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Subject: WBC 2016 Dune Tournament Report rss

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Brad Johnson
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(This is the summary report I just submitted for the WBC. If anyone wants any particular details about tournament results, just ask. Details about particular games played, including the final, will have to go to the players themselves!)

In addition to the exciting new venue, there were several important new rule changes for the Dune tournament this year.

Probably the most important change was the attempt to improve the Fremen’s chances at winning while also making them a more attractive first-tier ally. With player poll support, we increased the Fremen’s house rule special ability to the following: “The Fremen may count their tokens at full strength for no cost in ALL battles. Additionally, the Fremen may permit their ally to do the same in their own battles.” This seemed to be a big success, with players getting excited (as opposed to disappointed) to play the Fremen. Fremen became an important consideration at nexus time, and in fact were not uncommonly courted as one of the most popular allies (as opposed to almost always being the last pick in the past.) To top it off, we saw the best balance of faction wins of all recorded tournament history this year. Even though it wasn’t supposed by the results, a few players reported that the new Fremen “felt” too powerful. Time will tell if the Fremen’s abilities become unbalancing as players learn to fully leverage their new power, but I believe this rule change will stand for next year.

In addition, we modified a house rule and introduced new tournament rules to try to decrease game duration for the tournament. Average game duration, in terms of both turns and hours, has been slowly increasing for at least 10 years, and too many games are running over the time limit and requiring adjudication. First, we decreased the average turn on which the Shield Wall becomes a stronghold for the purposes of determining victory – now the appearance of the 4th worm, as opposed to the 6th. It was felt that this would open up the game a bit more, encouraging earlier wins. Second, we put formal restrictions on the time players could spend on discussions away from the table. All discussions had to be open over the table, with certain exceptions: Allies could have private discussions for 5 minutes prior to each movement and battle round; all players could have private discussions for 5 minutes during each nexus; and each player as given 3 chips that could be spent to have a 5 minute private discussion with anyone at any time. Even though players conformed to these restrictions well, it appears that these changes had absolutely no impact on reducing game duration. This year, the average game lasted 7.2 turns (near overall average) and 4.7 hours (the all-time high!), with 7 of 12 games requiring adjudication at the time limit. Nonetheless, a number of players reported that the games subjectively “felt” better with players remaining at the tables more. Players in the Dune tournament really love the intense negotiation aspect of the game, but I believe most players would really wish to have all games finish within the time limit. New changes may be considered to try to address this issue for next year, but options appear to be limited. Stricter timing measures, similar to chess clocks, are just impractical and probably too draconian. We are considering reducing the value of adjudicated games for advancement to the finals, but I am guessing that this will not significantly change most players’ behaviors. It may be that the only sensible option is just to increase the scheduled time for heats, but I fear the even larger time commitment would scare more players away from the tournament. All input is welcome – please email tempus42@sbcglobal.net.

As noted above, there was nearly perfect faction win parity this year for the first time on record. The BG, Emperor, and Guild each won 4 games, while the Atreides, Fremen, and Harkonnen each won 3 games. Including the results of the final game, every faction except for Atreides won 4 games – it doesn’t get any closer than that. Most games were 2-player alliance wins, except for one Guild/Emperor default win after 10 full turns of play, and Joe Doughan’s fantastic BG prediction win, stealing the victory from an Atreides/Emperor alliance in turn 8.

Best Faction plaques were awarded to Lee Proctor for both best Atreides and best BG; Malinda Kyrkos, best Emperor; Jean-Francois Gagne, best Fremen; Joe Harrison, best Guild; and Robert Powers, best Harkonnen.

