Tournament Pack 2.0

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Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:25 pm

I know this seems early but I wanted to get a feel for everyone's opinion on something

I personally think that attack and defend games are the most fun and while some say they are not balanced I am going to try my best to make it so. What are your thoughts?

I am working on one scenario at the moment and will run some play tests to see how it works. Because the 2.0 rule set will change this game in a huge way we will have to wait and factor the changes that are coming. I would still like to make this scenario I have in progress work with the current rule set and if we can future tournaments may have some new game types.
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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by Carl Twirl 360 Noscope on Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:31 pm

Attack and Defend can be fun, and I believe they can be balanced, at least somewhat.

The real problem here is that Mercs is inherently a game of movement and counter-movement. We're not sending divisions of dough-boys over the top; we're sending the Expendables into the next over-budget sequel.

So any attack and defend scenario needs to take that into account. Were you thinking something like waiting for an elevator or evac, or maybe download some data from a terminal? Or a Last Stand scenario? I ask because that can effect how you balance it.
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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:26 am

I had an idea for some sort of virus upload scenario, but the one that I would love to try out is a modification to defuse. I think the fluff would make more sense.

The Setup:
The defensive team has 3 weapons crates they place all 3 crates in the middle section with a 2 card minimum between each one. The attackers all have one C4 charge and must place it on the crates.

Placing the charge takes one action. After the charge is set it will take 2 full rounds to explode. VP's I'm thinking would go something like this.

Attackers:
1VP for planting
2VP for charge going off
1VP for MERC Kills

Defenders:
2VP for each crate still intact after the game.
1VP for defusing
1VP For MERC Kills

This is just the rough idea but I think having one person place all the tokens in the middle section instead of a line would really open up the field of play.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:02 am

I think attacker, defender scenarios can be balanced if you're willing to do a lot of play testing. Just remember the point is to make the defending side and the attacking side have equally likely to win, while fostering a different play-style. With that said, here are some refinements I would suggest to help differentiate roles and play-style.

Make it 2 crates. 3 just seems unnecessary and hurts a strategy focused on risky placing of the explosives. Defusing shouldn't have points. The defenders already get points for having the crates intact, which requires no action on their part. No need to give them extra for maintaining the status quo. Attackers have it harder so they should have a greater potential point gain anyway. This way even if they can't get a detonation they aren't punished for trying.

I'd also recommend having defenders deploy all 5 models in the center of the map first, before the attacker deploys and then let the attacker pick which side to start on after seeing the defenders placements. This gives the attacker a little extra boost and stops the defender from just setting a heavy up turn 1.


Last edited by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:31 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:05 am

spellbound wrote: I think attacker, defender scenarios can be balanced if you're willing to do a lot of play testing. Just remember the point is to make the defending side and the attacking side have equally likely to win, while fostering a different play-style. With that said, here are some refinements I would suggest to help differentiate roles and play-style.

Make it 2 crates. 3 just seems unnecessary and makes hurts a strategy focused on risky placing of the explosives. Defusing shouldn't have points. The defenders already get points for having the crates intact, which requires no action on their part. No need to give them extra for maintaining the status quo. Attackers have it harder so they should have a greater potential point gain anyway. This way even if they can't get a detonation they aren't punished for trying.

I'd also recommend having defenders deploy all 5 models in the center of the map first, before the attacker deploys and then let the attacker pick which side to start on after seeing the defenders placements. This gives the attacker a little extra boost and stops the defender from just setting a heavy up turn 1.

I like all the points you made above and will look into restructuring this.

I also think that in 2.0 we will eliminate the 1VP for each MERC Killed. I'm looking to just have 1VP for the team that kills the most MERCS. I feel as though giving 1VP for each kill keeps people in the deathmatch state of mind. I really want to make objectives in 2.0 the main focus.

I think this forum will help greatly with ideas from everyone and putting together an awesome 2.0 Tournament Pack.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:40 pm

Removing VP on MERC kill is a terrible idea. Right now that's the only thing that makes tactical decisions matter. We saw this in the old defuse game type before we changed it. Fighting was irrelevant, and the faster army was able to get objectives first and win by default. Not only was it unbalanced, it was unfun. That was one of the few changes that had almost complete support and I think it'd be a mistake to back track on that now.

