European Team Championship (ETC)
The ETC (European Team Championships) is one of the largest tabletop miniature gaming tournaments held in the world. Way back in 2006 it was hosted by the Polish for the first time, as they have one of the most fervent competitive scenes and pool of players, and they wanted to test their mettle vs the best Europe had to offer. The tournament has been running every year since, growing larger year by year. The event now aims to bring players from across the globe together where initially it was designed for the European scene. As the ETC grew in standing and the word spread, teams from Oceania and South/North American countries joined the fold and the ETC grew to become the true World Championships for teams where some of the best and most talented wargamers around the globe meet in an attempt to become world champions.
Since its introduction, the ETC has grown from 112 players playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle to well over 1000 players attending spanning multiple gaming systems and events. Tradition of the ETC wills that the event is hosted in a different country every year, giving several host countries a chance to provide a new environment for gamers, but also as a new holiday destination. Some countries would not perhaps be visited before by most players as it may not be a top holiday destination, so it gives people a great opportunity to travel and see some parts of the world they may not have otherwise visited. This gathering of players and cultures creates a huge bond and had since seen many friendships formed across the world. Not only is it foremost a competition, but a fantastically large scale social event, where gamers from America pit themselves against some of the biggest drinkers the world has to offer, the crazy Danes and the often somewhat naked Swedes!
During the ETC there are 3 large events; 40k, Flames of War and 9th Age Warhammer. There are also side events held for Xwing, Age of Sigmar (new this year) and the Horus Heresy (also new this year). The ETC has a knack for bringing people together from their own countries that they may not normally see or meet even in their own tournament scene.
How does the ETC System Work?
It is a bit different for every system, but for the main events each country selects 8 players and sends them to the ETC to compete for a chance to win one of the most prestigious events of the year. Each country selects their team differently, applying their own form of selection criteria, but the following basic rule applies: the country must contain 4 players from their country (decided via passport) and may have a further 4 players who do not have to be from the country (although it is recommended) and may instead be mercenaries. This allows some smaller countries to compete even though they cannot field a full complement of players from their residing country. Not only is the ETC an expensive trip for some, but a lot of countries are fishing from a small pool of available players, which makes filling out a team a difficult task sometimes. Besides the 8 players on a team, each country may also have a further 2 assistant players, such as a coach or spare player, to keep up morale or act as a waterboy. This means each country can contain up to a total of 10 players.
Each game system is ruled by a collection of captains who vote and discuss options on a dedicated forum to come to a compromise rulespack every year, as the ETC is not a conventional tournament ruled by a main organiser or TO, but is rather governed from a ‘for the players, by the players’ kind of mentality, where the captains council always has the final say. As the years go on and pass by, and different captains have different wishes, this is a very dynamic process, and the rulespacks always evolve and change over time, and can vary greatly depending on the system being run.
For 40K in particular, lists are always submitted in advance, and each faction can only be chosen once across the entire team i.e. if player A chooses an Eldar detachment in the 40k team, no other player may choose any units from the Eldar. Without this rule in place, many teams would be tempted running 8 Eldar armies, so this provides a lot of variation to the game and team composition always contains a lot of surprises. The ETC is a breeding ground for sometimes very unique armies.
Once Teams have settled on their rosters and lists are submitted, the 1st round draw is predetermined. Some countries may decide to formally challenge one another for glory or even a historical grudge match! There is usually good spirited banter between the teams in the first round. After the first round finishes, the ETC uses a Swiss system to decide who plays who next. No country can play the same country they have previously played again.
The way a round works is as follows (this may be different depending on the system, but the following example is used in 40k and Warhammer 9th age):
Both country’s choose a player to be put forward first (these are known as “defenders”). Team A, for example, puts Eldar forwards, whilst Team B puts Astra Militarum forwards. Both teams then decide in secret which 2 armies to pit against the defender. Both teams then reveal these armies (known as “attackers”) at the same time. Team A puts Grey Knights and Tyranids to play against Astra Militarum for example. The teams then decide which one their defender will play. Team B chooses to take the Tyranids to play Astra Militarum. Team A then gets given grey Knights back, to be used later. Team B then gets to choose one of the 8 tables available, as the defender to play Tyranids. This means that although the Astra Militarum player has the disadvantage of having to face a bad matchup, he could choose a table which suits his army best.
Both teams continue this process until the last 4 armies need to be picked. This is where it gets interesting. The attacker army that was not picked to play the defender play one another, and the last army left in each teams hands, also play one another. This means tactical decisions and potential guesses could lead to better or worse matchups. The match-making process is extremely tactical and part of the way to win the tournament. A game within the game that is an important element for paving your way to success as a team.
How does the scoring system work?
The 20-0 ETC format was originaly developed for team event play, however this soon became a platform for multiple large events across the world as it is also very successful and easily implemented for single player events. The reason for this is it makes every game tactical and gives both players something to play for, rather than a simple win/loss/draw.
If you have a bad matchup at a tournament, you would still have the ability to play for as many points as possible rather than just lose by 1 point and lose the entire game. This tends to bring out more tactical plays rather than just giving up turn 2. Many a game have I almost called the game turn 2, only to play my hardest to scrape some points which later on have helped put me in a better overall position.
The way you score points can be divided in the following categories:
- Points scored from Maelstrom Missions (36 cards, for most missions capped at 3 of which can be scored a turn. D3 are worth 2pts, D6 are worth 4 pts)
- Killpoints (max differential of 6)
- Points scored from Eternal War Missions (either end of the game scoring or progressive turn scoring).
- Secondaries like First Blood/Linebreaker/Slay The Warlord
Each player adds up their total score at the end of the game and the difference is calculated in a 20-0 scoring matrix. For example:
Player A scores 9 Maelstrom points, holds 3 objectives worth 2 pts each, has 3 more Killpoints than Players B and gets First blood. Total: 19pts
Player B scores 10 maelstrom Pts, holds 1 objective and gets Line breaker. Total: 14.
The difference is 5 points in favour of Player A. As it is an odd number, this is rounded upto 6. Now halve the number and add it to 10, making 13. Player A gets 13 points, whilst your opponent gets 7. This means that although there is a clear winner, Player B managed to get some points out of the game. This creates some crazy close tight games where both players gain something from it.
On the team level, all these scores get added up for every player, for a maximum of 160 points a team can earn each round. The team scores are compared to each other and it is imortant to note that a combined score of 86 points or more constitutes a win for that team as a whole. A Team that scores 74 points or less loses the round, and everything inbetween 75 and 85 constitutes a draw on the team level. It is an important aspect of ETC Team play to always battle for every point in a game, as it might spell doom or victory for the team as a whole, as often the rounds are very tight due to the pairing and the attacker/defender system, with a few ‘swing’ games that decide how the round will turn out. More often than not, getting those 3 points out of a game you should have lost 20-0 is more rewarding than simply getting a rock/scissors matchup and simply winning your game 20-0. The ETC team play experience is extremely rewarding as there is always something to fight for, and the ETC scoring system reflects that, which makes it suited for playing it in singles events as well.
Hopefully this brings more understanding to all of those interested in the ETC, and we at Glasshammer Gaming hope to see more players and teams joining in playing this great system!