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whisperni

Why the top 8 at worlds were not the real top 8

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I had the great pleasure of attending worlds this year and I loved every minute. The people were friendly, Wizkids was amazing and the games were exciting. Unfortunately there was more then one type of game being played at worlds, and one of them was not very fun at all.

If you have seen the final rankings going into the top 8 you will see a peculiar item. 14 people reported having a tie in one of their games. That means in 5 rounds of Swiss there were 7 ties. Everyone who has played at a tournament knows that ties are possible but rare. In an event the size of worlds there might be one or two ties, for there to be seven means something else was going on. In this case it was intentional draws between players to gain rankings higher then they should have.

How do intentional draws change the rankings? Let me break it down for you. Wizkids has a complicated system to determine strengths of schedule. Basically everyone you play gets a ranking based on how well each of the opponents they beat and lose to during the day fair. If you lose to someone who goes 5-0 in 5 rounds of Swiss then you have a stronger strength of schedule. If you beat someone who goes 0-5 then you have a weaker strength of schedule. It all balances out in the end if you play all 5 rounds, but if you intentionally draw a game then you break that balance by falsely increasing the strength of your deck.

Why did this matter at worlds? Let's do some math.

Player A and Player B both do 5 rounds of Swiss.

Player A loses game 1 to a player who eventually goes 1-4
Player A wins game 2 to a player who eventually goes 0-5
Player A wins game 3 to a player who eventually goes 1-4
Player A wins game 4 to a player who eventually goes 2-3
Player A intentionally draws game 5 and now has a record of 3-1-1 and a super weak strength of schedule.

Player B wins game 1 to a player who eventually goes 3-2
Player B loses game 2 to a player who eventually goes 4-1
Player B wins game 3 to a player who eventually goes 3-2
Player B loses game 4 to a player who eventually goes 3-2
Player B wins game 5 to a player who eventually goes 2-3
Player B now has a record of 3-2-0 but a strong strength of schedule.

Because player A took the draw he has cheated player B out of the top 8 standings. If player A had played his game and lost then player B would be in top 8 and not Player A.

I have been to tournaments where intentional draws occurred once or twice but never have I seen it so blatant as it was at worlds. Several people took intentional draws in the first and second rounds to increase their standings and in the 5th round almost everyone who was 3-1 took an intentional draw to the point that there was almost no purpose to play the 5th round as all the weaker scheduled 3-1 had cheated the stronger scheduled 2-2 players out of the runnings.

In my estimate only 5 of the 8 top teams officially made the top 8. The other 3 were possible top 8's, but because they gamed the system they knocked the competition out of having a chance.

Wizkids needs to ban intentional draws immediately. But if they decide not too I am going to let everyone in on how to get into top 8 at any tournament with 5 rounds of Swiss in the most efficient manner possible.

First round 1 you take an intentional draw. Your first match is random and you do not want to be playing a potentially hard team so agree to a draw. In round 2 since you have a draw you will either be playing the weakest round 1 team that went 1-0 or the strongest round 1 team that went 0-1. This gives you a much better chance to win as their decks will be weaker then randomly playing someone. After you beat them then you will still be in the great spot of playing the weakest deck that went 2-0 or the strongest that went 1-1. Win that and you will be playing the weakest deck that is 3-0 or the strongest that is 2-1. After you win that take a second intentional draw and you are a shoe in for rank 4 with your 3-0-2 record. This style of play also is nice if you lose a game, because by taking that intentional draw first you will always be playing the weakest team. If you feel super confident then take 2 intentional draws at first so that you can be sure to play the weakest teams possible to get your 3 victories.

Would I have taken an intentional draw if given the opportunity at worlds. Absolutely. That is how you win the game right now. Should that be the case absolutely not. I was rank 10 with the strongest 3-2 record because you had to get to rank 10 to find a team that had not taken an intentional draw.

