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Subject: Ten Thoughts on this years WBC rss

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Duncan McGregor
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DaviddesJ wrote:
RobRoy wrote:
I have been consistently surprised that Splendor playoff games tend to take most of an hour. We have the quarters, semis, and finals in a three-hour block, so it isn't a problem, but it does show how players will think to fill the available space.


But presumably that's a GOOD thing. You do want the final to be more carefully played and people to play their best and it's reasonable for it to take SOMEWHAT longer than a normal game, right? An hour for the finals of Splendor seems perfectly reasonable to me, even though I would call it "normally" a 30-45 minute game.


It's not a bad thing - I am certainly happier to have the players take a bit more time to think than rush and feel bad about mistakes. However, I was having to remind the players about time in all of the playoff rounds, to make sure we didn't blow our time slot. With a couple reminders, the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals combined to finish in 2:57 of our 3:00 slot - just this side of okay.
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Devin Smith
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At some point, it's not a good thing. I will absolutely play worse when the pace of play gets to some point--when I can finish thinking about what I'm going to do as comprehensively as I could wish, planning for all eventualities by the other players and then have time to get bored before my turn happens, the pace of play is too slow for me to play at my best.

It is to some players' advantage to play very slowly, even if they don't use the time productively, if they can bore the other players out of the game.

Fine, sit and think. We all need to tank sometimes. But the players should be obliged to play in a timely fashion, such that the game is completed in a reasonable amount of time. Moreover, the other players at the table shouldn't be penalised by a slow player, either by the game being forced to adjudication or running overtime, or by costing them some of their life...
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David desJardins
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Should the people who can use more time profitably to think more deeply and come up with better moves be penalized because others can't?
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Eric Brosius
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I believe that, in principle, the GM should determine the best length for the game (balancing providing time to think against not using more time than most people are willing to commit,) and the devise a way to make sure each player gets a fair share of that time.

Without chess clocks, any players who use less than the time available to them make that time available to their opponents. To some extent this doesn't bother me, but sometimes it does when taken to an extreme. For example, Lost Cities has a 1-hour time slot, implying each player gets 30 minutes (not counting the time it takes the GM to administer seating the players and do other GM tasks.) I rarely take more than 10 minutes, and if my opponent takes 30, I don't object. But if because of my rate of play, my opponent takes 50 minutes, is that fine?

To take another example, The Princes of Florence, which I GMed for many years, has a 2-hour slot. When it risks running over, it is always because players spend long periods of time in negotiation of various degrees of formality. I don't forbid it, but (in a different way than the deep thinking David suggests, but in one that has similar effects,) it can expand to fill all the available time and more.
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Devin Smith
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Should the people who can use more time profitably to think more deeply and come up with better moves be penalized because others can't?


Not if the game is in an X-hour slot, for some value of X.

Also, they don't come up with better moves in more time, they make other players' moves worse due to being boring to play against. Seriously: if you can maintain concentration for long, boring periods, it's "correct" to sit in your chair for as long as possible before every move, if the GM doesn't forbid it. This isn't a staring contest, it's a gaming contest.
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David desJardins
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Excalabur wrote:
Also, they don't come up with better moves in more time, they make other players' moves worse due to being boring to play against.


The evidence from games like Chess and Go, that have organized competition at different time controls, suggests otherwise. The best players do play better when they take more time.
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Gareth Williams
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rri1 wrote:

Quote:
It should be fairly simple:

If lots of games are running late it's a scheduling/format problem and responsibility lies with the GM. It doesn't even need to be a lot running late. If the game, has say, a two hour window, then 90-95% of games should be finished within two hours.


No ALL of the games should be finished in 2 hours if the GM selected a 2 hour time slot. If 10% of the game end in longer than 2 hours, then he should have selected a 3 hour slot to be safe.



