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Terra Mystica» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Faction selection by experts rss

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Robert
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With the seventh season of the TM League about done, I revisited my earlier analysis Factions which the experts like, this time taking into account all tournament games from divisions 1+2 (that's three leagues per season), i.e. 21 leagues with 147 games. Three games had a drop-out, so the stats are from 144 games played by the best players of the online community in a competitive environment. I.e. it's unlikely that players "fooled around".

For every faction I list how often it was taken, how often it made 1st/2nd/3rd/4th place plus I'll add the number of points that faction has earned on average in the finished games (using the TM League system: 6 points for 1st place, 3 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd, 0 for 4th).

Sorted by success:
Faction #games #wins #2nd #3rd #last avg points
Cultists 21 8 7 3 3 3.43
Halflings 35 13 9 8 5 3.23
Mermaids 54 18 14 10 12 2.96
Engineers 57 18 15 14 10 2.93
Darklings 105 29 31 24 21 2.77
Dwarves 26 5 10 5 6 2.50
Nomads 79 21 16 19 23 2.44
Witches 54 9 15 17 13 2.15
Swarmlings 37 7 7 12 11 2.03
Chaos Magicians 57 10 12 19 16 2.02
Auren 10 2 1 4 3 1.90
Alchemists 22 2 6 3 11 1.50
Giants 15 2 1 5 7 1.33
Fakirs 4 0 0 1 3 0.25



Sorted by popularity:
Faction #games #wins #2nd #3rd #last avg points
Darklings 105 29 31 24 21 2.77
Nomads 79 21 16 19 23 2.44
Engineers 57 18 15 14 10 2.93
Chaos Magicians 57 10 12 19 16 2.02
Mermaids 54 18 14 10 12 2.96
Witches 54 9 15 17 13 2.15
Swarmlings 37 7 7 12 11 2.03
Halflings 35 13 9 8 5 3.23
Dwarves 26 5 10 5 6 2.50
Alchemists 22 2 6 3 11 1.50
Cultists 21 8 7 3 3 3.43
Giants 15 2 1 5 7 1.33
Auren 10 2 1 4 3 1.90
Fakirs 4 0 0 1 3 0.25

________________________________________________________________

Darklings are overwhelmingly popular (picked in 105 out of 144 games), but don't lead regarding number of wins or points. However, their still-better-than-average result (despite being picked in 73% of all games!!) shows their versatility and that they can be adapted to the majority of setups. That's a good explanation why they were the 1st pick in 54 games (i.e. in 37.5% of all games).

Here's how their success relates to when they were picked:
pick 1 pick 2 pick 3 pick 4
winner 20 5 4 0 29=28%
2nd 13 12 5 1 31=30%
3rd 11 5 4 4 24=23%
4th 10 6 4 1 21=20%
54=51% 28=27% 17=16% 6=6%

________________________________________________________________

Of the 13 games won by Halflings, 10 had SPADE>>2 in round 4, one more had it in round 3. Also, 5 of the 13 had Alchemists in the game - looks like that's good for Halflings.
________________________________________________________________

Mermaids were particularly successful with BON10 in the game (16 out of 18 won games), BON1 was present in 15 of the 18 games won. Ship advancement amongst the 18 winners was 1*2, 5*3, 3*4, 10*5. Btw. the Mermaid winner with shipping just on level 2 did have BON10 in the game. surprise
37% of the Mermaids were the 1st pick (20), with another 30% being 2nd pick (16). 8 of the 1st picks won, and 5 of the 2nd picks.
________________________________________________________________

With Engineers, it seems that picking them on position 3 is a good idea - certainly don't pick them when you're 1st.
pick 1 pick 2 pick 3 pick 4
winner 0 5 10 3 18=32%
2nd 2 6 1 6 15=26%
3rd 1 5 3 5 14=25%
4th 2 3 2 3 10=18%
5=9% 19=33% 16=28% 17=30%

________________________________________________________________

Nomads, while being 2nd-most popular, are doing slightly sub-par, and are often picked late. Maybe a common reason to pick them is "there's nothing better left".
pick 1 pick 2 pick 3 pick 4
winner 3 3 7 8 21=27%
2nd 1 3 6 6 16=20%
3rd 1 3 10 5 19=24%
4th 3 4 5 11 23=29%
8=10% 13=16% 28=35% 30=38%





Note: ties were not resolved as they should regarding points, instead I forced an order on them. E.g. a tie for 2nd place between faction A and B was converted into A on 2nd and B on 3rd, also for the point calculation. On average the varying order between A and B should even this out.
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Aernout Casier
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I have tried those pesky Giants three times now. I wish I could say something along the lines of "with mixed success", but that would be a huge exaggeration since I am still very unsure how to play them. The fact that two of the scoring tiles, one of the bonus cards and one of the options on the board (those offering free spade actions) are unavailable to them might add to this?

