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Strategies: 7/21/2011 17:15:47


Duke 
Level 5
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Has anyone noticed that the predominant winning strategy in the 1x1 ladder is to use your first two picks to go for a 1st turn 4 (either E/W Africa, C/W Russia, CA/NA/SA and or Indo/India). The only exception is when there are 2 1st turn 3 bonuses available, then it's your 1nd and 3rd picks. Heyhey won 3 of his most recent victories that way. I've lost a few times lately having failed to recognize that my opp got a +4 ont he first turn.

The startegy that dominated this map initially was ported over fromt he big Earth 1x1 map -- spreading picks and using counterpicks. You can still win that way, but the fastest surest path to victory is to go for the +4 first move and then overwhelm your opp in another spot asap. Just start going through Heyhey's wins and see how many time's it's the same strategy. It's not just him of course, but he's beating opps that are good, but are not making picks based on this strategy. It's also remarkable how many times Heyhey won his 3 3x2 attacks.

To counter it, you have to first look for where the starting spots allow for the move. Then you have to overlap picks there or counterpick it. But it's tough to counter pick, because he's got 9 the next turn and the absolute best you can have is 8 (and if you have 8 you have only 2 or 3 next to the +4 bonus). Frankly I think you have to overlap picks. It's not just a -4 income disadvantage for one turn, because it's first turn, it magnifies the income differentials through the game (because you get your next bonus one turn sooner as well, and so on). It's the old problem with Scan being too powerful on the first map (with fixed start points).

Frankly I think this approach illustrates why this is a weak map for a 1x1. Picks and first move are decisive a majority of the time. It becomes overly formulaic.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 17:45:56


x 
Level 58
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But it's tough to counter pick, because he's got 9 the next turn and the absolute best you can have is 8 (and if you have 8 you have only 2 or 3 next to the +4 bonus).

---

yeah, this depends on whether your counterpick can open up at least 2 and hopefully 3 of your opponent's bonus' territories. then you can put everything into the attack and threaten his bonus with about 12 armies available to attack on the second turn. an example is picking one of the chinas to counter a first-turn move on india.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 17:46:52


devilnis 
Level 10
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This is a new twist on the same argument I was making a couple months ago, that the essence of winning a 1v1 (on any map, I believe) is in turn 0, rendering the game overly (for my tastes) algorithmic.

You know what would be cool would be a full random distro ladder. Yes, someone could get lucky in some way or another but the complexity of the possible games stemming from a full distro is pretty mind-boggling, so it might provide more variation...
Strategies: 7/21/2011 18:11:40

Fizzer 
Level 58

Warzone Creator
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It's a strategy, but I wouldn't call it "the predominant winning strategy."

I set out looking for a counter-example and found one on my second try: http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer.aspx?GameID=1405804. Zaeban used his 1 2 3 4 on both of the first-turn bonus areas, got one, and lost the game to someone who went after neither of them.

Also, I don't exactly follow the progression of your logic. You present a strategy, present how it's countered, then say "this illustrates why this is a weak map." The mere fact that a strategy exists makes the map weak? There's always going to be strategies - just because one exists doesn't make the map weak.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 19:34:36


Duke 
Level 5
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I meant that a very straightforward, very effective strategy that determines the outcome of game in the first two moves makes a map weak. This is a small sample size and of course all strategies can fail (especially if you anticipate them). But if this strategy is employed successfully, a less skilled player will beat a more skilled player often. The essence of a ranking system is to determine relative skill and this creates a distortion. Perhaps by raising the point and talking about it the distortion will be self-correcting as players identify and counter it - let's see.

I was struck by the fact that the #1 player on the ladder won 3 of his last 4 victories in the first eight moves using this strategy against very strong opps. That's what I meant by predominant -- not that most or a majority of players are using it. If you can dominate very strong players using a simple, effective strategy -- than is that a good map to determine relative rank? Obviously sometimes it won't work, but if you can win 75% of the time very quickly against good to great opps -- that's a dominant strategy.

