish players at Britcon 2016) which meant the UK-based pool was made up of 79 active competition players - unchanged from the previous year.

In the 12 months just gone that number of different players has crept up a smidge from 84 to 86, and the number of events has also increased by 1 as well, making a calendar of 18 different competitions for DBMM. So far, so same. What has changed noticeably however is how many entries there have been, as whereas last year the 84 players made 296 entries, this year that's dropped by over 10% to 264.

This slowdown in "keen" participation is mirrored by a corresponding increase in the number of "very occasional" players, as 37 of the 86 UK DBMM'ers only entered a single event in the last 12 months - up from 32 "one-timers" in the previous year, and even fewer the year before that.

The slightly more committed souls who play in 2 events each year account for a further 14 players, leaving just 35 individuals who are playing in 3 or more UK DBMM events each year.

Looking specifically at who those 37 "very occasional" DBMM players are, it's also rather likely that a significant proportion of them are experts at mastering roundabouts (but are possibly scared of motorway driving) given that 18 of them made their only tournament appearance of the year at an event held within 10 miles of Milton Keynes. Another 9 did not venture outside the city limits of Reading to enter an event, which further underlines the continued importance of the WAR and MKWS clubs to DBMM numbers in the UK.

The Milton Keynes 1-dayer is now by far and away the biggest event on the DBMM calendar, with 36 entries, followed by Warfare with 32 (across its two 6mm & 15mm periods).

Last year I had a graphic showing the stability at the top of the "enthusiasm" pile for DBMM and nothing has really changed since then, with the most established players also being the keenest - in fact, no single player who started playing DBMM after 2012 entered more than 3 events in the last year. In DBMM the "old lags" of the circuit are the enthusiasts, and the "newcomers" appear to be mainly those who are dipping in and out.

The current stats also cover the second year after an updated version of DBMM (and all new lists) were published - with almost no change in the overall number of players and a 10% slide in event entries it would however appear the lure of new lists has not encouraged more people to enter events in the UK DBMM community.

As last year, the overall DBMM picture remains one of stability, with only a handful of players picking up DBMM to replace the handful of annual dropouts in each of the last few years. If it weren't for the two highly localized Reading and Milton Keynes club-based clusters of players who tend to appear at events organised by their own clubs, the national DBMM scene would however be significantly smaller.

FoGAM

Last 12 months: 13 events, 79 Players, 253 entries

In May 2017 FoGAM had just seen a year of steep decline, dropping from 140 players down to just 97. With a new, "faster" version of the rules out at the end of last year (and list books still coming out as we speak) the good news for FoG is that the rate of decline seems to have slowed significantly, as 79 players took pat in one of the 13 UK FoGAM events held in the last 12 months, for a total of 253 total competition entries - pretty close to the same total entries as DBMM, but achieved across 4 fewer events.

However, these numbers straddle two editions, so the real question for FoG AM is how the shift from V2.0 to V3.0 is going? Well...
  • Since January 1st 2018 there have been 6 FoG V3.0 events, attracting a total of 49 players and 94 entries
  • The same period last year saw 7 events, 68 players and 112 entries under FoG 2.0

  • The answer to why this happened is mostly "Scotland", as the Scottish club circuit has migrated pretty much entirely to ADLG (with a wee smidge of MeG being played in Perth) meaning that the "Schiltron" event dropped out of the FopGAM rankings taking with it 8 unique players and 15 entries from the FoGAM stats this year.
Looking further forward to events coming up in the next few months, more existing V2.0 players will reappear on the FoGAM scene as well (based on current signups for future events).  By Britcon this will see the UK FoGAM total player pool reach a minimum of at least 54 players. The return of the Northern League as a FoGAM event after a short hiatus may also help drive active player participation up as well.

That V3.0 total of 49 includes 7 (yes seven!) new players who have appeared in the rankings for the first time so far this year - pretty much all from the Wessex club(s) who hosted a V3.0 event in February - so FoG is certainly picking up some more new players with V3.0 underway. 

On the flip side, there are still 30 players in the current "last 12 months" pool who have yet to play a V3.0 event, and quite a few of them have already appeared at events playing other rulesets - whether they stick or twist with these new rulesets is of course yet to be seen. 

With 17 players still making up half of all competition entries the core group of FoGAM players are just as keen as ever, but on current trends my guess is that FoGAM V3.0 will end the year with something in the region of 60-odd active UK players - arguably comparable to the current DBMM pool if the "MKWS/WAR" bastion of "local-events-only" players was to be adjusted out.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG)

Last 12 months: 13 events, 61 Players, 185 entries

Last May MeG was fast approaching it's first full year of UK events, with 31 different players taking part in one of the 5 MeG events held in the 11 months since the release of the ruleset in mid 2016.

