When a game goes to time is adding up the points of each ship destroyed reflective of the state of the game at the time or should we change how this is worked out?
For anyone who has not listened to the rather amusing first 40 minutes or so of episode 41 of Nova Squadron it contains Major Juggler of Math Wing fame have a bit of a tis about the scoring system when a game goes to time and a perceived negative play experience on his part.
I like the Nova Squadron Podcast although at times it is a bit too back slapping nice with everyone in agreement with each other. This made a nice change to have some passionate disagreements and throw some ideas out there, whether you agree with them or not. I would implore them to disagree a bit more often as it is more interesting.
In a nut shell Major Juggler was at an event, went undefeated but failed to make the top four cut. He drew his first game, won three and got a modified win along the way. This left him fifth with four players above him on four full wins and one loss for 20 points whilst he sat there on 19 points. The bone of contention was that in the draw the opponent had a stress hog left on one hull as time was called whilst his stress hog was on full health. The opponent’s stress hog was also pointing towards the edge of the board for the final get out arc manoeuvre.
Negative Scoring Experience
His overall feeling is that the FFG tournament system does not accurately depict the state of the game when time is called. The remedy suggested is that you should score points, (partial points is the coined phrase), for every shield and hull you have destroyed rounding up. For example if you had a 12 point Academy Tie Fighter limping around on 1 hull it would be worth 8 points to your opponent. So in the case of the draw in question the Y wing would be worth 22 points, (gold squadron with TLT, BTL-A4 title and stress bot). The odd thing from my point of view is that he felt you would only apply this if a game went to time, not if the game finished naturally with one player destroying everything. That really does not make sense if you are trying to be fair and represent the ‘state of the game’ at the end of a match. You end up with a skewed MOV scoring system. It would be beneficial to drag out the game to time if you were losing to get a better MOV score.
On the flip side you could have Whisper on one hull against a Stress hog Y wing on full health and if the game went to time using the above scenario the Y wing player wins, even though the likely hood of that one fixed arc Y wing getting arc on the phantom and knocking off that one hull before it is obliterated by four or five attack dice over a couple of turns is unlikely. Its like all scoring systems, there will always be a situation that comes up when a game comes to time when the score may not reflect the state of the game, but rather the winning conditions at the time. This is true for many games systems.
Having played Warhammer 40K for many a year the art of deciphering the rule pack and working out the victory conditions was a vital part of the game. One of my last games of 40K was a tournament prep for a friend which ended in a draw using the rule pack for the event. As I drove home I was running through the game in my head and realised that if we had applied two different tournament scoring systems currently in vogue in the UK at the time using the same basic mission we would have had two different out comes. Under one system I would have lost whilst under another I would have won. What made it more relevant form a data analysis point was that all three tournament packs for using the mission we played would not have altered either of our approaches, objective priority or tactics.
From a Rugby Union perspective its like if team A scores one try, (5pts), a conversion, (2pts) and a penalty kick, (3pts) for a total of 10 points versus Team B who scores three penalty kicks for a total of 9 points. Team A wins. If this match was played at the beginning of the 1990s when a try was worth 4 points it would have been a draw, 9 points each. If we stretch back to between 1948 to 1970 team B wins 9 points to 8 points as a try was worth 3points.
If we look at sport for example, how many times do you see a team being battered on all statistical fronts in regards to possession, territory, line breaks, shots at goal yet they still come out on top due to smart play, a rear guard action or basically wining the only statistic that is vital at the end of the game, the score.
|1 (0)||Scrums won (lost)||11 (1)|
|11 (3)||Line-outs won (lost)||14 (1)|
|86 (3)||Rucks/mauls won (lost)||83 (5)|
|26||Kicks from hand||33|
|134 (12)||Tackles made (missed)||113 (15)|
This is the recent stats from the Scotland versus England match in the Six Nations rugby Union tournament which England won 15-9. Two tries, a conversion and a penalty kick versus three penalty kicks. Crucially during the first half from about the 15th minute to half time, (40mins), Scotland were on top regarding play and momentum and had 4 try scoring opportunities from line breaks and two missed shots at goal. During the relatively close match England had two try scoring opportunities and took them clinically.
My point here is that when on the podcast Kris cheekily said “have you tried playing better?” I would have clarified that to being more clinical and understanding what the winning conditions are.
Major Juggling of the Meta
Changing the scoring system changes the Meta. By his own admission Major Juggler has never played 40K or other table top miniatures games like Kris and Ed have on the podcast. In that respect he really does not know what an easy ride and comparatively fair system X wing provides. Perhaps the rest of the cast could have expanded on that a bit more with him. To be fair when I first looked at the scoring system at my first tournament I was a bit taken a back at not having a degree of victory or margin of victory system. It is effectively all or nothing. Win, lose or draw.
