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Subject: Tournament Suggestion rss

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Gambia
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I'm not saying the meta in the the tournament is getting stall, but at least it's moving slower than in its early days. This creates some frustrations about the current perceived imbalances, as pointed in an earlier thread. A year ago (or two, iirc), Eunck already expressed a feeling like that.

Also, a F&I tournament was expected to start but the workload to maintain and start both tournaments might have refrained Bjolletz so far.

So, what I'm suggesting is not to start a second tournament but instead to add the components of the F&I ruling randomly in some of the games.

Namely, expansion scoring tiles and expansion factions would be parameters of the setup (each game would either be played with an expansion scoring tile or not, and would either include all the expansion factions or not).

This could be easily implemented, either directly on snellman, and/or by the scripts used to start the tournament games.


Poll
What do you think ?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Don't touch at the current tournament !!
33.3% 19
I prefer two distinct tournaments
36.8% 21
Why not ?
10.5% 6
Good idea !
14.0% 8
Other
5.3% 3
Voters 57
This poll is now closed.   57 answers
Poll created by Skyswooper
Closes: Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:00 am
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Brian Hawaiian
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Love the current setup, wish it moved a little faster.

I've never played the expansion so.
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Teng-Kai Kuo
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grey-black-yellow-blue is too often to see.

Simply adding expansion factions can break these meta games.

The expansion scoring tiles can be reserved with F&I map. Even better with 5 players.
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James Wolfpacker
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I'm indifferent so I checked why not.

However, some players are better performers with certain game factors than others. I usually do better with F&I factions allowed and a final tile on the F&I map (4p or 5p seems about the same). I perform more poorly at the standard 4p TM Tour setup. I'm not sure that it would be fair to all players in the same Division if some faced different game factors (map, F&I factions, final tile) than others. Of course all of the setups are not the same either. 1st pick at R4 spades, R5 TW, +2 water cult bonuses is vastly better than 1st pick on some other setups.
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Attila Kisvári
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don't want the new scorings but wantnew factions...
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Evil Roy
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Skyswooper wrote:
I'm not saying the meta in the the tournament is getting stall, but at least it's moving slower than in its early days.

Wrong. Each season takes two months. Each season has always taken two months. The tournament is moving exactly as fast as it always has.
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Steinar Nerhus
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Evil Roy wrote:
Skyswooper wrote:
I'm not saying the meta in the the tournament is getting stall, but at least it's moving slower than in its early days.

Wrong. Each season takes two months. Each season has always taken two months. The tournament is moving exactly as fast as it always has.


Not sure if this was ironic, but if not: Skywooper is talking about the metagame, not the tournament.

Regarding the thread topic:

I support such a change! I think two leagues are too much anyway, players will get tired of it faster, and it will be less interesting to follow any one of the leagues. With only one league all attention can be focused there. I am less exited about the league these days than I was some seasons ago (even after I managed to luck into league 1, or maybe because of it). Playing in two leagues at the same time would make it feel more like work than fun.

It is not fun to pick a faction at the start of the season, and feel that if you dont select Darklings, Engineers, Mermaids you are making a mistake. I am not sure new map/factions/scoring would make it much better, but it might feel a bit refreshing for a few seasons at least. I would probably lose a lot, but whatever
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Evil Roy
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I just want to play Terra Mystica. I don't give a hoot about the metagame.
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Steve Haas
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1) I'm not entirely convinced that the expansion actually makes the game better. When I think back on the most fun and interesting games I've played, almost all of them have been in the base game. I see the expansion as a nice change of pace - its fun to have the extra chaos every once in a while, but I wouldn't want to it to be the primary thing I'm practicing for.