Since then the number of UK events has increased significantly with 13 competitions being held in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly the pool of active players has also increased accordingly in the same period, led my a big intake in mid-2017 which saw the total pool of active UK players hit the 50 mark by last year's Britcon.


8 months later the rate of influx into the MeG scene appears to have calmed down a little, with the UK MeG player pool peaking at 65 earlier this year. It now sits on 61 active players entering UK events in the last 12 months (including 2 overseas players) - these 61 have racked up 185 competition entries between them. 


As one might expect with a still-new ruleset, currently 24 of the 61 players (39%) have only taken part in 1 event so far, and a further 15 only playing in 2 events in their MeG careers to date - hardly surprising with many of these only starting playing MeG competitively this year. 

MeG also appears to be succeeding in attracting many of it's players from outside of the traditional pool of Ancients gamers - which might be linked to the relatively high proportion of these "toe in the water" 1-2 event players, as many of them will need to collect and paint whole new armies to take part in MeG events.

The top tier of active MeG players however is made up of a small number of very, very active players, including many of those who got in at the ground floor as part of the initial "playtester" group. 

9 of the 11 playtest pioneers are still very much leading from the front, and still chip in with almost 1/3 of all UK competition entries between them in the last year. Put another way, if you entered a UK MeG event in the last year you had almost a 1 in 3 chance of meeting one of the original playtesters in any given round of any UK event - so if you need help with learning the rules, your opponent may well be perfectly placed to assist!

2 years on from it's launch MeG now boasts a very similar sized UK pool of players to that of the current FoG V3.0 circuit, although a significant proportion of players still at the "dipping their toes in" stage with only 1 or 2 event entries to their name. By comparison the UK ADLG circuit had reached 114 active players and 307 entries by the time it reached the 2-year mark in it's UK evolution.
  
L'Art de la Guerre

Last 12 months: 28 events, 162 Players, 499 entries

A year ago ADLG had just overtaken DBMM and FoG to become the biggest UK competition ruleset with 122 players taking part and making 331 entries in total across the year.

One year on and it's still gaining in popularity, adding 40 new players to the UK circuit to total up 162 players and 499 event entries in the last 12 months - more than DBMM and FoG combined. 

Part of this has been driven by the emergence of a number of regional mini-circuits in the South West, London, North East and most recently across Scotland, which has resulted in a potentially social-life-destroying 28 separate events taking place across the lengths and breath of the UK in the last year.

The size of the UK ADLG circuit is however somewhat inflated by the large number of overseas players who are now regular visitors to these shores to take part in ADLG events. In he last 12 months 19 separate overseas players drawn from all across Europe and further afield entered a UK ADLG event, with even more are set to arrive and be added to that number via the ADLG Worlds at the forthcoming BHGS Challenge this June - an increase of 11 on the previous year's total.

There are also 68 "occasional" ADLG players who only making a lone event appearance in the ADLG rankings - 42% of the total, or 32% if you strip out the overseas contingent. 

This may sound like quite a lot, but is pretty much identical to the equivalent numbers for other rulesets, with 43% for DBMM, 39% for FoGAM and 39% for MeG. Of these, only DBMM has a meaningful number (7) overseas players to impact these percentages, with just 1 overseas player for FoG and 2 for MeG.

The Central London Wargames Club remains a hotbed of ADLG contributing 22 players to the rankings. CLWC however only hosted one of its' usually popular 1-day events in the past 12 months, and so the number of CLWC club members who appear in the pool as a result of attending a CLWC event this year is just 6 out of the 22. Competed to the impact of the MKWS and WAR clubs and their local events on the UK DBMM circuit, and now also the Wessex club in FoG 3.0 the importance of CLWC members to the ADLG circuit is now therefore relatively low. 

Other Rulesets 

DBA

Last 12 months: 13 events, 65 Players, 186 entries

DBA has been undergoing something of a renaissance in recent years with a growing competition circuit and more new events taking place as well.

In the last 12 months 65 players have taken part in at least 1 DBA event, making up a total of 188 entries, meaning that DBA currently sneaks in just ahead of MeG to claim the prize of being the 4th biggest UK mass battle ruleset as of today - again off the back of 13 events throughout the year. 

25 players on the DBA circuit have only entered one event - that proportion of 38% placing it pretty much in line with other rulesets.

