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EvilEd209

NOVA Squadron Radio – Episode 41: News and Force Awakens Part II

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If you have to call over a TO because your opponent is playing slowly, then that's because they are playing slowly.  If they are deliberately stalling the clock, then it's cheating.

 

This can be an extremely grey line. It is impossible to have an intellectually defendable discussion on this topic without first acknowledging that it is frequently impossible to tell the difference between slow play and playing slowly with any degree of certainty.

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If you have to call over a TO because your opponent is playing slowly, then that's because they are playing slowly.  If they are deliberately stalling the clock, then it's cheating.

This can be an extremely grey line. It is impossible to have an intellectually defendable discussion on this topic without first acknowledging that it is frequently impossible to tell the difference between slow play and playing slowly with any degree of certainty.

Slow play is one of the most contentious issues with which a TO has to face.  It is usually a TO's call and that's what can rub some players the wrong way.  There is no universal, consistent guideline to determine what constitutes slow play.  Players will need to trust the experienced judgement of the TO to observe and penalise slow play.

 

The point that I believe you are confusing, is that slow play can happen in any tournament, at any time.  It is a distinct problem that is not caused by tournament scoring.  Slow play is caused by players playing slowly.

 

Tournament scoring can and does affect potential late-game tactics that some players will use to preserve their ships, trying to eek out wins by running away.  That is not slow play.

 

Late game tactics =/= slow play.

 

If you think your opponent is playing slowly, then prompt them.  Prompt them a second time, with a suggestion that you will call the TO if it continues.  Most of the time, that's enough.  Never be afraid to involve a TO if your opponent continues to play slowly.

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Abusing playing slowly to attempt to gain an advantage (straight up against the rules) is largely only possible because the current scoring system has large discontinuities in how ships are scored for games that go to time. Fix that, and slow play becomes a non-issue. It would still be annoying if your opponent takes forever to place their dials and make decisions, but rarely would it actually affect the outcome of a game.

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Abusing playing slowly to attempt to gain an advantage (straight up against the rules) is largely only possible because the current scoring system has large discontinuities in how ships are scored for games that go to time. Fix that, and slow play becomes a non-issue. It would still be annoying if your opponent takes forever to place their dials and make decisions, but rarely would it actually affect the outcome of a game.

Tournament scoring should not affect slow play at all.

 

If you find that your opponent is playing slowly, at any point in the game, then you should take measures to stop it, including requesting the TO to watch your game.

 

Arguably, you allow the outcome of the game to be affected if you permit your opponent to get away with their slow play.  That's not a fault of the tournament scoring.

 

Slow play is a non-issue for people who know how to deal with it.  Perhaps that's something you need to learn? :)

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Abusing playing slowly to attempt to gain an advantage (straight up against the rules) is largely only possible because the current scoring system has large discontinuities in how ships are scored for games that go to time. Fix that, and slow play becomes a non-issue. It would still be annoying if your opponent takes forever to place their dials and make decisions, but rarely would it actually affect the outcome of a game.

It would fix it, but even with perfect software that does the math for them you'd have to have both players keep track of each other's full lists and end-game shields. These players are already the slow-pokes who are reporting late scores and slowing the tourney down for everyone. It's just not practical.

I'm new to tabletop, but certainly some people here have been around long enough to know if this has been attempted in any tabletop game tournament play.

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I'm new to X Wing, though not to FFG tournament games in general, so I actually found the discussion regarding tournament scoring quite interesting. I had the following takeaways and questions from the first hour of the cast:

 

1. I was surprised to hear Sean say that he and opponents flipped coins to determine the winner of their drawn games. For me, this is akin to manipulation of scoring. Their actual result was a draw; it was not reported as such. As a result, one player has an inflated number of tournament points that they didn't earn.

 

There are other ways to effect this, such as one player flying their ship off the board intentionally or just outright conceding, but I am not a fan of this. A draw is a draw and should be recorded as a draw, IMO. What am I missing on this?

 

2. Perhaps people wouldn't be so passionate about avoiding draws if they weren't scored like "almost-losses" instead of "half-wins." This principle seems to be close to MajorJuggler's suggestion of passing out 4 points per match regardless of result.

 

Soccer did this for forever (2 pts for a win; 1 for a draw) but went up to 3 for a win to encourage attacking play near the end of games. Currently, a drawn result encourages the players to engage and try to force a win (at least in my theorycrafting). Losing your one point that is "in the bank" for ending with a draw is not enticing compared to the 5 points you can earn for a win. Mathematically, you'd engage if you perceived a <20% chance of eking out a win; you'd turtle and disengage if it were less. The proportion would switch up towards 50% if MajorJuggler's tourney point suggestion was enacted.

