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Handicapping

 
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1844

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:35 pm    Post subject: Handicapping Reply with quote

Thought I'd put this up for discussion and see what other peoples thoughts on the concept is. I realise it is likely controversial.

Jim is about to run his third online tourney with an empire handicap system. I am one of those who was intrigued with this, and in principle liked the idea. However, there are a couple of bits I don't think are working so well (No offense meant Jim, and you are probably aware of what I'm saying anyway, it's not like a haven't commented before Smile ).

If I look at some examples of things I think could be improved on:

1. At the start Lyrans were given bonus points even though they had just won at Origins whilst Feds were given a handicap even though the previous online tourney had shown they were the one of the worst performing empires,

2. Orions were going to be left at 1.05 even though no one had taken them because Jim saw them as Feds on steroids. He did change his mind and drop them to 1.00, before they went straight back to 1.05 when they were suddenly very popular.

3. Last touney saw the worst empire not adjusted because they were played by 'poorer' players whilst the best were not adjusted as they were the played by the 'best'.

The above examples highlight 3 different issues.

1. Subjectivity. For a handicap system I like there to be a clear, easily understood and objective scoring system. We all have our ideas on how good certain empires are, but if the data we say we are using is showing something else then we should go with the data not a subjective opinion, everyone should be able to know up front what the 'decision' on the next set of handicaps will be.

2. Large handicap steps. Orions were not popular at 1.05 but at 1.00 they became very popular. A finer grained scale might help with some empires. It might not for some of course, but going from 0 to a 22 point handicap is quite a jump.

3. Good/Bad players. A system based on adjusting empires is always going to struggle with those empires that are either difficult to master (but awesome when you do) or very popular for 'cultural' reasons that therefore result in more of the not so awesome players taking them, even though they are otherwise excellent in the current tournney.


So what was I thinking I would do differently?

Well the most radical is to introduce a player based handicap alongside an empire based one, so the points you get to spend is based on both the empire you choose and your own handicap. Then amend the empire based handicappinig to be clearer and more objective.

The player based handicap is likely controversial, I have no ideas how the likes of Paul and Patrick would see that - they may be playing in a tourney as the 2 best players, but be disadvantaged on that basis.

IMHO it adds 2 useful things (maybe even 3).

One is that it allows, for example, the likes of Feds to be handicapped based on their results whilst the player based handicap mitigates against the best players then finding that an empire they think is powerful gets bonus points (if that is where the empires handicap went).

The second advantage IMO (and I recognise that others may well see this as the opposite) is that it would over time maybe prevent just 2 or 3 people always getting the top spots. Entering tourneys knowing you have no chance of getting into the top half is lilely to discourage a few people over time (Or put off some even bothering to enter). I've read comments about the old SFB tourney scene becoming known as the 'shark tank' or something similar, i.e. a group of very good competitive players chewed up anyone else who dared to enter, and that this may have contributed in some part to the decline of the SFB tourney scene (I may have misundertsood what I was reading, but that is how it came across).

The third possible advantage is that whilst the best players may feel a bit let down that they may not win tourneys because they are so good, they have something IMO much better - a big handicap. A handicap says more about your consistent ability than any tourney.


So what about specifics, well as a first stab I'd change the empire handicap to a simple +/-1 for each game lost/won.

If the Feds played in 12 games and won 4 and lost 8 then they end up with a +4 handicap. That means that for the next tourney they get 450 + 4 = 454 points to spend before player handicap. The scale is pretty smooth, no sudden 22 point jumps that might mean that an empire is either hugely popular or never used. It also allows for anyone to see pretty instantly what it means, especially if the number of games actually played is tracked as well, e.g. if I see a handicap of +4 (12) then I know straight away that they have lost 2/3rds of their games so far.

The player handicap I'd handle more or less the same way, probably multiplied by 2. The multiplier is due to empires could be played in a large number of games due to being picked multi times, but a player can't be choosen multi times! So If Paul played 8 games and won all 8 he would have a -16 handicap. If I played 8 games winning 3 losing 5 I would have a +4 handicap. At some point Paul would hit a point where he would struggle to keep winning and the handicap would stabilise.

This combined player and empire handicap would determine the points to spend. So if we choose the above Feds, Paul would have 438 points to spend, where as I would have 458 points.

I'm mainly intrigued on what opinions are on the player handicap idea. I've only explained the rest as I was thinking of the 2 things working together.


Last edited by storeylf on Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The_Rock
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Joined: 16 Jul 2008
Posts: 240

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The player based handicap is likely controversial, I have no ideas how the likes of Paul and Patrick would see that - they may be playing in a tourney as the 2 best players, but be disadvantaged on that basis.


Patrick and I self handicapped this tournament by taking plasma. I don't think either of us expect to win (and now with the Selt at 0.88 - an empire both Patrick and I considered at 0.92 because they looked way too good then - I expect Jim to go 4-0 and win. DNL+BCH+NCA = 29 p-1s and 509 points).