Strangely, the very fact that I struggle to play them well, makes them more attractive to me. It at the very least feels kind of reassuring that apparently they are neither among the first picks nor among the successful picks, so I am not the only one not making the most out of them.

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Yet again Doc, thanks for all your hard work.

A few observations:

1) At the highest level, I think going fourth is a disadvantage, as the best three factions for the setup have already been chosen. Nevertheless it is a compliment to the game designers that fourth is still quite competitive.

2) The Darklings ranking matches my opinion of them. They are like an Anna Kournikova hand in poker (Ace King or AK), looks good but rarely win.

3) I am not surprised by the Engineers ranking as this faction is so versatile esp in the hands of pros.

4) I'm completely surprised that Cultists are top, but I never play them. It appears on the classic format, without the extra scoring tile, they should be the "go to" default faction instead of the nomads

5) I still don't get Chaos Magicians popularity, they never seem to do really well.

6) Not surprised that the Halflings have a specialised setup that suits them.

7) I'm surprised that Nomads and Witches are mid-range factions. They have powers that can be really useful.
 
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5) Chaos Magician being my most picked faction, I can tell you that if they go through a fine early game, they can end up winning on all front.

But having a fine early game with CM means that you have dug on the right hexes and that the ones you look for to expand haven't been stolen yet.
That's not always likely to happen, especially if yellow or grey is on the board, given the fact that you start the game with only 1 dwelling.

That's also why I don't get why the SA start is so popular. I highly prefer to secure crucial hexes at the start of the game, even if I know building SA would give me more VP at the end if a perfect scenario happens.
 
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AernoutMJC wrote:
I have tried those pesky Giants three times now. I wish I could say something along the lines of "with mixed success", but that would be a huge exaggeration since I am still very unsure how to play them. The fact that two of the scoring tiles, one of the bonus cards and one of the options on the board (those offering free spade actions) are unavailable to them might add to this?



I'm a relative beginner to TM but my understanding of the rules was that if you take the single spade Power Action or Bonus Tile Action, you may still add workers to it to gain additional spades. So while not as good for Giants as other factions, the option is not unavailable to them (someone more experienced please correct me if I'm wrong about the rules here). AFAIK the only time the Giants can't use a single spade is if it was gained via end of round cult bonus.
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CommissarFeesh wrote:
AernoutMJC wrote:
I have tried those pesky Giants three times now. I wish I could say something along the lines of "with mixed success", but that would be a huge exaggeration since I am still very unsure how to play them. The fact that two of the scoring tiles, one of the bonus cards and one of the options on the board (those offering free spade actions) are unavailable to them might add to this?



I'm a relative beginner to TM but my understanding of the rules was that if you take the single spade Power Action or Bonus Tile Action, you may still add workers to it to gain additional spades. So while not as good for Giants as other factions, the option is not unavailable to them (someone more experienced please correct me if I'm wrong about the rules here). AFAIK the only time the Giants can't use a single spade is if it was gained via end of round cult bonus.


Everything you've said there is correct.
 
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SillyWords wrote:
CommissarFeesh wrote:
AernoutMJC wrote:
I have tried those pesky Giants three times now. I wish I could say something along the lines of "with mixed success", but that would be a huge exaggeration since I am still very unsure how to play them. The fact that two of the scoring tiles, one of the bonus cards and one of the options on the board (those offering free spade actions) are unavailable to them might add to this?



I'm a relative beginner to TM but my understanding of the rules was that if you take the single spade Power Action or Bonus Tile Action, you may still add workers to it to gain additional spades. So while not as good for Giants as other factions, the option is not unavailable to them (someone more experienced please correct me if I'm wrong about the rules here). AFAIK the only time the Giants can't use a single spade is if it was gained via end of round cult bonus.


Everything you've said there is correct.


From the rule book:
(A single Spade will be forfeit when gained in Phase III as a Cult bonus.)

So this only goes for these particular single spades? That might make a difference, even though it still means that 2 round scoring tile bonuses are useless, of course.
 