The top qualifying player, Joe Doughan, was unfortunately unable to appear at the final, allowing 1st alternate Robert Powers to make his first appearance. Additionally, first-time finalists (but experienced players) Quinn Dyer and Malinda Kyrkos faced off against finalist veterans Lee Proctor, JF Gagne, and Glenn McMaster. Lee chose Atreides – card knowledge is a sweet incentive, making Atreides the first pick 2 years in a row, despite their average win record. After that, Quinn selected Harkonnen, perhaps hoping to repeat his brother’s 2015 win. JF took the no-longer-unloved Fremen, while his default victory partner Glenn chose the BG – the Voice is very powerful, but it’s difficult to win 1st place with the witches, who usually prefer to operate more behind the scenes. Malinda took the Emperor, and Robert got the Guild.

Turn 1 evoked déjà vu as Harkonnen considered going for a 1st turn solo win in a very similar situation to 2015. Harkonnen was moving last (the perfect opportunity), and played 2 Truthtrances to try to find out the critical card information that would allow a decent shot at victory. In the end, Quinn decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

Alliances were formed up in turn 2 that would last for the remainder of the game: Atreides/Emperor, BG/Guild, and Fremen/Harkonnen. Atreides/Emperor were viewed as the primary threat in the beginning. They quickly filled their hands with (presumably) good cards and firmly held 2 strongholds. In turn, the other factions were then able to purchase cards at discount prices, and unfortunately for Atreides, it was impossible to prevent many good cards going into others’ hands. Then, Atreides and Emperor started to become spice poor due to lack of collection and poor card revenues.

Early-game to mid-game, stronghold ownership was static and evenly divided among 5 factions, with the Fremen (not unusually) remaining uncommitted and active in the desert. The BG/Guild alliance has weapons, mobility, and moved last for 3 turns in a row, allowing them to execute a series of attritional/informational attacks while maintaining a strong defensive force, ready to stop most attempts at winning. During this time, there was a general chilling effect on spice collection, with the Fremen even calling for CHOAM charity in turn 4 (unlike in most of the preliminary games, where the Fremen tended to use their new powers to become fairly spice wealthy.) Most of the BG/Guild attacks focused on Atreides and Emperor forces as the perceived leaders, but also to prevent Atreides from blowing the Shield Wall, in the interest of balance of power. In turn 4, Arrakeen, Carthag, and Sietch Tabr all changed hands, with the BG/Guild alliance now holding 3 strongholds.

Then a number of oversights and misjudgments occurred, allowing a shift in the game. First, the BG unnecessarily spent a worthless/Karama card in a battle where Harkonnen’s ability to dial for free (thanks to his alliance with the Fremen) was forgotten. Then the Guild also unnecessarily expended a Karama that could have been used to great effect later, in fear of the Harkonnen hand-swap. In turn 5, Fremen took Arrakeen and Harkonnen took Carthag to put their alliance in the driver’s seat. At this point, it was acknowledged that Fremen/Harkonnen would be difficult to stop, but there was a breakdown in negotiations concerning how to block or defend strongholds against the new leading alliance. The Shield Wall (now in play as a stronghold) and Tuek’s Sietch were both left inadequately defended, made worse by the group oversight that the Fremen now had access to ornithopters.

In turn 6, the Fremen/Harkonnen alliance won the game with a pair of well-executed battles. But wait – the question of 1st and 2nd place was still to be decided! In cunning fashion, Harkonnen had played a Hajr to slip his own tokens into a 5th stronghold. While the other players avoided king-making, Harkonnen fought Guild in a dicey battle that would determine a winner. When battle plans were revealed, Harkonnen called “traitor!”, giving him 3 strongholds to his Fremen ally’s 2, allowing Harkonnen to steal 1st place in truly Harkonnen manner!

Congratulations to Quinn Dyer, making this the 5th consecutive Dyer family championship – a dynasty that is proving tough to beat! And congratulations to all of the finalists for an exciting and well-fought final game!
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Alain Curato
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Thanks for the great report.

Is there a file of your complete rules somewhere, please ?
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Brad Johnson
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Karkared wrote:
Thanks for the great report.

Is there a file of your complete rules somewhere, please ?