2) I'm not sure that the balance/metagame issues actually exist below the top couple of leagues. In division 1, I entirely believe that faction balance is a major role in determining who wins and what matchups get played. If everyone plays their faction to the maximum of its ability and makes very few mistakes, then yes, the best faction(s) win. But that only describes the top 2 or 3 divisions, and below that... well, look at the stats for divisions 4-6 this year:

Faction Games Avg. Rating
darklings 1361 2.98
engineers 683 2.79
cultists 340 2.65
nomads 982 2.58
halflings 349 2.56
witches 680 2.54
mermaids 749 2.39
dwarves 220 2.39
chaosmagicians 872 2.17
swarmlings 483 2.04
auren 96 1.78
giants 147 1.54
alchemists 173 1.49
fakirs 21 1.19


Darklings and Engineers are still the best factions, but the major gap between them and the pack that you see in divisions 1-3 just isn't there. Everything down to dwarves is totally competitive, CMs and Swarmlings aren't crazy, and while the other 4 factions are a step behind you absolutely do see competitive Alchemists players from time to time (if not as much the other three). And so when you look at how people do by pick order:

1st 2.63
2nd 2.62
3rd 2.44
4th 2.30


...you find that while 1st and 2nd are still advantageous, even 4th isn't death like it is in the higher divisions. At these levels, the game is far more about who plays the best game and not who has the best faction.

And this is not to undermine the problems at the top level - I'm sure it is frustrating for those players - but ultimately, each season there are 49 players in divisions 1-3 and 1000 in the rest of the tournament, and I'd be hesitant to make too many changes too quickly to address imbalances that only really matter to the top 5% of players.

3) To summarize, then: I think the balance/metagame issues are a function of the fact that the top players have gotten to the point where differences in game balance have overtaken differences in skill (except maybe for Xevoc). And that's a shame. But I'm not at all convinced that the exact same thing won't happen with the expansion stuff within a couple of seasons, as I think the main reason it seems less prone to this stagnation is that there have been fewer games at the very top levels of play so they haven't had as much time to reveal themselves. And disrupting the metagame for everyone in the interest of postponing stagnation for a few seasons at the top levels of play does not necessarily seem like a good trade.
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Dhrun
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It seems reasonable that some seasoned players want some change.
At the same time I want to point out conflicting interests, I guess most of us can relate to more than one of those:

Boredom is bad.

Obviously TM is very deep, so that nasty sensation might have crept up on some players while others still find new challenges for months or years to come. This is partly subjective, as I draw slightly different conclusions from the statistics than e.g. Skyswooper (I attribute staleness _partly_ to trends and player personalities, maybe I am wrong but let’s keep this for another thread).

To prevent boredom with players who are competitive, an environment needs to change in a sophisticated way or get replaced in the long term.

Most people are proud of past achievements, love track records, and thus some continuity.

There are people out there that are too bored to _start_ playing the league, unless there is a draft system and/or a chance to not have to start at the bottom with hundreds of newbies.

If setup/rules gets to complex, it might discourage new players.

If setup varies too much, some people might feel they can't sharpen/specialise their game because everything is "so random".

If with two (or more!) tourneys number of games get too much, competitive players with little time get frustrated because they can't give their best, while others might have to make a decision for one and be unhappy that they miss out on something.

Also with two (or more!) tourneys player count in both drops and at least I think the more the merrier.

Somebody needs to implement all this.

Now as for suggestions:

If it was not for that last two arguments, I’d say, let’s have ca. 5 or 6 tourney like this:

a) Classic - for the fierce and conservative ones (not meant derogatively)
b) Classic with draft – for the competitive, seasoned players
c) F&I, all factions, exp. Scoring, 4P – for everyone
d) Loon lakes – for people who like to experience a real different map
e) Random shifting environment – for people who want to master it all and prove their adaptability
f) Composite ranking of all tourney above (disciplines you don’t play factor in with 1000 ranking) – for people who want to master it all and prove their adaptability or that they are the best overall or whatever

As this is probably not realistic, I think I could endorse
b) + c) + f)
and suggest a poll if people like to move to three month seasons (mostly because of the two alternating tourney).

