Tuesday, April 6, 2010

TIES ARE BADDD!!! Or are they? Splitting it down the middle at a tournament.

So, I've been fielding a lot of questions and discussion in our tourney thread at dakka, and I think the attention is a positive thing.

http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/283625.page is the thread

Riddle me this - are ties good in a tournament setting? Defend your case.

For my own $.02, I think that it muddies the waters in terms of evaluating a winner. Suppose for the painting competition we simply had a tie? Consider how with a lot of sportsmanship scoring there are ties, and they are broken by arbitrary unrelated numbers ... consider whether there are ties at events like the NCAA Tournament.


Ties are, on the other hand, "nice." By that I mean they congratulate people on a close game. Again, Duke scores 61, Butler scores 59, this is within the margin of draw for NCAA rules, it's a tie! They both win! What a great game!

It's heart-breaking to lose a close one ... but it's thrilling to be involved in it. Should we as a wider gaming community encourage people to love ties, or discourage it? Is winning all that matters, or should it be the fun of the experience - win OR lose? You have to remember that the large impact of a tie on the psyche is that "both people won." I find it interesting that in such a situation, where you say it's "too close to call," it's typically those who claim to be the opposite of WAAC who advocate for the value of a tie. They don't want to "lose" a close game. Or maybe I'm misreading it.

I'd be interested to hear opinions here, as we do NOT utilize ties in our events. We roster an appropriate number for bracketing down toward clear winners in the least rounds possible without awarding byes.

PS - I participated in a podcast with the guys at the Gamers Lounge, here: http://gamerslounge.coda.net/?p=146

Sorry for any ear straining, I spent the first half too far from the mic, and he had to fiddle with the settings. Good guys, with different views on the hobby from me ... I think it made for a positive discussion.


  1. Link my Blog! Please.

    Anyway, since the shouting on the left has been dealt with, the article above. I agree with you. I don't like draws. I hate the C&C mission for precisely that reason - too easy to draw.

    I don't LIKE to lose, who does? But I would much rather lose than force my opponent to 'not win' because I ALMOST scraped a victory of my own.

    I'm no psychic, but I often 'see' a few turns ahead in the game, and know I'm playing for a draw. While this kinda keeps me in it, if a friendly game, it's irritating, and I become a less fun opponent for it. I can't help it, because I'm usually annoyed at mistakes I made to put myself in this position, not opponent moves...I also get irritated if they fail to capitalise on my errors. If I screw up, the least you can do is register it, and thrash my hide so I am less sloppy in future! I deserve it!

    I would be happier, long term, ofc, to lose a game, and let my opponent get what they earnt by making fewer mistakes than me - to the point where, if I couldn't win the event, but they could, and I felt they earnt it (and I liked them, obvs) I'd concede rather than force a draw.

  2. Pretty much what TKE said.

    To me draws are just that, undecisive, and tournies are meant to have an overall winner. I'd much rather lose a close game than give everybody a gold star for trying their best. You approach a game differently if you drew or lost, I feel I learn more from a loss than a draw. It's just unsatisfying to have no real result, it almost feels like a wasted game :/

  3. In games, I really don't like when the mission is poorly written and naturally encourages a tie. (Example: Capture & Control)
    Yet if the scenario is balanced, the two players really duke it out and it ends up a tie anyways? Secondary objectives, VP destroyed and other such scoring can really help differentiate the true tone of the "tie". If it's still a tie after that, then it's a tie and you go on with life.

    As to tie games and how they effect your overall ranking? How many times have you seen the last round played and a guy on the second table wins Overall because the guys on the top table tied and washed each other out? The trick is to have overall scoring balanced so that the emphasis isn't entirely on the seeding or pairings.
    A single tie shouldn't immediately drop you from the running and two ties should be about equal to a win and a loss. This allows secondary objectives (and 2-day tournaments) to step up and make the difference. It also cuts down on people aiming to tie their first game to try and drop into a lower "weight class" and get some easy wins.

