Relegations/Promotions

Suggestions to improve the concept of a PlayDiplomacy League

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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby nanooktheeskimo » 15 Apr 2018, 11:43

I'd suggest that if your goal is to never play the same person more than once or twice, a league isn't going to be the best place for that. Sure, we want to avoid playing the same person over and over again within a season...but if you don't want to play someone in season two that you played twice in season one, you're both creating a huge headache in terms of administration/game allocation and you're fundamentally misunderstanding how a league works.

I'm all for avoiding pairing players three or four times within a season, but I think it's kind of silly to expect that if you play someone twice in season you won't play them in season two, or even that you'll only play them once.


As far as how relegation numbers affect play--I suspect that as we get closer to the end of the league season and clusters start to form, more people will be playing aggressively. For example, if you're in the bottom 7 of the 2nd league going into game 4, then you know you probably have to play for the solo to avoid relegation. Similarly, if you're in the middle 7, there's a lot of incentive to try for a two way or a solo to push into the promotion group and/or avoid relegation yourself. This will, I suspect, have the effect of driving players in the 4-7 or so range also feeling pressure to go for the solo or two way to guarantee their promotion and that they don't get leapfrogged.

I could be mistaken about how it plays out, but that's what I'd expect to see happen. More aggressive play as more people need better scores to advance and realize they need better scores, and less people can take the safer route of a threeway in the context of the league standings.
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby mhsmith0 » 15 Apr 2018, 22:03

FWIW I think it's reasonable that the system take some efforts to try and minimize how often you see people play twice in a year, then twice again the next year (I think trying ot make a hard rule of it NEVER happening is I think not really doable, and even a hard cap of guaranteeing that each player see a maximum of one person twice in back to back years is probably suboptimal). Fortunately, it's really not hard to make some relatively simple structural decisions that, almost regardless of how you structure everything else, will strongly tend to minimize the repeat doubles year to year (not eliminate, mind you, but at least reduce the number).

In the example I put together, every 2019 league one game would have five stayers and two promoters (if you have seven people promoting, then it'd be 5/2, 5/2, and 4/3 each round in some order). That, by itself, increases everyone's exposure to people they hadn't seen the year before (having "promoters" specifically in the A/A/A/A and B/B/B/B and C/C/C/C slots in particular is helpful, basically for math reasons).

I think it's probably a fair question of how much effort you want to put into minimizing repeat pairings beyond that; past a certain point, you are getting into design constraints (for instance, if we end up deciding that we want the 2019 tables to be anonymous to minimize gaming the system issues, then there are limited things that can be done to minimize repeat pairings, though again, just the structure as describe above cuts a good chunk of it out)

mjparrett wrote:My brain hurts from just reading that post! I'm sure it is correct though :)

So... the fixtures this year were 100% random number generated. I hadn't thought about it too much, but basically we are saying we DON'T want to random it for next year as we want to manually reduce the staleness. I'm ok with that I guess. Although it might need someone outside of league 1 doing the fixtures if you are allocating to stop me having any bias.

If you can change the promotion/relegation numbers and still keep the staleness down I'm also ok with that. I can see how having only 4 or 5 slots might encourage riskier play which is probably a good thing (despite the grief I got for my last 3 way draw I'd still generally like riskier play).

I do also think the initial alllocation could be slightly improved, and I wonder if that would make some of this easier. I also agree it gets harder to work out from each players perspective. For example, there are 4-5 people who I don't play at all. What if they were the players who were relegated? How does that affect all this?

Keep working it through though - I think an improvement might be close at hand!


Essentially, the structure I'd proposed would be to have the first seven players get:

Player 1: A/A/A/A
Player 2: A/A/B/B
Player 3: A/A/C/C
Player 4: A/B/A/B
Player 5: A/B/B/A
Player 6: A/C/A/C
Player 7: A/C/C/A

and then the remainder are the same pattern but shifted to the right (so player 8 is B/B/B/B and player 9 B/B/C/C, player 15 is C/C/C/C, player 16 C/C/A/A, etc). This is actually broadly similar to mjparret's year 1 draw structure, except I flipped player rows around (B/B/B/B had been player 11 instead of 8, and C/C/C/C had been player 21 instead of 15, for instance), and I juggled around a couple of player/game assignments as well (I think like just two of them tho).

