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Terra Mystica» Forums » Variants

Subject: Balancing the factions using power income rss

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Christof Tisch
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Nice idea. What do you mean by income? Just once at the start or in every income phase?
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Daniel Andersson
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Is it not easier to give each race a head start in VP according to the VP table from snellman? So if there is a game between alchemists, nomads and halflings for example;
Halflings have the highest rating so they start with 20 VP.
Nomads starts with 24 VP.
Alchemists starts with 27 VP.
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Daniel Andersson
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sthrjo wrote:
That is not balancing the factions, it just balances the end result. But it gives a similar effect.


True. But it should be the easiest way since it does not require play testing.
But I think that the new town tiles will balance the factions somewhat. The Fakirs gets a really nice carpet flight bonus and I believe that Auren will like the double town key town tile.
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Pieter
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You say that the actual values should probably be higher...

Really?

They seem far too high already to me. Darklings and fakirs in the game: the fakirs get 36 power extra over the course of the game? That amounts to 18 power in the third bowl, which translates to 6 extra spades, or 6 priests, or 9 cubes, or over 30 coins. And what is especially important: you will often get first pick of the power actions.

I know the darklings are powerful, but with this much difference?

Moreover, it seems to me that adding more power to the game might unbalance the game, rather than the factions. The power actions will run out much quicker, so maybe they should cost more.
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Nico
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I also think balancing by power income can have many unwanted sideeffects.
If you really want to house rule something, just give the lower factions some VP.
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Robert Stewart
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The risk with balancing by adding points is that the current points distribution is based on people's understanding of the current balance - giving the weaker sides an advantage will encourage people to rate them more highly, so you may need to add a couple of extra points to compensate...
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Nico
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The expansion will have an tournament auction rule, You will start with more VP and will bid with VP for the factions.
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Daniel Andersson
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ZdadrDeM wrote:
The expansion will have an tournament auction rule, You will start with more VP and will bid with VP for the factions.


Where have you heard that?
 
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Neil Christiansen
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The auction rule is in the expansion as a variant.

My 2 cents: The power income per turn is probably too high to balance by about double. In other words, I suspect 6 is too much for Fakirs vs. Darklings and 3 would be enough.
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Nico
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Devastating D wrote:
ZdadrDeM wrote:
The expansion will have an tournament auction rule, You will start with more VP and will bid with VP for the factions.


Where have you heard that?


The designer talked about it in another thread.
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birchbeer
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ZdadrDeM wrote:
The expansion will have an tournament auction rule, You will start with more VP and will bid with VP for the factions.


That's unfortunate, if they're only using the VP model and not addressing the problem. I hope this is not the case. They've had sufficient time to playtest some of the proposed fixes for lagging races, and conversely to tone-down some overly strong races (e.g., Darklings and Halflings). And what better time to bring the 'updated rules' online than with a new 'expansion'?!
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Neil Christiansen
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That sounds reasonable, Henrik.

I wonder if the Fakirs are more or less viable with more players than 2? Some factions are advantaged or disadvantaged by more players.
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Joe Masinter
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I'm not convinced the sample size of 566 games where these statistics are pulled from is enough to justify adjustments. Darklings were also chosen in 220/566 and Fakirs only 76/566. All that really says to me is that there are some unknown number of expert players on the site who know how to play the Darklings very well, and who aren't fond of the Fakirs.

Maybe from a sample of 5,000 games all with hundreds of different expert-level players you could reasonably conclude from the statistics that one faction needs adjustment.

Of course some factions will also be clearly more favored in certain games because of the random bonus setup.

It's really not enough to draw any drastic conclusions. In any case I think a VP based auction for turn order, or perhaps a more complicated auction for both turn order and faction choice, would be a great solution for anyone who is convinced they might not get a fair chance of winning if their preferred faction is chosen by someone else.
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Juho Snellman
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There's this bizarre belief some people have about how factions being picked rarely is unfair and distorts the stats. If anything the stats are distorted the other way around -- a selection bias like this is a strong signal in itself, since it shows that nobody believes the Fakirs are competitive. The actual quality of the unpopular factions is likely even lower than the stats suggest, and vice versa. This is because Darklings are always a safe pick, while a faction like the Fakirs will mostly be picked when the stars are aligned just right.