The full-year total for 2017 was 56 different players, so DBA is seeing a very solid increase in popularity as well so far this year. 

DBM 

Last 12 months: 9 events, 40 Players, 130 entries

DBM sits currently on 40 players in the last year entering events in the two geographically spread DBM hotspots of East and West England - these numbers are practically unchangd from last year.

Each of the 9 events normally attracts about a dozen players to reach a total of 130 event entries across the year, with the Themed West Country event at 21 being the biggest day out on the circuit.

Of the 40 current players, 17 make an appearance in both halves of the country leaving 9 only ever playing on tables which are as flat as their surrounding countryside, and a further 14 who's mid-game cup of tea always comes with a scone and some jam. 

Swordpoint 

Launched by Gripping Beast at the end of 2016, initially it seemed as if it might attract a following but based on forum posts there are only likely to be 2-3 UK events this year, with a UK player pool of maybe 20-30.

Others - Armati, 7th, 6th, Impetus, TTS, War & Conquest

From what's available online, none of these other rulesets support significant numbers of player or events throughout the year in the UK.  Simon Miller's To The Strongest may have the largest single pool of players with around 30 attending their main annual event, whilst 7th has a small circuit of 3 events (but failed to gather support to add a 4th earlier this year). 

Even in aggregate these sets would however fail to trouble the engravers of the "most popular competition ruleset" trophy.

The Summary:


The good news is that the number of Ancients events, and the numbers of players entering them is continuing to rise as the continuing uptick in the numbers of people playing new systems is outstripping the ongoing meandering decline in players for other more long in the tooth rulesets.

DBx-based games are also still by far the most popular with almost 75% of all UK players choosing a "single-base, single unit" system in preference to "multi-base unit" rulesets. 

The table below shows the current direct comparisons between the leading sets:


PlayersChange Players 3+Players (2018)EventsTotal EntriesAverage Field
ADLG
162+40921152849918
DBMM
86+235621826415
FOGAM
79-1836491525317
DBA
65+340501318614
MeG
61+3022391218515
DBM
40-2119913014
  • Players - different players entering a UK event in the last 12 months
  • Change - net change in previous 12 month period
  • 3+ events - number of players who entered 3 or more events for each ruleset
  • Players 2018 - number of different players to enter an event this calendar year (included as a benchmark for FoG 3.0, which started in January 2018)
  • Events - number of competitions throughout the year.  Where one event includes multiple pools they are counted as different events
  • Total entries - count of entries at all UK events 
  • Average field - average field (doh!)









17 Apr 2017

Competition Ancients in the UK - The state of play, 1 year on

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post on the relative popularity of various "competition" Ancients sets in the UK, which, unusually for this sort of thing was based on actual analysis of real numbers rather than just a subjective TMP-esque mumble of personal preference and "down my club we think this...".

At the time, FoG Ancients was the largest set by some distance but had declined from it's peak of a few years previous, the popularity of DBMM had been flat for some time and a new set L'Art de la Guerre (which you'll have seen on this site no doubt!) was just finishing its first full year of being played in the UK.

Well, how does that all look now, and what's changed in the UK competition scene?

DBMM

A year ago it proved a little tricky compiling accurate data for the numbers of entries for DBMM events, however since then the truly excellent DBMM rankings website at http://partridges.org.uk/rankings/ has been revitalised and updated and seems to have gotten back on top of capturing pretty much everything that happens in the UK DBMM-wise.

Last time around the total number of DBMM competition entrants in the previous year stood at somewhere around 90 players - including 11 based overseas - entering 17 different events (counting those events with both 25mm and 15mm periods as one).  The total number of entries stood at 326, or 314 excluding the overseas players

In the last 12 months that number hasn't really changed appreciably, with 17 events again making up the calendar featuring 84 different players. This year just 5 players based overseas have played in UK events basically representing a smaller Irish contingent at Britcon 2016, leaving a UK-based pool of 79 active players - exactly the same as a year ago. The total number of event entries was 296, down fractionally on the prior year.

The mix of "core" and "occasional" players is also a pretty much the same, with 17 players (21%) making up half of all event entries across the year (compared to 18-20 last year).

The number of UK-based players taking part in just one event has remained about the same, with 27 this year vs 25-30 last time around. 4 overseas players also took part in just one event in the last year.

Of the 27 UK-based "unique" players, 13 of them appeared at the Milton Keynes 1-day event - the biggest single pool event in the calendar with 33 players - highlighting the continuing importance of the Milton Keynes club to the DBMM community in the UK.  A new 2-day event held in Guildford also was added to the DBMM calendar in the past 12 months, drawing another large field of 18 players, of which 4 were also "uniques".

