Monday, December 13, 2010

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

by SandWyrm

This is a continuation from part one in this series, where I go through and respond to all of the major objections that people have raised to the idea of running Win/Loss style 40K tournaments. All of which were aired after people read my previous post on Why Battlepoints Are Gimping Your Tournaments here on theBack40k, and it's later appearance on BoLS.

Objection 4: In Win/Loss, You Can't Recover From A Bad Game And Still Win.

or... "I Like BPs Because They Measure How Well You Did In A Game!"

True, but that sword also cuts both ways. With Battlepoints, It's possible for a lucky player to get so far ahead in the rankings that nobody has any hope at all of taking him down.

Like I did at BlueMoon's Tourney last spring:

BMG Tourney Report, Game 3

Between the comp and everything else, I had perfect scores in the first 2 games. Which meant that nothing short of losing by a massacre would have knocked me out of first place for the tourney as a whole. In fact, if the scores for the first 2 games hadn't been capped, I could have sat back and had a beer for the last game and still won the whole thing. That's not right.

As for BPs allowing you to measure the skill of the players, that's an illusion. Because unless all of your players are of the exact same skill level, you're just measuring the luck of the draw.

As an example, let's imagine a small 16-player, 3 round tourney where we have 3 pretty good players (Orcas) and 13 weak to middling players (Seals). Massacres get 3 points, Major Victories get 2 points, and Close Victories get 1 point.

Scenario 1:

Shamu beats 2 baby seals and an adult seal. For a total of 8 points (3 + 3 + 2). Willie beats 1 baby seal and 2 adult seals, for 7 points (3 + 2 + 2). Corky beats 3 adult seals, for 6 points (2 + 2 + 2).

Shamu takes 1rst, Willie takes 2nd, and Corky takes 3rd. But none of these players ever had to fight another Orca. So we don't know if Corky would have actually beaten Shamu if given the chance. Sure, all 3 finalists are good players, but their rankings tell us nothing about their relative skill. Instead the best seal-beater won. So the final results are luck-based.

That's the best case. Now for the worst:

Scenario 2:

Shamu beats 2 baby seals (6 points), and faces Corky in the final round, losing the game (0 points).
Willie beats 2 baby seals and an adult seal (8 points).
Corky beats 2 baby seals (6 points), and narrowly beats Shamu (1 point), for a total of 7 points.

Willie wins the tourney! But is he really the better player? It looks to me like he just got luckier than his two friends, who were punished for drawing each other. In a Win/Loss event with 4 rounds, Willie would still have to beat Corky to prove he's good enough to deserve first place!

This series has focused a lot of attention on the unfriendliness of seal-beating to the seals; but we also need to think about the validity of the competitive results. If I attend a BP tourney with Farmpunk and Spangy, it's a crap-shoot as to who will win the day. Leaving us with very little to feel good about if we win and lots to gripe about if we "lose".

Things are actually better for me if soft-scores are included, because I'm a good enough painter that I'd have a huge advantage over the other 2 guys. But while that helps me gain the "win", it still says nothing about my relative skill as a player.

Objection 5: Double Elimination Would Be Better!

I won't argue that. But double-elimination for a series of games that each last at least 2 hours can't be done in a weekend. So it's not really a solution we can consider. The idea is better suited to some sort of long-term contest where players are matched up by the organizer and play each game at their leisure.

Objection 6: Not Having A Single Winner Isn't Acceptable!

I think this is the best anti-W/L argument, as most people attending a tourney expect there to be a first place winner at the end of the day. But if that first place win doesn't mean anything because the format is deeply flawed, what's the point?

You can be dishonest, and go through the motions of running a large 16+ player event in 3 rounds; crowning a "winner" at the end of the day. But what's the result of that? The undefeated competitive players end up feeling cheated (especially if a player that lost a game "won"), while the seals go away demoralized because they were blown off the table repeatedly instead of simply being defeated. You lose both ways!

So let's be honest instead. If we can't have a single undefeated winner in X number of rounds, let's just reward each undefeated winner equally. No awards for the 2-1 players. Just a prize for each undefeated player. Going undefeated becomes the goal of the tourney instead of trying to "win" a flawed system. The rest of the field can still try for door prizes or best painted/overall.

Really, where's the evil in that? No, it's not perfect. But it's honest and a better system than what we have now.


  1. You're doing a great job of carrying this torch forward. Keep it up brother.

  2. I agree. Even though I would rather get 1st everytime!!!! Unless I want to play until my arms fall off I am ok with splitting a prize. I mean in the 28 player we just had, the top 4 players had a playoff. They were the top 4 no matter what. 2 Tied for 1st, and 2 Tied for 2nd. I don't see an issue with that. You can even still give out prize support as we did for other places and sportsman, and painting, and .....

    The problem with comp scores is that someone that is undefeated can still be jumped by someone with a loss. This was the case in the Lafayette tournament. The problem with BP is that it is still nearly impossible to win with a loss or tie. Or someone jumps the top table because you actually have the top tables who are good players and they draw or slightly win and someone from the 5th table jumps everyone because they massacre their opponent which has also happened to me.