Now there is the question of a suitable “draft” mechanism…
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Dhrun
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Auction suggestion:

In addition to above and independently of that I suggest a discussion on the best auction/draft system which should be quick and “fair”. I saw Juhos explanation on EVO-style auctions and I agree to his thoughts on (mixing) skill sets, but I am more concerned with the duration of the draft.
I have little time right now, but how about this:

Outline of secret parallel auction, say "SPA" (there is probably something like that with a name out there already?):

Assuming we only bid once (and not e.g. in sequence on factions, starting positions, …), there is only one player action step, all the rest is determined by the rules:
Everybody bids VPs on each of the available resources (let’s assume: 4 random factions).
You can bid the same amount on different factions.
The highest unvoided bid overall gets the faction, all other bids of that player are void as are the other players bids on that same faction.
In case there is a tie of the very first highest bid and it is on the same faction,
- In the rare case where at least one of the players involved has an equally high bid on another faction, distribute if possible without deadlock or whatever (coin flip if needed)
- Else coin flip
In the case of a tie later in the auction, tiebreaker is the sum of VPs the players bid on the factions already gone

(To make that tiebreaker more meaningful, we could consider bidding can only be in steps of 2 VPs
And so on..)

There are probably other considerations, but I have to run, happy if you like to pick up.
Basically this might be a good compromise because it is really fast.

Let's add an example:
Eric bids these VPs: 8 Darklings, 8 Engineers, 2 Nomads, 0 Swarmlings
Tanya: 8 Engineers, 7 Darklings, 4 Swarmlings, 2 Nomads
Peter: 7 Darklings, 6 Engineers, 5 Swarmlings, 2 Nomads
Doris: 5 Darklings, 5 Engineers, 5 Swarmlings, 0 Nomads

Resolves in this order:
Highest bid is 8, conflict on Engineers, but only Eric also bids 8 on Darklings too:
Eric -> Darklings
Tanya -> Engineers
Next highest unvoided bid is 5 (on Swarmlings), it is a tie again,
Peter bid 7+6=13 on the factions already gone, Doris only 10, Peter wins tiebreaker
Peter -> Swarmlings
Doris -> Nomads
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Jan Ruess
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Although I'm personally open to the suggested change I think it's really unrealistic to expect it to actually happen, even should this poll favor it. Even much more unrealistic are changes to rules or errata to factions as discussed in other threads. That's just not what this tournament is trying to do. The aim is to accomodate a large number of players without pissing anybody off and the strategy to achieve that is to stick with the actual game rules, not something somebody cooked up. Hard to argue against that.
And as Steve points out it seems to work not so bad for the lower divisions. However I also understand why these discussions keep coming up: many of us (including myself) are a bit frustrated with the repeating patterns and the small number of good faction choices. It's very clear that we're using much less than the full potential of the game. I would be happy with any change that brings more diversity, would love an auction or actually the best option seems to me the suggestion of adding/substracting a fixed amount of vp for each faction based on it's popularity in the previous few seasons (evolving metagame, 14 factions playable, no extra steps for auction, easy to implement, nothing else needs to change). But any change will face resistance and I think that's what the organizers of this tournament want to avoid. So I think our best chance for more variance would be a new separate tournament. New things can easily be written on an empty sheet of paper.
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Gambia
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Dhrun wrote:
Draft/auction suggestion:


This would be too complicated to implement. Plus, it gives too much importance to the draft phase whereas moves and strategies adaptation during the game should matter the most in my opinion.

With this thread I'm just trying to suggest a solution that is both better than the current tournament and save a lot of work for Juho and Bjolletz.

If you look at other successful online games, their attractiveness also comes from the fact that they operate cycles of patches that keep the game moving and avoid boredom.

I bet Xevoc wouldn't have retired if he were confronted to new challenges (but what do I know ?).