As for the Deathmatch mindset... MERCS rules at their core support killing your opponents, which gets stale but isn't something that is bad per-say. Right now, if we want to move people out of the Deathmatch mindset we should increase the value of objectives instead of decreasing the value of a kill. Though some game types, such as control will be resistant to this type of change, as the best way to win in control is to remove your opponents ability to capture or contest a region, generally by killing their MERCS. In defuse, at the possible attacker defender scenario we discussed you could easily raise the objective value to make kills less important, though I'd make sure kills still are meaningful in force ties, or swinging a close game.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:44 pm

Naturally you are going to have to take out MERCS if you want to complete objectives.

Saying that Kills are less important if they don't award VP doesn't really make sense because to complete objective you are going to have to eliminate players from the board. I see what you are saying on the point of fast teams vs slow teams and getting objective VP's but maybe I'm just the outsider that looks at things differently. I am still awarding 1VP for the killing the most MERCS for tie breakers

Sure, could a game or certain elements of that game be broken? Yes, but I feel as though people don't want to look at other avenues. MERCS is my first table top war game so I really don't have anything else to compare it to. So I may not be the one to really dissect what works and what doesn't but one thing I know for sure is that as much strategy and tactics you may bring to the table, the roll of the die is what decides your fate.

I think that with the Scenarios that are in 1.0 they tend to push people to just kill the other team and objectives are secondary. As long as I can complete one objective all I have to worry about is killing off your whole team and keeping my guys alive to win.

Example, as much as it may not seem possible it could happen.

I defuse one bomb and kill your whole team I am awarded 7VP. you defuse 3 bombs and kill none of my guys 6VP. The reason for objectives is that they are the elements needed to win. Now that I have typed this all out and read it, maybe just making objectives more valuable would fix this issue.

I just know that things have become a bit stale and I really want to make 2.0 scenarios much better.

I appreciate all the input and will take all suggestions and see their full potential when creating new scenarios before dismissing any of them.


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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:51 pm

I have stumbled across something and would like your feedback. How about we award people VP for each MERC they still have alive as opposed to awarding VP for Kills. I think with this slight change it will cause players to put real stock into their MERCS and try to keep them from harms way.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 2:54 pm

1 VP is rarely meaningful overall and without MERC kills providing a VP for every game type that isn't control, if you don't have any MERCS alive but captured or held the most objectives you still win. I've had games tied because the other player got more objectives by using their MERCS as suicidal drones. I could only tie by killing their MERCS. Without the VP from that they would have won by bulldozing to the objectives, even if their tactics were downright suicidal. Without the VP for kills you have no fear of MERC deaths hurting you, because all of the win conditions are in the objectives.

As for the roll of a die deciding your fate... no, not in a world where kills don't matter. Take broadcast. If you have more MP than your opponent you can charge into danger and just grab all of the objectives. If all of your MERCS immediately suppress after taking their objectives they'll delay your opponent for a few turns. At which point your opponent can't win, unless each individual MERC is worth a VP. You had to roll no dice, other than initiative, something that doesn't matter if you have higher MP. You'll get their first no matter what your opponent does since you take no actions other than moving. And your opponent can do jack shit as they have to kill the MERC near the objective and then spend an action to capture it. Without the compensation of a VP on a MERC kill you are no longer encouraged to fight, just run to the objective and take it, regardless of the number of MERCS you lose. Each individual MERC has no value. Control is the only game type to avoid this since you need MERCS to contest points, and that game type already has an incentive to wipe your opponent, since that gets you all the points on the board. Supply drop is roughly the same, though initiative matters there, and defuse has the repair checks to defuse the bomb, but other than those without kills you really just don't have to care about what numbers you roll on your dice.

Your suggestion is exactly the same as what we do currently. Your MERCS have value to you in the current set up since you need more VP to win the match. If your MERCS give you VP instead of your opponent you still want to kill your opponents MERCS while keeping your own alive. It's literally a different way of saying the same thing.

Either way, my point is I would recommend merely increasing objectives value if we are worried about kills being worth too much. Granted I don't think Defuse needs to be looked at. Right now defusing is worth substantially more than a kill and usually you see 3 bombs defused a game, generally 2 for one team and 1 for the other with the third bomb heavily contested. In the current set up the guy who wasn't able to defuse as many bombs can still tie, or win in optimal circumstances (I'd say if you wipe your opponent without losing a single MERC you deserve the win because you must have played very well). The win, and the tie even, requires an overwhelming kill and survival rate. It's more common to see each army lose some units, but a lot of games end up with 4 to 2 or 3 to 2. In which case the objectives are clearly the deciding factor.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:13 pm

I don't know how many times I tried writing a response to this and just kept on restarting so with that I am going to the drawing board because I think the point system is somewhat broken and I am currently working on a new one.

