The internet has been ablaze with the whole Roanoke Eight and the Intentional draw debacle.These are my thoughts.
This is the third stab I have had at writing about this. Previous drafts were a bit excitable but seeing as I did spend some time on the memes I shall still use them in this rehash. Cut and paste explanation below:
Before we continue here is a quick explanation about the bald quiet man in most of the memes for anyone outside the UK and/or with no interest in UK politics.
Intentional Draws are being for the most past being initialled down to IDs, much like veteran instincts is abbreviated to VI. We do love abbreviation of terms in X-wing, even when to the casual reader it sounds like we are giving a Venereal Infection to Darth Vader.
Iain Duncan Smith, commonly known in the British media as IDS, (see where this is going), was until recently the Secretary of State for Welfare and Pensions who introduced a swath of unpopular cuts on welfare benefits. Prior to that he was the party leader in the early noughties for couple of years who had his speeches written by some guy called Julian Fellowes. Fellowes turned to writing TV shows after IDS resigned the leadership and put his ability to write inaccurate garbage to good (?) use and created and wrote Downton Abbey.
So there is a little bit of humour to try and take the edge off it like a slice of lemon in a gin and tonic. A number of players at the event have posted their thoughts, experiences and regret about IDS in the last game. One player who finished with a 2-4 record fairly defended triple world champion Paul Heaver with regards to the amount of internet backlash coming his way for using a rule mechanic allowed in the tournament pack..
In a nut shell the Roanoke eight all decided to all intentionally draw their last game of Swiss and thus all qualify for the top eight cut as they all sat on 20 or 25 points prior to drawing. This meant that the next players below them who were sitting on 15 points could not get into the top eight cut even if they won their last game, which a number did and could have potentially had three players swap out had the games actually been played.
The top five players were effectively playing a dead rubber in that they would mathematically qualify anyway even if they did lose due to the number of players at the event and MOV scores. I’m not saying I agree with their decision, as personally it’s just not cricket, but FFG have created a structure that allows it and the number of rounds for cuts is one too many which can lead to this. As mentioned on the latest episode of the Kessel Run the player numbers and number of rounds created a perfect storm for this to happen.
Part of the issue is the number of Swiss rounds FFG suggests are played before having a cut. In the Roanoke event it suggests six rounds after 41 players or more are signed up. They had 41 or 42 then got a couple of drops. Regardless, even if you had 48 players, five rounds rather than six would leave you on two players with 5 wins and six with 4 wins one loss. 64 players with five rounds leaves two players on 2 wins and ten on 4 wins one loss. Both reasonable to make a top eight cut from. This does not remove the possibility of an IDS occurring but is limited to the top table in the penultimate round.
In the FFG tournament rule pack it both states that intentional draws are okay and later under sportsmanship says that it is not permitted under match fixing. It’s a piece of writing that Games Workshop would be proud of as it can be read a few different ways to circumvent the Unsporting Conduct section which at the same time having an Intentional Draw is colluding results and treating your opponent with a lack of courtesy or respect. Personally that’s not just the opponent opposite you , but your other opponents in the hall.
I just do not see the relevance nor competitive merits in allowing an intentional draw for X-Wing like FFG have stated. In Magic an Intentional draw is often mooted after the players are locked at 1-1 with the clock running out on the decider in the round. It’s funny to think that recently Doug Kinney was on a raft of Podcasts promoting the Fly Casual ethos again and pointing the finger at the swathe of 40K players joining the game in recent years for possibly making it more competitive and against the Fly casual ethos.
Yet a lot of X Wing players come from a card gaming background where IDS is rife and in the murky world of 40K tournaments which I inhabited for years, this sort of thing at Roanoke never happened in terms of match fixing.
Switching Draws to Zero
A quick short term fix would be to make a draw 0 points and 0 MVP before considering a different scoring or structural changes. Draws are incredibly rare and IDS only effect an event with a cut, one would hope. One option that has been mooted of in the case of a draw is the player with the initiative either wins or loses. Although having or not having the initiative is beneficial depending on the list build and opponent. This could leave it a viable option for say a twin IG88 build to just fly around for 75 mins not engaging then getting the win due to initiative choice.
The three reasons a draw can occur baring IDS is:
1: no one manages to kill anything or get half points in the allotted time
2: Ships are destroyed but those left total the same points such as two academy Tie fighters Vs one TLT Gold Squadron Y Wing or two ships exactly the same.
3: Simultaneous destruction
Receiving 0 points in cases one and three is not really harsh as either no damage has been done or you have been destroyed too. In situation two it’s a bit trickier and is probably the more common but the game thrives on a straight win/loss mechanic and removing the whole mechanic of scoring the draw forces people to play the game as there is no advantage to running and hiding to run out the clock to get a point.
I would also reduce the number of rounds that FFG suggest currently by one if having a cut to reduce the opportunity for this sort of thing to happen, restricting it to the top table on the penultimate round. An incentive for the top table to play could be to award the player who finished top in Swiss the option of picking their quarter final opponent from the other players making the cut as a reward for finishing top.
No solution is perfect but if I had my finger on the button, this is the option I would go for. For the tiny proportion of games it would affect it would at least stop any potential IDs from happening in the future.
The biggest and least forgiving X wing Tournament to date is going to be the Yavin Open in Birmingham England June 4th and 5th. So far 416 players have bought tickets for the 512 player event. With that number by the end of round nine there will be one undefeated player and eight on an 8-1 record for the cut for the top eight. This means that only the top table in round 8 can benefit from IDS, even if numbers swell to the maximum capacity or drop off a bit on the day.
There is a caveat to the Series open system in that if you are on a 3-2 record going into round 6 on the Saturday you have to ask yourself the question of do you want to score 18 to 20 tournament points and progress into rounds 7 to 9 on the Sunday morning. Even going 7-2 will not get you into the cut to top eight. Would you rather have two stabs in the two three round Hanger Bay side events on the Sunday or play three dead rubbers?
If so either concede to your opponent or both intentionally draw to avoid playing out three dead rubbers on the Sunday morning. You can of course still play the round 6 game for fun and IDS the result and in this case the IDS could be a useful mechanic to give you a more fun experience on the Sunday. Only a 5-1 record at the end of Saturday will keep you in the hunt. Even a modified win could be a major setback in the attempt to make the cut on Sunday afternoon.
That being said the organisers might just let you into the side event anyway if you ask nicely.
EDIT: UKGE have just announced that they are only running one Hangerbay event which will be in the afternoon as they would not be able to administer two and check the lists for the proposed morning event. I’m slightly disappointed by that as one has to ask do you really need that amount of official list checking for a fun event? That being said they have set up an online preregistration process to make the Saturday smooth.
What are your thoughts for a solution? Is IDS good or bad, has the internet gone a bit crazy and is the X Wing community guilty of too much abbreviation?
Anyone still getting too riled up should maybe click on the next link and leave the last word to Morton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WvC6xqzZc0