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Robert
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There were two games won by Giants: 4pLeague_S4_D2L1_G3 and 4pLeague_S1_D2L1_G7.

Commonalities (please note that two isn't a meaningful sample size - these commonalities have only andecdotal value ):
- BON4 (+3pw ship+1), BON5 (+1w +3pw), BON7 (TP*2 +1w, BON9 (D*1 +2c)
- identical scoring in rounds 1-3 + 6: rd1: SA/SH>>5/2 FIRE->1w, rd2: TOWN>>5/4 EARTH->1 SPADE, rd3: D>>2/4 WATER->1P, rd6: TP>>3, plus a D>>2 scoring in rd4 resp. rd5
- FAV10 and FAV11; FAV11 taken in round 2, turn 4
- three towns formed
- Darklings and a brown faction in the game
- early ACT4 (one player late in rd1, the other early in rd2)

 
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DocCool wrote:

Of the 13 games won by Halflings, 10 had SPADE>>2 in round 4, one more had it in round 3. Also, 5 of the 13 had Alchemists in the game - looks like that's good for Halflings.

To me this looks more like digging faction friendly games (with SPADE>>2), that are good for halflings, are also attractive for Alchemists.

DocCool wrote:

Nomads, while being 2nd-most popular, are doing slightly sub-par, and are often picked late. Maybe a common reason to pick them is "there's nothing better left".
Also picking Nomads last guarantees that you may pick the desired bonus tile (e.g. BON6).

SillyWords wrote:

1) At the highest level, I think going fourth is a disadvantage, as the best three factions for the setup have already been chosen. Nevertheless it is a compliment to the game designers that fourth is still quite competitive.

Is it such a common scenario that there are exactly 3 good colors and 4 bad ones? It might very well be only one or two obvious choices.
When you're forth you can at least be sure to get the bonus tile you want and won't be surprised by anyone picking the neighbor color you would like to avoid. Personally I prefer being first or last player, so you can cherry-pick once, but this feeling may be wrong. (@Robert: Average points for each seat would be interesting here if your data may spit that out without to much effort! )

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Andrew Keddie
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AernoutMJC wrote:
SillyWords wrote:
CommissarFeesh wrote:
AernoutMJC wrote:
I have tried those pesky Giants three times now. I wish I could say something along the lines of "with mixed success", but that would be a huge exaggeration since I am still very unsure how to play them. The fact that two of the scoring tiles, one of the bonus cards and one of the options on the board (those offering free spade actions) are unavailable to them might add to this?



I'm a relative beginner to TM but my understanding of the rules was that if you take the single spade Power Action or Bonus Tile Action, you may still add workers to it to gain additional spades. So while not as good for Giants as other factions, the option is not unavailable to them (someone more experienced please correct me if I'm wrong about the rules here). AFAIK the only time the Giants can't use a single spade is if it was gained via end of round cult bonus.


Everything you've said there is correct.


From the rule book:
(A single Spade will be forfeit when gained in Phase III as a Cult bonus.)

So this only goes for these particular single spades? That might make a difference, even though it still means that 2 round scoring tile bonuses are useless, of course.


Well they're only useless if you're insufficiently advanced up the cult track. If you're far enough along to get two spades at round end you can use them.
 
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Robert
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SpaceTrucker wrote:
DocCool wrote:
Of the 13 games won by Halflings, 10 had SPADE>>2 in round 4, one more had it in round 3. Also, 5 of the 13 had Alchemists in the game - looks like that's good for Halflings.

To me this looks more like digging faction friendly games (with SPADE>>2), that are good for halflings, are also attractive for Alchemists.
The point is that the Halflings won, and the Alchemists didn't. And compared to 7 of the 13 games which had Darklings, the presence of Alchemists seems good for the Halflings chances.

There were 26 "digging" games with SPADE>>2 in round 4. The winners were:
- 1 win: Alchemists, Auren, Engineers, Giants, Mermaids
- 2 wins: Nomads, Swarmlings
- 7 wins: Chaos Magicians (!! surprise)
- 10 wins: Halflings

Halflings were picked in 16 of these games, Darklings were picked in 12, Alchemists in 11. In the one digging game won by Alchemists, Halflings came in 2nd.