  3. I see no reason why anyone who loses a game would feel they deserved a prize...

  4. Because they will complain, and TO's don't want that.
    In Lafayette,
    This really happened: The 1st place finisher who lost to the third place winner that jumped the third and second place winner, me, knew he shouldn't have won. He even said he shouldn't have, but that didn't stop him from taking the first place trophy and prize. Go Figure. I am not sure if I quoted this, but I refused the 2nd place prize and just left. Since then they have made a lot of great changes, but I bring that up because of the above topic.

  5. My GODS, I would like to attend an event where there were prizes for going undefeated and no overall winner. Who says a tournament has to pick the Official Best At Everything and send everyone else home sulking? Even tournaments *with* an overall winner throw second/third and other consolation prizes in there, so I'd hope there's no objection to multiple people walking away happy.

  6. The situation Aaron's talking about was LEXPO, and the guy who won felt bad because he lost to me on the final table and still jumped both me and Aaron for the win. He actually didn't take first place prize, he swapped with me because he felt bad--it was just a $10 difference but it was still really nice of him to do.

    The situation I ran into at the last Lafayette tournament was even more hilarious--I was the only undefeated player in the final round (as nobody else even went 2-0), but I was also the only person on the top two tables that had been mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament.

    Basically I was playing to determine who else would win. If I went 3-0, the winner from table 2 would jump me. If I lost on table 1, the guy I lost to would win. I ended up winning my game and going 3-0, so the winner from table 2 jumped me, and it happened to be the same guy from LEXPO who had traded prizes with me--so I didn't feel too bad about it. He's a good guy.

  7. @Von

    There needs to be a prize for the undefeated player(s), but I agree with Mike Brandt that there do need to be other awards that the players with a defeat or two can aim for.

  8. I think every system has it's pro's and con's.

    I like W/L simply because of the logical sense that it makes for a friendlier atmosphere.

    I don't like the thought of W/L and only awarding the undefeated players. I think the point was made that when this is the case it encourages more WAAC behavior simply because one loss and you’re out. That to me defeats what I like about W/L.

    Now for BP's. I like them because they have a system in place to award a degree of win. The flaw there is the way it awards degree of win. It uses a scaled system that rewards overwhelmingly based on pairings and has a large variance for determining degree of win. For example a Daemon Hunter player against a Daemon player (the DH players one lucky draw of the day) or a veteran against a novice. This flawed system also encourages WAAC behavior simply because point milking is so important to the overall win especially when you get those golden pairing where you can really milk the points.

    The positive side is that it does award players for how well they played and in my opinion a win is not just a win. I think completing the mission and its objectives is paramount followed by a hard fought battle. Unfortunately this is not how BP's award points.

    My main reason for supporting rankings is simply if done right can help both systems biggest flaw and that is bad pairings. In the W/L system where you only award the undefeated players if you get 2 solid players paired in round 1 you have just eliminated 1 solid player from competition that sucks for the losing player because his day is over. If you find a way to do rankings and award more than just the undefeated players then that player should have a chance at some prize but I agree there should be no way he finishes higher than an undefeated player. That leaves incentive to stick around and makes for happier players. BP's award exploiting the match up where one guy can steam roll his opponent for points and get ahead of other players who may have a better W/L record. The reverse is true for the player who lost that match as he gained no points putting him so far behind that he may lose to someone with a worse W/L record.

    As I said both systems have flaws. I really support W/L but there needs to be in my opinion some way of ranking players with the emphasis on W/L record. Also neither system needs soft scores but that is a different discussion.

  9. YES!!! I agree with Strung Muppet on something! (Suprise), But a system that has a massacre, minor, etc, point scoring system absolutely pushes WAAC to the extreme. A Win/Loss format with secondary objectives that are Kill points, or victory points, or destroying a particular type of unit or force organization also is a WAAC pusher. The secondary objectives should only be used to ensure ties are broken in all aspects of the game.

    I believe pairings should always be randon and not determined by the seconday objectives. In a win/loss same records should be paired randomly with like records.

    But at least we agree that a Win/Loss is a better way to go. And I will add again, if secondary objectives aren't WAAC pushers, then all is good!

    Death to Battle Points!!

  10. Muppet Said:

    "I don't like the thought of W/L and only awarding the undefeated players. I think the point was made that when this is the case it encourages more WAAC behavior simply because one loss and you’re out. That to me defeats what I like about W/L."

    Please explain what you mean by this. I really want to know how you think that W/L might increase WAAC when the degree of win doesn't matter. Because I can't see it.

  11. I feel like the problems are getting narrowed down here. That is great.

    I am interested as to why you think KP'S and VP's encourage WAAC.

    I am not sure exactly how you were talking about them being used but here are my thoughts. I see them the same as any other objective. If you know you have more points than your opponent then you don't need to keep beating them while they're down. This is true as long as you don't attach a degree of win system to them. Like awarding points for them as tie breakers. If it's a simple objective then I see them the same as any other objective. You fight until you know you have the win and can then relax. I don't think using kill the enemy as an objective as encouraging WAAC it's just another objective and it is a war game so why not have an objective based around killing the other guy. So to me if they can be used as a primary then why not as a secondary as long as no degree of win is attached to them and they are not always used as a secondary. Let me know your thoughts because I think it's a good topic to discuss.