Games workshop changed their scoring system which everyone had been quite happy with at their own grand tournament system due to a written complaint from one of the competitors. This was before it was completely nerfed to the Throne of skulls everyone one wins events. They used to operate a heat system which you could then qualify through to a final. Scoring was originally a margin of victory out of twenty, depending on how much you won or lost by. A draw was 10 points each then you had it split 12-8, 15-5, 17-3 and 20-0.
A player complained that although they had won all six matches they did not win but the champion had won five and lost one but still scored more. They over hauled it to a straight 30 points for a win, 10 for a draw and 1 point for a loss the following year.
This started the major fracturing of independent tournaments scoring systems to using their own based on personal bias as to what is the best scoring system as almost everyone up until this point in the mid noughties had used the GW model. What happens with a different scoring system as well as comp systems is that you shift the meta.
For example the scoring system currently proposed by the ETC team championship will heavily favour two to three ship builds and heavily penalise swarms. Now although under MOV tie breaker swarms are still disadvantaged, at least with the FFG system if you concentrate on winning all your games or the required number to get to the cut a swarm player will make it. You would be foolish to take a swarm using the degree of victory conditions proposed for ETC, you would end up like the guy letter writing to GW above as you just won’t be able to max out your match points enough.
This also has knock on effects as you can assume the opponents won’t be taking swarms and thus make some other builds more viable and other lists stronger.
The Juggler System: Partial points on all ships
The biggest argument against partial points for all ships was the working out and logistical issues. I don’t believe it would be that much of a logistical problem to work out at the end of a match. After all we managed all sorts of ridiculous calculations for 40K events in similar turnaround times for matches as you do with X wing. My bigger bone of contention is that it would change which ships are good or bad. Probably not drastically but you will get a meta shift, you saw it all the time with 40K. In attempts to either reduce spamming, death stars units or other nastiness something else always managed to find a way to become no.1 in place of the previous king of the hill. What was previously keeping one thing in check and under manners would be removed allowing other said thing to take its place at the top of the food chain.
There is a good case for either getting rid of the modified win or at least altering the scoring on it. I would award points to the modified loser. The suggestion mooted by Major Juggler is to change the match scoring system to 4 for a match win, 3 for a modified win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a modified loss and 0 for a match loss. My alternative would be to change a modified loss to 2 points and a draw to 2 points and retain 5 points for a match win. Either or would give a better representation for a modified loss.
Is it worth it?
This was a good point. For the number of games that go to time, end in a draw or modified win is it really worth overhauling a system that currently allows players to build a rich variety of competitive lists which emphasis more how you fly them? Maybe changing the Match scoring system slightly as above but partial points on all ships seams unnecessary. Adding an additional layer of scoring complexity to cover the odd corner case is not really logistically worth it or for the wider implications it would cause for playing tournament games.
If we look back at my Rugby example where we retrospectively applied the different scoring systems from different eras we get a different result. Even with the England-Scotland match if you go back to specific period you could have got a Scotland win from that. If we retrospectively applied Major Jugglers scoring proposal to other games we have played that have gone to time the results would change, some in our favour, others against.
I had a game last year with my full health Lt. Colzet chasing Soontir Fel on one hull go to time for a modified loss. It would have been a draw under the Juggler system. My recent tournament game against Lenny at the ETC qualifier using standard FFG rules would have ended up as a 71- 43 point win for Lenny as opposed to a 29-0 win for me.
Zeta Leader two hull, 12 points, Carnor Jax one hull, 28 points, Whisper one hull, 31 points.
Palpmobile destroyed 29 points, Darth Vader 3 hull, 14 points, Soontir Fel full health 0 points.
But would that change in score actually reflect the state of the game or the actual moves we took in that last turn because time was called? It reflects damage done but that rule set of reflecting damage done would have altered both our approaches to the game and final moves if using the Juggler system.
In Rugby parlance Major Juggler spent the last ten minutes of a match encamped on the opponents try line with the scores tied. In terms of the state of play he was clearly the better side but as the full time whistle blew he dived over the try line only to fail to ground the ball properly due to dropping it. If on the other hand it was American Football the grounding of the ball would not be required and he would have won the match.
In a long winded, example laden way my overall point from having played Rugby at a reasonable level and competitive miniature gaming is that when you start you need to know what the winning conditions are and play to them. If you don’t and it does not go your way there is little point in moaning against it by suggesting that under another winning condition the result would have been different. It may well be but your approach to the game as well as that of your opponent may well have been totally different. As with 40K you would have to tailor your list to the tournament pack to fore fill the winning conditions of that event. If you change the winning conditions you change the game and how you have to play to that game.
I don’t feel that we need to change how games are scored when time especailly as it will change the meta and add an additional needless complexity to it. If we look at my Whisper and Y wing example or the actual game against Lenny the application of the different victory conditions of a game going to time changes the result. If I was playing the Juggler system of partial points on all ships for that event I would have no complaints although I might think retrospectively that under the old FFG system I would have won that game.
All I could really have to say to myself is that I should have played better or differently under the winning conditions for that game.