Updates will be posted here for feed back.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Glad to help though if you want a clarification or something similar please do ask. I'll be happy to assist in any way I can.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:54 pm

Thanks, will do for sure.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:04 pm

So a new topic for 2.0 that I would like to throw out.

I feel at though the scoring system that is current;y in place is broken. I don't care for the fact that is I lose my 1VP I score not tournament points. Both teams may have done well in terms of completing objectives but the loser gets a huge disadvantage in the standings.

I have been working on a system that uses just VP and eliminates the tournament points portion of score keeping.

Anyone else have the same feeling?

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:43 pm

Victory points are just designed to be tie breakers in the current system because we don't use an elimination style system. Granted an elimination style tournament may be more to taste for the community. One thing I really dislike personally is the addition of a fifth round, as that often screws someone over based solely on VP. I'd rather stick with 4 rounds and use VP to break ties exclusively, or we go to an elimination based system. I do think using just VP is also a poor idea because it's biased towards crushing victories, which in objective based games gives a huge boost to fast teams with good initiative rolls. It also means if you sweep in control you can only be beaten by people who also swept, since it gives a lot of VP.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by HawtKarl on Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:08 am

A few things were discussed last night, I will post what decisions we came to here.

First of all, I am wholly against changed VP on our scenarios. Our scenarios are diverse in how objectives are taken and how points are awarded.
Broadcast is based upon objective control on odd turns. Control is based upon zone control at the end of the game. Defuse creates a dynamic battlefield (not using ironically this time) where objectives can vanish and team efforts must adjust at ta moment's notice. Supply Drop relies on movement to complete objectives, but not so that its a wash for faster models (time delay, movement limit, and 1MP cost to pick up an objective.

The VP has been put together over a good deal of play testing to ensure that it is mostly even from scenario to scenario. Most scenarios end up having a close amount of maximum Victory Points for one team.

Control: Max 12 VP (With a board wipe)
Defuse: 13 VP (assuming one team disarms all crates and wipes enemy team)
Supply Drop: 13VP (Assuming one team captures all 4 objectives and wipes enemy team
Broadcast: 16 VP (assuming one team grabs an objective turn one with resourceful, holds 3 objectives turn 3, and 4 objectives turn 5 and 7. Also assumes that enemy team is wiped.)

These are the maximum and are usually very, very unlikely to happen, except in the case of control where I see it done at least twice every tournament. I will get some sheets together at our next tourney and put an average together and do a study to see what the average VP of each scenario is.

Mongoose raised a concern with me that the current tournament points system is excessively punitive to players who lost a very close game. Players can often lose a game by one victory point, a very close game, and walk away with 0 points while their opponent walks away with 2. This makes it so that the losing player is out of the top slots permanently. You will usually need to go undefeated to win the tourney, which is fair and expected, but players may feel some level of injustice because they are not rewarded for their good planning and strategy in those close games.

The proposed amendment to the TP scoring system is the same used by Dropzone Commander. The system changes a bit, and is a bit more complicated, but far more fair to all players. Refer to the Table below:

VP Difference Winner TP Loser TP
0 10 10
1 11 9
2 12 8
3 13 7
4 14 6
5 15 5
6+ 16 4


The new system is based on the difference in VP. This will reward players who play effective games as well as those players who play very close games. This will really change our pairing and I am interested to see how it functions. This also allows players who lose every game to still have points and that certainly does matter.

The challenge system would change its scoring to accommodate this new tournament point system, allowing more points to be wagered and allowing players who have lost many of their games to will participate in challenges.

Thoughts on this change?



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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by MI-MERC-Mongoose on Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:13 am

I like the changes and would like to see how this works at our next tournament if everyone is good with switching.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:29 pm

I don't hate it. It's already rather similar to what we have now with Victory points acting as a tie breaker, but this way ties might not guarantee a loss unless everyone else in your bracket ties the game. However this new idea rewards crushing victories more so than close games where a clever decision turned the tide for you, so I wouldn't say it encourages strategic play anymore then the last point system.

I'd want to know the average VP per game by army before putting this change into effect. Unfortunately we don't have a particularly good population for this as we have no way to control for players skill unless all of the top 4 players pick up a different army for a tournament or two. Anyway, the reason this system works in Dropzone is because Dropzone is fairly well balanced and Hawk is willing to nerf or buff things that need the change via errata. MERCS 1.0 clearly has some balance issues and we can't be sure on 2.0's balance as of now. Also I wouldn't expect Megacon games to release errata between editions, which is troubling because it means broken things remain broken.