I am all for the idea of player handicapping. I'd like to see it done using a baysian ranking system and converting those ranking into a point (or multiplier) handicap. I am not sure we have sufficient participation, nor sufficient data per participant, to accomplish that.

I am not thrilled with the implementation of the empire or player handicaps suggested by Lee, but I don't have any better suggestions that I consider workable.
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JimDauphinais
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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Location: Chesterfield, MO

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lee -- I think it was a good idea to start a thread on this issue regardless of the controversy associated with it. I need to digest what you have posted. For the Winter tournament I want to stick with what what I have posted (since the tournament is now announced and scheduled), but we can certainly move to something else after the winter tournament is completed.

Paul -- I posted in the survey topic about a month ago that the Seltorians would be dropping to 0.88. My play quality to date has been too inconsistent to worry much about me going 4-0 with them. Furthermore, I have never played them even in a face-to-face game. So, they are new to me. If you and Patrick are convinced they are seriously underpriced at 0.88, make them your first choice and it is likely the oversubscription rule will kick in (like it did with the Orions last time) raising their cost to 0.92. Then you and Patrick can move to the Romulans and Gorn.
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mojo jojo
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What might be fun to try once is to go in a completely opposite direction. Take the normal tourney rules except that all 3 or 4 ships of your squadron must be from different empires. Those plasma ships become good now that they are supporting other direct fire ships. It would be a lot of fun to see what sort of bizarre combinations would result from this and see how various fleets would interact with each other.
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, I have no problem being handicapped in some way that works...and if Paul is really super handicapped then I think it is even better Smile

I have to say that at .88, even the Seltorians seem appealing. If you want to say that I am going sectarian for the purposes of getting their modifier raised, then so be it.

Mojo,
I would caution against allowing mixed empire fleets. I think you open the door to fleet combinations that could unbalance the tournament. It can already happen by being able to choose your fleets in a few instances, but overall the system works.

Paul and I have discussed the idea of coming up with pre made fleets for each empire to ensure balance between empires while keeping a good selection. As time allows we'll discuss it further, but I personally like the idea.

The reason the Klingons are at somewhat of a disadvantage in the tournament is not that Klingons stink, (though they have some issues) but it is hard to arrive at a competitive combination of ships with fleets of 450. With pre made fleets we could do a better job of ensuring balance, whatever the intended point balance. We can also make sure to utilize a greater variety of ships. If we were to merely change tournament fleet size I suspect a different empire would just be at a disadvantage.

Currently, When players choose ships, they always bring the most modern ships for the point value allowed. Pre made fleets could include competitive fleets with a grater variety of ships. Also, with pre made fleets we could still have a large variety if fleets for each empire.
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mojo jojo
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pre-made fleets or a bidding system would obviously be the way to go for best balance in a tournament.

That being said, I don't think mixed fleets should be immediately dismissed. With all 3 or 4 ships needing to come from a different empire, nobody is eliminated for picking the 'wrong' empire before the tournament even starts. Everyone starts at a level playing field. The only pitfall is if there is a very small list of 'perfect' fleets that will have a huge advantage over any fleet that isn't on the list. I personally think the system is robust enough so that there is a fairly large number of very competitve fleets that can be made and that no fleet can be created that won't be vulnerable to other fleets. I could be wrong though.

A suboptimal fleet would be annihilated, but that tends to be true in most cases anyway. Although the effect would probably be magnified in a mixed empire situation.

Incidentally with Klingons, their problem is that if you want to play a drone/disrupter fleet, Kzinti, Orions, or WYN are generally better on a point per point basis. You really have to give them more points to compensate.
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problems with klingons is the small map. Crunch dominates on such a map, and klingons don't get the time or space to wear down such an opponent. Kzinti get their drones which help keep others at bay, Lyrans get their ESG which puts them in the crunch category anyway. Never really looked at Wyn.

The other problem with klingons (and many others) is the Nxx ship pointing for some empires. No way is a Fed NCA worth just a few points more than a CA (just 3 points more from memory?). Even where the point range is slightly larger, say with Lyran, there is often little reason you'd take a CA over an NCA. You are not going to take inferior ships in a competitive enivorment unless those extra few points give you something better on another ship. Nxxs are no brainers for some, not because they are Nxxs (more modern) but because they are badly underpointed relative to other ships.

Stock squadrons could work and I'm interested in what Paul/Patrick come up with, as noted give Feds older ships and then you could give klinks better ships. But I'd still like to see a larger map as I think it is currently too limiting on tactics for some empires, I'd like to see empires play to their strengths/handle their weaknesses whereas stock squadrons may just be ensuring everyone has about the same amount of firepower/survivability for a turn 2 overload strike. Feds are still going to want to close with overloads, lyrans are still going to want to ESG ram and neither can readily avoided on a small map.

However, that is all a bit of topic.

Player handicapping can of course be used in most systems, although with a stock squadron system it would probably have to be a modifier to the points difference needed to win a game given the squadrons are fixed.
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mojo jojo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with Klingons is that they're simply not as good as Kzinti, Orion, or Wyn in a drone/disrupter fight regardless of map size. If you want to play a long range sniping fight, the other 3 races are simply better.