One of the fundamental aspects of that structure is... player 1, 8, and 15 never play each other. Neither do players 2, 9, and 16. etc
This allows you to pretty easily slot in players 1/8/15, and 2/9/16, as promotion slots, so that every game will have at least 2 promoter slots (if you promote 7 people, then the 7th promoter slot will go wherever). This also allows you keep the 1/8/15 slot in particular away from repeat players (the reason for this is 1/8/15, due to the nature of the design, have more opponents they don't see at all, and more opponents they see twice, so having those slots NOT go to players who stayed in the same league is helpful to minimize repeat doubles)

And then from there it goes to design decisions: do you want to aggressively cut repeats? Would you rather have relatively more randing involved (particularly necessary if you're going to make the draws unknown in advance)? If you do want randing, you can still look for sets of three players who all played each other twice the previous year and, say, assign them to the 3/10/17 slots, and then just rand which of them goes where. You still have anonymity, but you're at least going to get some cutting down of repeat pairings, which I do think is a design decision worth putting SOME emphasis on.

PS for the example where the players who you didn't play all got relegated, it complicates it a bit, but that's the world where you'd be one of the people who has the most potential repeat pairings, so your name would go into that pile for extra attention, and someone else's name goes out. It's pretty inevitable that SOME people would get highlighted, and the particulars will depend on who gets relegated (also relevant: if people join midseason, there shoudl be some flexibility there, since by nature they won't have faced many people twice in 2018 ;) )
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby rd45 » 17 Apr 2018, 16:22

nanooktheeskimo wrote:if you don't want to play someone in season two that you played twice in season one ... you're fundamentally misunderstanding how a league works.

Yes, this. To play the same people repeatedly is the whole purpose of a league. How else are you going to figure out who's really the best, other than by having them play each other repeatedly?

So I think that this:
mhsmith0 wrote:it's reasonable that the system take some efforts to try and minimize how often you see people play twice in a year, then twice again the next year

is wrong, but it's wrong for an understandable reason. The goal, IMHO, isn't to avoid repeats but to minimise disparities between the no. of times I face each other player - the ideal being where everyone plays everyone else the same no. of times. But aside from the trivial case of a league with only seven players, the smallest league in which everyone can play everyone else the same no. of times would have 49 players*, which is not really feasible if we want multiple divisions for promotion & relegation. Any league with more than seven but less than 49 players can't have an entirely uniform pattern for who-plays-whom - so, I'd say a purely random allocation of players to games is as good as any other. Making promoted or relegated players into special cases whose games are allocated differently doesn't seem attractive to me.

* In every game, I have six opponents. So, over n games I'll face up to 6n players. We want them all to be different players, so that gives us 6n + 1 different players in the league, including myself. Assuming we want everyone to play simultaneously - not to have to wait out games in which they're not involved - then we need (6n + 1)/7 to be a whole number. The whole-number solutions are when n is 1, 8, 15, 22 etc - giving league sizes of 7, 49, 81, 133 etc. A league of 7 is too small, and a league of 49 (or bigger) is too big - not least because a 49-player league needs eight games for everyone to play each other once, which would take too long. So, game allocation is necessarily imperfect.

In reply to the OP - so far, based on the caution & draw-mongering that seems to be the early pattern, I completely agree that relegation-avoidance is probably driving too much aversion to risk. We need to give it a whole season, because there's a chance that the later games break that pattern in the way that Nanook said. But, it's also entirely possible that those few players who are desperate for a late win (and motivated enough to do anything about it) will anyway be trapped into dull drawn end-games with mid-table players who are doggedly defending their carebear points. If that's how it turns out - then we need a total re-think on the scoring. Zero for a loss, one point each for any size of draw, 10 points for a solo? Anyone who solos any of their games is automatically promoted, with a matching no. relegated from the division above?
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby mjparrett » 17 Apr 2018, 17:05

Thanks for the maths breakdown rd45, understand a little more now. Yes, 49 player is too big for a league. And missing the point of the current setup where you play similar standard people.

