Christopher O
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Summer grasses / All that remains / Of soldiers' dreams. - Basho.
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"...Winning isn't everything ... It's the only thing."

- Henry "Red" Sanders, UCLA Bruins football coach.

Introduction

This year I decided to keep track of my plays and my scores and standings, something I hadn't done with diligence before. So, from January 2012 until now, I've been trying my best to record every game and wherever possible, the standing (and score) within that game (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)

As we approach the end of the year, I took a look at my stats, and I realized that I'd be able to able to work out some rough win/loss percentages as well as some other interesting information.

I want to be clear, before I get deluged with pithy criticisms about "the spirit of the game" and "playing for the experience" - that's absolutely what I do - I play board games for the fun and the social aspect, not to win. On the other hand, it wouldn't be any fun if I didn't try my best, so this is a way of looking at how I fare as competition.

There are some gaps in my data - sometimes I couldn't recall a few days after playing what my standing was; for many games recently, I haven't recorded standing or scores - once again, it's not so important to me that it be 100% accurate so much as that I have a general idea.

Now, straight win/loss (counting only first place wins as "wins") was pretty easy - I've won 48 out of 155 games I've played this year, or about 30.9%.

But what about all those times where I came in second, or fourth, or whatever, in multi-player games? How could I weight success at multiplayer games based on my standing?

An Idea for Weighted Success Rate:

Generally, most games have between 2 and 6 players. There are exceptions, of course, such as solo games and 8 player + party games, but on the whole, most games I play fall into that range.

The number "6" breaks down easily into whole parts - half, third, sixths, etc.

What I decided to do was to assign an point value of "6" to any first place win (or when there were only two players, a "plain" win). In games with multiple players, I'd assign a fraction of those points, but always with last place getting 0 points.

So, for a three player game, 1st = 6, 2nd = 3 and 3rd = 0.
Four player, 1st = 6, 2nd = 4 3rd = 2, 4th = 0
Five player, 1st = 6, 2nd = 5, 3rd = 3, 4th = 1, 5th = 0 (I could've made 2nd be 4.5 and 4th be 1.5, but I was trying to keep it simple)
Six player 1st = 6, 2nd = 5, 3rd = 4, 4th = 3, 5th = 2, 6th = 0
Two player is simple - 6 if you win, 0 if you lose. (For two-player ties, I awarded 3 points)

If I put it into a spreadsheet, I could do the math more exactly, but I wanted something that would be easy to "hand"-tally with a calculator.

Where two players tied for the same position in a multi-player game, I did the "Euro" thing and assigned both players the same positional value, but the next place player the untied position value.

Add up the number of "points" for your placement in each game and divide by the number of games you played multiplied by six and can get a rough idea of where you generally end up in the gaming spectrum.

Let the Dice Fall Where they May

So, where does all this mumbo-jumbo get me?

I played 155 games thus far (discounting a still-ongoing game), multiplied by 6 gives me 930 potential points. Counting up my "points" from placement in various games, I have (very roughly) 454 points. For the obsessive fact-checkers out there, I had to "fudge" a lot of positions based on hazy memory. In addition, in cases where I know that I intentionally "threw" a game, such as when I was playing my 7-year old son, I substituted a neutral value of 3, so 454 is a "best guess" estimate.

Thus, I am coming in the top half of the "pack" in approximately 48.8% of the games I play. Or, to take the "glass half empty" view, I'm in the bottom half of the pack 51.2% of the time.

Does that make me a loser, or a winner? Technically, I guess I finish in the bottom half slightly more often than I finish highly placed... so I'm a loser. However, since my first place-percentage is around 30.9%, it seems like I'm a go-hard or go-home type - I come in first more often when I place high, but I have also come in dead last in 37 out of 155 plays, or 23.8% of the time.

I'm not a statistician, so I'll readily admit there's a very high likelihood there are some glaring holes in this model, but it was fun to work through.

I had actually thought, before going through this exercise, that I was coming in first less often but also coming in the upper positions in the pack more often. Since the typical attendance on our games nights hovers roughly between 3 and 4 almost evenly, to come in first in 31% of the games I play feels like a decent achievement. Then again, 1/3.5 = 28.6%, so maybe my first place win skills are merely within the statistical margin of error.

Maybe the mathematics/statistician boffins can tell me in a gaming group consisting of 4 players of exactly equal skill, how often one can expect to come in first... is it as simple as 25% of the time?

Conclusion


Analyzing all my plays over the course of the year was an interesting exercise. Looking closely at the numbers, it would appear that I'm holding up my end properly in my gaming circle, winning (or placing high) roughly as often as I might be expected to. I'm tempted to run the numbers for the other members of the group I have data for as fodder for discussion on a future gaming night.

What's your weighted game success rate? Are you a winner, or a loser?

"Win or lose, do it fairly."