I'll post the current version on bgg. In the meantime, if you want it urgently, geekmail me your email address and I'll send it directly.
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Samy
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Nice report, and good news on the balance front!
 
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Jonathan McCarthy
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Hi Brad,
great to see you are still running this and very entertaining report.
 
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Brad Johnson
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tempus42 wrote:
Karkared wrote:
Thanks for the great report.

Is there a file of your complete rules somewhere, please ?


I'll post the current version on bgg. In the meantime, if you want it urgently, geekmail me your email address and I'll send it directly.


The latest version of my complete tournament rules and clarifications is now up at https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/43311/dune-rules-clarific... .

As always, I'm interested in any feedback. I'm well aware that not everyone wants to play the way we have chosen for the tournament, and a few of my chosen rulings are even quite controversial, but these rules have achieved good consensus among the many players I interact with.
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Glenn McMaster
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Congratulations to Quinn and JF for their victory. At this rate, will the Dyer dynasty ever be broken?
 
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Glenn McMaster
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Quote:
It may be that the only sensible option is just to increase the scheduled time for heats, but I fear the even larger time commitment would scare more players away from the tournament.


I had the feeling that the chits worked in the early turns to keep play moving along, but then broke down later because players would just talk at the table for as long as it took, (not caring who heard), and the chits became "permission" to delay matters even more.

I'd suggest before rejecting the timer idea to playtest it. Something like 2 minutes per move, 3 minutes per battle. 3 chits per player, (each good for 3 minutes). If it works in playtest offer it as optional next year and see if any tables try it.
 
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sam newman

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If you have tabletop simulator you could organize dune games around the world since Dune is on tts

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Shawn Garbett
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With the new 2016 data, one can ask some questions. Like did it improve the Fremen winning ratio? Looks like it did, but more data is needed to be sure.

So the overall winning faction winning rate (excluding Fremen) is around 39%. Fremen were 33% up from 20%. The Bene Gesserit still enjoy a slight edge.

Did the new Fremen rules improve their winning ratio?

> d <- read.csv("Player Data-Table 1.csv")
>
> d$FremenRules <- "Old"
> d[d$Year == 2016,"FremenRules"] <- "New"
> d$FremenRules <- factor(d$FremenRules)
> d$Win <- factor("Loss", levels=c("Win", "Loss"))
> d$Win[grepl("Win", d$Result)] <- "Win"
>
> fremen <- subset(d, Faction == "Fremen")
>
> table(fremen$FremenRules, fremen$Win)

Win Loss
New 4 8
Old 30 123
>
> prop.test(table(fremen$FremenRules, fremen$Win), correct=TRUE, alternative="greater")

2-sample test for equality of proportions with continuity correction

data: table(fremen$FremenRules, fremen$Win)
X-squared = 0.5797, df = 1, p-value = 0.2232
alternative hypothesis: greater
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.1376582 1.0000000
sample estimates:
prop 1 prop 2
0.3333333 0.1960784

Warning message:
In prop.test(table(fremen$FremenRules, fremen$Win), correct = TRUE, :
Chi-squared approximation may be incorrect

And all statistical babble says, "not enough data". Ugh. However, it looks promising, as the estimate of all other factions is 39% winning ratio, and the new rules estimate is 33%.

> prop.test(sum(d$Win == "Win" & d$Faction != "Fremen"), sum(d$Faction != "Fremen"))

1-sample proportions test with continuity correction

data: sum(d$Win == "Win" & d$Faction != "Fremen") out of sum(d$Faction != "Fremen"), null probability 0.5
X-squared = 38.393, df = 1, p-value = 5.783e-10
alternative hypothesis: true p is not equal to 0.5
95 percent confidence interval:
0.3574365 0.4254671
sample estimates:
p
0.3909314

I tried some expanded questions, and got a similar result. The only thing that is certain is that the Fremen sucked wind before the change. The Bene Gesserit show an edge on others.
 
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