Also I think this is a worthwhile topic for the ladders forum (one of the only worthwhile threads started on here in weeks). I would appreciate it if you didn't only criticize my word choices and quibble with details. I know you're somewhat sensitive about the ladder map choice issue and I folded that into a game strategy discussion. Please think about them as two separate, somewhat overlapping issues.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 19:36:34


Duke 
Level 5
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Devil -- I get that, but I accept that picks are pivital to deciding games. This strategy effectively automatically chooses your top 2-4 picks. That's what makes it a slightly different problem than just the problems inherent in a small map.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 19:56:45


Duke 
Level 5
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Also -- Zaeban did not use the strategy in your example. It doesn't work going from a 5 to a 3 (you've tied up two spots, only boosted income by +3 instead of +4 and made the 2nd bonus slower to pick up). It works best going from a 4 to a 4 as in all the examples I gave (albeit India/Indo and CA/SA are 3s to 4s, those are less effective than EC/Indo or WA/SA which are 4 to 4). The optimal ones seem to be WR/CR and EA/WA because they make picking up the 2nd +4 bonus quick and easy. WA/SA and Indo/EC are less effective because they only connect at one point and that delays using the armies from the first bonus to pick up the second.

Just look at Heyhey's recent games to see the examples I'm referring to.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 20:19:08

Guy Mannington 
Level 40
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i find europe to be a great counter pick to this when your available starting spot is the territory that touches WR and scan both, when there is a first turn bonus in the russias or scan I have beaten players i wouldnt usually beat doing this.

I want to know Ruthless' thinking on counter picks., i hate games against him because of it but man is it effective!
Strategies: 7/21/2011 20:27:16

Guy Mannington 
Level 40
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Also i have lost alot going for the first turn 4 because one counter pick messes up 2 of my picks and the other player was able to expand elsewhere faster than me. Obviously Hey is far better than me at doing this but players i feel i should have beat beat me with just the one counter pick. I dont think its that big of a problem as long as players think about this going in.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 22:27:17


Ruthless 
Level 36
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I close my eyes and touch the screen and whichever is the closest available spot I choose it.

The secret is doing it 6 times in a row so that I don't get a random spot.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 23:09:07

Blue Precision 
Level 32
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Duke,

As always I appreciate your attention to detail and your willingness to speak out on matters you feel strongly about. I tend to agree with you, it is the predominant strategy used for those who try to win games within the first 8-12 turns, or as you stated "the fastest surest path to victory." I disagree, however, that your other most salient point of your argument: "Frankly... you have to overlap picks," in that this makes things stale.

I enjoy the showmanship of players who can identify the best strategy and either block each other from it (overlap picks) or defy them completely by employing less superior strategy and beating them through shrewdness and cunning.

Also, I must add that I do not think it is predominant to the point that it is a problem. It is a good strategy to use against me (and perhaps you) because I am always looking for the counter pick and its a tough strategy to counter when successful, as you pointed out. In other words, a 9 income on turn 1 completely shatters me when I place all my income to rush on turn 0 and now am left with a 5 deployment and no way to get a bonus in my other two spots.

- One solution is to let it be and try to grind out a spreading battle:
http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer.aspx?GameID=1408545

- This is one of my latest games where I was concerned about him getting West Africa in one but decided that I would win so long as I was first to Brazil (N.A had no wastelands so I had better spreadability and could have also blockaded Iran if I was left alone in Asia). Also, Lungren was fortunate that Africa had no wastelands. In cases where North or South Africa have one the position is even less dominant. And I know that you'll say that I only won because I also took Central in 1, but thats precisely why I tend to agree that Lungren's picks was still the predominant strategy but he still needs to be fortunate on turn 0 and play a near perfect game to win.

For sake of conversation I have a few ideas that would address Duke's concerns but I am willing to bet that he is dead set against most of, or all of them, thus the problem with trying to satisfy the preferences of ~ 120 ladder participants, no less one person.

1) Bump the luck percentage to as high as 20%. I know Duke prefers 0% luck which is why I found his argument to be rather ironic upon first read.

2) Force people to pick game-counts in increments of two: people preferring to play in two games will always have one auto-distribution and one manual distribution game going one (people choosing four would get two of each). This just addresses the mundane/predictability of always playing in games whereas one feels compelled to overlap picks to prevent against a lopsided game.

3) Do not play with random Warlords.

4) Have it announced prior to each game who will be getting the first pick selection. This would invariably change the way players make their first 3-4 selections.

5) change the base income to four per turn (or maybe just set it to 4 for turn 0). This disables any scenario where someone can get a set on turn 0 except for rare exceptions where a 3-sets can be had.
Strategies: 7/21/2011 23:26:15

Fizzer 
Level 58

Warzone Creator
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6) Start player territories with 4 armies each instead of 5. This is similar to BP's #5.
Strategies: 7/22/2011 00:24:38


devilnis 
Level 10
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I don't think that having algorithmic strategies is unfair really, I just think that games that are practically predetermined by the way the picks go tend to be won by the people that are dedicated enough to sink a lot of time and thought into their picks given the pattern of wastelands. In other words, not me :)

There can be no right and wrong or fair and unfair when both sides are playing by the same rules, but I would like to see ladder settings at some point that promote a game that is won more by tactics after the game has started than strategy beforehand.
Strategies: 7/22/2011 07:28:57


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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I'm not sure how #1 would help matters except to possible make the superior player lose due to a fluke of luck.. I agree with the 16% luck ratio for the reasons we argued about previously.