The designers have refreshed the game with the expansion (and it's been quite a while now), which added more strategical depth. It's such a waste not to play with it in a competitive environment.
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Dhrun
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@Sky:
I know that implementing an auction involves some effort, and humbly expect nothing, but this 1 entry step + 5-10 rules are not that much in comparison to other extensions, especially regarding the universal applicability.

@Jan:
Very nice and pragmatic suggestion too, only worry that some narrow-but-occasionally-very-good factions might get underpriced in certain scenarios once in a while and especially good players might be annoyed on that luck factor?
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Gambia
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eunck wrote:
So I think our best chance for more variance would be a new separate tournament. New things can easily be written on an empty sheet of paper.


Okay, but it means Bjolletz would have to put more efforts to maintain and start a second tournament. This tournament was expected to start in September, delayed to November, and now maybe to January ... It might even never start.

The expansion has been out for a while and the fix of the variable factions is one year old now.
 
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Clement Plas
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I feel like the argument of "it might scare new players" isn't really valid here, as those who get into the tournament play regularly and might have experienced the F&I expansion.

Anyway, changing the existing tournament or creating new one with F&I could bring some fresh air for long time players.
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bob lawblaw
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I'd prefer to leave it alone, but will adapt if necessary. I've played for a year and have climbed to Div3 for next season, and would like to keep going until I hit Div1. A change in format will certainly slow down that progress, as I am wildly less fluent with the expansion components (Incidentally this actually works out well for playing with my less experienced f2f group, as I use all that stuff there to level the playing field a bit). Sorry if that comes off as arrogant or selfish, but when we're talking about changing the tournament specifically for the high level competitive meta, I feel like I should speak up for my interests.

If there was to be a change, I would vote to just include the expansion races and not the extra scoring. I believe the original game has the appropriate balance of focus between the map board and cult track, while the expansion scoring weighs too heavily towards the map. However, I can see how the inclusion of the expansion races could help diversify the color choices a bit.

More than anything, I still think that to change the tournament structure/rules because engineers wins games without neighbors is so inappropriately reactionary. black/blue/yellow/gray certainly gets picked more frequently that any other foursomes, but it's nowhere near every game (9 of 21 in Div1+2 this season) [some of those have swarmlings, dwarves and alchemists though so even they're not all the same]. Engineers are likely to win when they have no neighbors; ya, the same can be said for any other color, so don't let them get away with having no neighbors. The meta will react; toine won season 11 on the back of huge engineers games, and the next season engineers got pooped on in basically every Div1 game because people remembered witches > engineers.

Like I said, I'd prefer no change, or at most including the expansion factions. Rules changes to weaken strong boards becomes an endless cycle of punish who's on top now; expansion scoring over-prioritizes the map with respect to the cult board.
 
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Juho Snellman
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I've done the thought experiment of re-balancing the factions for tournament play a couple of times. So assign each faction a VP cost, recompute tournament points for each game based on the actual VP scored - the VP cost, find a set of costs that results in each faction getting as close to 2.5 tournament points per game as possible.

The thing is that the differences are a lot smaller than people believe. For Dwarves to be as successful as the Engineers are in D1-D4 games from this year, it's enough for the cost of Engineers to be about 3vp higher. For Witches to be as good as the Darklings, you'd want the Darklings to cost about 4vp more.

That's not to say that a 3-4vp difference is irrelevant. If I could reliably score 3vp more in every game, I would have won the league multiple times and would still be in D1. But such small differences make it very hard to rebalance the game without accidentally causing other imbalances.

If you try to "perfectly" rebalance the game e.g. using the data for all games, you'll end up with some factions that become far too cheap when played by experts with the current understanding of the game (rather than that of two years ago). In fact some factions would become so cheap that you'd end up with something less balanced than we have right now.