 

3. What's the difference between running away and slow play? I think this can be answered along "rules" lines as well as "culture" lines....what do the rules as written allow, and what does the community see as fair in interpreting those rules?

 

4. Is MajorJuggler suggesting adjudicating partial points for all ships always? It seems like that position has been imputed to him when he is just saying that partial points should be scored only in the case of a draw to split the hairs and eliminate the draw. If Sean is right and we've seen on the order of one draw per tournament, it hardly seems worth the time; if we see more draws as MajorJuggler suggests may be the case, gamestate solutions that simulate 'who would have won' may also matter.

 

Or, as in soccer, a draw can be seen as a fair and just result. Too often you find your team sieging the opposing goal, but not getting it across the line. They still share the points and one team is happier and the other unhappier. This is ingrained in soccer culture, but what about XWing culture? 1 point draws seem, again, like "almost losses."

 

5. What scoring system, in everyone's opinion, is the best at discouraging "runaway" play from either the winner or the loser during the endgame? Or is "runaway" play just good tactics and that's fine?

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OKTarg, thanks for the background in reasons soccer changed. That change seems to support what would happen in Xwing if draws were more valuable (play at the end would become more conservative in close games).

Edited by AlexW

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I still don't understand how granular HP scoring stops slow play. If someone scored some early hit points, they can still slow play to stay up in points.

I'll take it one step further. Besides slowing down scoring at the end of the game it would slow down the game just in general. Players would try and calculate a more complicated formula to see whether they were ahead and by how much before formulating late game strategy. It would also present weird situations at endgame where firing at a healthier ship would be more valuable than destroying a ship (especially if neither had a return shot) and that seems decidedly against the spirit of the original rules.

Edited by AlexW

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I still don't understand how granular HP scoring stops slow play. If someone scored some early hit points, they can still slow play to stay up in points.

I'll take it one step further. Besides slowing down scoring at the end of the game it would slow down the game just in general. Players would try and calculate a more complicated formula to see whether they were ahead and by how much before formulating late game strategy. It would also present weird situations at endgame where firing at a healthier ship would be more valuable than destroying a ship (especially if neither had a return shot) and that seems decidedly against the spirit of the original rules.

That's actually a really good point.

The choice to shoot a a healthy ship with the last shot if the game, instead of finishing off a 1 hit point ship. When you can only gain 4 points for finishing off a 1 hit point TIE instead of 8 points from putting 2 hits on to an undamaged one just feels wrong.

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OKTarg, thanks for the background in reasons soccer changed. That change seems to support what would happen in Xwing if draws were more valuable (play at the end would become more conservative in close games).

Except that draws were (are) far more common in soccer/football than in X-wing.  I don't know the stats but ball park you are looking at something like 20-30% for soccer compared to 0.5% for X-wing.  Making draws worth (relatively) less would have been way more important for soccer than it ever will be for X-wing since our X-wing livelihood doesn't depend on paying customers who want to watch a spectacle.  Off topic, but soccer solves almost all those problems by getting rid of the off-side rule (like (field) Hockey did years ago).  

 

Draws in X-wing most likely fall into three categories, no one dead (i've seen it once), everyone dead, or mirror match, and even then it is pretty rare.

 

With evening up of points, the only place where you "may" have trouble is collusion for drawn matches when neither player needs to win to make the cut, but really those players already made it in and really only hurt their rankings so isn't as big a deal as you might think (i'm led to believe this is legal in Magic tournaments, the time off playing is almost always better spent than playing a meaningless game).  Currently this is illegal per the X-wing tournament rules, whether it should be illegal is another question entirely that is best to avoid at this juncture.     

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 Juggler's examples lead to other board state examples that full partial scoring does not accurately represent -  Time is called with a b-wing ace (Keyan + upgrades) and a gold y-wing w ion. on the board,  the y-wing at 1 health behind the b-wing that has lost a single shield, has an ion token and a stress. 

Here, the y-wing loses the match, but has a good chance to continuously Ion the b-wing to death. Via Game state - the Y-wing has probably won this.  Or just take MJ's situation and invert it so that the full health ship is about to fly off the board.  The corner case still exists. 

 

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OKTarg, thanks for the background in reasons soccer changed. That change seems to support what would happen in Xwing if draws were more valuable (play at the end would become more conservative in close games).