#2, this wouldn't adequately solve the problem.. as you can easily draw out a 10 turn game for a month.. and if you're dedicated you can survive 16-20 turns in a heavy loss situation.. that means you could draw out your full distro games while racking up wins on manual picks..

#3, removing random warlords "namely I imagine, by implementing the built-in Warlords starting locations" would only create built strategies that would work more regularly and would cause the problem to be more based on repetitive strategies and not less...

#4, this would massively change where people make their picks.. I had had a thought on it earlier, but It's currently escaping me...
Strategies: 7/22/2011 07:31:32


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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hmm... I had no idea that would happen lol ↑

devilnis, I partially like the idea of a scenario ladder with relatively even starting locations.. the only real problem is that something with set locations would end up being determined by strategies that after the first month or two will not be highly modified anymore..
Strategies: 7/22/2011 10:39:04


Diabolicus 
Level 58
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I agree that a lot of games are decided by picks and counter-picks and the inherent luck. I also agree that - despite my being relatively new to the ladder - the repetitiveness is tiresome, and in fact has already made me cut down my number of ladder games to 1 at a time for now (I admit, my going on vacation soon might also have something to do with it).
Right now I much more enjoy the 2v2 ladder, because picks and counter-picks are less predictable there.
The ladder system needs more fine tuning. What I'd really like to see is more diversity in maps. Why to restrict it to one single map eludes me. Fizzer should outline the parameters he deems appropriate for ladder maps, and I bet a lot of people would come up with new maps that meet these criteria (including me).

Ladder map parameters could be such as (brackets show values for medium earth):
min/max number of territories ( 131 )
min/max number of bonuses ( 27 )
min/max number of territories per bonus ( 3-7 )
min/max value of bonus ( 3-6 )
min/max bonus value per territory in a bonus ( 0.60 [East Africa, North Africa]-0.86 [West China] )
min/max total value of all bonuses combined ( 96 )
min/max connections per bonus ( 3 [South Africa]-13 [West China] )
min/max connections per territory ( 2-7 )

Further requirements to fine-tune such a map might include:
relation of bonus value to ..
- .. number of territories of a bonus that border other bonuses
- .. number of territories within the bonus that can be attacked from other bonuses
- .. min/max number of turns required to complete bonus
- ..

A set of say 5 different maps would bring much more variety to the ladder.
Some ideas for how to determine which map gets played:
Prior to each ladder game, players would get to vote on the maps they would like to play. Each player can have 2 votes and has to pick 2 of the 5 maps. You have to place 2 votes and you cannot put both votes on the same map.
If after the voting is done exactly one map gets 2 votes, that map is played.
If two maps get 2 votes, one of them gets chosen randomly.
If no map gets 2 votes, then the 5th map is played which got no vote at all.

</end of wishlist>
Strategies: 7/22/2011 11:36:59


Diabolicus 
Level 58
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small correction:

*min/max connections per bonus ( 3 [South Africa]-13 [West China] )*

must be:

*min/max connections per bonus ( 4 [Greenland, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa]-19 [West China] )*
Strategies: 7/22/2011 16:30:57

Blue Precision 
Level 32
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Perrin:

In response to your critique:

1) I for one do not mind the luck component in games. If a 1 takes a 1 and leads to victory I am frustrated but accept it when it happens against me, and I am over the moon (albeit feel a bit sheepish) when it goes my way. There should be no hard rule that says an infantry unit cannot kill a calvary (metaphorical, of course, of the shock most feel when a 1 takes out a 1). Its rare enough but I don't think players should micromanage to the point where these rare victories never happen. Again, as it applies to increasing the luck it just means that the person stretching himself thin, doing three 3 v 2 attacks on turn 0, absorbs more risk then the person doing the counter-picking.
- As for that point that luck takes less skill out of the game, I disagree wholeheartedly. I think it takes more skill, i.e. creating ways to think outside the box to get around this, such as attacking a 2 neutral with two separate 2s (something I never saw done until PapaSmurf and Ruthless starting doing it in team games back in the day; I know do a similar thing (attacking a 1 with to separate 2s in 75% games, as I find this rarely fails and so often a 2 v 1 attack fails). Anyway, a bit of a rant but I wanted to defend my viewpoint :)

2) Good point. It could be taken advantage of or manipulated rather easily (both ways). I just still carry fond memories of Eitz's random start tournaments. The cream usually rose to the top (so I don't think it is completely based on luck who wins) and they were a ton of fun to try and come up with a winning strategy based on what you were dealt and where your blind spots were.
- @Eitz: About time you started another one!!