How about the idea of dynamically rebalancing the game based on pick rates? I have some worries about that. First, it'd be hard to get a tight enough feedback loop. You'd end up with oscillating values (and how small a range of quantized values we'd have to work with in practice, even fairly minimal amount of inaccuracy from oscillations would have big effects). The reason I think the feedback loop will be slow is that player behavior seems unlikely to be affected by costs this small. Nobody can actually evaluate a setup so accurately that they'd be able to say they'd take Mermaids at 6vp but not at 7vp. They're really making the decision based on some much fuzzier criteria like how well they've seen other players do with Mermaids lately. So it takes a while for these small changes to propagate through the metagame.

Additionally you still have the worry from above where using the data from all divisions to do this dynamic causes large imbalances for some classes of players.

A tournament variant with faction rebalancing isn't an impossible idea. But it'd have to be pretty conservative to avoid doing more harm than it's fixing. An it'd have to change very rarely (ideally never, but a year would be the absolute minimum).

Here's my best guess at what that would look like, just based on the data:


0 fakirs
2 giants
3 auren
3 alchemists
5 swarmlings
6 chaosmagicians
7 mermaids
8 nomads
9 witches
9 halflings
10 dwarves
11 cultists
13 darklings
13 engineers


Which probably wouldn't make the anti-Nomad/Mermaid people happy :)
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bob lawblaw
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I didn't realize dwarves were so frequently picked/successfully played. I've never played them (exception: one very early f2f game), and I think I've only even played against them maybe 2 times out of 45 games online.

Give me +5vp as nomads vs darklings and engineers and that's a no-brainer pick almost every time from position 3/4.
 
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Robert
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Fascinating insights - thanks! Looking at the stats I'm quite surprised that Dwarves would cost 10VP. Looking at the stats for tournament-like games (4p, original map, no expansion scoring), Dwarves do worse than Nomads and Mermaids both in the 1000+ rated crowd and the 1250+ rated elite.
 
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Dhrun
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jsnell wrote:

But it'd have to be pretty conservative to avoid doing more harm than it's fixing.


As usual all very sensible.
And do not forget about the relevance of combining the factors "pick rate" and "results" for acceptable values.
Believe you could actually come up with a correct/fair formula with maybe a bit of heuristics, but still it might be fragile.
ALso see my argument above about the sudden power of exotics in exotic setups.

To me an ok to good solution - maybe there is a better one if we continue this.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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I do not see the relevance of a pick rate.
If you take that into account you make rarely picked factions unbeatable in certain setups.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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I posted this in Skyswooper's other Tournament topic.

Quote:
I just want to point out that if an entire league group wants to have a gentleman's agreement to do an auction for random factions from the standard start of 20vp, there is nothing from stopping them from doing it. Just have players subtract the bid points in Round 4-6 when they should all be above 40 vp if players wish to bid that much. The only problem is that you will not get to select your starting slot. Instead auction off the faction + starting BON.

If players in Division 1 (1 league) and Division 2 (2 leagues) want to do that then go ahead, but it must be unanimous and if anyone doesn't subtract their vp or take someone else's starting BON... then well we all know they can't be trusted.

Here is a rated Auction Game that I did.

http://terra.snellman.net/game/AuctionGame01

Round 1 Turn 1, Turn 3, and Turn 5 you can see 4 players who subtracted vp from their score on their own by adding "-Xvp" in the command box on a separate line where X is their bid. This can be performed in games where someone else is the admin.

Yes, this could skew stats, but if D1 and D2 players are tired of the metagame in league play, they could do this on their own.


I can see where the top 1-3 Divisions can start getting stale because if you are good enough to stay in those top 3 divisions you basically see the same players every season. In the lower divisions it is more difficult to be matched up with the same opponents every season. I just had my first duplicate player in D5.

Like I said, if you want to shake it up, make an auction for faction and starting BON since starting spots will be fixed. There is no additional work for Juho or Daniel.
 