    As to ties for the final places/prizes? Again, I like to see secondary factors considered beyond just the simple scoring, especially in larger tournaments. 5 guys made it through with perfect Sportsmanship scores? Okay, which one did so with the worst win record? Two guys tied for total mission points achieved? Okay, which one had the higher amount of VP killed?
    But if even the secondary factors are considered and it is STILL a tie? Then it's really a tie. Split the prize and go on with life.

    Anyways, that's my two cents.

  4. First time poster. Heard you on the Gamer's Lounge and had to reevaluate my intial view on ya as an internet tough guy (granted teh only posts of yours I read were regarding Tyranids). This is a quality blog, consider me a fan.

    So as far as ties, I think they have their place and unlike the posters above I've never been too phased by a draw. In a game with such a limited time frame in which to accomplish the objective, draws are inevitable. Infact some of my fav all time games ended in draws -- and it would have cheapend the outcome in my opinion had we just went to the minutiae of comparing VPs or some-such.

    To use your analogy, if Duke and Butler had been tied at the end of regulation they would have gone into OT. But if their tie is broke up the way we do in 40k via VPs -- you'd end up comparing 3 point shots, or field goal percentage or some other stat that says one team won and the other didn't. To me that is a BS way to break a tie in basketball and its boarderline BS in 40k. But unfortunately 40k revolves around a limited time to win, unlike championship basketball.

    However that said, I do like your proposal for breaking ties in the NOVA and am fine with a tournament that does away with ties to find a clear winner. Its refreshing and kudos for doing something new. My only caveat would be to consider throwing in a different tie breaker and mission objective rather then just the 3 you have currently (especially in a 4 game format). People seem to have alot of ire for missions that bring back a bit of 4ed but those old objectives can be just as fun and challenging in 5ed if done right. Perhaps something for next year.

  5. These are all good points. Daniel, glad to see you here and glad you change your initial evaluation of me.

    Regarding the Duke & Butler Analogy (we'll call it the DBA from here on out), you highlight the big issue for a tournament setting I think.

    Let me first delineate that I think ties are fun things in the context of a one-off, enjoyable game. If it's really close, and ties off, fine - that's not something to bemoan.

    Within a tournament, however, it certainly muddies the waters! In the DBA, you need a winner. In basketball, there's only one win condition - points scored. As such, it would be "BS" in the extreme if at the end of a game, instead of doing overtime, the NCAA came out and said "we will break ties with shot accuracy!"

    In the case of the Open, what we're doing is pre-announcing all of the win conditions (to include tiebreakers).

    Ahso, you might say, but this compares to any other tournament where they have various win conditions that earn you points, and you know it in advance. Here's where things change, though.

    For the Open, what matters is Win or Loss. For a tournament with battle points, ties, and arbitrary award of winner to the person with the most of them after X rounds ... well, what matters is less Win/Loss. To wit, we want to establish a situation in our own tourney where you don't after 3 rounds give it to Duke because they scored more points ... but where you give it to the team that won all of their games ... even if a few of them were by the smallest of possible margins. In fact, that's almost one of the best results possible - instead of the dominant giant plowing his way through to the win, seeing the scrappy underdog nick out win after win until David faces down Goliath from the lofty podium of 5-0 vs 5-0 for the final.

    Perhaps we are all in a situation where we like ties ... I'm just in a situation where I wonder how functional they are in a true tournament.

    Good food for thought.

  6. This is shamlessly taken from the write up on ytth about the ETC tourney, but are you doing 'ties' like this:
    -individual players score based on objectives (5/10/15pts for loss/draw/win) plus or minus up to 5pts depending on victory points spread level (so for example if you scored a draw on objectives with 600 more VPs you get 10+2 = 12 and your opponent 10-2 = 8)


  7. I would just hate to get to the top of a tournament to end up splitting the prize. In a League setting fine, but not a tournament. I rather have second place than be tied for first. And that is just my take on it.

    Plus how do you split a trophy . . . no fun.