Except that draws were (are) far more common in soccer/football than in X-wing. I don't know the stats but ball park you are looking at something like 20-30% for soccer compared to 0.5% for X-wing. Making draws worth (relatively) less would have been way more important for soccer than it ever will be for X-wing since our X-wing livelihood doesn't depend on paying customers who want to watch a spectacle. Off topic, but soccer solves almost all those problems by getting rid of the off-side rule (like (field) Hockey did years ago).

Draws in X-wing most likely fall into three categories, no one dead (i've seen it once), everyone dead, or mirror match, and even then it is pretty rare.

With evening up of points, the only place where you "may" have trouble is collusion for drawn matches when neither player needs to win to make the cut, but really those players already made it in and really only hurt their rankings so isn't as big a deal as you might think (i'm led to believe this is legal in Magic tournaments, the time off playing is almost always better spent than playing a meaningless game). Currently this is illegal per the X-wing tournament rules, whether it should be illegal is another question entirely that is best to avoid at this juncture.

If it were just draws, I'd agree (and MajorJuggler makes the case that they will be more frequent). But it's not just draws in X-Wing that lead to more aggressive play. It's the scoring system as a whole. Losses/Modified losses give zero points (it's been suggested that they should give some points here) and modified wins aren't really desirable either because two of them or one paired with a loss often means missing the cut.

Edited by AlexW

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You almost need something like a shotclock ,like basketball.

A timer like chess.

Each player gets one minute to put all their dials down. Anything not placed and the opponent chooses a speed one maneuver for the enemy ships without dials.

If someone falls asleep at the wheel ...they end up drifting out of their lane.

Edited by Velvetelvis

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Then we would lose out on some of the great matches at tournaments and a lot of lists will never make it with too much positioning.  Having watched more Vassal games than Tournament games and not having any of those feel like someone was slow playing (because there is no point in it), you'll have top tier players taking 5 minutes in crucial rounds.  I don't want even more pressure in tournaments because someone is sitting there afraid the buzzer is fixing to go off because it is shotclock syndrome.  

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The game is too interactive to use clocks. Every decision in the game is interleaved in real time between the players. Attacking choices, spending actions on offense and defense, etc etc. A clock is not practical. And slow play or playing slowly is still a symptom, not the problem anyway.

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If slow dial play is the biggest source of slow play, and I don't know that it is, dial setting could be timed because it is the least interactive part of the game. Like all the other solutions, though, it adds some extra complexity to a system that mostly works.

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Also, to get away from the tournament scoring discussion, a question for MJ:

 

When you calculate Vessery's efficiency, do you consider the inefficiencies induced in the supporting ships?  He obviously gets a huge boost in efficiency when there's a target in his arc and the arc of his TL supporting ship, but in a lot of other situations, such as when the supporting ship has its arc dodged or Vessery destroys the target before the supporting ship fires, using his ability is more like a transferred action than a gained action.  Certainly some ships mind transferring their action to Vessery less than others, but it can be a tax on efficency.  

 

I guess what I'm saying is the conditions of...

 

1.)  Vessery has the tactically best target in arc.

2.)  Supporting ship as the tactically best target in arc.

3.)  Supporting ship can get a target lock on the tactically best target.

4.)  Vessery doesn't kill the target first.

 

...happen less, in my experience, than one might think just looking at a squad on paper.  There are certainly situations where the ability is ridiculously good, close to 100% activation, like when you're fighting against a very durable high point cost ship and you can just leave the Target Lock in place for many turns in a row.  There's also times where the supporting ship is on blocking duty or disengaged, and wouldn't use its action anyway, so an action transfer is a great thing.  This isn't every situation, though, and I'm curious if that makes it into your calculations.

 

I bring this up not because I think your analysis is lacking.  I'm mostly just curious about the initial assumptions (perhaps I missed that part in the podcast), and I've seen a lot of Defender discussion about anyone not Vessery being DOA (even with the new Imp Vet stuff) because he basically gets free re-rolls, and I don't really think his re-rolls are all that free.

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The game is too interactive to use clocks. Every decision in the game is interleaved in real time between the players. Attacking choices, spending actions on offense and defense, etc etc. A clock is not practical. And slow play or playing slowly is still a symptom, not the problem anyway.

 

I agree that the game is far too interactive to use clocks, but continuing to identify slow play as a symptom of the current scoring system and implying that partial points for everything would "fix" that is misleading. 

 

All competition that has a clock gives the reason for the player or team ahead a reason to delay.  It's why football and basketball have play and shot clocks and it's why soccer changed their match scoring to reward more aggressive play.   In the case of X-wing, it means unscrupulous players will try to use tactics outside the game to preserve that lead.   The scoring system doesn't matter in that regard.  It's the clock.

