A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thread

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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby BrotherBored » 20 May 2019, 20:32

Nearly all my experience playing Diplomacy is online. Furthermore, for something like that last 3 years I have played online Diplomacy without a break; not a day has gone by where I wasn't in a game. Finally, I have only ever played on webDiplomacy, which only allows for sum-of-squares or "draw-size scoring" (which I understand to be known elsewhere as Calhamer points). I have played in very few tournaments. The vast majority of my matches have been routine pickup games that last 6-10 weeks.

With that background in mind, I find sum-of-squares scoring to be by far the more boring and frustrating of the two (as in, much less fun). The large majority of players on webDiplomacy choose to play with the "draw-size scoring" system, and I am with them. In online Diplomacy, especially pickup games with 24 or 36 hour turns, there is a terrible, fun-crushing problem of players giving up before the match is over. Unlike in a tournament setting, an online player can just start a new game if their current game is going poorly. "Draw-size" scoring at least offers some kind of counter-incentive to fight to the bitter end. I also think the gameplay is more strategic and interesting.

I am offering my preference (or opinion, whatever you want to call it) on this topic not because I think I'm "right" or to persuade anybody, but just so that a curious person could understand the mentality of someone who avoids sum-of-squares scoring when at all possible. I probably would dislike other systems that are not draw based, but I haven't played using them.

Here's an essay I wrote on the topic: https://brotherbored.com/why-players-prefer-draw-size-scoring-in-diplomacy/
I also published a response by a colleague with similar experience who disagrees with my perspective: https://brotherbored.com/guest-post-draw-size-vs-sum-of-squares-scoring/
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 20 May 2019, 21:08

Thanks for chiming in, Brother.

It helps considerably that you express this opinion as opinion, rather than as quasi-religious belief. Much of the resistance encountered here to any system other than DSS / Calhamer points treats DSS as the only legitimate system (and fully ignores the experience of players who can attest to the merits of alternative systems).

Any scoring system will have its pluses and minuses. I envy the capability in webDip to pick the scoring system on a game-by-game basis.

As to fighting “to the bitter end,” I personally find that often translates to a tiresome endgame grind or staring-contest; the leading player typically is stopped behind a stalemate line and won’t approve a draw until the opposing side cannibalizes one of its members (which often they cannot do, lest they risk handing over the solo). Draw-whittling of that sort is a necessary but not always enjoyable factor of DSS.

SOS does a poor job of rewarding players who survive with just a few centers for as long as possible, but it and other non-DSS systems take the notion of “draw size” out of the equation. As such, that tiny power fighting to survive may be under less overall threat, as its centers are really no different than anyone else’s. The powerful are incentivized to attack the powerful, rather than swallow the weak. So perhaps simply surviving becomes less impressive in an SOS context.
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby jay65536 » 21 May 2019, 22:17

So, BB, I'll say this at the outset, having read both of the essays you linked and also having read your post. I think many of the differences between why you prefer draw-based scoring and most of the top players I know don't prefer it is "cultural". You sort of inadvertently highlighted this in your post, when you said that you think SoS doesn't do enough to deter people abandoning games when they are not doing well. As you admit, abandonments are not a big problem in FtF play. There is no need to use a rating system that encourages people to stay in the game when they are not doing well. That is not enough to say that that makes SoS better, just that that one particular drawback of SoS doesn't exist in FtF.

As I said upthread, but maybe worth repeating, is that when I'm listening to or talking about scoring systems, there are sort of 2 different things going on:
1. People have opinions about what incentives a scoring system should be encouraging. This is sort of an "a priori" debate, to borrow language from Dave Maletsky, and there's no way it's ever going to be resolved. Judging from your essay about Calhamer points, you believe that a good scoring system should encourage players with low center counts to fight for survival, by rewarding them with an equal draw share. I don't really see anything else in your essay about what a good scoring system should reward.

2. To me it's an important question whether a scoring system is actually rewarding what it is supposed to be rewarding. This is where I think draw-based scoring fails. I agree with a lot of the "counterpoint" essay in general, but I actually noticed that the point I'm about to make was left out of it. In top-level tournament play, my experience--and that of most live tournament players, I think--is that draw-based scoring actually does NOT reward fighting to stay in the draw, what you called "Desperado" play. The reason it does not reward this style of play is that in a high-level game, such "Desperados" are always eliminated when they are the 4th-largest power or worse.