3) Yeah I thought the same but there is no reason that different templates cannot be created where the Warlords are fixed yet where 9 income starts are prohibited. There must be a slew of potentials. And besides, the wastelands do freshen things up too.

4) If you end up remembering I'd appreciate reading how you think this will change the way people pick.
Strategies: 7/22/2011 20:00:58

Eitz 
Level 11
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Haha, surprisingly you're not the first person to say that to me BP. I just find the fact rather disheartening that I've personally gone 0-4 in the last 2 double elim random tourneys I've made. To satiate the general public, I will get another one going in the near future here.
Strategies: 7/22/2011 21:36:16


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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BP

In regards to auto distro starts.. I personally find them much more 'enjoyable' then manual selection, primarily because of the mass of importance that is put on territory selection... but you can easily gain a massive sway over a much better player with auto picks that neither of you can predict and he cannot manage to overcome..

example.

http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer.aspx?GameID=1398773

I know this is Poland Big and not Earth, but I had a massive advantage purely because of the auto picks...

I find I cannot reliably credit auto distribution games to bragging rights "in most cases" so find it unsuitable for the ladder, personally
Strategies: 7/22/2011 22:50:00


devilnis 
Level 10
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Luck always averages out over time, more and more perfectly as the sample size grows. As long as the ladder is in effect for long enough, auto distro will do nothing to skew the eventual rankings, there will just be a bit more volatility at the start of the ladder season.
Strategies: 7/22/2011 23:00:13


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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but that would mean that really we would need to have series' instead of single games between players because you may have 0% cumulative luck over 20 games.. but if 10 games are average luck "+/-5%" and 5 games are both bad luck and good luck.. and you happen to get bad luck against a good player and good luck against players you could easily beat without it.. your overall results would be skewed 'despite' overall average cumulative luck..
Strategies: 7/22/2011 23:06:28


devilnis 
Level 10
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The matchmaking system would compensate for that - as your ranking skewed down, you'd get matched against easier and easier players and you'd drift back up, and any match where you got the shaft on luck would eventually get countered by one where the luck went the other way.. The longer the season, the more accurate the standings would be, luck has nothing to do with it in the end. Not that I don't kinda like the idea of having a ladder where you played a series against each match :)
Strategies: 7/23/2011 00:03:55


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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I disagree, if you get bad luck in the first game against say Impaller, you'd be classified as a very poor player, and your subsequent matches would be against relatively poor players and it would require, especially at the beginning, a greater amount of good luck to counteract one or two games of bad luck against good players.. the same sort of difficulty that was encountered early on in the current ladders, but you'd be further distorting it with increased luck..

I agree with a large enough sample that luck would even out in the end.. but you'd need to provide a large sample compared to every other player, which is ofc' why I mentioned the series idea since It would be impractical to judge someone and modify their rating/skill on one game when it could be determined purely by luck
Strategies: 7/23/2011 00:56:59


devilnis 
Level 10
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In my understanding, since it's an Elo system that reacts to not only the games that you yourself won or lost, but also to the games that your opponents in those finished games win or lose after the fact, then this is untrue - Yes as you lose right off the bat to a good player, your rating will take a big hit, but that hit will diminish by itself as the good players win more games and increase their ratings.

That's the whole point of Elo, it reacts not just to your own games but also to a constantly updated accounting of the strength of the players you've faced. In the end the aggregation of your own performance and that of your opponents will result in a very good representation of your relative skill levels. Since everyone has the same risk in any given iteration of having good or bad luck, more iterations smooths out the relative rankings and renders the luck virtually irrelevant in terms of its ability to mask people's true skill. There's some jags here and there because of the fact that older games expire from the ratings, yielding ranking volatility that is related to something OTHER than skill (namely the rather random timing of when you finish your games) but if that were taken out of the picture I guarantee that over time the rankings would become less and less volatile as people found their natural place in the ladder.
Strategies: 7/23/2011 03:19:32


Duke 
Level 5
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Well this thread got highjacked a bit. Using two picks to go for a 1st move +4 bonus is effective. If you can counterpick it in 1 -- than it's not really an issue. Just spend a pick doing so and you'll be in good shape. If there is no viable adjacent counter-pick than you overlap picks.