Edited by AlexW

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Sorry I posted this in the wrong thread:

 

As for Major Juggler and games going to time:     I'm the same as you in trying to make everything perfect.   I'm a Data Scientist, so I know how you feel.   I actually implemented the points for each hit point if you remember on episode 20.

 

As was stated by your other members, your list determines the length of your game.  Your list a stress based list doesn't do enough damage.     Many of the players, me included take the game to time because we know that your ships cannot do enough damage to kill us.     As Alex said, "It's a valid strategy"  

 

Also there is no bonus for actually killing everyone ships.    if they added 1 extra tournament point for actually killing the others guys fleet entirely by destroying them, not a submission.   More people would be forced to attack rather than dodge and avoid.    Especially if you need that extra point to make it to the big show.    This would also hurt slow players.

 

The 75 minutes is plenty of time, even with slow play if you actually try to kill the other player.     Stress BTL's and other stress weapons that have front arc only have this weakness.  Y-wings cannot get people in arc after the first pass and K-wings also have a problem with this also because of their dial.    So again it comes to list.    Don't play a stress based list, play a more aggressive list and your games won't come to time.

 

In discussions with many players a valid strategy is just get the game to time versus stress based lists, because they cannot do enough damage and you can win a modified win.

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Also, to get away from the tournament scoring discussion, a question for MJ:

 

When you calculate Vessery's efficiency, do you consider the inefficiencies induced in the supporting ships?  He obviously gets a huge boost in efficiency when there's a target in his arc and the arc of his TL supporting ship, but in a lot of other situations, such as when the supporting ship has its arc dodged or Vessery destroys the target before the supporting ship fires, using his ability is more like a transferred action than a gained action.  Certainly some ships mind transferring their action to Vessery less than others, but it can be a tax on efficency.  

 

I guess what I'm saying is the conditions of...

 

1.)  Vessery has the tactically best target in arc.

2.)  Supporting ship as the tactically best target in arc.

3.)  Supporting ship can get a target lock on the tactically best target.

4.)  Vessery doesn't kill the target first.

 

...happen less, in my experience, than one might think just looking at a squad on paper.  There are certainly situations where the ability is ridiculously good, close to 100% activation, like when you're fighting against a very durable high point cost ship and you can just leave the Target Lock in place for many turns in a row.  There's also times where the supporting ship is on blocking duty or disengaged, and wouldn't use its action anyway, so an action transfer is a great thing.  This isn't every situation, though, and I'm curious if that makes it into your calculations.

 

I bring this up not because I think your analysis is lacking.  I'm mostly just curious about the initial assumptions (perhaps I missed that part in the podcast), and I've seen a lot of Defender discussion about anyone not Vessery being DOA (even with the new Imp Vet stuff) because he basically gets free re-rolls, and I don't really think his re-rolls are all that free.

I believe I said when Bob was talking up the merits of the Ruthlessness Vessery that he makes a lot of assumptions when talking about Vessery.

I understand the value of Mathwing but have never been a player who leans too heavily on it, much preferring my gut, experience and actual practice with a list. The take away from that perticluar segment should be (in my mind, anyway) that if you are happy with PS6 than Vessery is good. No more, no less.

Kris

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As for Tractor Beams:   Decoy, Swarm or other EPT's that raise PS,  for a lower cost tractor beam ship.     That way you can shoot higher than aces PS and use the Tractor, while not giving your ace the tractor.       I'm so looking forward to doing this.

Edited by eagletsi111

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Also, to get away from the tournament scoring discussion, a question for MJ:

 

When you calculate Vessery's efficiency, do you consider the inefficiencies induced in the supporting ships?

 

No, when calculating Vessery's expected damage output I don't include a negative effect for the "spotter". Instead, I calculate his expected damage output with different probabilistic chances of having the bonus Target Lock, for example:

  • 0% - no ability -- sets an absolute minimum to his expected performance
  • 100% - best possible scenario - sets an absolute maximum to his expected performance
  • 50% - mid point between the above; should be reasonably close to reality and at least gives a baseline to judge the ship by

So the inefficiency of the spotter ship is indirectly calculated in how often Vessery's ability triggers. The notion of an "arc dodging duty cycle" can be modeled (and in fact needs to be to really understand what arc dodgers and turrets are worth), but I choose not to include it directly as part of the jousting numbers. The jousting numbers presume all ships have the same % chance at having shots and the same overall chance of getting an action (by default focus) at the start of the round -- with a few exceptions for things like Corran Horn's double-tap ability. This keeps everyone on the same apples to apples comparison.