SpaceTrucker wrote:
(@Robert: Average points for each seat would be interesting here if your data may spit that out without to much effort! )
You're looking for this?
win 2nd 3rd 4th avg. tournament points
pick
1 41 32 34 37 2.61
2 29 44 37 34 2.38
3 40 36 38 30 2.68
4 34 32 35 43 2.32


E.g. 1st pick won 41 times, 2nd pick won 29 times, 3rd pick won 40 times, 4th pick won 34 times

I find this a great result showing the nice balancing and versatility of this game. Start position -on average (!)- does not determine the winner.
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DocCool wrote:
There were 26 "digging" games with SPADE>>2 in round 4. The winners were:
- 1 win: Alchemists, Auren, Engineers, Giants, Mermaids
- 2 wins: Nomads, Swarmlings
- 7 wins: Chaos Magicians (!! surprise)
- 10 wins: Halflings

How are Chaos Magician doing so well here? I would expect them to have a hard time setting up the combo by turn 4.
 
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xnor wrote:
DocCool wrote:
There were 26 "digging" games with SPADE>>2 in round 4. The winners were:
- 1 win: Alchemists, Auren, Engineers, Giants, Mermaids
- 2 wins: Nomads, Swarmlings
- 7 wins: Chaos Magicians (!! surprise)
- 10 wins: Halflings

How are Chaos Magician doing so well here? I would expect them to have a hard time setting up the combo by turn 4.

Why not? I consider Chaos Magicians as one of those races who can fairly easily benefit from turn 4 spades.

If we don't consider the ice factions, Halflings are obviously best and Darklings/Alchemists are 2nd best, but after that are probably Swarmlings and Chaos Magicians.

Chaos Magicians can gain access to quite a few red areas with shipping, so they have potential to lay out major part of their dwellings by turn 3, and they usually also get extra workers from fav7. If they also manage to get a lot of coins (where fav8 and fav9 help), they can usually afford to advance digging twice and get 10+ VP out of turn 4 spades. Without digging Chaos Magicians have quite tough time forming towns, because they will need so many bridges.

Basically almost all factions can benefit from turn 4 spades if you can lay out your dwellings quickly (ideally 6-7 by end of turn 2) and also manage to get money somehow (bon2, bon3, act4). Only factions I would never try to abuse turn 4 spades with are Fakirs, Giants and Engineers (and fire factions) and even for those you can still try to aim to get act6 on turn 4.
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Robert
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Hehe, one of the CM winners is actually Petri/Xevoc, who did indeed advance digging twice, but AFTER round 4 and got NOT A SINGLE VP from SPADE>>2. He did build three towns though (and guess what: there was a TOWN>>5 scoring in round 6 ).

Some more details regarding the seven Chaos Magicians who won a "digging" game (SPADE>>2 in round 4):
- four were 4th pick (the other three were each one of 1st, 2nd and 3rd pick)
- only two advanced their digging - and both did so AFTER round 4, both won without a single VP from the SPADE>>2 scoring!
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DocCool wrote:
SpaceTrucker wrote:
DocCool wrote:
Of the 13 games won by Halflings, 10 had SPADE>>2 in round 4, one more had it in round 3. Also, 5 of the 13 had Alchemists in the game - looks like that's good for Halflings.

To me this looks more like digging faction friendly games (with SPADE>>2), that are good for halflings, are also attractive for Alchemists.
The point is that the Halflings won, and the Alchemists didn't. And compared to 7 of the 13 games which had Darklings, the presence of Alchemists seems good for the Halflings chances.

The presence of Alchemists means that there are no Darklings, may that's a reason.
Besides I don't really see why Alchemists are not potencially super strong to score with digging if played right with good use of the vp->c conversion (instead of playing them as if they were Darklings like some players seem to try which leads to the opposite, a huge pile of unspent coins...).

DocCool wrote:
SpaceTrucker wrote:
(@Robert: Average points for each seat would be interesting here if your data may spit that out without to much effort! )
You're looking for this?
win 2nd 3rd 4th avg. tournament points
pick
1 41 32 34 37 2.61
2 29 44 37 34 2.38
3 40 36 38 30 2.68
4 34 32 35 43 2.32


E.g. 1st pick won 41 times, 2nd pick won 29 times, 3rd pick won 40 times, 4th pick won 34 times

I find this a great result showing the nice balancing and versatility of this game. Start position -on average (!)- does not determine the winner.

Thanks! So 4th pick does not seem to be significantly worse (as it was my feeling above). Probably the differences are also influenced by the small sample size.
 