There's no evidence for the Darkling results being because of a small number of skilled people picking it (the most profilic players tend to spread their faction picks around a fair bit). There's no proof of anyone knowing how to play the Fakirs well (and I say this as someone who has the highest recorded Fakir score on the site, 147vp). Among players who have played at least 2 games with both of the factions, the Darklings scored 17-29 points more on average. A strength adjusted score would be similarly lopsided as the raw score.

By now the burden of proof has to lie with the people who think that the Fakirs are viable in competitive play. They appear weak when you analyze factions from the first principles. They appear exceptionally weak based on statistical data. Nobody has figured out how to play them successfully. A pro-Fakr argume really needs to show some kind of plan that could work. Or hell, if not a plan then at least a theoretical argument for how their disadvantages could possibly be worked around. Just saying that there isn't enough data to prove beyond all doubt that they're weak is a weak argument.

(Note: this shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of the original variant suggestion in this thread. I don't think power income is a good balancing mechanism, and the suggested incomes seem way too high.)
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Aaron Bohm
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Um, I'll take the Fakirs with 7 power income...

does no one else think this is a tad powerful of a rebalance?
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Sky Zero
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Why does everything has to be balanced? And what is balanced in Terra Mystica? All races have strengths, weaknesses and have the ability to win. People worry about things like this too much. Shenanigans.
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Neil Christiansen
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I agree the proposed adjusment is too large with regard to power income, I disagee that there is no problem that needs to be addressed. The data are clear and many believe some sort of handicapping would make the game more enjoyable as a larger range of factions would be chosen for play.
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Aaron Bohm
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The stats are nice but I wouldn't take them as "proof" quite yet. For one, there isn't quite enough games yet to make it a representative sample. Second, the game is relatively young so some of the strategies no doubt are still likely suffering from group-think solutions. What's more, isn't all the data spread among only a handful of players? About 60-70 or so?

I'm not saying there isn't some balancing issues, I'm not convinced however that the ranking is as the stats say or at the very least that this data certainly isn't the end-all predictor.
 
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Neil Christiansen
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I have a lot of confidence in the trend of the mean points scored.

It is very easy to beg representativeness of sampling, but when it corresponds to the experience of so very many people...it adds credibility.

I believe the factions are not well balanced. There are data to support that. You can assert that they are not, but you should produce some data or else it is hollow criticism.

I personally belive they should have been better balanced based on set-up (e.g., how many poweer start in each bowl or how much upgrades cost).
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Neil Christiansen
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See, I think 60 or 70 players is a pretty robust sample.
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Aaron Bohm
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chris1nd wrote:
You can assert that they are not, but you should produce some data or else it is hollow criticism.


Woa, easy there. Did you read my post? I do believe they aren't balanced. Right now it's regarding the particulars of the stats and which races should be on top.

Halflings higher than the Dwarves, for example? The almighty Terra Snellman, with between 198 and 252 games under its belt says so, so it must be true!

I do have "data," everyone who's ever played the game has data. More importantly, I've professionally conducted studies that use statistical data to determine things like correlation and predictability so yes, I think it's fair for me to say that what we currently have might be a tad lax.

For one, there is a huge discrepancy between not only the most played and least played factions but also between the median and highest/lowest values.

If you look at the average score as well, you'll note that a number of races have a higher average score than their ranking would suggest. I know winning is important but this suggests that they are getting beat by a number of different races with uncharacteristically high scores often enough to lower their win % but keep their average high (and visa versa for higher ranked races with lower average score).


The format is also one that isn't set up to "test" which race is the best. It's simply people playing against each other for fun, picking races for a number of different reasons, some of which might not include trying to maximize a race's potential to win.

IE races are not handed out randomly nor is each race tested against the others evenly. Enough results over time will soften this a bit but for now it's pretty glaring - or in other words assume all players are of different skill levels and ask yourself, "if drafting wisely is part of the game, wouldn't better players tend to draft races they perceive as being better more often than lesser experienced players?" Also, who is to say that right now, maybe the Darklings just happen to be the favorite race of the most skilled players and therefore are currently doing better?

