Q&A: Lamoron, why do you hate on SoS?

I’ve been getting a lot of (mostly) private comments on my ‘Strength of Schedule’ hate these last few days. They seems almost evenly distributed, with about half you people agreeing and the other half… well here’s one I’ve translated from the danish forums.

I keep wondering why a person who cares so much about sportsmanship, relaxed games, and the hobby aspect of the game, keeps hating on SoS.

Well I guess it’s time to specify why, because then I can simply refer back to this whenever I get asked that question in the future. I don’t expect this to change anyones views on the issue, but let me explain why I want Control Points over Strength of Schedule as the first tie-breaker.

Morton’s Fork: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives (in other words, a dilemma), or two lines of reasoning that lead to the same unpleasant conclusion. It is analogous to the expressions “between the devil and the deep blue sea,” “between a rock and a hard place,” or, as those in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world say, “Between a cross and a sword.”

The problem with SoS is, that the first round draws can mean everything. You can draw a poorly skilled opponent and be behind on SoS, even if you’re the best player in the tournament, simply because there’s no way to catch up if another player wins all his games with a better SoS.

This problem can be solved for the first place by enforcing the correct number of players/rounds in the tournament, but most of us care about the rest of the placements as well. You can also do what I did this weekend and simply fail the first game against a solid player, and then get matched against two rookies in a row, thus eliminating you from any shot at participating for the top placements.

I don’t really care that my games were easier as I don’t really want easy games (I want to win really bloody close games!), and Strength of Schedule also means that if you lose the first game you’ve got very little to play for, which I personally think is bullocks.

Even the frog agrees!

Control Points have the opposite problem though, where you either have to win all your games, or hope for bad opponents you can farm. If you play four extremely hard games and then lose, you’ll probably end up below the players who lost their first game and farmed some rookies, which is also complete bullshit.

Strength of Schedule punishes you for facing bad players, while Control Points punish you for meeting good players. This means that in theory SoS makes more sense, but the number of games in the average tournament simply isn’t high enough to make SoS a fair system either, and so far it’s proven impossible to add any meaningful weights or modifications. There is however one good reason to pick Control Points instead of Strength of Schedule.

Controversial thinking!

This will probably turn some heads, because usually it’s ‘team SoS’ claiming that their choice of tie-breaker gives rookies better games, simply because they’re not farmed for Control Points, but let me ask you how much fun these rookies are having when some veteran stomps them in 10 minutes flat?

In a Control Point tournament the veterans will most likely try and keep their games going until they can win on control points, so instead of having their caster electrocuted by Nemo3 eight minutes after they deployed, the rookies will have longer and more educational games, as well as more opportunities to pull a surprise win.

But he liked it!

If their opponent is being an ass to them, they can always just concede the game, flip him off, and get a drink. They always have the ability to end a game when they like, but they rarely have the ability to keep one going, which is exactly the one thing Control Points do better than SoS.

If it were up to me we would redesign the entire process and figure out something smarter, but while we’re stuck with these two silly choices I’ll go with the one I can influence myself, and the one that gives rookies control over their own games.

Peace out!


16 Responses »

  1. A decent attempt at argumentation, but bottomline it comes down to self > general fairness (meaning: not good, but equally suckastic for all – rookies and rookiefarmers alike), which is the usual argument made for CPs.

    This also mean Morton`s Fork do not apply – since it hinges on the argument that the two choices are equally unpleasant – which isnt the case. CPs are crap for rookies, good for rookiefarmers, SoS are equally crap for all involved, placementwise.

    You choose self, which is totally ok, at least you are honest about it – few people would dare claim they prefer farming rookies AND with the rookies` best interests at heart. What a sweetheart you are ;-)

    Also wouldnt loosing 1st round to the tournament winner actually increase you placement in a SoS setting ?

    We do agree on one thing, and that is an alternative to both SoS and CPs would be preferable. CPs are a pseudo-value, which leave out half the winning conditions of the game (assassination) – rewarding a specific group of casters and playstyle, and SoS has inherent randomness flaws and leaving the players unable to affect the outcome.

    • Yes, losing the first round to the winner increases your standing considerably, which will probably land you in the top of the win/loss segment you’re in.

      It’s pretty interesting, but you’re right I do claim to farm rookies with their best interest at heart, but I usually end up throwing games instead because I feel they deserve a real game (I still have the balloon hat pictures from the ETC to prove it!) :D

      • How does losing first round increase your standing? Sure the winner will contribute 4 SOS, but the rest of your opponents will have at least 2 losses if you are winning the rest of your games.

        If you lose to the winner in the final round it’s possible each other opponent will have just one loss–you.

        Losing first round is really, really bad.

        (I’m assuming no pair downs.)

  2. P.S.

    Just because you are one of the nicest people to play against, and will actually give rookies a great learning experience (as you have done with me), doesnt mean others will.

    Problem is the vocal supporters of a given rule will often sway public opinion, and in this case potentially for the much much worse, than getting hosed by randomness – which we btw should be pretty used to playing a dice game. :)

  3. Hehe the fact you asked your team permission first was pretty damn awesome :)

  4. As an event organizer I hate SoS. I’ve had events where turn two someone drops. That drop impacted multiple pairings for subsequent rounds, severely punishing strong players. That is all the reason I needed to remove SoS from how I score.

  5. The best system I’ve seen is one that factors strength of schedule against control points. That way newbie farming isn’t an issue.

    • Counting control points towards placement is still ultimately unfair since there are more ways to win a game than on CPs. If an assassination counted as 5 CPs, it would start to make sense – since both types of victory were now counted in the tiebreaker.

  6. I agree with you about hating both systems (If any system causes somebody to have a poor final placing despite strong play overall, then it’s fairly evident something isn’t right). I’m sure a better system out there exists or can at the very least be devised, especially with some of the clever and creative people involved in this game, but I wouldn’t personally know what to suggest.

  7. Agreed on neither system working. Strength of Schedule works out in tournaments with a full set of Swiss rounds and a playoff, neither of which most Warmachine tournaments have the luxury of getting due to small player counts (relative to TCG and chess tournaments, where our system comes from), long game length (somewhat debatable), and long time between rounds (can potentially be streamlined). A 6 round tournament of 48 players should be cutting to a top 4 (two playoff rounds), but we just don’t do it.

    Playoffs are what make SoS work.

    • The last tournament I was in was a 16 man KO tournament, with third place being decided between the losers of the semi finals… it was really nice only having to worry about winning, and not having to bother with points of all kinds.

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