Updated 06-21-2016 at 04:28 PM by whisperni

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  1. zacgree's Avatar
    I hate politics in gaming. I wish people would just play dice masters instead of playing the 'game' of doing whatever it takes to make it to the top.
    It makes me sad that there is a system that takes away some honest people's chance out of the top spots.
    Anyone doing an intentional draw should be disqualified.
  2. Dave's Avatar
    Like it or no, right or wrong, IDs are a part of these types of games as long as no coercion is taking place. Fantasy Flight has even taken steps to further codify how IDs work in order to maintain integrity.

    Even in major sports, teams will "rest players", though true analogues to non-CCG activities are difficult to make given that we are the primary users of Swiss tournaments, so we see this situations more than anyone else.

    It's also a part of chess, one of the most regulated "board games" there is.


    Whether you objectively like them or not, a case must be made for why this game should act differently than all the others for anything to change. This article provides some background that may be interesting:

    http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/m..._and_MTGO.html
  3. pwaa's Avatar
    What about making it so if you want an ID, you have to sit there and not play for the entire 25 minutes. No getting up and wandering off, you have to sit there with your team out or you forefit the game, resulting in a loss. If neither player sets their team out, they both lose. At least that way, if they don't want to play the game, they still have to sit there and actively not play the game. IDs go entirely against the spirit of the game, as they're not actually playing the game. That should be enough of a case for taking action against them.
  4. Dave's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwaa
    What about making it so if you want an ID, you have to sit there and not play for the entire 25 minutes. No getting up and wandering off, you have to sit there with your team out or you forefit the game, resulting in a loss. If neither player sets their team out, they both lose. At least that way, if they don't want to play the game, they still have to sit there and actively not play the game. IDs go entirely against the spirit of the game, as they're not actually playing the game. That should be enough of a case for taking action against them.
    Imagine what would happen if that was implements at a Magic Grand Prix. They'd have a riot. If it is a problem, as posited, the solution isn't a "time-out."
  5. archivist's Avatar
    I agree this is a distasteful way to play, but it is the system we have. We've struggled at the PDC on how to adjudicate IDs (e.g. one idea, no IDs in the first 3 rounds) but no matter how you adjust the rules, players intent on manipulating the system will find a way to do it.

    Rather than trying to enforce punitive measures, why adjust the algorithm for determining Strength of Schedule (SoS) hierarchy.

    For every Quality Win (a win against a player that finishes with total wins greater than losses) the player receives plus 0.5 point.
    For every Poor Win (a win against a player that finishes with total wins less than losses) the player receives minus 0.5 point.
    If two players tie in overall points, then advantage would go to the player who did not declare an ID.

    Applying this method to the results in your example:

    Player A loses game 1 to a player who eventually goes 1-4
    Player A wins game 2 to a player who eventually goes 0-5 (Poor win -0.5)
    Player A wins game 3 to a player who eventually goes 1-4 (Poor win -0.5)
    Player A wins game 4 to a player who eventually goes 2-3 (Poor win -0.5)
    Player A intentionally draws game 5 and now has a record of 3-1-1 and a super weak strength of schedule.
    3 wins = 9 points
    1 draw = 1.5 points
    SoS Factor:
    Qual Wins: 0
    Poor Wins = -1.5 points
    Total = 9.0 points

    Player B wins game 1 to a player who eventually goes 3-2 (Qual win +0.5)
    Player B loses game 2 to a player who eventually goes 4-1
    Player B wins game 3 to a player who eventually goes 3-2 (Qual win +0.5)
    Player B loses game 4 to a player who eventually goes 3-2
    Player B wins game 5 to a player who eventually goes 2-3 (Poor win -0.5)
    Player B now has a record of 3-2-0 but a strong strength of schedule.

    3 wins = 9 points
    SoS Factor:
    Qual Wins: +1.0 points
    Poor Wins = -0.5 points
    Total = 9.5 points

    Player B would advance over Player A. Also, if Player A was keeping track of their points going into game 5, they probably would not take an ID. This system also results in players regulating their behavior rather than Tournament Officials.