I agree that the fundamental point of a league sees you play the same people year on year. But there is a difference with this, as it is a 7 player game, and each game is never truly independent from the last - we all remember how certain players played/acted, that will have a slight knock on effect whether we mean them to or not. And because of the imperfections in the fixtures, I think it is fair to not want to play the same player(s) every year (twice in some cases), when there are some players who you do not meet at all.

Again though you have gone back to the scoring system, and blaming that for the attitude of players. You may or may not be right, but another post in this thread was quite interesting (re Classicists and not in our never surrender sense), that makes it sound as though you are in the minority.

No-one really answered my point earlier (or discussed, as it certainly isn't a question that has one answer); is a solo and 3 losses definitely better than 4 3-way draws? I would love to hear one of the solo only types (rd45, GPD, boldblade it seems?) answer/argue this. I know I am being awkward for the sake of it, but one solo doesn't necessarily make you a good player. The 3 losses is possibly more a true indication of your skill. Someone with 4 3-way draws might be timid, might be a carebear, or might lack the true tactical awareness of how to turn them into solos, but is undoubtedly a decent player who gets the game and is capable/clever at building alliances and stabbing to reduce the number of players.

Before anyone answers with "the point is to win, and a draw isn't a win"... I know that. A solo is better than a draw. Even if you were handed the solo, you still persuaded people to hand it to you. And I take my hat off to you. But doing it once (maybe against a weaker board as the leagues still cover a wide ranking) and losing 3 times doesn't prove you are better than someone getting a 3 way in every game they play.
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby rd45 » 17 Apr 2018, 18:22

mjparrett wrote: is a solo and 3 losses definitely better than 4 3-way draws? ... doing it once (maybe against a weaker board as the leagues still cover a wide ranking) and losing 3 times doesn't prove you are better than someone getting a 3 way in every game they play.

I disagree, but there are as many opinions on this as there are Dip players. The whole subject has been done to death elsewhere on the forum. It's the unresolvable issue that lies behind every disagreement about scoring.

FWIW, and for the sake of the debate - IMO there isn't a number of n-way draws (for any value of n) that you can add up together to make the equivalent of a solo. They're incommensurable. They're entirely different game outcomes, which take entirely different skills to pull off. Any scoring system will misrepresent that to some degree, and so skew the game in one direction or another. As soon as you have a series of games, you also have a metagame. Relative purists such as myself are obliged to suck it up.
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby Saturos » 17 Apr 2018, 19:26

rd45 wrote:
mjparrett wrote: is a solo and 3 losses definitely better than 4 3-way draws? ... doing it once (maybe against a weaker board as the leagues still cover a wide ranking) and losing 3 times doesn't prove you are better than someone getting a 3 way in every game they play.

I disagree, but there are as many opinions on this as there are Dip players. The whole subject has been done to death elsewhere on the forum. It's the unresolvable issue that lies behind every disagreement about scoring.

FWIW, and for the sake of the debate - IMO there isn't a number of n-way draws (for any value of n) that you can add up together to make the equivalent of a solo. They're incommensurable. They're entirely different game outcomes, which take entirely different skills to pull off. Any scoring system will misrepresent that to some degree, and so skew the game in one direction or another. As soon as you have a series of games, you also have a metagame. Relative purists such as myself are obliged to suck it up.


You can always take the best of both worlds. If a solo awards a star and 2+ draws award points, then you can just rank people based on stars first, points second.

For instance,

Player 1 has 1 solo 3 losses, they get a *.

Player 2 has 4 3 ways, they get 30 points.

Player 3 has 1 solo 1 3 way 2 losses, they get a * and 30 points.