    I like the idea of pairings based on W/L record and then randomizing them but what about based on a modified ranking by not using as many tie breakers for pairings so you wind up with more guys sharing the same ranking. For example you pair guys who won by completing the primary objective with other guys who won by completing the primary objective and guys who won by only completing the secondary with other guys who won by only completing the secondary. Just ideas then you’re not playing (1 vs. 2) and (3 vs. 4)... but you are playing similarly ranked opponents. This could help divide up the field at the end of the day and allows things like strength of schedule to be used as a tie breaker for final standings. Like I said just an idea

  12. @ SandWyrm

    What I was getting at is if I show up to an event and I know that 1 loss and I am out of contention for anything then I will be more inclined to play much harder against my opponents. I feel this is true about most competitive players but I will stick with me for now. So I know that if I lose and am out, then there is no reason to kick back and take it easy I will play to win. I will say our opinions on WAAC differ so let me clarify. You seem to almost relate it to cheating where I relate it to being competitive to a point where it may not be fun for the other guy up to and including being a rules lawyer but not cheating. Now say that you do prizes to the top players not just the undefeated players. I can lose 1 and still get something for doing well not 1st or 2nd and that is fine but something none the less. I would be content with that. I wouldn't expect something if I lost two rounds and outside of the real DB's out there I don't think any other competitive player would complain either. I think most guys can be happy if by losing 1 they have a chance at something even if they don't end up getting something simply the chance that they might is usually good enough but when as soon as you lose its all over then yeah I think it encourages more of a desire to win each game and so increases WAAC behavior. I look at a tournament where I have to pay to play like an investment and I want to see a return on my investment. I enjoy having a good time but when I have to worry about losing out on my investment then I buckle down and go to work. If I wanted to just have fun I could just hang out with you guys and play the game. If it was a free event then I would just be playing to play the game prizes would just be a bonus and there would be no real desire to win outside of bragging rights and well those alone aren’t worth being a pain over. Just my opinion though.

  13. @ Muppet,

    Well, who really knows how many VP's you have during a match? I don't calculate those when I play but kind of eyeball it as I try to play fast and not take all day like some people. What I said was using victory points, battle points, kill points as a secondary objective pushes the WAAC bubble. Kill points is a standard mission so that is understood that 1 game could be straight kill points with lets say table quarters as an objective. But to then have objective games with kill points or victory points as secondary objectives then still puts the focus of smashing lots of units to ensure all the secondary objectives are obtained. So in a 4 round tournament, if half the mission have some type of mission whether secondary or primary to kill units and obtain mass victory points, then.... we are encouraging ..... WAAC.

    So to break the ties, I believe having secondary objectives whether it be a kill point mission then table quarters, Seize ground with an odd number of objectives and the center being worth 2 points, capture and control with units in enemy deployment zone, etc, all of these are the standard mission with a secondary objective that doesn't mean you have to wipe out the entire opponents army.

    Now again we can never control what someone will do, but this LIMITS THE NEED to accomplish tabling your opponent. That is all I am saying, develop an environment that is more relaxed and less dependent on massacres to be at the top. This is why random pairing and prizes for top 6 places is easily determined.
    So in your 32 you will have 2 undefeated with probably 8 2-1. With the 2 undefeated whoever has the most secondary objectives at the end of the day is the winner. In the 2-1 category, the top however many places you decide to give prizes to is also determined by how many secondary objectives they have. So it could look like this:

    1st place 3-0 w/7 objectives
    2nd place 3-0 w/6 objectives
    3rd place 2-1 w/7 objectives
    4th place 2-1 w/6 objectives
    5th place 2-1 w/5 objectives (tied)
    6th place 2-1 w/5 objectives (tied)

    This would still give prize support to any number of places you choose but still be a Win/Loss without the NEED TO table opponents.

  14. @ Spaguatyrine

    I see what you are saying about kill points and victory points. I could see how using victory points could lead to tabling your opponent out of ease. Simply because it's easier to wipe out your opponents army then calculate VP's. With that being said I still agree with several other players who think VP's are better than KP's. As far as their use as a secondary objective I think it is perfectly fine for us to agree to disagree. :)
    As far as encouraging tabling your opponent or just mopping up as many units as you can. I think that regardless of the objective that killing as much of the enemy force as possible is a sound way of ensuring victory. That's just me though.

    As far as the rankings you suggested that's pretty much what I am doing so we agree on something else. Rankings go W/L followed by number of primary objectives completed followed by number of secondary objectives completed. Lastly for rankings which get prize support I am using a strength of schedule calculation as a final tie breaker. If there are still ties after that congrats to both and they share the ranking and that places prize in addition to each subsequent prize for each additional player that shares a tie. Although ties in my system should be fairly rare at least for prize distribution.


out dang bot!

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