TLDR: This system works in Dropzone because the game is balanced. I don't think MERCS is balanced enough as of now for this system to be a good change. I'd prefer that we average the number of victory points earned by each faction to see if their is a trend, even if our data would be skewed.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by HawtKarl on Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:48 pm

Can you explain how dropzone being balanced makes this system work better?

The only reason we want to implement this system is that swiss style pairing is supposed to pair people of even skill. If these two players are pretty much the same skill level, but one manages to pull of the win by grabbing one more VP at the end through whatever means (clever or not), then that player walks away with all the points, and the player who lost walks away with 0.

To make players feel more rewarded for their good game play, this system will really help. I don't think balance will be a relevant factor in making the system work, I simply believe that the system should work, I dont think it could at all be connected to balance. I actually just don't understand the thought process, so an explanation would be appreciated.

As far as promoting crushing victories, yes it does, unfortunately. But crushing victories do a lot of damage no matter what. In our current system there are many TP ties with VP tie breakers. If you have a crushing victory at any point then the VP you earn will trump any ties in TP. Really, these crushing victories will only happen at the first round through random pairing. But, after that, players are going to be paired on their performance with Swiss. When players get to round 3, my expectation is that more than half the players will be running with close games.

Also consider this: In Swiss Pairing, I have seen the top 2 players face each other in the last round. Let's say, Scott H. and Mason H, they face off a lot. They play a VERY close game and it usually comes down to one or two VP. The loser gets 0 points and the winner gets 2. This means that the loser, the guy who was in the top 2 and performs better than most other players now drops down somewhere between 3rd and 6th at the end in most situations.

In the last round of Swiss with our current system, it is always better to be in the Top 4 and play another player in the Top 4, because really, at that point those two are playing for second. The top 2 players are only playing for first. If they lose, they will not be getting second 9 times out of 10. There are always some issues with pairing systems like this, but I think this one brings far, far more value.

It will also make a better challenge system as it gives participating players far more points, but that's just another bonus to this system, not a deciding factor.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:10 pm

The new system has scaling tournament points based on how crushing the victory is, while our current system doesn't distinguish between a crushing victory and a close victory in tournament points. In Dropzone crushing victories are almost always due to superior tactical play and positioning, because each of the armies is on a relatively even playing field. However in MERCS various factions are much weaker then others, and as such are easier to defeat in a crushing manner. Already a wipe in the first round essentially guarantees a victory in a tie unless your opponent also wiped in the first round. If a wipe got you more tournament points it moves the game out of the realm of skill and into the realm of luck, as the first match up (which is if I recall correctly, is completely random) decides the game for everyone at the tournament. As it is now if you don't wipe but win all 4 games a tie, or an upset can give you the overall victory even if you didn't have any crushing victories. Too be fair, broadcast also tends to lend itself to crushing victories in a fast army versus slow army situation, though not nearly as often as the first round of control.

I agree with your second point wholeheartedly however. At this point ties have become something the everyone who commonly gets top 4 hopes for a tie means you can still place top four even with a loss. Either that or, Mason and Scott (and me when I'm their) hope to never face off because we have a much higher chance of winning one of the prices if we don't have a chance of losing. Which is intensely problematic because it means the tournament is not rewarding the most skilled player, but anyone who wins without completely stomping opponents, costing by just below opponents who could inflict a loss.

Mason and I have discussed this a bit, and Mason actually suggested an elimination style tournament would do a better job of making the best player win, but it would take substantially longer, and would reduce the play time for all people involved which is not ideal. I hope I made that clear.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by HawtKarl on Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:07 pm

Very thorough and clear response. Well done. I now have an understanding of your viewpoint.

I will point out that I think that the disparity in armies is not as bad as some people believe. I believe wholeheartedly that when two experienced players face off, MERCS is a game more built upon skill and tactics.

When you take two new players and give one sefadu and the other Keizai Waza, the sefadu player will have an advantage, certainly. The same is true when you give a brand new player KemVar and the other CCC. A lack of familiarity with the game, knowledge of what other factions can do, and knowledge of waht a player's own models can do contribute to this. However, as the longest playing and likely most experienced MERCS players in our group, I would argue that at the higher level of play, with players who are knowledgeable and experienced, what faction you're playing matters far less.