    This is just some "back-of-the-envelope" calculations. Some refinement may be necessary.
  6. Jozell's Avatar
    Or just change the rules to make draws impossible. After time runs out and the 5 turns, if players are still tied then double loss. Make playing for a tie not worth it.
  7. Dave's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jozell
    Or just change the rules to make draws impossible. After time runs out and the 5 turns, if players are still tied then double loss. Make playing for a tie not worth it.
    That punishes players and only worsens the bent toward aggro. There would be no point in playing control because if a game goes long you'd risk the double loss.

    ----

    Other sports have experimented with a 3-1-0 system for W/T/L but again the difficulty is that other sports don't use Swiss.
  8. Jozell's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave
    That punishes players and only worsens the bent toward aggro. There would be no point in playing control because if a game goes long you'd risk the double loss.

    -------

    Other sports have experimented with a 3-1-0 system for W/T/L but again the difficulty is that other sports don't use Swiss.
    ----------
    I'd rather that than people gaming the system to get into top 4 or 8 and not really playing the game.
    ----

    I come from Warmachine where big tournaments do.play swiss and cut to top 4. They put in enough tie breaks to not ever, ever have a tie. More tie breaks can be put in if you want. There should be no reason that a competitive game has ties.
  9. archivist's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jozell
    ----------
    I'd rather that than people gaming the system to get into top 4 or 8 and not really playing the game.
    ----

    I come from Warmachine where big tournaments do.play swiss and cut to top 4. They put in enough tie breaks to not ever, ever have a tie. More tie breaks can be put in if you want. There should be no reason that a competitive game has ties.
    This is mixing two separate issues: playing to a tie and taking an intentional draw.

    There is already a robust tie-breaker format in the game. One drawback to this current process is the time it takes to come to a conclusion. This game is designed to be quickly played, so adding any additional steps only increases the time, especially during Swiss matches. Being a dice game, there will be circumstances (infrequently) where games will result in a tie.

    The point of the OP was players using IDs to gain an advantage within the current point/SoS format. Now players can intentionally "play" to a tie, obtaining the same result as if they took an ID. The only difference is it cost them 30 minutes to do it.

    Hence, adjusting the scoring algorithm, vice adding more rules or punitive measures, is probably the most sensible course of action.
    Updated 06-19-2016 at 01:42 PM by archivist
  10. whisperni's Avatar
    I have heard some comparing of how IDs are in Magic or other competitive games, but at the end of the day most of us don't play competitive magic partly because of how terrible the competitive shenanigans like intentional draws are. I play dice masters to have a good time and I go to competitive events like worlds to play against the best.
  11. JustK's Avatar
    I did notice the draws that happened. It seemed odd to me that there were so many people who had draws. So my plan is to just tell everyone to take a draw the first 2 games in every tournament. Why not? I mean if EVERYONE did this then it would not matter if it was done.

    I am a little sickened by this. I thought that the draws were taken at the end of the tournament because you had already qualified. Not at the beginning to essentially play the weakest people.

    It is shameful to do that. And anyone who says BUT is wrong, in my opinion.

    This win at all costs mentality and not actually WINNING.
  12. whisperni's Avatar
    It is pretty sad. The only legitimate intentional draw by someone who was definitely in top 8 was made by the 4-0-1 player. Everyone who was 3-1-1 which was 6 out of the top 8 had not secured their top 8 position. They took intentional draws either in round one or two to intentionally play weaker decks, or they took their intentional draws in round 5 to screw all the 2-2 strong schedules that had a chance of taking a top 8 slot. There was so many intentional draws at worlds they could have ended after round 4 Swiss as round 5 was worthless thanks to these shenanigans.
  13. Dave's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by whisperni
    I have heard some comparing of how IDs are in Magic or other competitive games, but at the end of the day most of us don't play competitive magic partly because of how terrible the competitive shenanigans like intentional draws are. I play dice masters to have a good time and I go to competitive events like worlds to play against the best.
    It's also in chess.

    It's very difficult to regulate such a thing. You would need a judge that could watch every match to ensure that they're not just slow-playing for a draw.

