Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Top 12 Misconceptions About Win/Loss Tourneys; Part I

by SandWyrm

There's been quite the debate in the comments for my post on Why Battlepoints Are Gimping Tourneys on both theBack40K and BoLS. Particularly from FireTeam_Nova, who runs a lot of events at the GP-South here in Indy. He (and others) raise many objections to W/L which I feel deserve a post of their own for a proper response.

Objection 1: "WAAC Is Just Human Nature, There's Not Much You Can Do About It!"

That's easy for someone to say, but it's hard for me to believe it based on my life experience. Do you really think that people don't respond to incentives? If you could win this game by hopping on one foot you'd see competitive players falling all over each other to do calf-strengthening exercises. People will do what they have to in a contest to compete for a win.

As it is, Battle-Point systems reward players for slaughtering newbs and punish them for hard games against good players. I've not only witnessed it, I've held my nose and done it. I haven't had to do it for two tourneys now, and I like it. So do Farmpunk, Spangy, and ScottyDon't. Together we comprise about half of the top-tier players in Indy. All of us have won local tourneys multiple times. Three of us have been to the 'Ard Boyz semi-finals (the 4th qualified, but couldn't go), while ScottyDon't went all the way to the finals in Chicago.  So as a group we know the dynamics of BP scored tourneys quite well.

We've all also had the experience of thinking that others in this small group were WAAC after having played them in local BP Tournaments. Only to see a different side of them after playing in a W/L event. There is a difference, we've seen it. W/L lets people relax and play for the win instead of the massacre.

As I've said before, we only have one true WAAC player in all of Indy, and he's been banned from almost every store in town. We have another in training at the North Store, but he'd be knocked out by the end of the 2nd round in a W/L event. While in a BP event he could luck out and carry the day with a couple of seal beatings.

Objection 2: "Win/Loss Will Make WAAC Worse, Not Better!"

This one's also come up a few times, but I've yet to see someone spell out exactly how this would happen. In a W/L format the only pressure is to win. Not to kill every model on the table.

Besides the difference in attitudes this leads to, it will also affect the type of lists that people bring. Run half a year of W/L events and you'll see even the WAACs bringing balanced all-comer lists. Rock lists like 5 Land Raiders only work when you can rely on luck to pair you against a Seal in every game. But their advantages disappear when you have to win every game instead of massacring your opponent in just one or two of them.

Or consider the IG Leafblower list that won a couple of large events last year. Darkwynn was very lucky, in that his alpha-strike list always went first. But he was also lucky because none of his opponents used reserves against him. Why didn't they?

Well, one reason is because of the Battle-Point scoring at those tourneys. If his opponent used reserves to eek out a close win, he wouldn't get enough battle points to win the day. So at least one of those opponents, by his own admission, chose to gamble it all on the seize initiative roll. Knowing that he'd probably lose, but if he won that roll he could get a major victory or a massacre and move up to the top tables. In a W/L format he could have simply gone for the win and knocked out the Leafblower in a close game.

Objection 3: Win/Loss Suffers From Bad Matchups Just As Easily As BPs

This is absolutely true! But let's consider the effects of a bad matchup in a BP system versus a W/L system:

BP System: 

The Seal-Beater not only wins, but he gets a huge BP advantage over every other player for the rest of the day. While players with more even matchups are penalized in comparison. The only way to come out ahead of the seal beater now is for two things to happen together:

1) Draw a Seal yourself and beat the snot out of him. If you draw a good player, your day is over.
2) Hope the Seal Beater doesn't draw another Seal. If he does, you might as well go home.

W/L System:

The Seal-Beater wins the match, but this just places him on equal footing with the rest of the winners from that round. He has to keep winning games to advance. He has no incentive to humiliate an opponent once his win is secured.

Now which system seems more random? Which one seems more competitive and fair? Which one will leave the Seals with no desire to ever attend another tourney again?

Continue to Part II...


  1. Your logic is solid, thus it must not be true.
    So says the internet.

    (P.S. The above is sarcasm. I 100% agree and am putting my money where my mouth is and running the first W/L Event in Australia that I know of - Centurion)

  2. Excellent! The Aussies need our help! :)

  3. lol fester; can't we just say the drop-bears won it?

    Agree with you Sandwyrm, particularly on the objection in relation to bad match-ups. Until a seeding system is appropriated, sometimes people will 'slip through the cracks' and still get to Day 2 as an undefeated (I don't think this has happened at the major W/L events though). But because of the system you're very likely going up against at least one good player and much more likely to go up against multiple good opponents. Look at Mike and Tony's opponents in both NOVA and BFS. They beat multiple good players to win and that highlights what I love about this system.

  4. If people are confused about these three points we need to sit them down and smack them with a newspaper. Wouldn't another way of doing it be to pair players up based on who had what BPs instead of W/L that way maybe you get a seal turn 1 but not another one the next 2 rounds.