Again, this may be a cultural thing, but let me tell you what I remember from playing under draw-based systems. Because a tournament is only 3-4 rounds at most, each player who is hoping to win the tournament needs to squeeze the maximum possible draw result out of each game they're playing. That means no top player would EVER accept a 4way draw or worse. 3way draws are basically the minimum you'll see voted, almost always. And because these are top players, when someone forces them to whittle down a 4way to a 3way correctly or else cough up a solo, they will NEVER respond by saying "it's too big a risk to allow the solo, so you can stay in the draw". (They were pretty good at draw-whittling when they had to do it.) So trying to hold onto a share of the draw as a small power was ALWAYS rewarded with a loss in these types of situations. That means that there was NOT incentive to play on--and also that solo-throwing becomes a more attractive option. I think there are people on this thread who've played at Dixiecon more recently than I have who can back me up on at least some of this.

Those are some long essays so there is much more I could respond to, but I guess the question I have for you, BB, is this: based on the fact that one community's experience with draw-based scoring does not line up with yours, don't you think it's possible that your opinion of the superiority of draw-based scoring is "cultural", and not inherent?
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby DavidMaletsky » 29 Jul 2019, 06:55

The Regatta system was created to solve two issues: one, that there weren’t enough wins, and two, that games took too long. It did solve these two issues, but created a new one in that at the end of most games, the board would be so focused on preventing the board leader from winning that the second place player would stab and win the game, by virtue of the redefining of “win”.

I think it’s difficult when you play a lot of DSS to escape the mindset; even under a different system, where draw size is irrelevant, when you ask such a player how the game ended, they’ll often describe the result as an X way draw. It’s a circle that feeds itself.

The problem with DSS is, endgames are extremely unpleasant, particularly under DIAS, which by the way comes to us directly from the rulebook. So then there was an adjustment, hey, let’s get rid of DIAS, so players can vote themselves out of significant positions and scores. But this still sucks. And the reason at the ground floor why is simply, there is no objective merit to eliminating players. There certainly can be situational merit; but DSS flat out pigeonholes players into motivations and outcomes that are simply not present in a normal, rulebook “house” game.

SoS has its shortcomings as well. The biggest one is that if you’re at five centers or less in the midgame, you have zero motivation other than dignity to try to play well anymore, because 99 times out of 100, your score is going to end up garbage no matter what you do going forward.

Players should get to play under systems they enjoy. And if a player well traveled through many different models decides they like DSS the best, nothing more to say, there’s no judgment about liking strawberry or blueberry. The issue is most DSS enthusiasts are coming to the table from a green eggs and ham jumpoff point; one needs a significant diversity of experience to make a competent judgment for themselves.
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby jay65536 » 29 Jul 2019, 21:41

DavidMaletsky wrote:SoS has its shortcomings as well. The biggest one is that if you’re at five centers or less in the midgame, you have zero motivation other than dignity to try to play well anymore, because 99 times out of 100, your score is going to end up garbage no matter what you do going forward.


Isn't that more or less equally true in every system? In SoS you can still mount comebacks in the midgame, just like any other system. Do you think it's more rare in SoS for that to happen compared to other systems?
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 29 Jul 2019, 22:48

jay65536 wrote:
DavidMaletsky wrote:SoS has its shortcomings as well. The biggest one is that if you’re at five centers or less in the midgame, you have zero motivation other than dignity to try to play well anymore, because 99 times out of 100, your score is going to end up garbage no matter what you do going forward.


Isn't that more or less equally true in every system? In SoS you can still mount comebacks in the midgame, just like any other system. Do you think it's more rare in SoS for that to happen compared to other systems?


I think the point is that when you find yourself in a position with so few centers that the realistic options are either survival in a draw or loss/elimination, SOS grants the least amount of incentive to fight to the bitter end. In DSS or Carnage, there are more substantial rewards available to those who stick it out.
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby jay65536 » 30 Jul 2019, 14:34

NoPunIn10Did wrote:In DSS or Carnage, there are more substantial rewards available to those who stick it out.