 

Related to this, but applicable to all forms of Defenders (any pilot, any title), the Defender's white K-turn is conducive to having a better % chance at having shots than a typical arced ship, so its overall cost efficiency will be even greater than the jousting numbers indicate. Previously this was not enough to make the generics' overall cost efficiency high enough to be viable, but with the x7 and /D titles the generics' cost efficiency is now quite competitive (especially with the x7), so the white K-turn is basically a free bonus.

 

 

Just for kicks, the best-case numbers for Vessery + TIE/D + tractor beam + Ruthlessness, assuming:

  • 100% chance of getting the free TL
  • upon a successful attack, 100% chance of Ruthlessness triggering on an identical type ship (i.e. same durability as target ship)
  • 2 follow on 3ATT ship attacks to take advantage of tractor beam's potential -1AGI

Expected damage output normalized to a Z-95: ~7x

Expected durability normalized to a Z-95: ~1.85

 

This results in a jousting value of about 50 points. The loadout costs 39 points, so the net efficiency is 127%. The previous most efficient ships are the Omicron Group Pilot (108%) or TIE Fighter supported by Howlrunner (117%).

 

That's not a typo. Vessery's contributions to expected damage is the same as SEVEN Z-95's in the ideal scenario. Even if there were 0 follow on attacks to take advantage of tractor beam, his expected damage output would still be ~6.25 Z-95's. The fact that he is PS6 and has a white K-turn still hasn't entered into the equation yet. His only real drawback, and it is a big one, is that he is a massive glass cannon. Thank goodness the Imperials don't have Biggs.

 

 

 

The game is too interactive to use clocks. Every decision in the game is interleaved in real time between the players. Attacking choices, spending actions on offense and defense, etc etc. A clock is not practical. And slow play or playing slowly is still a symptom, not the problem anyway.

 

I agree that the game is far too interactive to use clocks, but continuing to identify slow play as a symptom of the current scoring system and implying that partial points for everything would "fix" that is misleading. 

 

All competition that has a clock gives the reason for the player or team ahead a reason to delay.  It's why football and basketball have play and shot clocks and it's why soccer changed their match scoring to reward more aggressive play.   In the case of X-wing, it means unscrupulous players will try to use tactics outside the game to preserve that lead.   The scoring system doesn't matter in that regard.  It's the clock.

 

 

Some games are fundamentally built around having a clock. X-wing is not one of them. A game of X-wing is not "finished" until one side is completely destroyed. However for practical reasons in tournament play you need to have a time limit so you can start the next round, so a timer has to be added.

 

The fundamental underlying problem is that many times a player who is CLEARLY going to lose if the game does not go to time, can instead be guaranteed a win if the clock runs out. In this case the scoring system has done an exceptionally poor job at judging the outcome of the game. We're not talking about the scenario where a team that is AHEAD wants to run out the clock. We're talking about the scenario that a player in a losing position (one hit point decimator of YT-1300) can stall the clock to get a win.

 

The current rules actively encourage players to cheat in order to win. In my opinion, having a rule set that encourage players to cheat points to a fundamental flow in the rule set.

 

 

There are many people who are using circular reasoning to argue that the rules do not need to be changed.

  • The current rules provide a way to determine who is currently ahead on points when a game goes to time.
  • However, the mere existence of those rules is insufficient to self-justify their existence.

 

For example, I'll take some liberty and paraphrase Kris I and's back-and-forth:

  • Bob: "The scoring rules are unfair for timed games."
  • Kris: "The rules are fair because they apply equally to both players at the start of the game."
  • Bob: "But at the end of a game the player who would clearly have lost if the game did not go to time, can instead get a win by stalling out the clock."
  • Kris: "Flying away is legal and according to the current rules scoring, that player is ahead on points and so should win."
  • Bob: "But that doesn't answer the question of if the current rules are fair or not."
  • Kris: "The rules are fair because they are the rules that we play by."
  • Sean: "You just have to accept the fact that these are the rules."

 

Both of the last points are circular reasoning. There are legitimate reasons to want to keep the same rules (avoiding the potential negative play experience of a more complicated scoring system), but self-justification of the current rules is not one of them.

 

 

I am not merely coming at this from the perspective of "we have a current rule set, how can it be improved?" I am approaching this from the fundamental game theory and design perspective as if there were no rules set in place yet, and attempting to determine what the best set of rules would be.

Edited by MajorJuggler

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