  5. NO! (In my opinion) For a Win/Loss to truly work to its best potential, Winners are randomly paired with winners of the same record.

    All the undefeated go in 1 box and are randomly drawn in front of everyone for pairings.

    After next round it continues. This single decision to randomly pair will eliminate so many complaints of home town players getting benefits, etc. As the tourney continues obviously there could be a 2-1 playing a 3-0 or a 1-2 but that is how the cookie crumbles. The weaker players end of playing weaker players and every level of competitor has the potential to have a great time!

    As I wrote in the post below this one. The reason we support a Win/Loss format vs a BP, Comp Scoring, etc. is because it creates a more fun, relaxed tournament environment for all levels of players. Some people are looking for a logical solution to an emotional problem. My therapist said that doesn't work! :)

    I have won at all three types of tournaments, and I have been a TO at all 3 and I can tell you I much prefer the Win/Loss style as it "feels right!" THATS CORRECT! It is a feeling not a logical solution. At our last 28 person tournament we decided to try something different. We only used 1 TO/Judge for the entire tournament. And guess what....? It worked. We needed less people to judge players as they felt like they could handle things themselves due to not having the pressure that every moment meant trying to kill everything. If that isn't proof of a relaxed, fun, competitive tournament, then I don't know what is. And if you are a skeptic, words will not prove anything to you anyways. You have to try it. You never might be like Mikey and like it.

  6. I don't see how W/L will help if you still have asshole players in all honesty. The W/L does make it easier on a TO I can understand that completely.

  7. I think W/L is a format with potential. I agree in theory it cuts down on "clubbing baby seals" simply because once you have the win in hand you don't have to beat your opponent in the ground and go milking for points.

    As far as cutting down on WAAC behavior... maybe after those players realize that they are going to win but until then I don't think so. The problem is and always has been enough rounds and in reality to be fair this could only be done in a season. Sure you have the powers of 2 but this gives you 1 undefeated player but not rankings after that.

    The problem with giving out prizes based on just a W/L record is that it really ends up watering down the prize pool. So you have 2 undefeated players they share the top prize okay. Well what about the 8 guys who have only lost one game. Do these guys get prize support split too? If they do that's a lot of prize support to go around probably only equal to the money they paid to play and if not, then do you just award the top 2. Well that's not really enough either because then other players feel left out. I think you need more prizes for other things to make people enjoy coming to the event but need rankings to award players for how well they did even if by a small margin.

    I think W/L is good but you need to have some way of breaking ties and BP's and VP's do exactly what you don't want... they promote milking points by "clubbing baby seals"

    I proposed what I think is a good compromise to this. Each mission has 2 objectives a primary and a secondary. The primary is the goal of the mission and what determines the winner and in case there is no winner from primary you go to the secondary objective to decide who won. Both objectives serve as tie breakers for rankings as well. It goes W/L record followed by the number of primary objectives completed followed by the number of secondaries completed. You have to design mission formats that between the two objectives should not allow for ties or at least minimize them and in this case a draw is probably owed to the players. With this version of a W/L you make available rankings and still because they are objective based with no degree of win involved after a player knows they are going to win... then in theory the players who would stop playing WAAC will and players who don't want to go "baby seal clubbing" will have no reason to do so.

  8. I think both W/L and BP’s have their pros and cons.

    A top player in my opinion has a better chance at fighting 2 seals in an event that is W/L with random pairings of winners then in a BP system using Swiss Pairings. The reason is a top player will fight another top player not just another random winner. Random makes the chance of a player clubbing two seals more likely as they may have fought 1 in the first round and then get paired again against one who squeaked by another pup in round 1. In my opinion if a seal happened to massacre another seal then they are more than capable of taking a solid pounding by a hardened vet and that is what you get from BP’s if they fight more than 1 seal.

    I will also add don’t quit trying to think of ways to make the system better. I am glad that everyone seems on the same page of getting rid of soft scores. I say if I go to a tournament I am there to win but I can have a good time while I am there. At the same time I am not there for a beer a pretzels game with my friends where I should only be playing fun lists, players are there to compete and their lists should reflect that not be penalized for it. Sportsmanship is too subjective I like systems that basically do three strikes you’re out as in DQ’D from the event that’s real incentive not to be a turd. Lastly I think Bp’s and soft scores have faded due in large to the new style player. I think the 40k community has built up such an ordeal over competition that that’s exactly what the game has become. Local events were run for years and sure you seen competitive lists but it seemed like all the players were easy going and were there to have a good time. A tournament wasn’t about winning so much as it was an annual reunion of all the local players and I think BP’s with soft scores did very well and I don’t remember any complaints back then well not locally anyway. The game evolved past there into real competitive play and is now starting to settle back into a more lax mode still hungry for competition and that is cool but to tame this new beast you have to find new tricks and that is what everyone is doing and I like it. Keep it up guys.