  8. I think ties are good. They help you to look more professional and sometimes (if they are nice) get you more on your sportsmanship scores.

  9. Mike, you know my thoughts on ties and VPs but I will rehash here for others. I think a close fought game which ends in a draw can be equally rewarding for both parties. The current system of 5th ed relies upon army attrition in a way you could not justify in modern warfare. In 40K, models are sacrificed to achieve your goals and win the game. It happens in varying degrees in all the current 40K armies. Orks rely heavily on numbers and attrition to get them to the enemy while armies like Tau use sacrificial units to hold up the enemy advance and keep them away from their juicier fire power.

    So how do you decided who wins and loses if you are not allowing Draws? I know Mike what you favor is VPs, and though the VP rules are in the rulebook they are not in the primary rules section but are instead an optional rule. VPs are the very antithesis of the attrition based 40k 5th Ed game.

    Now instead of putting your all into going after your objective you have to play a careful balancing act of budgeting what you commit to fight and what you don't. The game comes down to contesting the objectives and who kills more of the other guys models then he kills of yours. While you can go after the objectives and win by the scenario you have to take bigger risks and pray they work as you are giving your opponent 2 ways to win. He can either just worry about contesting and win because he has had a bigger opportunity to killed more of your models as you have committed them to taking the objectives or he can win by scenario.

    To mitigate this GW came up with Kill Points, which I will agree is an imperfect system but one that works for the 5th ed environment. Instead of worrying about how many models you have lost instead you worry about keeping at least part of a unit alive. This allows for the attrition aspect of the game while rewarding players for destroying full units of enemy models. In this way KP are better then VPs as a smart general playing a VP game will just snipe a few big expensive units down to half or lower to get the VPs and then ignore them while protecting their expensive units and throwing away small point sacrificial units to delay the enemy and gain the win (this is a tactic that used to be the best way to win VP scenarios in Warmachine). In the KP game, player must kill the whole unit to get the points, and while this tends to change the target priority it still means players have to commit more of their forces to the battle. At least in the KP game, players can't just snipe an expensive unit off the table and then go hide in their deployment zone the rest of the game and still win.

    I guess what it really comes down to is that 40K 5th ed was designed to play using KPs and not VPs and that is what the current Meta of the game is setup for. Perhaps if the game was setup so that players used KP to decide the winner of objective missions and VPs to decided the winner of Annihilation things might work out and would mitigate the amount of ties that are common in 40K games today. But any mission when VPs are a win condition will eventually come down to VPs being the only win condition, so you end up play annihilation every game which if I wanted to do that I would just go play warmachine all day.

  10. Of note is the fact that only one mission could possibly be broken by VP, Jay, per the scenario system currently in playtest.

    I will disagree that KP works or is what 5th ed. is built around ... but that's for another discussion!

    I think it should be taken with some seriousness that GW chose to use VP as their tiebreaker, IF ties were to be broken. They specifically say as much in their rulebook. Nevertheless, we will not be breaking every tie with that, as indicated by discussions elsewhere.

  11. In major sports a really close game or upset can be talked about for years, decades even, as can a controversy around it. Secretariat vs. Ruffian in the Derby, "The Giants win the Pennant" in (I think) '53, etc.

    The problem with our hobby is that it really isn't a spectator sport. The people at a convention are all playing. The only really serious spectators are the staff, and even they have to hop around during the games.

    As a result, after a really close game that forces a tie-breaker, only the two people playing it will ever remember or want to talk about it. And they probably don't even know each other and won't hang out after the tournament ends.

    So what you have is a winner and a loser. A loser who has no one who cares it was a tight game, or that he only lost by a very thin hair, maybe just the roll of one turn die.

    Give that loser his tie, and you have two really pleased gamers who fought a really hard game. I will say that the tournament itself can't end in a tie, or can it? GW gives slots for the top 2--they never said it couldn't tie. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

    In any event I think ties, when they happen, are good for player and tournament morale overall. I don't see any harm in them, but I do see a potential for a positive outcome.