When Milton Keynes is combined with the 5 rounds of the Northern League and the 1-day event in Central London, one-day events make up almost half of all DBMM events staged across the year, contribute over 1/4 of all event entries (86), and are the only places you will come across players representing over a quarter of the entire UK player pool.

This period represented the year immediately following the introduction of a new version of DBMM and also a new set of lists - however with no appreciable change in player numbers or participation levels in this period it's hard to say whether this has helped or hindered the DBMM community either way.

That is not to say that over the past 5 years the DBMM community hasn't seem any churn of players coming in and out - far from it as this table shows:

Current20162015201420132012
Total Players848283929697
New this year61991411N/A
Did not returnN/A420181812

  • New this year means players who did not appear in a tournament in the previous year
  • Did not return means players who did not appear in a tournament in the following year

Consistently more players have dropped out of competition DBMM every year for the last 5 years than have taken it up as a competition game, however most of this churn is at the lower end of the "enthusiasm" grading - for core competition players what is clear is that the DBMM community is very, very stable.

To illustrate this more clearly I was able to create the following graphic by ranking players by "number of events participated in" for each of the last 5 years, and then colour-coding the placings into 20-wide bands (1-20, 21-40, 41-60 etc). The paler the cell, the more active the player.

Each row represents a different player, and each number represents where the player would rank in term of "number of events entered" for each year.  In this graphic, "Player 1" - the most active player in the year to date - has also been the most active player in 2016 and 2015, and was the 2nd most active player in 2013 and 2012. Quite what happened in 2014 is a mystery....but I guess Arsene Wenger would still consider 4th to be a successful year too!


With the banding of colours very consistent across the years, the graphic highlights how the 20 most active current players have also been the most active players every year for pretty much the whole of the last 5 years.
By the time you get outside the 'top 40' for any given year the number of events entered falls away to just 1 or 2, so it is probably fair to say that the national competition scene is essentially made up of the top 40 or so active players. Only 5 "new" players have picked up DBMM enthusiastically enough to join this core "active" group since 2012, and all are still found at the lower end of the "Top 40" participation chart.


FoGAM

In May 2016 FoGAM was the biggest ancients set by some margin, with 140 players taking part in 16 events and making a total of 422 entries between them.

In the past 12 months these stats have seen a significant change, with the total number of active players falling by almost 1/3 to just 97, including just three overseas players.  The total number of event entries has also unsurprisingly declined by a similar amount, falling from 422 to 308, leaving FoGAM only now marginally larger than DBMM in the UK.

Of these 97 active players, 40 were "uniques" who entered just one event during the course of the year and a further 17 entered just two meaning just over half of the player pool are currently "occasional" players.

Unlike DBMM, the FoGAM circuit doesn't have a "Milton Keynes One-Dayer" event driving up the number of "unique" competition players and overall player numbers, with the Schiltron competition in Scotland contributing the most FoGAM "uniques" with 7.

21 FoGAM players between them made up just over half of all event entries, entering more than 7 events each throughout the year - the same as a year ago. This core group represent an identical proportion of the (smaller) overall player pool compared to a year ago, and the same proportion as seen in DBMM too.

A year ago FoGAM was already clearly on a downward trajectory from its peak back in 2012 of 250+ active players, and from these stats this trend has clearly continued.

This table shows overall player numbers in the last 5 years:

Current20162015201420132012
Total Players in UK Competitions93137156193235250
New to the circuit this year39163142N/A
Did not return after this yearN/A4941598159
  • New this year means players who have not previously appeared in any tournament in any previous year in the period 2012-17
  • Did not return means players who did not appear in a tournament in the following year
Over the past 5 years FoGAM has seen a significant shedding of players, with very few new players joining the circuit - unsurprisingly this trend really gained pace in the years immediately after the debacle of the initially non-printed V2.0. With the rules now hard to come by, the conveyor-belt of new players has largely dried up. This also means that more new players have picked up DBMM (competitively) than FoGAM  in the last 3 years, by 34 to 28 - an effect largely attributable to the impact of the Milton Keynes 1-dayer (which is strongly attended by players from Milton Keynes club where DBMM is the dominant ancients ruleset) on the DBMM circuit stats.