  9. I'm going to start off by saying this: I both respect and enjoy Sandwyrm, Spag, and Farmpunk. I hope they can say the same for me, although I can't say for sure! :P

    I have to try to say this over the internet without it meaning to sound rude, but I feel you made this post with a heavy bias inflated with your own viewpoint all throughout it. I would've appreciated it more if you objectively placed each viewpoint aside eachother for the viewer to see for himself a clear understanding of each viewpoint. I feel you have not supported my side of the argument with anything but disdain. Again, I'm not trying to sound rude here, but that's how it makes me feel.

    Rionny, I would appreciate not being smacked just because my opinion on the matter differs from the original poster. If I feel I have a point to make that will either further the development of the push to win/loss or a second thought on some things to consider, then I will express it. Please don't revert to bigoted statements and try to oust someone with a different stance, because I'm sure you wouldn't like it if the same was done to you.

    Also Sandwyrm, congratulations on getting some recognition on BoLS! That's quite an accomplishment and a true statement to the impact a few can have on a larger community. Everyone who is a "usual suspect" here should feel pretty awesome in the fact that they contribute to such a wealth of information that can become a focal point in the gamers from across the country!

    I would like more than 4,000 characters to reply with, this is tedious at best lol. Continued on next post....

  10. Objection 3:
    1) Draw a seal yourself... : Only one of my tournaments had someone go 60 for 60 on the battle points. Only one of his games was against a noob. This is simply an incomplete statement. If you get a good player and draw, you're certainly not out of the picture. I think you're being a bit extreme here. Also, not all massacres are because of the involvement of a baby seal.

    2) It's very hard for the seal beater to draw another baby seal after one massacre. He is now in the bracket with other massacre-getters. If he gets another baby seal it's because one seal clubbed another, which I feel is also rare. In theory your statements hold some truth, but in practice of running BP tournaments and attending a bunch of them, I see this occurence very very rarely.

    So in closing, I'd like to say again that I have nothing but respect for you and the other followers of w/l. I feel counterpoints will strengthen the resolve and push to w/l and to make sure you know exactly why you support it, and how to make it work effectively. On the flipside, it may even come to you that BPs are not always a bad thing. I feel you practically relate them to the devil, lol. I don't see it as a bad thing as being able to play both formats effectively since you will probably have to play in both formats if you ever hit the greater scene of GTs.

    I told Spag and Scott that I had fun and enjoyed the tournament out there. I was just glad there was something being ran and I actually nabbed a Saturday off to enjoy it. Just because I fundamentally disagree with the format doesn't mean it'll deter me from playing it. Because all in all, I like the game, I like playing it. I felt the tournament was run as well as it could be, because as TO's they know that nothing will ever come out perfectly. But the feeling that you tried at what you could and for the most part your players were happy, it's a success. My goal is not to try to stop you from running w/l formats, my goal is to squeeze out the ins and outs of the format and truely understand its ups and downs, pros and cons.


  11. I think there is a too much concentration on this baby seal beating. For me, I could care less about new players. This is more about how ANY player feels/acts, the pressure of ANY player to kill every unit, and how ALL players can benefit from a different system. I agree that there are many ways to run tournaments. And the statement that players can choose to go to a tournament or not. But before anyone should discount anything they should gain the experience and insight to look at both sides of the argument.

    Tournaments will always bring out competitive people. The difference in a W/L, in my opinion, is that the competitive players, HAVE THE OPTION OF CHOOSING NOT TO HAVE TO BE A JERK BY RUINING ANOTHERS SELF ESTEEM. In every other tournament I have played in I have had to attempt to crush everything to get every battle point, every objective, every thing. People that know me know how competitive I am. I am 1 hair below a WAAC player. But I know where to draw the line. The Win/Loss system has made me relax when playing, and that is VERY HARD to do.

    Thank you all for your posts and comments. I respect everyone for their thoughts.


  12. heh. and there's not a lot of hair for you to be under WAAC.


  13. Funny!!! I am growing it out!!! Well.....trying to that is! :)

  14. "It's very hard for the seal beater to draw another baby seal after one massacre. He is now in the bracket with other massacre-getters. If he gets another baby seal it's because one seal clubbed another, which I feel is also rare." - Very first worthwhile 5e Tournament I attended, this occurred.

    A really quite crap player was paired with someone literally playing her first gamne of 40k. The rights and clearly wrongs of first playing at a tourny aside, he tabled her, and then drew the eventual winner Round 2, where he was tabled in 3 turns himself.

  15. I bring this up every time this topic is discussed, but people should really take a look at this post. It's an example oh how in a battle-point tournament, pairings matter more than player skill.