I guess I just am not sure that this is true?

In the Carnage system, if you come in 4th on your board you get 4000 points plus centers. I guess that's not nothing, as in my last Carnage tournament I had some scores like this and would have finished in the top 4 or 5 had I only gotten an extra 500 points.

In DSS, if you are 4th on your board, you usually get brutally eliminated by the top 3. Not much reward there, unless you can vault into the top 3 and make it into a 3way draw.

So I don't see that as a "separating factor" between SoS and draw-based scoring. I suppose you could argue that it would be, in a player pool where it's easier to get big powers to accept larger draws even in draw-based scoring.
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 30 Jul 2019, 17:13

jay65536 wrote:
NoPunIn10Did wrote:In DSS or Carnage, there are more substantial rewards available to those who stick it out.


I guess I just am not sure that this is true?

In the Carnage system, if you come in 4th on your board you get 4000 points plus centers. I guess that's not nothing, as in my last Carnage tournament I had some scores like this and would have finished in the top 4 or 5 had I only gotten an extra 500 points.

In DSS, if you are 4th on your board, you usually get brutally eliminated by the top 3. Not much reward there, unless you can vault into the top 3 and make it into a 3way draw.

So I don't see that as a "separating factor" between SoS and draw-based scoring. I suppose you could argue that it would be, in a player pool where it's easier to get big powers to accept larger draws even in draw-based scoring.


In SOS, the fraction of the points you would likely receive is far less than 4000/28000 (Carnage) or 1/4 (DSS).
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby jay65536 » 31 Jul 2019, 14:53

NoPunIn10Did wrote:
jay65536 wrote:
NoPunIn10Did wrote:In DSS or Carnage, there are more substantial rewards available to those who stick it out.


I guess I just am not sure that this is true?

In the Carnage system, if you come in 4th on your board you get 4000 points plus centers. I guess that's not nothing, as in my last Carnage tournament I had some scores like this and would have finished in the top 4 or 5 had I only gotten an extra 500 points.

In DSS, if you are 4th on your board, you usually get brutally eliminated by the top 3. Not much reward there, unless you can vault into the top 3 and make it into a 3way draw.

So I don't see that as a "separating factor" between SoS and draw-based scoring. I suppose you could argue that it would be, in a player pool where it's easier to get big powers to accept larger draws even in draw-based scoring.


In SOS, the fraction of the points you would likely receive is far less than 4000/28000 (Carnage) or 1/4 (DSS).


So, for Carnage, yes, I see your point. Just as a hypothetical, I chose a 13/10/6/5 center breakdown. In that case, the 5-center power gets something like 7.58 points, which is roughly half, as a fraction of the total points, that the 4th-place Carnage score gets. In Carnage it's 1/7, and in SoS my example has us getting approximately 1/14. Neither is great, but in comparison to what the top-scoring power gets (1/4 versus more than half), SoS is much worse for the little guy.

But for DSS, my point is, the hypothetical 4th-place power on 5 centers is not going to get 1/4 of the points; it's going to get 0 points because it will be eliminated before a draw is voted. The only way you could mitigate this argument would be to say "I'm talking about a player pool where people will sometimes accept a small power into a larger-than-3way draw", but that's a pretty conditional argument, not inherent to DSS.
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Re: A (Choose: Great/Pointless/Annoying) Scoring System Thre

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 31 Jul 2019, 18:17

jay65536 wrote:
But for DSS, my point is, the hypothetical 4th-place power on 5 centers is not going to get 1/4 of the points; it's going to get 0 points because it will be eliminated before a draw is voted. The only way you could mitigate this argument would be to say "I'm talking about a player pool where people will sometimes accept a small power into a larger-than-3way draw", but that's a pretty conditional argument, not inherent to DSS.

What I'm talking about there is a player that forces himself into the 4-way draw because his units and centers are necessary to hold the stalemate line. I was in such a game at the most recent Dixie. When playing DSS, it's not an uncommon scenario.
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