I've also pulled together a similar graphic to the DBMM one to show how dynamic (or static) the ranking by "number of events participated in" has been over the last 5 years. Because FoGAM has a bigger pool, I have banded the colour-coding into 30-wide bands (1-30, 31-60, 61-90 etc), again with paler cell meaning more active the players.

Each row represents a different player, and each number represents where the player would rank in term of "number of events entered" for each year.  In this graphic, "Player 1" - the most active player in the year to date - has been creeping up the activity rankings steadily over the past 5 years, having only been the also been the 12th most active player in 2012.  Once you get outside the Top 30, players are taking part in 3 or less events per year, and anyone outside the Top 60 is generally only entering 1 event.



The Top 30 most active players have, like in DBMM but with a handful of notable exceptions mostly been the Top 30 players throughout the last 5 years, but the amount of new blood coming full-throttle into the UK competition scene is also greater than seen for DBMM - possibly showing again the distorting effect of the hyper-local Milton Keynes 1-dayer and Northern league attendances on the stats for the DBMM competition circuit.

The core group of FoGAM players appear to still be just as active as they ever were however, and with every event on the circuit being a two-day affair the level of commitment by the active player group is still pretty strong.

Quite how this will be impacted by the arrival of yet another new edition is still to be seen - if the DBMM experience is anything to go by, the answer is probably "not a lot", but the FoGAM experience might suggest otherwise.

L'Art de la Guerre

A year ago ADLG was very much the new kid on the block, with only 8 events having taken place in the first year of the ruleset appearing at UK competitions, at which 84 players featured making just 136 entries between them.

12 months on and the picture is rather different - in the last 12 months 18 separate events have been staged, with 122 players taking part making 331 entries in total - giving ADLG the largest calendar of UK events, largest active played pool and largest number of event entries of any mainstream mass-battle ancients set in the UK today. With a large international player community it is also perhaps not surprising that more overseas players have taken part in UK ADLG events (7) this year than for any other ruleset as well.

The shorter game-time of ADLG makes it especially suitable for 1-day events, with three games possible in one day and so unsurprisingly the UK ADLG calendar currently includes 8 one-day competitions, one more than those currently staged by the DBMM circuit and with only 1 ADLG round of the 5-round Northern League included in this count compared to 5 for DBMM.

25 players make up half of all competition entries - perhaps weirdly, again an identical proportion to that seen for the other two rulesets - with 60 players having only taken part in one event across the year.

The pattern of appearance of "uniques" in ADLG is more akin to that seen for FoGAM than for DBMM, with no stand-out event contributing such a significant proportion of "uniques". This total of 60 "uniques" is still materially higher than in DBMM or FoGAM, but is not entirely unexpected given that ADLG numbers are still growing year-on-year.

The recently-held Roll Call has been the single biggest contributor with 11 new ADLG players appearing there for the first time followed by 7 at the inaugural round of the Northern League and a further 7 appearing at the only event held in Scotland in the past year, Sighn-Dubh.

Central London Wargames Club is a particular hotbed of ADLG and has hosted two 1-day events in the past 12 months and this alone could reasonably be expected to skew these figures. However out of the 122 players currently in the UK pool, only 8 are CLWC club members who's appearance in the rankings is attributable to these two events alone. This means that CLWC's two ADLG events are making a smaller contribution to the ADLG player pool than MKWS' 1-day DBMM event makes to the size of the UK DBMM player pool.

One other notable aspect of the ADLG circuit is the large number of 25/28mm events being staged. The "big toys" format had nearly died out in the UK for most of the other rulesets, with at best 1 or 2 events having a sub-tournament alongside a larger 15mm competition, but ADLG seems to have captured the imagination of players with 25mm armies, presumably because the lower unit count makes them easier to collect and paint, and also means the table is less cluttered than for other mass-battle 25mm sets. As many as half a dozen of the ADLG events held in the past 12 months have been in 25mm scale.

Other Rulesets 

A year ago I also looked at DBM and DBA - both were smaller player pools and circuits than any of the above sets, with around 50 players each and 8-12 events staged. Looking at the tournament listings for both sets, they appear to be relatively unchanged and so it's fair to assume that with no major upheavals in either community both are doing much the same as before.

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG) is this year's new kid on the block, having had it's first (technically a "playtest") event at the BHGS Challenge last June and so is coming up to close on a full year of events.

So far there have been 5 MeG events staged - 3 singles, 2 doubles - all held as part of existing multi-ruleset competitions, attracting a total of 31 different players, 13 of whom have appeared only once.