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Space Trucker
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Pretty great and elaborate post, Juho!

jsnell wrote:
A tournament variant with faction rebalancing isn't an impossible idea. But it'd have to be pretty conservative to avoid doing more harm than it's fixing. An it'd have to change very rarely (ideally never, but a year would be the absolute minimum).

On attempt could be to clearly undercompensate for the error - to be completely sure to not ruin the balance by overcompensating and to just look what happens. Maybe a margin of +/- 3 for the start (this would e.g. be -3 for darklings and engineers and +3 for fakirs and which would be roughly half the amount between best and worst average margin).

jsnell wrote:
Here's my best guess at what that would look like, just based on the data:


0 fakirs
2 giants
3 auren
3 alchemists
5 swarmlings
6 chaosmagicians
7 mermaids
8 nomads
9 witches
9 halflings
10 dwarves
11 cultists
13 darklings
13 engineers


Which probably wouldn't make the anti-Nomad/Mermaid people happy
I'm a bit surprised about those results. Some thoughts - with some guesses, as I don't know what "the data" means:
This data looks like some factions got picked quite rarely and only in very favorable conditions (dwarves), or quite often, because they are known to be strong, versatile and robust (mermaids). I'm not sure if giving dwarves +3 more cost than mermaids would improve balance. We only see the good Dwarve setups, but basicly all the darkling setups. I guess pick rate should have a (small) share in rating the factions.
I'm also interested on the criterium of this ranking - for tournament I would propose average tournament points like displayed by Steve above. That's actually what counts the most. One win and three last places is worth more than 4 good 3rd places, while the latter might have a better average margin.

Bringing those three points together (clearly undercompensating by roughly estimated 50% at first, taking pick ratio into account, looking at average points) I'd come to the following (sketch of a) suggestion:
- grant +2/-2 points based on average points
- grant +1/-1 point based on pick ratio

Example based on the data Steve supplied (edit: this is only div4-6) this could be (delta on points variated at bigger gaps, +3 for poor Fakirs, -1 pointfor >600 picks, +1 point for <300 picks):

Faction Games avg.points delta(Points) delta(picks) delta(total)
darklings 1361 2.98 -2 -1 -3
engineers 683 2.79 -2 -1 -3
cultists 340 2.65 -1 0 -1
nomads 982 2.58 0 -1 -1
halflings 349 2.56 0 0 0
witches 680 2.54 0 -1 -1
mermaids 749 2.39 0 -1 -1
dwarves 220 2.39 0 +1 +1
chaosmagicians 872 2.17 +1 -1 0
swarmlings 483 2.04 +1 0 +1
auren 96 1.78 +2 +1 +3
giants 147 1.54 +2 +1 +3
alchemists 173 1.49 +2 +1 +3
fakirs 21 1.19 +3 +1 +4


Any thoughts on an attempt like this?
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Dhrun
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1869 wrote:
I do not see the relevance of a pick rate.

I give you that this is not such a clear cut case as I suggested.

But not in a sense "it might not have a significant influence", but in a sense "there might be no way to account for that influence in a fair way"..:

If average results was the only factor, rational players would just pick the "universally strongest" faction still available in turn all the time.
Reality check?shake

As actually most of us agree individual setup plays a role to determine situational strength (let's include other player picks here) and that there are constellations which come up more or less often, some factions' results will improve more/less under pretty common/rare circumstances.

So rational and perfect players would pick factions exactly so often that they all converge to the same average VP.
Reality check?shake
As that is not the case, the pick rate is not an adequate factor of its own either.

1869 wrote:
If you take that into account you make rarely picked factions unbeatable in certain setups.

To avoid making "rare gemstone factions" too strong in certain situations, any metric would have to account for the individual setup too.
This seems unrealistic (and if it really worked well in my eyes it would start to reduce the fun & mystery from the game).

So this is not the problem of accounting for pick rates though that surely could worsen stuff in _extreme_ scenarios.

But if we do not account for pick rate, the _average_ value of a faction would be reflected worse.
 
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