    Further, teams in other sports pack it in for a draft pick and rest players when they've qualified for the playoffs - often in ways that impact the playoff picture for others.

    Players also drop after they're mathematically eliminated (some before), deciding to salvage their Saturday. Should they be forced to play? Dropping impacts SOS and pairings down the line. Perhaps someone is out at 4-2 and wants to drop, but the 4-1-1 guy who is still alive and would have played him now faces a different matchup.

    IDs are just one of many aspects of this. I think they have a place.
  14. pk2317's Avatar
    Why only complaining about Worlds? It looks like it was an issue at US Nationals as well. ...

    https://imgur.com/a/jQTTa

    Not saying it should or shouldn't happen, but I think that most of the time it's used by upper level players is during the final round once they're already past "the bubble" and want to take a longer break before Top 8.
  15. whisperni's Avatar
    Yea it happened at nationals as well, but was much more prominent at worlds. To the point that if you did not take an intentional draw at some point at worlds or win 4matches you did not have a chance at making top 8. At worlds only 2 teams were past the bubble and yet 7 of the top 8 have intentional draws. Which means if the 6 other teams had played their games instead of drawing 3 of them would have had a chance to not even be there. When 3/8 of the top 8 gamed their way into top 8 by exploiting the system there is a problem.
  16. TrueMisterSix's Avatar
    Sorry - just to tangent for a minute - Are draws as infrequent as some of you have suggested?

    I tie rounds all the time at one game each at time.

    Not intentionally, I might add, most of the time I'll lose the first game, think things through, then win the second game cause I've sussed out a way to win.
  17. Rockman's Avatar
    Not really addressing the bulk of the post, just providing data. I didn't play worlds so I can't speak to that but I made top 8 in nationals without an intentional draw. I did play into a draw in the next to last round that may have helped me but I am positive I would have rather won.
  18. bahamut7's Avatar
    I thought this game only had a few rare times where a draw was possible. Luke Cage's global being an example. Time and turns run out, doesn't the player with most life win? That is how we always play down here. Or are you saying two players intentionally choose a draw without actually playing? If so, then Wizkids will have to do something, like Archivist's idea. Something in the background that the players don't know which won't allow them to manipulate the system. Or just remove the option to draw. Win or lose, no tie unless the example's Cage's global causes it. Then any games where the players are intentionally using the global to end the game, disqualify both.

    This is overall just sad and will only hurt the game in the long run.
  19. Rockman's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by bahamut7
    I thought this game only had a few rare times where a draw was possible. Luke Cage's global being an example. Time and turns run out, doesn't the player with most life win? That is how we always play down here. Or are you saying two players intentionally choose a draw without actually playing? If so, then Wizkids will have to do something, like Archivist's idea. Something in the background that the players don't know which won't allow them to manipulate the system. Or just remove the option to draw. Win or lose, no tie unless the example's Cage's global causes it. Then any games where the players are intentionally using the global to end the game, disqualify both.

    This is overall just sad and will only hurt the game in the long run.
    You are not using the correct tournament documentation if you are using highest life wins but that is a common house rule.
  20. pk2317's Avatar
    In the Swiss rounds, a tie is possible in three ways: both players die due to the same effect, the match ends (after time and turns) with neither player reaching 0 (regardless of who is higher), or an Intentional Draw (which is really just a "quicker" version of the second).

    In the Single-Elimination rounds (after the cut to Top X), there must be a winner, and that's when you start to look at things like most matches won, higher life, or sudden death.
  21. archivist's Avatar
    For awareness (underlined for emphasis to the topic).

    Source: WK Website - Tournament Rules, dated 2/20/2015:

    1.2.3 Ties in Matches: Players may tie a best of 3 series in Dice Masters in a number of ways:
    Both players have won the same number of games and have equal life totals after time is called and any extra turns or time extensions have concluded.
    Both players have won the same number of games and all other games in their best of 3 series end in a tie.