We may be broadly in agreement, that you should be prepared to allow time for your games based on the longest games

But I will stick with 90-95% as a target, not 100

I don't set the timing for Nap Wars based on a 6 turn game played slowly, because that would be 12-14 hours not the 6 I allow

Where you draw that line may be different in games where there is less variance in time taken:

eg:

Average 90 minutes with no more than 20 minutes variance either side

Two hour window


However:

eg:
5% of games done within 60 minutes
20% of games done within 60-80 minutes
50% of games will be done within 80-100 minutes
20% between 100 and 120
5% are 120+

That should be a 2 hour window with adjudication if necessary
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Devin Smith
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Excalabur wrote:
Also, they don't come up with better moves in more time, they make other players' moves worse due to being boring to play against.


The evidence from games like Chess and Go, that have organized competition at different time controls, suggests otherwise. The best players do play better when they take more time.


This is what I get for writing while tired. You are of course correct. I meant to say: They [/i]needn't[/i] come up with better moves, etc.. I was trying to allege that such players don't seem to come up with better moves in practice than the guy at the same table that plays in a timely fashion, but maybe slow-coach guy would be terrible if he weren't also being slow.

And on the topic of chess/go: time controls are a thing. The best players at blitz aren't always the best players at classical time controls. You are required at WBC to not think more than is allowed by the timeslot (which is usually fairly generous).
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David E
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DaviddesJ wrote:
The evidence from games like Chess and Go, that have organized competition at different time controls, suggests otherwise. The best players do play better when they take more time.



Chess and go tournaments usually are not timed, or at least allot time for each game under the assumption that players are going to spend lots of time sitting and thinking. Those are very different events.

Yes, most people would play better in other games if they had unlimited time to sit and ponder their every move. Doing that when you know there isn't enough time for everyone to do that is just rude.
 
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Kevin C.
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Yes, most people would play better in other games if they had unlimited time to sit and ponder their every move. Doing that when you know there isn't enough time for everyone to do that is just rude.


But the issue doesn't seem to be the people themselves necessarily, but the GM frameworks for dealing with it. Or, rather, the overall structure of the WBC that "allows" this.

We all know what we are getting into when we game at the WBC. The time slots are clearly posted. So, if you have someone that is being "rude" by truly gobbling time, then the GM should deal with it.

Although, this is nebulous isn't it? How do you know the person just isn't "slow" in a benign way? They aren't trying to game the system or be rude, that is just the way they play.

If it is a problem, then the GM should do with it. But if the game finishes "on time" with a slow player, then no action can be taken by the GM.

In many ways, the WBC has this kind of "formal" informal structure. People get pissed at suboptimal play, yet you can learn the game one hour before the tournament and play. People get pissed at "slow" play, but there aren't really firm guideline for this beyond "Don't make the GM adjudicate...you won't like it."

You are right that this isn't a chess tournament, but that is what allows for this sort of thing in the first place. I was a tournament chess player for a few decades and the time control defined my play. If my flag fell, I lost, simple as that. I was a different player at different controls and would choose openings sometimes based on the control.

The WBC "time control" is really this flimsy "don't be rude" or "be cool with your time" thing. If you want time not to be an issue, we would have to accept much stricter rulings from GM's and they would have to be willing to do it.

For example, no game can go over it's slot...period. I think it is awesome that GM's allow this, because it makes the tournaments more friendly and welcoming, but it destroys the notion that time really matters.

We would have to be willing to do away with some of that fudge time and make time controls truly binding if we really wanted to do away with slow play.

First, of course, we would have to decide whether this truly was a problem or just an issue of minor inconvenience to some.

Again, this, to me, is a function of how the WBC tries to keep a friendly and open vibe to the tournaments while still being somewhat formal competitions. You won't please everyone with this kind of approach and how we deal with time is another piece of this.

Kevin
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David E
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I prefer the friendly open vibe to catering to those who are pursuing an optimum strategy for obtaining the most wood. If I suspect someone is deliberately sandbagging for a win, or otherwise engaging in annoying gamesmanship, I'll put all my efforts into screwing him over, but otherwise I'm not in favor of super-strict adherence to time limits when not necessary. That said, a GM prodding along slow players with a reminder of the time would not be unwarranted.
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Devin Smith
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natsean wrote:
People get pissed at "slow" play, but there aren't really firm guideline for this beyond "Don't make the GM adjudicate...you won't like it."