The total number of competition entries so far has been just 68 (less than half the total racked up in the first full year of ADLG) with the 8 players who took part in last years initial "playtest" event making up almost half (29) of those entries. This picture will continue to change with 8 new players already signed up to play at either Britcon or The BHGS Challenge later this year (but a similar number from this year's events not yet signed up to return). Basically it is still very early days to draw any meaningful conclusions as to what impact, if any, MeG might have on the mainstream of the UK mass-battle Ancients competition scene.

Swordpoint is the new mass-battle set from Gripping Beast launched at the end of 2016, and from what is posted on their forum it looks like they have held 2 events so far, with 18-20 players at each. There are at least 2-3 more events planned for the rest of the year. Currently the player pool stands at 30 unique players after 2 events - the same size as MeG already - with only 8 of the 30 having done both events. The pool size is certainly set to increase based on the already-published list of entries for Warfare (11 players as of today) and so it is possible that by the end of this year Swordpoint and MeG will both be neck and neck in terms of player pool, number of events and number of entries.

The Summary:

The good news is that the number of events, and the numbers of players entering them is - overall - still slightly increasing, as the uptick in people playing ADLG (plus a little bit of MeG) is now more than offsetting the continuing decline in numbers of FoGAM participation, whilst DBMM continues to chug along at much the same level as it has done for the last few years - although with an arguably slightly shrinking pool of highly active players.

Independent of any single ruleset, the most notable top-level trend would seem to be the increase in numbers and importance of one-day events across the UK circuit, most notably for ADLG but also for DBMM. The one-day format is clearly easier to get a pass-out to attend, but is also easier to organise, so the emergence of a series of new, mostly 1-day ADLG events in the SW and SE of the UK to mirror the Northern League has contributed greatly to player numbers and participation levels overall.

On this basis, if the new supposedly "faster" format for FoGAM v3.0 allow the FoG community to shorten game times down towards 2.5 hours and therefore get onto the one-day-event bandwagon, it could well end up doing more to redress the ongoing decline in support and participation for FoGAM than anything "new" inherent in the rules themselves.







31 May 2016

Competition Ancients in the UK .. the state of play

Recently, with all sorts of new rule systems coming onto the market and perking up player interest it appears that the UK Ancients competition circuit has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance (geddit?).

Rather than just rely on gut feel, I've pulled together some stats for the rulesets covered in the main "BHGS" series of events (edit 2.6.16 plus the DBA circuit), as these are (I believe) the rulesets that have most takeup in competitions right now. This does unashamedly mean the focus is on mostly 15mm events - so all of the various iterations of WAB and it's derivatives are not covered, but unless I'm missing something I don't believe any of those sets are supporting the same sorts of numbers of players or events throughout the year as the ones I looked at.

The data I did use was collated from several sources - the current BHGS rankings for FoGAM and L'Art de la Guerre, plus the DBMM rankings page  (edit 2.6.16 plus the UK DBA rankings) and finally John Graham Leigh's DBM results page, all to look at how many people are playing each system in competitions across the UK.

The main (and I believe fairly safe) assumption is that these sets of rankings & results capture pretty much all of the competitive games played in the past 12 months in the UK across these 5 systems. I also then shared this with the veritable king of stats analysis in UK gaming, Martin from Vexillia who did some validation and additional analysis (thanks Martin!)

What I looked at was numbers of players, number and size of events, and then also how much does each set appear to depend on a "core" of very active players, and finally also how long is the "tail" of occasional players in each ruleset.

So, what's the state of play?

DBMM 
Currently the dbmm.org.uk site shows results from 17 events held in the UK, although there are a couple more which haven't made it onto the site. Two of the events Roll Call & Warfare) have two DBMM periods running in parallel on the same weekend - usually 15mm & 25mm.

As of today the data available suggest that there are between 80-90 players who have entered a UK DBMM event in the last 12 months. This does include 11 players listed as "non-UK", who between them represent 12 competition entries (ie they all entered one event, apart from one person who entered two events this year). Most of the "overseas" players are from Ireland, so whether that’s technically abroad in MM terms I’m not sure...

If we settle on 80 UK players (netting out 11 overseas) they generated between them some 326 event entries (or 314 counting UK players only) in the past 12 months, giving an average of just under 4 events entered per player.

4 of the DBMM events were small(ish), with 10 or less players entering. There were also 5 rounds of the Northern League, which is nominally a doubles event but where the majority of "teams" in each round are usually single players. Each NL round had between 10-13 players at each one-day event making up 8-10 "teams". The 4 "small" events include two 25mm competitions that ran alongside larger 15mm events.

The 4 "small" events account for 37 of the total UK entries.