    1.2.4 Victory: Victory in each game is determined as described in the latest Dice Masters Rulebook and any official errata or clarifications. A win is worth three points, a draw is worth one point, and a loss worth zero points.

    1.2.5 Tournament Winner and Tiebreakers: Tournament win-loss record is the primary factor in determining ranking during all Swiss rounds in all Dice Masters tournaments. Ties in tournament points during the Swiss portion of each tournament are resolved by the following criteria in the order below:

    1.2.5.1 The total points accumulated by all previous opponents of the tied players.

    1.2.5.2 The total points accumulated by all previous opponents of the opponents of the tied players.

    1.2.5.3 If two players are still tied in final standings, and played each other during the tournament, then the winner of that match is ranked higher. If the two players have not played during the event, continue to the next tiebreaker.

    1.2.5.4 If all other tiebreakers are equal or inapplicable, the player whose final opponent had the higher standing will be used to break the tie.


    1.2.7 Timekeeping: 50 minutes is recommended for a 3-game series of Dice Masters. Once time is called, the active player finishes their current turn and the game proceeds to a 5 turn extension. At the end of these 5 turns, if the game is incomplete it is a tie. In single elimination, the player with the highest life total is the winner. Every game in a round should have the same time limit applied to it. Barring any special circumstances, every round in a tournament should have the same time limit applied to it.

    While not in the WK Tournament Rules, this situation was adjudicated at the 2015 Worlds (I know because it was a Top 16 match between myself and Kelly Davies):

    In a 3-game series, both players are tied at 1-1 when time is called and have not started their 3rd game, they will play an additional 6 turns with the player who lost game 2 going first. The player with the most life after turn 6 is the winner of the match. If the players are still tied after turn 6, play will continue until one player has the most life after completing each additional turn.
  22. pk2317's Avatar
    http://win.wizkids.com/wp/tournament-resources/

    General Tournament Rules (5/29/15):

    Ties in Matches: After the additional 5 turns, during Swiss rounds, incomplete games end in a tie. During single elimination rounds, after the additional 5 turns a winner must be determined. To determine the winner, the player who has won the most games in the match wins. If both players have won the same number of games, then the player with the higher life total in the current game wins. If players have the same amount of wins and the same amount of life in the current game, then the game continues until one player has a higher life total than his or her opponent. In this case, the player with the higher life total wins. If players have the same amount of wins but have not started a new game, then they must play an a tiebreaker game. A tiebreaker game consists of 5 turns after which the player with the higher life total wins. If both players have the same life total after 5 turns, then the game continues and concludes as outlined above.
  23. Dave's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Jozell
    ----------
    I'd rather that than people gaming the system to get into top 4 or 8 and not really playing the game.
    Aggro is already EVERYwhere in this meta and it's terrible. Your proposal doesn't fix anything, it just makes things even more homogeneous than they already are. If an entire play style becomes punishable by loss just because you played it, then this game would be done for.

    This isn't a tactical minis game, it's a CCG.
  24. WeaponO's Avatar
    First turn advantage is the other issue that no one has yet mentioned in this thread that I think is elevating the number of IDs… The variations of the VS struggle teams that were played there (and also the Bard rush teams) seemed to almost always win when going first (just an impression - I'd love to see actual data on this). If two of these types of teams are facing each other - I can understand why the players would agree to a draw rather than risk losing because they called action, rolled energy and ended up going second... In chess they have been struggling with the ID issue for years and know that it is a problem. Especially because spectators have payed a lot of money to see the great GM's play one another - not shake hands and agree to a draw 5 moves in because they're headed down a drawish line. FIDE seems to continually be issuing statements that they're working on it. As for Dice Masters, I think Archivist's idea is solid. Perhaps, there could also be other ways to incentivize people to stick it out (prizes?) even after they're mathematically eliminated to help the "dropping issue" in regards to strength of schedule. I agree that intentional draws seem unchivalrous and against the spirit of competitive play, it would be great if things could also be adjusted so that the player going second has a chance to be competitive :-) !
  25. whisperni's Avatar
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