Rock Paper Scissors Tournet
February 5, 2015 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I want to organize a Rock Paper Scissors tournament at a party. There will be about 32 players. The whole thing should take about 10 minutes and end with one winner. There will only be one referee, so arbitration has to be very easy (ie, people shouldn't have to privately track their own "wins" or record them on paper or anything like that). It should be fun to play and to watch. What's the best way to run the tournament? I have one possible tourney structure inside, open to others!

Right now I'm thinking, there's two taped lines on the floor (like a ridiculous little "court").
Pair by pair, people step onto the lines and they throw at each other, best 2/3.
So only one pair of people is throwing at any one time, which everyone watches.
Round one: 32 players = 16 matches. Winner of each little match goes to the winner's circle, loser is out of the tourney.
Round two: the pool of 16 winners splits in half and faces itself = 8 matches.
Round three = 4 matches.
Round four = last 2 players battle it out.
If numbers turn out that there are 3 people left, those 3 play together with everyone watching (3-way RPS does work, it just takes a little longer).

This model has pros and cons. Pros- It's obvious who wins/loses because only one throw happens at a time, and because winners and losers go to different areas. It's exciting to watch and root for best 2/3. Cons- it may be a bit belaboured? One person may get a "buy" in the last round, seems unfair?

Any ideas for a better way to run this?
Any general suggestions to make it awesome?
posted by pseudostrabismus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you throw in a bonus round of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock?
posted by cecic at 3:34 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So, we did occasional RPS tourneys at my elementary-age after school problem, and one of the rules was that you had become a fan/cheer for the person you lost to (and then if that person lost everyone started cheering for the person that person lost, etc. It led to each match having a little cheer army, and the last match was half the people against the other half, even though only 2 people were actually participate. I know that doesn't necessarily translate directly to adults doing the same thing, but it sounds way more fun then just like... leaving when you lose -- you'll just lose everyone's attention after they're out if you don't give them a reason to keep watching.
posted by brainmouse at 3:36 PM on February 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

Best answer: A company party I was at, had some interesting tweaks,

For one, every 'battle' was done with the players back to each other, then turn around to present the choices. This eliminated those 'delayed' responses that some people seem to have mastered to their advantage,

The gamemasters also allowed several games to occur at the same time (everyone had to find a another player) So that moved the game forward pretty quickly (staff was over 100 count)

The last was each player was given a necklace with a dollar coin attached, when you lost, you gave up your necklace to the winner, and if that winner loses the next round, he has to give up his and your necklace, and so forth, so the final round, there is alot at stake with all the losers necklaces each player has won.

it was engaging enough, where staff was cheering for each player equally.
posted by edman at 3:49 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: yep...we used Mardi Gras necklaces and had the rounds happen throughout our event day and during lunch and breaks.
then after lunch, we gathered those with the most necklaces to finish up the competition in front of everyone.
our group isn't good with lots of rules, so this set-up worked well...

I guess another thing you might do is to divide up the large group by the color of necklace you give them...and have the Blues play the Blues, Reds play the Reds and end with the winner of each color group in a 'battle royale'.
posted by calgirl at 4:00 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

In drunken days, my friends and I elevated RPS into WWE-style matches. Over-the-top nicknames, entrance music, trash-talking, real-money betting, etc.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:15 PM on February 5, 2015

Yup, backs turned or closed eyes, otherwise, it's very hard to judge delayed throwing.
posted by quince at 4:16 PM on February 5, 2015

Oh, another way was to replace RPS with Bear, Ninja, Cowboy.

Stand back to back, turn and strike a pose.

Bear -- arms up, hands into claws, growling.
Ninja -- karate pose, high-ya!
Cowboy -- shooting double finger guns, bang, bang!

Bear beats Ninja, because you can't karate chop a bear.
Ninja beats Cowboy, because he's swift and silent like that.
Cowboy beats Bear, because bang, you're dead and now you're a rug.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:19 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Winner will receive a pair of "pro gloves" which will be a cheap pair of fingerless gloves that you've bedazzled the shit out of.

Loser will receive a pair of loser gloves which will be a cheap pair of fingerless gloves with Y O U T R I E D written on the knuckles.
posted by phunniemee at 4:19 PM on February 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

I guess I personally would want longer games than best 2 / 3 because it's not until the second throw that the real interesting psychology starts happening. But that will be slower.

One person may get a "buy" in the last round, seems unfair?

