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Post 15 Mar 2011, 3:27 pm

All in all, I think it was a pretty good tournament, well run (I’m amazed at how promptly the turns were adjudicated when seven concurrent games were running!) and a good idea. A very nice concept for the theme as well. I quite liked the fixed lengths, to be honest, as it gave everyone a target at the same time. I thought that the nation-parings between rounds were pretty fairly worked out.

I’m not really much of a gunboat player, but perhaps not talking to anyone improves my game. I’m not sure how I should take it, but coming in 5th by far exceeded my pre-tourney expectations and even managed to end up a game as dot leader – something that I don’t think I’ve ever managed in any Redscape hosted game so far. I take on board what was said by others about the impact of NRRs, although I used to play on a site where having to supply not only retreats, but also Winter adjustments along with movement phases and it was certainly a system that encouraged every player to think through all of their orders. On balance, I think that it is clear that an NRR that has the effect of giving a major boost/penalty to other players can skew a game horribly.

Having played through to the final (and been crushed by my own ineptitude) and read the debate above, I have a few other ideas:

Firstly, I thought that the first round cut being determined by nation was the best way to do it. It meant that you could draw Austria and have the same chances as anyone else of getting through. However, I thought that going down to two games in the second round, in which half of the players would go on was a little imbalanced. Perhaps 7-3-1 rather than 7-2-1 would make the second round more competitive. It means one more game to adjudicate, but the proportions of players knocked out each time would be 58% then 67%, as opposed to 71% then 50%.

Secondly, I had an idea on the scoring and game lengths that might deal with the issue of drawing nations that are ‘slow starters’ and a first round solo meaning that a player can coast in round two:

If the first round ends in 1908, the second in 1911 and the final in 1914, then the points for each round would already count for more the further you go. Additionally, if you were to ratchet up the weightings by game year (say, 1 for years 01-05, 1.5 for 06-10, 2 for 11-14), players that took a late surge to lead would end up doing relatively better than those who took an early dot lead and then got pegged back. Alternatively, keep it at a point per dot per year, but add a premium for the dots held at the end (again, perhaps worth more for round two and the final). If this were to come in, then a first round solo would still be pretty high scoring, but would not allow a player to coast in round two.

I would think that both a slightly larger and longer round two and weightings for dots held later in each games would provide even greater intensity in the competition, especially at the end of games, while rewarding those who do better at later stages.

Finally, I think that the winner should be determined by overall points, rather than by performance in the final, with the final result being the tie-breaker. That would make it a little harder to be sure that the dot leader will actually win, and might encourage players a little behind them to press on, on the off chance that they came in with more points. The weightings would make that perhaps less likely, but one thing that helped make this tournament so fun to play in the earlier rounds was the sheer uncertainty of it all.

Still, if nothing were changed, I’d play another run of this tourney. Thanks to Bobby for all his work on this one.
Last edited by danivon on 28 Mar 2011, 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 22 Mar 2011, 12:35 pm

Overall, after these discussions we've had, I'd offer the following suggestions:

- Make changes to the autoretreat system (thoroughly discussed elsewhere) as several OTB retreats proved key to the results of the games they occurred in.

- Alter the Tournament structure to a 7:3:1 format from the 7:2:1 currently used. That initial cut seemed too steep.

- Extend the length of Round 2 games to 1910. An argument can also be given for extending to 1912, and extending Round 1 games as well. However, I feel it to be especially important in Round 2 as you are no longer competing against other players of the same nation for advancement, so need more time to make the most of the strengths of slower starting nations like Italy and Turkey.

- Reconsider the method of nation assignments for Round 2, perhaps also by preference of some sort. It is notable that no-one playing as England or Austria in Round 2 advanced to the final despite all 4 players being in the top 7 by score after round 1.
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Post 22 Mar 2011, 1:06 pm

I'd like to extend the comment on that last bullet point while keeping my recommendations short and sharp, so I'm adding another post here.

The results show that the Power a player was assigned in Round 2 had a huge effect upon their chances of advancement - probably larger than any other factor. None of those playing England or Austria in Round 2 advanced to the final. By contrast both Frances and Turkeys did advance. While their Round 1 score also mattered a great deal (the top 4 players after Round 1 advanced to the final) it wasn't absolute (two from the bottom 3rd of the Round 1 leaderboard also advanced to the final). It should be noted that this phenommenon was Round 2 specific: the top 2 players in Round 2 and indeed the final table as well played as England and Austria in their Round 1 games.

The system that was used was that every player advancing from Round 1 playing a certain Power would automatically play a predetermined Power in Round 2. In my case it was France, then Italy, others Germany then Austria. It was a fair stab at trying to avoid giving anyone too easy a route to the final by playing a pair of strong countries better suited to Gunboat. However, as I have pointed out it didn't work quite as planned, since the identiy of one's Round 2 Power had a much greater influence on advancement to the final board than anything else.

Here is my solution: 3 players per Power advance from Round 1 to Round 2 instead of 2 previously. Each Round 1 Power then plays as one of 3 pre-determined Powers in Round 2. For example, rather than both R1 Frances playing as Italy in R2, one plays as Italy, one as Russia and one as England (for example). The player who got the highest R1 score as France gets to choose which of the 3 he wants to play as; the 2nd highest France gets to choose between the two that are left while the 3rd place guy is assigned the one left. This is pretty much the system used to choose Power assignment for the final table in this Tournament. It would reward top play in Round 1, yet also keep some balance in Power assignments. Thus no-one would get the option to play as 2 of Germany/France/Turkey in the first 2 rounds, but nor would a player who qualified as best Germany have to be stuck with Austria.