Player 4 has 2 solos, 2 losses, they get **

Player 5 has 2 3 ways 2 losses, they get 20 points

Final ranking is:
P4: **
P3: *30
P1: *
P2: 30
P5: 20
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby TTBen » 17 Apr 2018, 19:39

mjparrett wrote:
No-one really answered my point earlier (or discussed, as it certainly isn't a question that has one answer); is a solo and 3 losses definitely better than 4 3-way draws? I would love to hear one of the solo only types (rd45, GPD, boldblade it seems?) answer/argue this. I know I am being awkward for the sake of it, but one solo doesn't necessarily make you a good player. The 3 losses is possibly more a true indication of your skill. Someone with 4 3-way draws might be timid, might be a carebear, or might lack the true tactical awareness of how to turn them into solos, but is undoubtedly a decent player who gets the game and is capable/clever at building alliances and stabbing to reduce the number of players.


I’ll take an attempt at answering your question because it’s interesting debate. I think it has been mentioned about potentially rewarding players that stick around longer even if they lose to a solo would address some of this but would certainly create other issues. Because if 2 players are both consistently getting to the final 3 but one always draws and the other always goes for the solo but only succeeds once then yes I would be the soloist is the better player. But if the soloist is out early in his other games that he didn’t solo then Mikes point that he may not have been clever enough about building alliances is probably true.

Seeing someone just hanging on and not trying to affect the endgame at all can be very frustrating as well though and would be encouraged by a survivor scoring method..... always trade offs
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby mhsmith0 » 17 Apr 2018, 19:41

rd45 wrote:...
So I think that this:
mhsmith0 wrote:it's reasonable that the system take some efforts to try and minimize how often you see people play twice in a year, then twice again the next year

is wrong, but it's wrong for an understandable reason. The goal, IMHO, isn't to avoid repeats but to minimise disparities between the no. of times I face each other player - the ideal being where everyone plays everyone else the same no. of times. But aside from the trivial case of a league with only seven players, the smallest league in which everyone can play everyone else the same no. of times would have 49 players*, which is not really feasible if we want multiple divisions for promotion & relegation. Any league with more than seven but less than 49 players can't have an entirely uniform pattern for who-plays-whom - so, I'd say a purely random allocation of players to games is as good as any other. Making promoted or relegated players into special cases whose games are allocated differently doesn't seem attractive to me.

* In every game, I have six opponents. So, over n games I'll face up to 6n players. We want them all to be different players, so that gives us 6n + 1 different players in the league, including myself. Assuming we want everyone to play simultaneously - not to have to wait out games in which they're not involved - then we need (6n + 1)/7 to be a whole number. The whole-number solutions are when n is 1, 8, 15, 22 etc - giving league sizes of 7, 49, 81, 133 etc. A league of 7 is too small, and a league of 49 (or bigger) is too big - not least because a 49-player league needs eight games for everyone to play each other once, which would take too long. So, game allocation is necessarily imperfect.
...


Couple quick notes:

1) Minimizing disparities between the # of times you face a player and minimizing repeats is essentially the same thing imo.

For instance, currently you draw the following people 0 times: GruGloG, FloridaMan
And the following people 2 times: jimbobicus, DirtyHarry, V, bindlestiff, Pootleflump, bdferris1
(due to some minor oddities in the draw structure in 2018, you happened to be in a slot that missed almost no one; HonestAbe, as a contrast, had SIX players in the league that he never matchup against, and NINE that he doubled up against [i.e. he played ZERO players just once] )

Presuming for argument’s sake that you stay in league one, minimizing the # of jimbo/dirty/v/bindle/pootle/bdf that you draw 2 games against in year 2 necessarily minimizes the disparity between those you play especially often and those you rarely play. Explicitly manipulating the draw to guarantee that you play against GruGloG and FloridaMan at least once in 2019 (presuming of course they both advance) is also something that you can do, but the math of that becomes complicated, mainly because mixing/matching who does or doesn’t play gets a bit messy since who did or didn’t play the prior year is semi-random

