The first couple of times I ran BitD, my sessions usually started with Free Play and ended with Downtime–i.e., I followed the order in which each phase is presented in the book.
But I quickly discovered that that wasn’t ideal: after the Score, and after the Payoff, my players were usually pretty tired. Resolving Downtime right after the drama of the Score felt a bit like a tacked-on chore. Which was unfortunate, because Downtime is a great opportunity for RP, exposition, and for introducing new plot threads.
So, for my most recent sessions, I tried ending after the Payoff (and after calculating heat and XP). Then, for the next session, I started with Entanglements. This worked pretty well: it introduced some meaningful drama at the beginning of the session to get things rolling. Then, we resolved Downtime, which pretty seamlessly transitioned into Free Play, as the players traveled around Duskvol, gathering information and deciding what to target during the Score.
How do you structure your sessions? Do you follow a set structure, or does it vary from session to session?