I suppose the big change for me is even lookign at this picking strategy at all. I'm used to picking based on other factors (ease of bonuses, good expansion possibilities, bonus defense, maybe a coutnerpick, etc.). I have not been looking for a first turn +4,then assuming my opp would prioritize it and then thinking about how to counter it. It's just not how most of the people I play regularly make their picks.

Which is probably why it's worked so well. Few of the old guard players focus on countering that strategy when they make their picks. Generally speaking it was a beginners strategy that almost always failed on the big map. Players would go for Causacus or africa for the quick bonuses but would end up losign to an opp who spread picks and had safe bonuses when the concentrated bonuses where busted. It's different on this map because it's often over too fast for the safe bonus to matter.

I suggest when you analyze a board to decide where to make your picks, you make looking for available first turn +4s a priority and expend a pick countering it. I still think spread + pick is better, but if you fail to pick up the threat and counter it you'll lose games.
Strategies: 7/27/2011 08:39:49

The Impaller 
Level 9
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I skimmed most of this thread, but I thought I'd comment on it.

Placing 2 picks adjacent to get a turn 1 4 value bonus and then having 1 pick elsewhere on the map to attack your opponent is a strategy that people have been using since the beginning of the ladder. For the most part, it was players who didn't play as much on old earth--more the "new guard" at the time, rather than the old guard--who went for this strategy game and game again. I lost to it a bunch of times early on.

I started using this strategy occasionally myself, but I'm generally a very conservative player and I wouldn't risk it if I thought there was a decent chance of just getting blown out by a counterpick. So most of the time I stuck with the old school tactic of spread picks, and picking spots that interact favorably with where you expect your opponent to go.

-------

The main issue I see with this strategy, from a "fun" perspective, is that it breeds a lot of games where the game is basically decided one way or another on the first turn of the game. If my opponent went for the turn 1 4-bonus and got it, they generally won. If they didn't get it, they almost always lost. It adds in a lot of variance and luck to the game that I didn't care much for.

Before going on vacation, I was getting pretty frustrated with the random luck element of the game anyway, so that might be biasing my opinion somewhat. I'd rather lose from my own mistakes than lose because my opponent successfully made 4 3x2 attacks on turn 1, or because I failed to do that myself, or what have you. Not everyone is the same, but for me at least, I can learn from and improve from a mistake I made. There's nothing to learn when the game is decided on the first turn of the game by luck.

-------

Finally: I want to apologize to anyone I'm currently in a game with as well as everyone who is waiting on Impaller v. The World game. When I went on vacation I thought it was going to just be a week. However, my vacation coincided with the lease on my apartment ending, so I was forced to pack up everything I owned and move out. I am currently in the process of finding a new apartment with my future roommates. Additionally, I've been rattling off a string of good finishes lately in tournaments for a competitive card game I play called Magic, which has been funding my ability to travel for even more tournaments. That has been eating up a lot of my time, and I have extended my vacation a few times.

Between the card tournaments, apartment searching, and traveling, Warlight fell steeply in the priority chain. Additionally, I was burning out on the game and drastically needed a break from it. Anyway, I think we have finally found a place to live, and I should be back to playing early next week.

I'll be back, and I'll be hungry to reclaim the spot on the ladder I lost when I went on vacation.
Strategies: 7/27/2011 09:24:50


[中国阳朔]Chaos 
Level 49
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@ The Impaller: Magic rox, but it drains so much time at the top level. I had to quit it 10 years ago but I miss the days of World Championship and Nationals and traveling to GP's etc. Keep up your winnings!

On topic, I think the best idea so far is reducing the starting armies by 1. (4 instead of 5) No need to change too many things at once imho.

Maybe host a tourney with this change and collect feedback from the players.
Strategies: 7/27/2011 10:35:36


Perrin3088 
Level 44
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Chaos, It's already in progress..

http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer.aspx?TournamentID=1377
Strategies: 7/27/2011 15:27:23


Duke 
Level 5
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Imp -- couldn't have said it better. That's my point in a nutshell. Minor quibble thoguh -- it's only 3 3x2 attacks 1st turn -- the other one is a 4x2 :)

I had no idea Magic was still being played. Best of luck in your games and your apt. hunt.
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