Monday, June 8, 2015

GP Vegas 2015: Friday

I had the late shift on Friday. For those of you who have never experienced the 2 p.m. call time, it is glorious. I woke up early to have breakfast with some people on the 9:00, went back to bed for a few hours, and got up at noon with time still to kill. Late shift is, by far, the best.

Late shift on Friday was particularly nice as I got to dodge the madness that was 3500 Mini Masters players.

Three thousand, five hundred. Just think about that for a second. If the scale of Vegas hadn't set in for the staff yet, it did when a Friday side event ranked in the top 5 largest events of all time.

Instead, I got to sleep in (sort of), come in at 2:00 and break the scorekeepers on the early shifts before my Foiled Again Bounty sealed event at 6 p.m. The event was capped at 1200 players, and the original plan was to split it into two separate events.

We ended up with what we thought* was just under 1000, so we didn't split. It was all mine. Mwahahahahaha! Because of the size of the event, we were using DCI Reporter, which is the same program that the main event scorekeepers would be using the next day.

WER and DCI-R are fairly similar. WER's big advantage is that it's connected directly to a live player database and tournament uploads. DCI-R lacks that connectivity but trades it for some stability and flexibility — there are some things WER won't let you do, but there's a way to do pretty much anything you want in DCI-R. As it turns out, that was about to be a problem.

*This was the fun part of my day. Seatings went up for deck construction. I expected a few people not on the list due to illegible registration slips or name mix-ups, and those are easy to handle, especially in sealed. When someone says their name isn't on the seatings:

  • Check the player list to make sure they didn't just miss it. If they're registered already, send them to a table. If you don't have many people with issues, you can look up their seating, otherwise just send them to a table at the end.
  • If they're not registered (or if you'd rather skip the part where you scroll through or search the player list — you'll get a pop-up that they're already entered in both programs), enter their DCI number. Send them to a table at the end.

Some organizers have a process to verify that players actually did sign up for events. In Vegas we had a spreadsheet with notes about invalid DCI numbers and illegible names that we referenced.

I expected a few problems, but ended up with about 200. Fortunately, 95% of them I didn't need to solve right away:

  • If a player's name is on the seating twice, tell them to go sit at one of those tables, and figure out how to fix it later.

Yep. The file merge for DCI-R works a bit differently from the player list import in WER. You don't do it within the program, but instead edit the files to which the program writes tournament data. These are .dat files, but you can edit them in Notepad and/or Excel. Each file contains a different piece of the puzzle, and the one I find myself playing with most often is the 302 file, also known as the player data file.

It contains player names, DCI numbers, assigned seating information, and some other stuff that I try really hard not to mess with. To merge multiple registration stations, you just open the 302 file from each event that was used to register players and copy and paste them into one big 302 file.

Unlike the WER player import, there aren't any checks on this process, so if a player was in multiple files before the merge, they're now in your tournament multiple times.

This is exactly what happened to the Bounty event: when we started entering the slips from on-site registration, both computers started with the file that contained those players. When seating for build was posted, those 200 players were on the list twice.


Fortunately I'd have about 20 spare minutes to fix it while those players were constructing their awesome Modern Masters 2015 sealed decks at whichever of their two assigned seats they liked the most.

Also fortunate, this was DCI-R so I could open the aforementioned 302 file in Excel, click the "Remove Duplicates" button, save it, and pretend those players were never in the event twice. It took about two minutes to fix instead of however long it would have taken to manually delete each and every one of them.

When everything was said and done, about 650 players were paired for round one.

A Quick Note on Back Ups

I write pretty frequently about editing files and experimenting with things to see what works and what breaks things horrendously. If I'm working with a live tournament, that is, one with actual players playing actual matches of Magic: the Gathering, I don't do anything dangerous without making a back up first. Sometimes two. Occasionally three.

That way, when something does break — when, not if — and you can't undo whatever you did that broke it, you can just pretend you never did it in the first place. I'll go through backing up and importing back ups in WER in a future post.

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