- Knute Rockne

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George Falconer
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Re: Are you a Loser, or a Winner?
I have done some analysis of game stats before. I kept it simple, calculated a winning percentage and the average number of players in the games that they play. One simple multiplication and I call it their TGR, Total Gamer Rating. Anything above 1.00 is a good gamer. Most people fell in the .80 to 1.2 range. There are a few outliers though, like my sister-in-law, who plays very few games (no games at all really) but won a big ten player race of Formula De, she still has the highest TGR of anyone I know.

One of the more interesting results was that I could show some of the people who felt like they lost all the time that they were actually far more competitive than they gave themselves credit for.



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Christopher O
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Gwfalcon wrote:
I have done some analysis of game stats before. I kept it simple, calculated a winning percentage and the average number of players in the games that they play. One simple multiplication and I call it their TGR, Total Gamer Rating. Anything above 1.00 is a good gamer. Most people fell in the .80 to 1.2 range. There are a few outliers though, like my sister-in-law, who plays very few games (no games at all really) but won a big ten player race of Formula De, she still has the highest TGR of anyone I know.

One of the more interesting results was that I could show some of the people who felt like they lost all the time that they were actually far more competitive than they gave themselves credit for.


I think my average number of players is ~ 3 to 3.5 (I play a lot of 2 player wargames)... call it 3.25 (I'll check it more closely later this evening.). Multiply by 0.308 = 1.00.

Interesting and simple stat, thanks!

[edit]

Plugged it into a quick spreadsheet. I'm playing on average with 2.95 people x 0.308 = 0.91. Bleagh.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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If I tracked my win/loss stats, it would be too depressing.
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Carl Nyberg
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I haven't been keeping track, but for a 4-6 player game like Settlers, on average, won't someone win only 1/5 games? Of course that would be depressing if you thought of it as "I only win one out of 5 times"...
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Carl Garber
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I use to keep overall stats for a couple years(all win/loss stats but for each player count). However, I decided it wasn't worth the time. Now I only continue to keep win/loss for games and not player counts.

I think if I had a regular game group like yourself I would be even more into stats. However, I play with many different people and many casual gamers. I haven't figured out a good way to come up with a "strength of competiton" stat. For example, if I win a 4 player game of Settlers against opponents who usually win over 25% of the time in 4 player games and they have each played Settlers at least 10 times, that is quite a bigger accomplishment than beating 3 total newbies. But in my current stats a win is a win.

What I find useful with my simple win/loss stats is I can see which games I am better in relation to the other games I own. Generally my competition will be relatively the same for all the games I play so when I see that my Macao record is 24-5 and my Castles of Burgundy record is 5-9 it is pretty clear to me which game I am better at. What is interesting is when I consider that I generally play these two games with the same people. What is it about Macao that makes me so dominant in it? And what about Castles makes me comparitively weak? Now some people just don't care but I find these sorts of things interesting to think about.
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David Sevier
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Never bothered to keep track of my scores for general gaming. I do track scores for the games I'm developing, but that's less about me and more about game balance.

I do have a reputation for being a 'winner', though. Which I think is more caused by the fact that I sometimes have lucky nights where things will go my way and I'll win all of our games or most of them but in a big way. Those days kind of outshine all the other days that I lose, apparently.

Really, I don't think I win all that much more often than anyone else in my group. I think I'm just a scarier opponent and tend to be lucky when I really need it, which sticks out in people's minds more than the actual outcome of the game.
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Brandon Kempf
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Most of the time, if I am teaching a new game(which with my group is about 90% of the time) I am usually on the wrong end of the scoring spectrum, I'm usually too worried about helping everyone that has a question. After a play through or two I usually stand a chance since I'm not too worried about answering questions any longer and I can concentrate more on what I am doing.
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Christopher O
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Summer grasses / All that remains / Of soldiers' dreams. - Basho.
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Vacabck wrote:
Most of the time, if I am teaching a new game(which with my group is about 90% of the time) I am usually on the wrong end of the scoring spectrum, I'm usually too worried about helping everyone that has a question. After a play through or two I usually stand a chance since I'm not too worried about answering questions any longer and I can concentrate more on what I am doing.


I have a somewhat similar experience when I am teaching.

My general reputation when I'm not teaching is as someone who learns the basics quickly and catches on to the game system well (usually translating into early success), but fades after multiple plays.

I used to be a dominant force in El Grande way back when we first started, but I had a long losing streak. It's only recently that I've struggled my way back to the middle of the pack.
 
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David Oldster
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Definitely a loser. I realize I get my kick now from exploring game mechanics and the social aspect of playing board games. It also means if I come across a game whose mechanics I don't like, the social aspect really has to make up for it.
 
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CHAPEL
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I bet if I tracked all my wins vs. losses in the last 20 years, it'd be around 1/3 win ratio. Which if you usually play 3-5 player games, is about average.
 
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