2) There is also the option, which I haven’t really done the work for yet, or constructing multi-year matchup cycles (probably 2 year cycles I think?) to get results along what you’re proposing. I may play around with those a bit when I have some time and see what shakes out on that end. The likely downside of that sort of arrangement is that to make the #s fit, you’d need to have some people play 3x in a given year… but I may be incorrect on that one.
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby boldblade » 17 Apr 2018, 19:44

rd45 wrote:In reply to the OP - so far, based on the caution & draw-mongering that seems to be the early pattern, I completely agree that relegation-avoidance is probably driving too much aversion to risk. We need to give it a whole season, because there's a chance that the later games break that pattern in the way that Nanook said. But, it's also entirely possible that those few players who are desperate for a late win (and motivated enough to do anything about it) will anyway be trapped into dull drawn end-games with mid-table players who are doggedly defending their carebear points. If that's how it turns out - then we need a total re-think on the scoring. Zero for a loss, one point each for any size of draw, 10 points for a solo? Anyone who solos any of their games is automatically promoted, with a matching no. relegated from the division above?


I agree the whole season should be played before changes are decided on with certainty. But I am glad we are talking about some solutions now. Personally, I do believe an entire change to the scoring is needed. But the reason I brought the idea of this post up is that I think it could have some of the same effects and I expected it to be much easier to swallow for all involved. I'm still frustrated with the nature of how this discussion has progressed because the idea still seems largely to be weighed against the outcome folks like myself, GPD and rd45 are looking for instead of the value of the change itself. At least the last page or so of comments have mostly covered the one issue people have with lowering the number of relegations. And I do appreciate the mathematical folks chiming in to discuss how such an issue would be addressed.

mjparrett wrote:No-one really answered my point earlier (or discussed, as it certainly isn't a question that has one answer); is a solo and 3 losses definitely better than 4 3-way draws? I would love to hear one of the solo only types (rd45, GPD, boldblade it seems?) answer/argue this. I know I am being awkward for the sake of it, but one solo doesn't necessarily make you a good player. The 3 losses is possibly more a true indication of your skill. Someone with 4 3-way draws might be timid, might be a carebear, or might lack the true tactical awareness of how to turn them into solos, but is undoubtedly a decent player who gets the game and is capable/clever at building alliances and stabbing to reduce the number of players.


In my opinion yes but that will come as no surprise. I find it interesting you are willing to discount the single solo as it may have been against the lesser players of the league but don't consider that you should also discount at least one of the draws for the same reason. Not only that but assuming both players considered would have wound up in one of the four games with lesser league players then wouldn't the one with the solo victory be better when he soloed against them and the other was unable (or unwilling)? Now, I would agree that avoiding elimination in 4 straight games is impressive and should be rewarded. But is it equal to a solo win? No. Now, I must admit I disagree with rd a little in that I do think there is probably a number of draws that might be worth a solo. Maybe 7, idk I would have to think about it more. But, at the same time if you are in 7 straight draws and never once had the chance to solo I find that quite unlikely and instead think you simply lacked the balls to take one that was available to you. Which I do find problematic but will admit managing to avoid elimination in that many straight games is respectable.
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Re: Relegations/Promotions

Postby TTBen » 17 Apr 2018, 19:51

mhsmith0 wrote:

2) There is also the option, which I haven’t really done the work for yet, or constructing multi-year matchup cycles (probably 2 year cycles I think?) to get results along what you’re proposing. I may play around with those a bit when I have some time and see what shakes out on that end. The likely downside of that sort of arrangement is that to make the #s fit, you’d need to have some people play 3x in a given year… but I may be incorrect on that one.


You are already into this deep so I won’t attempt anything but wouldn’t it be easy to set up a multi-year schedule that avoids back to back double ups simply by designing the schedule assuming the same 21 players are present and doing a straight substitution of promoted/relegated players? The only place this might get tricky is league 2 with so much turnover
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