So sure, we can agree the races aren't balanced and could use some measure to balance them... but I'm really not sure how anyone could use these stats as a "beyond doubt, 100% factual proof of which races are ranked where." That's just silly and you know it.
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Jan B.
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I played around 70 games trough Juho's moderator. Here are some statements from me regarding the stats:

1. After 100-200 moderator plays the Witches, Nomads, Chaos Magicians and Halflings were most played. Three of them (my interpretation), because they are the "starting races" in the rules and therefore seen as easy to play. This leads to having more fluke and low stats for them. Chaos Magicians were an early favourite and everybody wanted to test them. Conclusion: early on the stats were very streaky and most likely too low for heavy-played races, while Engineers, Cultists for instance have been only played by experienced gamers.

2. Now, after nearly 10 months of online play, I think the stats are more significant. I look more on points per game compared to win ratio as well, by the way.

3. Never forget the impact that choosing Cultists means choosing against Halflings and so on. Fakirs are chosen less, because Nomads are nearly in every instance a better race for the certain setup. This means as well, that the Alchemists will never have to compete against Darklings, which should give hint that they are even harder to win with than the stats suggest.

4. Only 15 % of the games are 3 player. I give the Fakirs credit, that they are better with low player counts. This is really the biggest flaw I see with the overall stats and interpreting race strength with them.

5. In summary, I think the stats are really solid and represent race strength for 4-5 player games very well. Personal opinion is present of course. I do much better with Mermaids, Nomads and Cultists than the average player, while I really suck with Swarmlings or Dwarves. Don't know why, it's just what my stats are showing

6. This means: Darklings and Halflings are too strong, and Auren, Fakirs and Giants are too weak. If you want to win, do not take them (in 4-5 player games).

7. New town tiles might improve the chances of the three weak races and for cult heavy races. Intersting how the designers reacted a bit to the stats for the SPIEL goodies

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Philip Thomas
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kent_bro wrote:
I played around 70 games trough Juho's moderator. Here are some statements from me regarding the stats:

1. After 100-200 moderator plays the Witches, Nomads, Chaos Magicians and Halflings were most played. Three of them (my interpretation), because they are the "starting races" in the rules and therefore seen as easy to play. This leads to having more fluke and low stats for them. Chaos Magicians were an early favourite and everybody wanted to test them. Conclusion: early on the stats were very streaky and most likely too low for heavy-played races, while Engineers, Cultists for instance have been only played by experienced gamers.

2. Now, after nearly 10 months of online play, I think the stats are more significant. I look more on points per game compared to win ratio as well, by the way.

3. Never forget the impact that choosing Cultists means choosing against Halflings and so on. Fakirs are chosen less, because Nomads are nearly in every instance a better race for the certain setup. This means as well, that the Alchemists will never have to compete against Darklings, which should give hint that they are even harder to win with than the stats suggest.

4. Only 15 % of the games are 3 player. I give the Fakirs credit, that they are better with low player counts. This is really the biggest flaw I see with the overall stats and interpreting race strength with them.

5. In summary, I think the stats are really solid and represent race strength for 4-5 player games very well. Personal opinion is present of course. I do much better with Mermaids, Nomads and Cultists than the average player, while I really suck with Swarmlings or Dwarves. Don't know why, it's just what my stats are showing

6. This means: Darklings and Halflings are too strong, and Auren, Fakirs and Giants are too weak. If you want to win, do not take them (in 4-5 player games).

7. New town tiles might improve the chances of the three weak races and for cult heavy races. Intersting how the designers reacted a bit to the stats for the SPIEL goodies



Re 3: Surely this is as true of the real game as it is true of the stats. Alchemists will never have to face Darklings, hence they are easier to win with!

Re 4: Ok, just use the stats for the 4-5 player games (even better, use the 4-5 player game stats for this and the 3 player game stats for 3 player games once there are enough 3 player games for stats to be meaningful)
 
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Juho Snellman
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Like I said in geekmail, even if this variant will not be supported, you can use the manual resource adjustment commands to achieve that effect while still enforcing rules for the rest of the game.
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Aaron Bohm
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As suspected, even after only a few games more there's been some shifting in average points and thus positions based on points.

Notably, Dwarves went from being behind Witches to being slightly ahead as did Chaos Magicians over Alchemists. What's more is the middle seems to be tightening up with more scores closer to 114 than before.

It would be interesting to see a Median score result for the races, instead of just an average - especially for the Darklings.

Prediction on future moves base on some self-assumptions of how good each race is:

I expect Alchemists and Engineers to rise quite a bit in the rankings.

Halflings, Witches and Swarmlings are perhaps worse than their position merits and I expect them to move downward in the rankings.
 
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