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Robert
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This is the overall 4p statistic from http://terra.snellman.net/stats/ (set to 4p, Original scoring, Original map - i.e. the settings of the tournament). These stats even see the 4th pick as slightly more promising than the first three.

Position Wins Games Win % Average position
first 2262.17 9590 23.59 2.57
second 2226.33 9590 23.22 2.53
second-to-last 2457.83 9590 25.63 2.47
last 2643.67 9590 27.57 2.43


Note that "average position" in this table cannot be compared to the "avg (tournament) points" in my tables further up. Also, this includes all such 4p games, not just games between experts. If you mix a 1300 ELO player with three 1000 ELO players, the starting position won't matter much - the 1300 player will likely win.
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Robert
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In the 144 expert tournament games I checked, three faction combination were particularly popular - numbers in brackets indicate how often that faction was 1st pick:
- 11 times: Darklings (2), Engineers (4), Mermaids (4), Nomads (1)
- 6 times: Darklings (3), Engineers, Nomads (3), Witches
- 6 times: Chaos Magicians (1), Darklings (3), Nomads (1), Witches (1)

All other combinations were played 3 times or less.


 
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DocCool wrote:
In the 144 expert tournament games I checked, three faction combination were particularly popular - numbers in brackets indicate how often that faction was 1st pick:
- 11 times: Darklings (2), Engineers (4), Mermaids (4), Nomads (1)
- 6 times: Darklings (3), Engineers, Nomads (3), Witches
- 6 times: Chaos Magicians (1), Darklings (3), Nomads (1), Witches (1)

All other combinations were played 3 times or less.




I wonder how these stats hold up over the average of all games.
 
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Robert
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Prodigaldax wrote:
I wonder how these stats hold up over the average of all games.
The overall stats are very likely different. There's a reason why I picked these 144 games: we can safely assume that
a) all players were experienced, highly skilled and knew what they were doing
b) faction picks and game play were overwhelmingly decided based on optimizing their own score (as opposed to "Cultists have a cool picture - I think I'll try them" )
c) they are all using the same parameters (no expansion stuff beyond VTO, all mini-expansions enabled)

For the average game, neither a) nor b) must be true - you can filter for c) though. Game stats will be distorted by
- games with very mixed playing skills (the guru with Fakirs will still win over the newbies with Darklings, Mermaids and Shapeshifters)
- games with newbies (where the winner may be the player who made the fewest/least significant mistakes, regardless of faction)
- games with players who "want to try XYZ" (I'm guilty of doing this even in tournament games, but then I'm not in the top divisions )
 
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Do we know the proportions of each of these outliers for the entirety of all games? Is it possible to pull together these stats? (I'm sure they will differ from the ones posted above but still interesting)
 
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Great summary.
Just a note on your format:
Tabulators don't seem to work with the "Code" tag.
At least in my browser it's all out of column.

I can see that using different number of "Space" would be much more formatting work, but it would also increase readability so much.

Or instead upload images of the tables to your personal gallery and use those.
 
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TermiGator wrote:
Great summary.
Just a note on your format:
Tabulators don't seem to work with the "Code" tag.
At least in my browser it's all out of column.
surpriseTabs inside "code" work great in my browser (Firefox). Same with Chrome. But I just checked it with the Internet Explorer and -lo and behold- while tabs also work there, the crazy Microsoft guys seem to think that there's a tab every four letters when it's ancient knowledge that tabs have an eight-letter spacing. But then, who would use the IE anyway...

I'm too lazy to install Opera or Safari: how do tabs look like there?
 
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Haha I've been using IE 11 (I like the windows 8 interface) so that explains why it looked off to me too. I'm on my tablet right now in Chrome and it works fine. Go figure.
 
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DocCool wrote:

surprise Tabs inside "code" work great in my browser (Firefox). Same with Chrome. But I just checked it with the Internet Explorer and -lo and behold- while tabs also work there, the crazy Microsoft guys seem to think that there's a tab every four letters when it's ancient knowledge that tabs have an eight-letter spacing. But then, who would use the IE anyway...

I'm too lazy to install Opera or Safari: how do tabs look like there?

In this case, just ignore my post and I'll go and have a look at it at home
 
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TermiGator wrote:
In this case, just ignore my post and I'll go and have a look at it at home
Oh no, that was a valuable input! Being a stats-crazy person, I use a lot of tables in my postings here, and take great care that the formatting is readable. So it's annoying to learn that there are browsers which misrepresent my carefully tabbed tables.
 
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