Yes, it's always relevant, it's a factor in every wargame with multiple factions. Malifaux, Dropzone Commander, pretty much anything. I also feel like people make this an excuse, just like the dice roll excuse.

"Well if you weren't playing INSERT FACTION I would have won"
to me, sounds the same as
"Well if my dice weren't rolling like crap I would have won"

It's an easy excuse and people like to get behind it and reinforce the idea of a strong, game breaking tier system. I agree a tier system exists, but I am convinced the disparity between factions with experienced players is minimal. I beat experienced sefadu (tier 1) players and House 9 (tier 2) players frequently with my House 4 (tier 4) thanks to my experience as a player. I knew what every enemy model could do and knew how to maneuver my models to counter their offensives. I've also lost to USCR while playing Texico because I played poorly and didn't have much experience with Texico

Considering all this, I think that the move to this new system is acceptable. I acknowledge MERCS' balance discrepancies but I also acknowledge that they are minimal at the higher levels of play. I am also acknowledging the existence of a tier system, but also point out that it is far more relevant to new players than old.

There is no excuse for MERCS not release real erratas, though.




On changing to elimination:

Double Elimination makes it so players get less play time, as you mentioned. It also takes at least 6 rounds. I dont know about you, but I can MAYBE do 5 rounds. I've never actually had an opportunity to do past 4 adn I am usually exhausted by then. Last night, Mason said we should do double elimination and everyone who was at the championship collectively sighed remembering how exhausting that was (60 minute rounds is... dangerous). So, double elimination takes too long.

Single elimination is too short and less appealing to players. Not very fair. Not even appropriate for championships.

Swiss with a cut though? That's used a lot. Last night, we talked about having two tournaments a month, one that is casual and one that is competitive.

The casual tournaments will be four rounds Swiss pairing, friendly atmosphere.

The competitive tournaments will be 3 rounds of swiss with a top 4 cut. The top 4 then play single elimination for 2 rounds.

This may be a better solution for our community. I also plan on getting one night a week to be a MERCS night where we all show up to do challenges and play new game types. I have a lot of attacker defender I designed I know some people are interested in.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:37 pm

I see your point with a tier response and after more thought I think your point is a good one. the max number of points you can get ahead with is 5 over another opponent who won their match, which, while still large, is not insurmountable with 3 other rounds. I think it would be worth trying though I would also recommend recording the average VP of factions and who they play against when they win and lose.

On the tier point... I both agree and disagree with your statements. I do think it is an easy excuse and is often misused to excuse a loss... but I do feel that sometimes it's valid. Generally when USCR or Kazi Waza are involved. House 4 would honestly be tier 3 with a 7th man, unless they got a spy type unit as the 7th man (poor waza). The thing about player experience argument, is that it supports both sides of the debate. A more experienced player is more likely to win even when handicapped by a poor faction, but as player skill increases the detrimental effects of a weak army becomes more and more visible. No one who knows the game will ever bring Waza or USCR unless they are specifically trying to prove a point. However that is only one army, and i'll be the first to acknowledge that within 2 tiers the effect won't show up without a good knowledge of the game. The difference between a tier 1 and 2 or tier 2 and 3 is very small. It's tier 4 that has a lot of problems.

Your final points are all well made and I am in full agreement. Depending on MERCS night I'd love to see if I could make it to some of them.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by Carl Twirl 360 Noscope on Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:16 pm

As someone who has clawed their way up the board via challenges, I am a bit confused on how this new system will relate to them. I'm not doubting that it will, I'm just bad with numbers, and tournament wise I think it's a cool idea that should work out.
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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by spellbound on Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:43 pm

Basically it will mean people have more tournament points to wager (the cap on points you can wager per game will probably also go up), and that losing a tournament will not harm your standing as much if you played well in each game. Other then that it shouldn't change anything.

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

Post by HawtKarl on Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:16 pm

The plan of progression right now is that we are going to test this new system out starting at our next tourney.

On the leader board, we will maintain our current system. Each win still awards 2 points. If the new system is well received, then starting with season 2 (July 1st-December 31st), we will implement it.

We will have to allow more wiggle room for how many points you can earn in a challenge, obviously. People will get +10 points for the first challenge of the week instead of 1 point (this is the amount of points players get if they draw). The numbers on the leader board for scores will be HUGE. If we decide to go through with it, it will be interested to see.

HawtKarl

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Re: Tournament Pack 2.0

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