Other DBMM stats:
  • It looks like around 35-40 people entered just 1 event - if however you strip out the effect of overseas players this means 25-30/80 UK players played in just one event last year (35%)
  • 18-20 people made between them half of all UK competition entries. 
  • The average DBMM event attracts about 18 UK-based entrants
For some events information on who played is patchy so the total number of games played is correct, but the stats for how many players, how many play in 1 event, and how many make up 50% of the total pool of entries will probably be a smidge off.

Going back to 2012 and using the same dbmm.org.uk database (see FoGAM analysis below for why 2012 is relevant) the UK DBMM scene appears to have been pretty much the same size with 97 players entering 21 UK competitions (of which 9 were 1-day events), and making up 359 total entries - of these 13 were overseas players, all of whom entered just 1 event. 22 players made up half of all competition entries in 2012 (not that different to today) and 34 players, including the 13 overseas players, entered just one event, again a similar number to today.

The current stats are for the period immediately prior to the recent rollout of an updated version of DBMM, which common sense suggests will result in an increase in competition entries. Whether this brings lapsed players back into the pool, or increases the number of events that existing players attend will be interesting to see.

FoG AM
The FoGAM rankings currently includes results from 20 events, but this reduces down to 16 if you count Roll Call, Reading and Britcon where multiple FoGAM themes are offered at the same event.

As of the latest rankings there were 140 FoGAM players who took part in at least 1 event last year. It looks as if only 3 of these were non-UK-based, and all of them only entered one event each so unlike for DBMM this will be largely immaterial for player numbers overall.

These 140 players generated 422 event entries in total - an average again of just over 3 events entered per player.

Only 3 of the FoGAM events featured less than 10 players. These were Roll Call 25mm, running at the same time as a 15mm event, and both PAW events, where 15mm and 25mm events were also offered together on the same days.
  • 57 people played just 1 event (Burton Doubles accounts for 12 of these) - again almost exactly the same as DBMM, at 39% of all players. 
  • 29 people (out of 140) made up half of all competition entries - 21% of the player pool
  • The average event has a whopping 26 entrants (counting 2-period/theme events as one event)
These numbers are substantially down on the total from 2012 (the oldest set of rankings on the BHGS website) when the number of players reached over 250 and the "events entered" was in the region of 630, but is still substantially more than any other ruleset. Back in 2012, 46 players made up half of all entries to events, however perhaps significantly the number of  players who entered just 1 event that year was a massive 129 - meaning that over half of the entire pool of players were only "occasional" competition participants. This net reduction of 72 in the number of "occasional" players means that the drop-off in these one-off entrants accounts for almost 80% of the decline in overall player numbers.  

With a new version of FoGAM in gestation currently there is again the potential for a resurgence of interest in FoG. The key differences to the DBMM community are that FoG has both a wider current active player base, but also a "keener" core group of highly active players who on average enter 7.2 events each per year - the highest number of events entered for any ruleset by the core groups of players.

DBM
The DBM circuit is concentrated in two areas - Norfolk/Essex and the South West of England, and almost all of the 10 events last year took place in those two locales. Many of the events are doubles, but single players often enter these events too. 2 of the 10 events had less than 10 entrants. The DBM community continue to release small incremental amendments to the rules, and also have adopted the newly revised DBMM army lists for competition use, and so a degree of freshness is regularly injected into the circuit.

On the DBM circuit I counted 52 players in total appearing in last years results, making up 149 event entries (including doubles where each player is counted separately). Apparently one of the players does live in Finland so I'm told, but in the absence of a huge Finnish DBM community I guess he can count as UK-based! The 2 small events attracted 17 players across the two events.
  • 20 players played just 1 event (40% of the player base - almost identical to the other rulesets)
  • 12 players made up 50% of all competition entries (24% of the overall pool) 
  • The average event has 15 entries (although this is skewed upwards by a greater proportion of doubles events on the DBM circuit)
DBM retains a relatively small, yet loyal following and with 52 players the overall pool of players is perhaps surprisingly not really that much smaller than for it's newer cousin DBMM. Stripping out the '1-event' entries reduces the pool of "active" players down to 32 - again not a million miles away from the 40 for DBMM.

The core 12 players who make up half of all tournament entries take part in an average of 6.2 events each per year (out of 10 possible events!!), but still represent a smaller proportion of the overall DBM universe than the equivalent group do in in FoGAM.