How could this happen? Doesn't the last round only have two players? If you don't have a power of two people, you give people a bye (which is the correct spelling for this, btw) in the first round, not the last one. So if you had 20 players, you'd only do 4 games in the first round, which eliminates 4 players, and the remaining 12 would get a bye. Then you start the second round with 16 people, and your elimination table's full the rest of the tournament.

This works best for a skill based game, where players already have ratings (you give byes to the expected top performers). In a game as luck-driven as RPS it feels a little unfair that some people have to win 5 times but other people only have to win 4.

With a table of 32 people, you have 31 games of rock paper scissors. To get through this in 10 minutes, you can't spend more than 20 seconds on each game, and no time between rounds. I'm not sure think that's realistic. So I take back what I said about wanting longer games up above.

But you will speed things up if people know where and when they're going to play. You can streamline that by scheduling all first round matches and giving each player a ticket that says when their match is (Round 1: match 4). You can pre-schedule the later rounds similarly; whenever someone wins a match, give them a ticket saying when they'll play in the next round (e.g., Round 2: match 10. Don't reset the match numbers from round to round, and nobody will get confused by their old match numbers). To get people to pay more attention, note which match's winner they might go up against next on their ticket.

Still I'm thinking more like 15-20 minutes would be the fastest you could reasonably do this. If you want to speed it up more, and you can get more refs, have a few (2? 4?) arenas for the first round. (ticket now says "Match 3, Blue Arena") If you split them so branches of the elimination table stay together, then people will get a chance to watch the people they might going up against, which is more exciting.
posted by aubilenon at 4:20 PM on February 5, 2015

Loser will receive a pair of loser gloves which will be a cheap pair of fingerless gloves with Y O U T R I E D written on the knuckles.

Y O U T     R I E D ???
posted by aubilenon at 4:22 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, the point is that they're really very bad. They are loser gloves. You want good gloves, you win the tournament. A lesson for us all.
posted by phunniemee at 4:27 PM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

F A I R       N U F F
posted by aubilenon at 4:32 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

To get those coveted YOUT RIED gloves, shouldn't there also be a losers' bracket?
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:37 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've done brainmouse's version (where everyone just starts playing against whomever, and if you lose, you follow your opponent around the room and cheer for them in other matches, then follow *their* opponent if/when they're defeated, etc., until you basically have half the room on one side shouting "PSEUDOSTRABISMUS! PSEUDOSTRABISMUS!" while the other side is shouting "BRAINMOUSE! BRAINMOUSE!" and everyone's clapping and cheering and invested in the outcome) in a corporate team building environment with adults, and I thought it was lots of fun (and yes cheesy, but fun.) It's also pretty easy to manage, as it's kind of self running.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 4:40 PM on February 5, 2015

I've also done brainmouse's version, with teens and adults, and it's fantastic. DEFINITELY the way to go.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2015

I did Brainmouse's version with adults (well, law students, our adultiness is open to interpretation) recently. It was easily the most fun part of an entire week of orientation.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:57 PM on February 5, 2015

You could do it soccer style and have each player play the other. 3 points for a win, one for a tie, nothing for a loss. Winner is the person with the most points at the end. That way folks can participate longer than one game and it could be spread through out the evening as a mixer and you could even do "home" and "away" games to allow for rematches.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:20 PM on February 5, 2015

There's a Korean variant called Mook Ji Pah which is really fun for tournament play.
posted by cazoo at 5:46 PM on February 5, 2015

A great opening "get to know you game" involves everyone playing rock paper scissors. If you lose, you cheer for the person you lost to. If you win, you go on to play whoever is still in the competition. It's a little hectic but it's great for building morale and self esteem among a group. One of my favorites to start with when approaching a big group.
posted by rubster at 8:17 PM on February 5, 2015

Seconding rubster's suggestion. It's a lot of fun if you really get into cheering for your guy, and at the end the two finalists all have a huge crowd behind them cheering them on.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:39 AM on February 6, 2015

Get rid of ties, and all byes need to happen in the first round. Subtle difference, but first to 2 wins is better than best of 3 because you actually get a winner.

Brackets are great for ranked stuff. Sports has past games seeing up who the best is. The best you can do here is a randomized bracket.

Or you can do it like Magic: the Gathering tournaments. First round it's random where anyone pair of people can play. Second round is the same idea but 1-0 people are only paired with 1-0 people, basically winners with winners and losers with losers. You could adapt this and randomize the pairings for each round along with dropping the losers.
posted by theichibun at 4:07 AM on February 6, 2015

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