Orions generally have a little less base power, but they have stealth and engine doubling plus roughly the same number of weapons as an equivalent point Klingon. They should win either a long range sniping duel, or a short range fight as long as they double engines on that turn.

Kzinti tend to have the same number of disrupters and PH-1, but a lot more drones and PH-3. Klingons tend to have some PH-2 in weird arcs. From experience, Kzinti are simply more dangerous regardless of the size of map.

WYN tend to have the same number of disrupters, but slightly more PH1/Drones as Klingon plus better shielding. Plus they have the PBB and AxC which are excellent for their point values.

Even Lyrans are probably better at long range. They have the same number of disrupters and far more PH-1 as an equivalent Klingon. They can easily deal with Klingon drones and can steadily do a few more damage each turn at 9-15 hex range if forced into that kind of fight.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As that isn't remotely related to this thread anymore I created another in general discussion for you.
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To get back on topic, I say I have to agree with Lee. I think we could perhaps use the last 2 tournaments or maybe the just the last, but I think using the last three might go too far in handicapping or "rewarding" a player because the handicap system did not have time to correct itself between tournaments.

Paull won 11 games and tied 1 game, over the course of the tournament so he'd be at a -22 (428) handicap if we used all 3 three tournaments to determine his handicap. But what if at 436 points was his balancing point? We'd start the system off over corrected because the handicap did not have any effect on the second and third tournaments.

I do think using results from two tournaments is reasonable to speed the calibration process.

I agree with Lee's point about the SFB online "shark-tank". It doesn't matter whether it was true or not, just that most people believed there was no way to be competitive against the shark-tank, so why bother even trying? The FC online-community needs to bring in new blood or it will stagnate then die. We need to think strategically if we are going to keep this going, and I think a handicap system would be great for that.

Later, if this is the system we go with, we can come up with a policy to encourage for first-time people to play in a tournament and then let their record stabilize.

One more note, perhaps if we eventually get to pre-made fleets, some are handicapped for the better players while some are "beefed up" to encourage newbies to play. (Midshipmen Level Fleets (Point bonus for the new people), Ensign, LT, Commander, Captain, Commodore and Admiral level fleets (Biggest handicap)?????)
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The_Rock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To get handicapping going, I will be happy to take whatever disadvantage I would have in the event that my previous record was "too good" for "true skill".

After this tournament, that is, since I have already self handicapped by taking plasma. Smile
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Active Ingredient
Lieutenant JG


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea of a player handicap.

But I also believe the good players should be rewarded for well ... being good! Smile Note: I am NOT one of those good players. Sad

With a regular handicap system, once you hit steady-state your win-loss ratio is about 50% for everybody.

Example: Tourney is 450 points. Your points allowed per game changes by 2 depending on whether you won or lost the last game. Assume your steady-state is 444.5 points needed to win a game.

Game 1: 450 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)
Game 2: 448 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)
Game 3: 446 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 4: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)
Game 5: 446 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 6: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)
Game 7: 446 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 8: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)
Game 9: 446 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Etc.

This gives a win rate of about 50%. Lots of variability possible though.

My proposal is:

If you are below 450, a loss still has you go up by 2, but a win only has you go down by 1.

Assume your steady-state is 444.5 points needed to win a game. (an above average player)

This is how it would go.

Game 1: 450 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)
Game 2: 448 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 3: 447 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 4: 446 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 5: 445 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 6: 444 : Lose (+ 2 point allowed next game)

Game 7: 446 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 8: 445 : Win (-1 point allowed next game)
Game 9: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)

Game 10: 446 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 11: 445 : Win (-1 point allowed next game)
Game 12: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)

Game 13: 446 : Win (- 1 point allowed next game)
Game 14: 445 : Win (-1 point allowed next game)
Game 15: 444 : Lose (+ 2 points allowed next game)

Etc.

Your average over time would be 67%. This obviously will not be this exact pattern, but over the long haul this will give you roughly that 67% win ratio.

On the flip side we would have the opposite rule:

If you are ABOVE 450, a loss has you go up by 1, but a win has you go down by 2.

Assume your steady-state is 452.5 points needed to win a game.

Game 1: 450 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 2: 451 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 3: 452 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 4: 453 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 5: 451 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 6: 452 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 7: 453 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 8: 451 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 9: 452 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 10: 453 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Game 11: 451 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 12: 452 : Lose (+1 point allowed next game)
Game 13: 453 : Win (- 2 points allowed next game)

Etc.

Your average win rate would be 33%. Over time of course.

And of course, depending on who you are playing, you could spend more or less time on both sides of 450. I have not done any simulations, but I believe this would mean the very best player will be closest to 67% win rate; the more novice players will be closest to 33% win rate, and others could fall in between.

I believe this is a good compromise between being destroyed by the expert players and having the expert players get the same 50/50 win rate as everyone else.

If you do not like 67% and 33%, but DO like the general idea, the algorithm can be easily tweaked to get different percentages.

Comments?
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