The trouble is that often the person that won't like it is the person asking for adjudication, not the person that caused the adjudication. I'm aware of at least two games this year where a not-me person didn't ask for adjudication because of fear of the consequences.
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
I prefer the friendly open vibe to catering to those who are pursuing an optimum strategy for obtaining the most wood. If I suspect someone is deliberately sandbagging for a win, or otherwise engaging in annoying gamesmanship, I'll put all my efforts into screwing him over, but otherwise I'm not in favor of super-strict adherence to time limits when not necessary. That said, a GM prodding along slow players with a reminder of the time would not be unwarranted.


It's tricky, though, I think. Often people pursuing the most wood want quicker games so they can make it to their next event.

Sandbaggers are tough to deal with. On the one hand, they are entitled to their "share" of the time, even if you or I are quicker players. On the other hand, they can eat into "our" time, as was mentioned above, which can drift into gamesmanship territory.

When does using time go from legitimate strategy to dick move? The table for sure knows, but the GM doesn't and that makes it really difficult to rule on. I don't envy them there.

I think we will always have complaints about time, but I think they will be minor and I'm not sure what can really be done without stricter rules that will change the feel of the tournaments.

(And, like you, I'd like to keep it as friendly as possible while still getting good competition.)

Kevin
 
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Curt Collins
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From the BPA website:

SPEED OF PLAY Many are intimidated when entering a tournament for the first time. You shouldn’t be. If you’ve read the rules, or played the game, or even just attended a demo on how to play the game, all B and C events will welcome you with open arms. There is no shame in losing. The only way to get better is to get in there and play the game. However, the speed at which you play is another matter. If you are someone who ponders their moves to excess —such that the event time limit is inadequate to finish the game, then tournament play is not for you and Open Gaming is a better choice.

ROUND LENGTH: When estimating the length of each round, err on the long side to accommodate even slow players. Allow extra time for seating players, collecting score sheets, and slow play. Round up to the nearest whole hour. GMs should announce the schedule and stick to it. To ensure all games end within the scheduled period, announce that the round will end at a given time and give warnings 15 and 30 minutes before that time. Do not allow excessively slow players or late arrivals to delay an event beyond the scheduled finish. In doing laggards a favor, you perform a disservice to the rest. When necessary, GMs should be prepared to adjudicate slow matches. In making any decision, note which player or players have caused the delay, and give faster players the benefit of the doubt for close calls.


BPA seems pretty clear that events are to end at the scheduled time. if the GM isn't adjudicating long games they are not doing their GM duties properly. It's not just to help wood chasers (though they have every right to expect an event to be done on time). You have to clear a room out for other events too.
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Nick Henning
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if you are upset with slow play there are a variety of things that could be done.

First, you can approach the gm and ask if they are available if they can observe the game for slow players. This is the least likely option and I've never seen anyone do it, but if someone is egregiously doing so then it's an option, particularly in semis or finals.

Second, discard he thinking that semis and finals are allowed to run over time because the thinking there is more deep. The time block should be maintained regardless of the round of the game.

Third, you can assist with the bureaucracy of the game. If you know you are a fast player, offer to be the banker. The less time spent on dealing with round to round things, the less busy you are. Count other players end of round points while you are waiting for them to finish so you don't have situations where players have to stop and double count.

Fourth, be clear with when your turn is over. I can't even say how many times people are just sitting there waiting for their turn and nothing is happening. In a similar vein, announce when it is a certain players turn, particularly in a game with variable turn orders.

Fifth, if you are familiar with the game, track the time. "Hey guys, we just finished round 2 of 6, and we are one hour into a three hour slot. We know later rounds tend to be longer so can everyone pick up the pace of play?"

