Announcing the WarLight Ladder (part 1 of 2)

The WarLight 1.0 release will bring us the WarLight 1 v 1 Ladder. A 2 v 2 ladder will probably come in a subsequent release, and potentially a 3 v 3, FFA or other types of ladders coming after that based on demand.

Ladders are competitive arenas where players compete for the highest spot on the ladder. In the 1 v 1 ladder, players who participate in the ladder are matched against each other in heads-up duels to the death.


The ladders will use an ELO rating system, similar to what is used in professional Chess tournaments, to rank players by their skill level. “Ladder” may not be a perfect name, since often ladder indicates a system where you swap positions with your opponent. But for lack of a better term, we’ll run with this for now.

If you’re not familiar with ELO, I’ll give a basic introduction. Each player starts with a rating of 1500, which then goes up or down as they lose or win games. Each win exchanges some amount of rating points from the loser to the winner. This means ELO is a zero-sum rating system, meaning new points aren’t created or destroyed when a game is played. Beating a stronger opponent gives you more rating points than beating a weaker opponent. Simply ordering players by their rating will determine their rank, starting with #1 for the player with the highest rating, #2 for the second highest, and so on.

The WarLight website will clearly show everyone’s rating and rank, and make it easy to view each ladder game as it finishes for those who like following along. There will also be a new forum for discussing ladder games.

My favorite feature of the ladders is how your rating changes based on how your previous opponents ratings change. For example, if you beat someone who ends up becoming the #1 player, you get the full benefits of beating the #1 player, even if they weren’t #1 when you beat them. This also means your rating changes even when you’re not playing, since someone else’s game finishing can have a ripple effect.

Game Creation

In the WarLight ladder, you don’t get to choose who you play against. Instead, the ladder sets up games for you. You can, however, pick the maximum number of games you’d like to be playing at any given time.

When WarLight creates games, it will attempt to “walk you up the ladder” by creating games with players who are 15% higher than you on the ladder. However, it’s possible to get matched with someone higher or lower than that if the ideal positioned player is not available for a new game.

The exact algorithm that WarLight uses for creating games will be documented on the ladder help page.

Leaving the Ladder

Players are free to leave the ladder and re-join it at any time with no penalty. Leaving the ladder does not delete any on-going games, it just stops new games from being created for you.

Your rating continues to be updated even when you’re not participating in the ladder. However, you will not receive a rank while not in the ladder and, therefore, won’t be included on the leaderboard. This is done to ensure high-ranking players have to actively defend their high ranks, and can’t just get into the #1 spot and squat on it.

If you re-join the ladder, your existing rating will be used to rank you just as it was before you left. This makes it easy to take breaks in case you’re going to be away from WarLight for a while.

More to come…

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post, which will discuss how booting works in ladders, how the ladder will control ratings inflation, and the benefits of first pick.

15 thoughts on “Announcing the WarLight Ladder (part 1 of 2)”

  1. Great to see this idea becoming true.

    I agree that the best part is indeed that your rating changes depending on your previous opponents’ ratings.

    However, one question/remark: how far back does this go and is there a weight attached to it depending on the time since the fight?
    I can imagine that very good players were in fact not that good when they just started playing and I would assume that in general the correlation between their current skill and their skill when you fought them diminuishes as time passes by.

  2. So will the ladder system be tied to your new Pay-2-have features? for instance will only paying members be part of the ladder? or will they have more options for the ladder? or a subset ladder? or maybe allowing non-pay members to only have access to 1v1 and maybe 2v2 while pay-members have access to FFA, 3v3 and so on?

  3. Interesting. What rating system are you using? Standard ELO does not adjust itself based on previous opponents’ future results, and I don’t think it should. As an example, if I beat someone when they just started out on Warlight, and within a couple weeks they are an excellent player, why should I be further rewarded for beating them when they were still new and didn’t know their way around the game?

    The beauty of ELO to me is that it is all about current playing strength. Since you are requiring people to stay active to remain ranked (excellent idea, by the way), we can be pretty certain that ratings will be more or less representative of current strength (once they stabilize, of course, which will take a bit of time). So I don’t see any need to have further adjustments made down the line if a past opponent’s rating improves/worsens their rating.

    1. And how would your ranking be changed later if your opponent becomes better when you said:

      “Each win exchanges some amount of rating points from the loser to the winner. This means ELO is a zero-sum rating system, meaning new points arenít created or destroyed when a game is played.”

      would everyone who beat you also get points when you beat someone?

    2. You make a good point! But I think we both can agree that this system works better for the launch of the ladder, since everyone starts at 1500 and 1500 is not everyone’s true playing strength. We can launch with this system and discuss changing it down the road.

      1. Absolutely, after I posted I was thinking exactly that. Although I don’t think this makes much sense down the line, it will definitely be a good way to initially get the ratings closer to their “true” level.

      2. Perhaps we could make it limited.. say your rating is adjusted by your opponents future 10 games, to indicate s/he is still roughly of that same skill level, to counter.. it could still solve the initial problem of completely even ratings, while not causing too much of an issue later on, depending on how long it takes for us to decide the best way to further proceed…

  4. one last thing (I’m assuming you dont respond because they will be answered in the next part)

    what happens when the higher lever, like say #1 players win games? do they continue to build points from beating players that are not as good as them? or is there no change of points in such a game?
    because if you play someone better than you and lose, you would lose points for losing a game that you are expected to lose…

    1. I don’t know exactly how Fizzer is planning on implementing this, but in a typical ELO rating system, your rating increases much less when you defeat much weaker players, and conversely, increases much more as you defeat players who are stronger than you.

      And in the specific instance of your last sentence — a weak player would lose very few rating points for losing to a very strong player.

  5. I’m concerned ratings will massively deter players with low ratings from wanting to play against players with high ratings. You see this a lot with online Chess. Basically everyone avoids the 2400 guys while hundreds of players from 1400-1600 play each other. I guess bragging rights are worth it and you can always opt out of letting everyone see the rating. I’ll join fo sho.

    It’s definitely not a “ladder” in any sense of the term. It’s a rating system and a board showing players with the highest ratings. It’ll take a lot of games to be on top of the leader board. Get ready for the stronger players to be trolling for matches.

    Having ratings chance based on performance of past opponents will be weird. One efefct is that playing (and beating) really good players will pay dividends for a long time.

    1. as i understand it, the games will be setup automatically.. and in normal games the rating shouldn’t even show up, only in the ladder section… afaik..

      and the reason i left the last game i played was because of their rating system in all games.. I couldn’t join a 4-6 player games without getting suicided on by someone with lower skill because they assumed i was *elite* cause my skill was higher then most peoples, and it ruined the game for me… and the fact that it’s incredibly simple compared to warlight, lol.

    2. Duke, in my experience, you have it backwards. If a 1500 player plays a 2400 player, the 1500 player loses very, very little rating if he loses, and gains a lot if he wins. The opposite is true for the 2400 player. This tends to make high rated players reluctant to play low rated players, because they have so much to lose, and little to gain (they may gain one or even zero rating points). Regardless, as Perrin mentions, you don’t get to choose your opponents with this system, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

  6. Perrin’s right — these are automatically generated games. Randy also corrected me.

    Crafty — I understand how these rating systems work, I waplayed a bunch of USCF matches in high school. But online chass I found average players avoiding highly ranked players. I think there were two reasons: (i) people don’t like having their ass kicked even if it only costs a few ratings points, and (ii) online chess is rife with cheaters who enter moves into a chess program while playing, presumably to get those high ratings.

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