ADLG
L'Art de la Guerre is the new kid on the block, having been widely played for just under a year and so the rankings currently include results from just 8 events. There are as many as 8-9 further events scheduled for the rest of this year, so by the end of 2016 the UK rankings will be more directly comparable to those of other rulesets. Some events are now also included on the international rankings site, which has over 350 active players this year entering events across the globe

84 players currently appear in the UK rankings, including 4 overseas-based players (and one who is about to emigrate to Portugal!). They are otherwise all French, and have all played in 1 event each in the past 12 months.

These 84 players are more thinly spread than in other rulesets, making 136 competition entries in total. Only one event featured 10 or less players, which was the 2015 Challenge - the oldest event in the rankings currently - however as of today 18 players are signed up for the 2016 Challenge which will replace the 2016 event in the rankings in a couple of weeks.
  • 52 people have played in just 1 event (including 4 overseas)
  • 24 people currently make up half of all competition entries (30% of UK-based players). 
  • The average ADLG event has 17 entries.
These stats are still showing a ruleset in its infancy, however the overall number of UK-based players who have entered at least one ADLG event so far has already overtaken both DBMM and DBM, and with an average event size of 17 it seems more than likely that the size of the UK competition circuit for ADLG will also surpass that of both the DBx rulesets by the end of this year too.

DBA (added 2/6/16)
Bill MacGillivray has now kindly sent me the UK DBA Championship standings, which means DBA can be added to this mix. Most of the DBA events are one-day competitions, but with the shorter game length of DBA they will often have the same number of rounds as a 2-day event for the more "big battle" sets listed here.

The DBA numbers are based on the final 2015 season standings, so are slightly out of sync with the other sets of results. So far this year numbers appear to be almost exactly in step with 2015, with a couple of new events on the circuit as well in the Midlands and North of England. A new version of DBA 3.0 came out last year which is likely to have rekindled player interest so overall 2016 numbers might well end up being higher.

The 2015 season included 15 events, all stand-alone competitions, and including 4 in Portsmouth. The biggest event had 18 entrants, the smallest 6, and 3 of the 15 had less than 10 players, the cutoff to be considered "small" in this analysis.

In total 49 players took part in at least one DBA event last year, and these players between them made a total of 176 competition entries. This level of participation is great than for both DBM and ADLG currently, and if "small" events with less than 10 entries are stripped out of the numbers the gap with DBMM also shrinks, putting DBA in third place behind FoGAM and DBMM as the most actively played ruleset, even though it has the smallest overall pool of UK-based players.

  • Just 15 (30%) DBA players took part in only 1 event - the lowest proportion of 'occasional' players for any of these rulesets. This may well be down to a combination of predominantly one-day events on this circuit, and the geographic concentration of DBA players in a few specific areas.
  • 10 players made just over 50% of all competition entries - at 20% of the total player pool this is comparable to FoG but lower than the other 3 sets which have more directly comparable sized pools of players.
The stats for DBA in general show a very keen and stable core of active DBA players taking part in a consistently supported circuit of events, with a proportionally shorter "tail" of one-off players as well. The DBA numbers also include 2 players who both entered 14 out of the 15 events in the calendar year and who therefore represented 16% of all competition entries between them - well done chaps!

Interesting times - but still also pretty good times too for Ancient gaming, with over 1,000 entries to UK competitions over the last 12 months across these 5 rulesets alone.

With all 5 sets having something "new" going on in terms of rules updates and new lists (or, in the case of FoGAM, having updates on the horizon) there is also plenty happening to keep each community interested in their particular set, which only really leaves the possibility of over-familiarity with the same pool of players as being likely to dent numbers.

Even with the decline in numbers for FoGAM and DBMM over the past 4 years, the emergence of ADLG as a mainstream set, plus the introduction of new versions of all the other sets may mean that by the end of this year the UK will be back to pre-2012 levels of participation in Ancients events again.

Footnote:

As another relevant comparison, the equivalent headline numbers for FoG Renaissance are;

  • 101 players in the last 12 months (6 overseas)
  • 300 competition entries (exactly!)
  • 21 players make up half of all entries
  • 46 players only played in 1 event

These numbers would place FoGR in second place behind FoGAM in terms of popularity, ahead of all of the other Ancient rulesets on both of the key metrics of player numbers and competition entries (if it was an Ancients set of course...!).


5 Jul 2010

DBMM - does it need a 147 sided dice ?

DBMM is now available on Amazon.co.uk - and apparently is now currently the best-selling book on snooker on sale across Britain !
Anyways, if you wish to purchase a copy you can get DBMM V2 on Amazon.co.uk here.

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