If memory serves, you are supposed to release adjudication rules in advance of the WBC itself. Adjudicating games sucks but sometimes the gym underestimated the time slot required to complete the game. Unfortunately, almost all adjudication are gameable themselves and sometimes the perception of an impartial observer is just plain wrong. Ultimately, gms are fallible but can adapt their schedule. For instance, should Orleans be a three hour slot since 5 of the 30 heat games went to time? It's a tough call, but if you aren't going to make it a class a event, then you have to expect that there will always be new players. In running scythe this year, I put a three hour slot for a game that shouldn't take that long to play and while I was close to having to adjudicate two heat games, they did all manage to finish in that time.
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Spleen wrote:
BPA seems pretty clear that events are to end at the scheduled time. if the GM isn't adjudicating long games they are not doing their GM duties properly. It's not just to help wood chasers (though they have every right to expect an event to be done on time). You have to clear a room out for other events too.


I think there is room for leeway here if the event space is not reserved for the next event and all players are agreeable to running over. (In that epic Ivanhoe game I played, we could technically have asked for the GM to adjudicate rather than being in the banquet room until almost 1 a.m. But we didn't. If there had been another event that one of the players needed to attend, I'd have been understanding if he wanted adjudication. If he just wanted adjudication because he was winning and it would favor him to have the game called immediately, I'd have formed a very sour opinion of him.)
 
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Christopher Yaure
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If an event's time slot is too short for the game, it may not be the GMs fault. I had to fight hard to increase an event from 1 hour to 2 hours - the CD would not permit it until I pointed out we went from 3-player games to 4-player games, increasing the length of games by almost 1/3.
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
If he just wanted adjudication because he was winning and it would favor him to have the game called immediately, I'd have formed a very sour opinion of him


But why? The time slot is the time slot.

I think part of the issue with time and what leads to sour grapes is that we want it both ways. We want GM's to step in when we think they "need" to but we also want to keep the casual feel of our home groups.

This "if everyone agrees" thing is odd because there is probably social pressure to go along and not be "that guy" that asks for adjudication when time is up.

Now, because I think the game should end when the slot allotted is up, you form a sour opinion of me. What if someone losing asked for it to end when time was up?

On the one hand, it's not a huge deal. We won't all be friends. On the other, if time were time, this wouldn't happen.

I get that adjudication is hard and perhaps I'm being a bit authoritarian. I mean, GM's are volunteers, not sworn law enforcement officers. Sometimes, though, I'd like to see a heavier hand. I think many players believe they have say and can mitigate this kind of thing themselves. It were formal across-the-board, it would be one less thing to have people complain about or get cross with each other about.

Kevin
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David desJardins
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Excalabur wrote:
I was trying to allege that such players don't seem to come up with better moves in practice than the guy at the same table that plays in a timely fashion


You may allege that, but it's not my experience. There are some pretty deep games at WBC where the best players can still play better if they think longer. How much time to allow and how to enforce time limits and fairness are of course difficult questions. They are more difficult *because* slower play often gives people an advantage.
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natsean wrote:
Quote:
If he just wanted adjudication because he was winning and it would favor him to have the game called immediately, I'd have formed a very sour opinion of him


But why? The time slot is the time slot.


Because I'd rather finish a game properly. Look, I get that for some people, it's all about the laurels and the plaques. Good for them. I like to win too. People who are constantly talking about all the various ways they'll "game" the system and seek any meta-game advantage they can, however, make my skin crawl.
 
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Curt Collins
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AmadanNaBriona wrote:


Because I'd rather finish a game properly. Look, I get that for some people, it's all about the laurels and the plaques. Good for them. I like to win too. People who are constantly talking about all the various ways they'll "game" the system and seek any meta-game advantage they can, however, make my skin crawl.


I'm going to assume you are exaggerating here.

I don't think anyone wants to have a final end in adjudication, or even a heat really. There is a schedule though, and people, for whatever reason they deem fit, have a right to be finished with the game during the scheduled time.