  16. CaulynDarr,
    I am referencing it in my next article about why we should be playing a series of games in a tournament, not playing the game of the tournament 'system'

  17. @Fireteam

    we're pretty happy with being asked to have our articles put up on BoLS. I believe my article about making Missions for a tournament is going to make it there as well. It's possible we might get a few more up. Honestly, it's up to Brent.
    We try to make a quality product, it's nice to have people notice.

    I know you like the BP system. Our liking of W/L isn't something we woke up in October and decided to stand with. It's been forming for a long time. We watched the NOVA Open experiment eagerly. Mike Brandt
    argued a lot for why he was making his GT W/L. I wasn't really sure about how well it would work, but from the standpoint of someone looking at organizing a GT, I loved the simplicity.
    So Sand and I talked to Spag and Scotty, and we agreed to try some local W/L after seeing how well received NoVA was.

    I'm actually glad you're providing counterpoints. One of the things that makes us work as a blog for developing things IS discussion. Part of a good debate is someone willing to be a Counterpoint

  18. @Spag

    I think the whole idea behind clubbing baby seals is not so much that we care about the seals but that as a competitive player hate losing out to a guy who maybe fought 1 hard game all day when you got stuck fighting 3 solid players and were not able to pull off the massacres that you needed to beat him in either BP's or VP’s (when used as tie breakers). I don't think anyone really cares about the yoofs, I say let them get tuff and be proper boyz. We all paid our dues and are better players because of it.

  19. Fireteam_Nova said:

    "...I feel you made this post with a heavy bias inflated with your own viewpoint all throughout it. I would've appreciated it more if you objectively placed each viewpoint aside eachother for the viewer to see for himself a clear understanding of each viewpoint. I feel you have not supported my side of the argument with anything but disdain. Again, I'm not trying to sound rude here, but that's how it makes me feel."

    I don't want to be rude either, as I respect all the work you've done to make the tourneys at the South store a success. In comparison to all the other BP tourneys I've been to, yours rank as the best. You're also a fun guy to hang out with on a Sunday night at the store. :)

    But I'm not a reporter, and this isn't a piece of journalism. I'm writing these posts because I believe in what I say.

    The merits of W/L events were academic to me a year ago when when NOVA was in it's planning stages, but with their success, that of Battlefleet Salvation and my own experiences here locally, I'm converted. I'm not the only one to feel this way.

    I trust my readers to be able to decide whether my logic is flawed or my experiences aren't typical. We really do have the best commentators here analyzing everything we say. Including you. :)

    Now, if you want to write a exhaustive rebuttal of what I said, or say why BP tournies aren't so bad, I'd be more than happy to post your story on theBack40k in it's entirety and without any comments added.

  20. @Sandwyrm

    Oh, that's not really necessary. But thanks! :P

    It's not that deep, honestly. I'm saying what I'm saying to make sure it's said, and that's about it. I know you've got 3 or 4 more of these posts coming about misconceptions. So I'll reply to each one of those in turn. :)

    Thanks for addressing the tone of the post, and thanks for ranking me so high! I'm sure Spag and Scott rank pretty high as well. Having people that know the rules well enough and also know their players is usually a good formula for success. They seem to have that down pretty well.


    I'm glad you appreciate the counterpoints. Like I said, I'm not trying to stop you guys from doing something, but I want to try to make light of some things I think need to said. I don't imagine I'll stop countering what I can when it all gets posted. I enjoy discussion, and I'm fairly open to being convinced to change my viewpoint as well.

    All I need to do now is work on the amount of typos I have in these comments....

  21. What happened to my Objection 1 and 2 post? It's gone now and it makes me sad :(

  22. Dunno. I never saw anything but the objection 3 comment.

    If you re-write it, I'll post it.

  23. @Strung Puppet,

    We need to get a game in! And you too Fireteam NOVA. I heard you were pretty good.........! Let's practice some missions. :)

  24. I don't know where you heard I was good. I'm honestly terrible at the game. Plus, if I play a game and lose, it leaves something to prove. If I don't play a game, I can't lose, and all you can do is speculate whether or not I'm really good or not.

    Besides, the only intact army I have right now is Necrons. All I know how to do with them is run in the opposite direction of the enemy and pray for the game to end.

  25. @Spaguatyrine

    I am pretty open just let me know when is a good time for you. Oh yeah and goodluck at getting in a game with Fire Team. He's been dodging me now for some time. :)

  26. He is permantly phased out like his army!

  27. Thats funny. He has agreed to start playing more and has started a new army but wants to get it painted first which he has started to do. I guess we will see if he makes a come back tour some time in 2011. I hope so then maybe we can do some fun team competitions between the stores and stuff.


out dang bot!

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