How to Write a Tournament Report

A point-by-point guide to writing good tournament reports:

1. Write in English. English is a language with quite a few rules. Though they can sometimes irritate us, those rules are in place for a reason: namely to help people communicate. You might find that if you actually take the extra 10 seconds to form a proper sentence from your fragmented idea that it will develop a richness not available to it as a fragment. (Example: Instead of, “He deploys Maul. Ouch,” write, “He deploys Maul and battles me. He had First Strike on the table, but I forgot to save a force for Houjix. Maul hits my Melas, and Opponent draws a destiny of 5 to my 4. Melas dies, and I lose 6 overflow but don’t even break Maul’s immunity.” See how much more your reader can learn from a fleshed-out idea?) Also, think about dividing your text into paragraphs. Remember what your high school teachers said about topic sentences and supporting sentences. Maybe you won’t have clearly identified topic sentences, but if you write twelve sentences all about the same game and don’t divide the text into separate paragraphs, you’ve probably blurred together a number of incidents that should be read as separate.

2. Write what’s important. This may seem mind-bendingly obvious, but I’ll read a lot of tournament reports that carry on for three sentences about who starts what effects, and then those effects have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the game. Skip that junk, then. We play Star Wars because we like the strategy, we like the chance, and we like the approximation of the movies. Write the parts of the game that reveal strategy, chance, and an approximation of the movies. In any good tournament report, you’ll read about a player’s *plan* for a turn or a game. Sometimes things work out the way the player planned, and sometimes they won’t. However, just by revealing the plan, that author has acknowledged that the game wasn’t just about random events but about events that had an intentional structure. Immature reports proceed according to some sprawling, haphazard organization, unaware that a game is more than a chronological sequence of events.

3. Write in detail. You will end up skipping most of the events of any game as you simply don’t need to bore your readers by writing, “He activated twelve force and paid 5 force to deploy Luke with Saber to the Cantina. Then he paid…” Yada. However, when a detail or a number of details become important, write them down, all of them. The details you write show how you think when you play. If you can observe that your opponent paid 7 force and placed the Outrider on the table, then took it back, you allow your reader to understand you knew your opponent planned to deploy more than just the Outrider. Thus, if when your opponent decided to pay the 7 force again and place the Outrider on the table, you Barriered it, your opponent will understand how you responded to more information than just the play of the Outrider. If you write about saving a force for a Barrier even when your opponent doesn’t play anything on his next turn, your reader will at least understand that you’re the type of player who’s thinking ahead. And if you write that you saved a force for a Barrier, as a bluff, your reader might even grin, acknowleding your cleverness.

4. Write about the larger tournament, too, not just the games you play. What gives a particular tournament its flavor? Maybe it’s a huge tournament with its stakes inherently raised. If so, where do you hope to place? Give your report an arc by tracing your progress through the tournament against your initial expectations. What have you done to prepare for the tournament? Have you tweaked your decks in any way to prepare for the local metagame? What is the local metagame? During the course of the tournament, did anyone say anything funny (I mean uproariously funny)? What was it? Was there anything truly interesting in someone else’s game? I’ve seen someone flip Rescue the Princess and then blow up the Death Star in the same game. That had better make it into a tournament report even if it wasn’t your game. Did someone win his first five games by an average of 30 force? Well, if so, give the person credit. Acknowledge the world, people.

5. Write the games’ Highs and Lows and the tournament’s Props and Slops. They’re somewhat tacky categories, but readers love them. Why? Because most of your readers will be local players who like to see their names in print. Also, these categories establish that you, as a person and player, were able to identify the most interesting aspects of a game or tournament. That reveals discernment and an active intelligence.

6. Read other reports. Go find the best reports and consume them. Try to understand how others shaped their reports to reflect the entirity of their experiences. See how they framed games. Notice how good reports don’t waste time saying, “Well, I sucked at this tournament, but I thought I’d write about it anyway.” Good reports always reveal a keen interest in how things went, even when they didn’t go well.

Good luck, then. I don’t want to see any more half-arsed reports.