GMS are already told to rule against the slow players when adjudicating. This should prevent anyone from slow playing to run the clock out and win by decision. That's bad sportsmanship, and it should be punished.

It's also not fair to take more than a normal amount of time while you spin your wheels in an episode of analysis paralysis and cause a game to run over time.

I don't think any of this has anything to do with people wood hunting. It's about people wanting to play the scheduled games that they planned on playing weeks or months before arriving. For someone to miss out on a game they've been looking forward to, whether they are shooting for wood, or just want to play that game for kicks, is something the BPA has stated they aim to prevent.

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Spleen wrote:
I'm going to assume you are exaggerating here.


Not at all.

Quote:
I don't think any of this has anything to do with people wood hunting. It's about people wanting to play the scheduled games that they planned on playing weeks or months before arriving. For someone to miss out on a game they've been looking forward to, whether they are shooting for wood, or just want to play that game for kicks, is something the BPA has stated they aim to prevent.


Wanting a game adjudicated because you have another game to get to is perfectly reasonable.
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Devin Smith
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I want some games adjudicated to get to stop playing the game against people that are taking forever. If the game is legitimately taking a long time (say because of variable game length or whatever), fine. If opponent is taking freaking forever to play their turns, not so much. Opponent is not entitled to waste my time, be it because I have a game to get to or not.

I don't even object to people tanking for a long time when they have decisions to make: sometimes one has to sit and think for five minutes, and that's fine. One does't have to sit and think for five minutes every turn.
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David desJardins
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Spleen wrote:
It's also not fair to take more than a normal amount of time while you spin your wheels in an episode of analysis paralysis and cause a game to run over time.


Why do people always bring "analysis paralysis" into this? That's at most a small fraction of slow play. Is it any more or less fair if people take more than a normal amount of time thinking carefully and effectively? I would think that whether it's fair or unfair depends only on how much time you take, and not on whether someone decides it's "analysis paralysis" or "deep thinking" or something in between.
 
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
Because I'd rather finish a game properly. Look, I get that for some people, it's all about the laurels and the plaques. Good for them. I like to win too. People who are constantly talking about all the various ways they'll "game" the system and seek any meta-game advantage they can, however, make my skin crawl.


On the one hand, I agree. I enjoy the play. I suck, so I have to come to the WBC for something and it certainly ain't winning.

On the other hand, there has to be something that separates WBC gaming from gaming at the local library and I would say it is the formal schedule and structure of tournaments.

"Properly" at a Meetup is, by definition, different than "properly" at the WBC. I think "end the game within the allotted time slot" is quite proper.

I'm not a fan of trying to "game" the system by manipulating the seating order or something like that, but a time limit seems a pretty basic thing for a scheduled convention like the WBC.

Whether someone was winning or not, if they asked for adjudication at time, I wouldn't hold it against them.

Now, having said that, it brings us back to the sandbagger or person that was "gaming" time and that, I admit, is a problem. I think something like asking the table for the offender or GM's just monitoring games more are possible solutions.

We are a small group and I bet sandbaggers get a rep and when the time comes, they can get their due.

I just don't agree that asking for adjudication at time is necessarily gamesmanship or improper. It's a facet of formal gaming that, to my mind, should be a given.

I admit I am torn sometimes between wanting casual gaming but facing the reality that the WBC does give prizes for tournament wins and it isn't rotten people with poor sportsmanship that want to win a plaque. It's kind of what the whole thing is built around. We can ignore it if we want, and I do most times, but people that want wood aren't enemies or poor sports.

They are just fellow aficionados that are taking advantage of something the WBC not only offers, but promotes. Wanting to win isn't a bad thing and wanting the game to end when it is supposed to isn't a bad thing either.

If I'm winning and time is up, I think I should be able to say, "That's it...our time is done," and I don't think I would be a bad person for doing it on the principle that, well....our allotted time for the game is up.

That's the point of the schedule in the first place. Allowing people to go on past time, to my mind, leads to discussions like this.

Kevin
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