Thursday, June 23, 2011

The problem with Battle Points

Let me begin by saying I recognize that battle points are often a necessary evil. Most tournaments don’t have enough rounds to determine a single undefeated winner, and we need some way to match up players in rounds after round 1.  We also need a way of differentiating between players that have the same number of wins after all rounds have been played. However, after reading Mike Brandt’s post about evaluative Vs competitive, several forum discussions, as well as a tournament I played last weekend I got to thinking, do battle points do a good job of determining the best player on the day.  I would say the answer to this is often no, and when they do I would say that the winner is determined despite the battle points, not because of them.

I’ll use my local tournament as an example of what I think the problems with battle points are.  This was a 3 round tournament, with battle points determining the winner.  We had 14 players (fairly small but it was father’s day.).  I will also admit I don’t remember all the records of every player, so I will do my best. The first round was Kill points, with a secondary objective of having all your troops above 50%, you also got bonus points for difference in battle points between you and your opponent at the end of the game.  I ended up winning 10 -4 in KPs, getting the secondary objective, but not a full massacre (I had 20 out of 22 possible points), which earned me a spot on the second table (top table was a Grey Knight player and an Ork player who had massacred in round 1, lets ignore that Grey Knights are a horrible match up for Orks for the moment) playing against a 3 Land raider blood angel force in capture and control.  Again I got the win 1 objective to 0, but I did not massacre.  My win was however enough to get me to the top table against the Grey Knight player (I was also running Grey Knights at the tournament).  We had a hard fought battle (3 objectives) which ended in a draw on objectives, but my opponent got the secondary objective (table quarters), and more victory points.  He finished the day 3-0, and finished second overall (I got third).  Effectively we had knocked each other out of the top spot.

So who won you might ask?  A guard player (who is a good player) with a much easier road to the top finished first overall.  He played another Guard army (run by a weaker player) round 1, and won with around the same amount of battle points as I had.  Round 2 he went on to play against a chaos Daemon player, who he beat (in a close game), and then he went on to Massacre a Marine player in the last round, amassing enough points to take the top spot.  He won all 3 games, but against lesser opposition.  I will admit that some of the problem here is that there were not that many players.

Let’s just look at the roads to the top 2 tables.    

Grey Knights Vs Dark Eldar 1 (this player finished either 2-1 or 1-2 I’m not 100% sure)
Grey knights  Vs 3 LR BA (this player finished 2-1)
Grey Knights Vs Grey Knights A (this player was 3-0)  

SO my opponents were either 6-3 or 7-2 overall

 Grey Knights A
Grey Knights A Vs Dark Eldar 2 (this player was either 2-1 or 1-2)
Grey Knights A Vs Orks (finished 2-1)
Grey Knights A Vs Grey Knights (this was me so 2-1)

So his opponents were either 6-3 or 5-4

Guard Vs Guard (1-2)
Guard Vs Daemons (1-2)
Guard vs Marines (2-1)

So his opponents were 4-5

Marines Vs Chaos (0-3)
Marines Vs Nids (0-3)
Marines Vs Guard (3-0)
This player’s opponents were 3-6

And here we can see the issue, the marine player only played against one player who won a game, and when he did he lost to that player badly.  Now that is not his fault, nor would it have necessarily have been any different under a different format.  I’m not saying we should penalize the guard player who won all of his games, all I am saying is that there should be some metric to take strength of schedule into account.  I was fine with being 3rd, I lost a game, I should not have won, however, the player who beat me, who played on the top table all day against winning players should get something for playing against harder competition.  When it would have been better to me to have won by less to get onto table 2 we have a problem.  The Grey knight player who I played in the last round deserved to win; the fact that I am a strong player should not have cost him the win.

Battle Points ended up something like this

Guard 56
Grey Knights A 52
Me 48

What needs to happen is for each player to gain something for playing stronger competition, maybe add a percent of their opponents total battle points to the final battle point standings.  Let us just say for example the full list was something like this

Guard 56
Grey Knights A 52
Me 48
3 LR BA 44
Marines 42
Orks 40
DE 1 35
DE 2 32
Daemons 31
BA   22
Marines 2 20
Nids  18
Guard 2 16
Chaos  6

If you got say 20% of all the battle points for opponents you beat added to your score, and 10% of those you lost to added to your score you would get something like this for your top 6

Grey Knights A 76 points
Guard 73.8
Me  69
3 LR BA 59.4
Orks 52.8
Marines 52.4

As you can see not a whole lot changed at the top, I am still in 3rd, but 1st and 2nd have swapped places because Grey Knights A played a tougher schedule, as did the Ork player who now moves from 6th to 5th.  I’m not saying that this is perfect, it still needs looking into, and overall I would prefer win\loss tournaments as far as determining the best player.  I’m also of the opinion that these numbers should only ever be used to rank people who finished with the same overall record.  A 2-1 player should never finish ahead of a 3-0 player, because in theory they should have been playing a similar level of competition, but the 3-0 player who played against the best competition should gain something for playing tough games.

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