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 Post subject: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:39 am 
Legend
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Hi all,
I've always been about variety in BB.
But when it comes to skills, there is Little. A few skills get picked the vast majority of the time, while quite a few hardly get picked, ever. For example, there are 10 mutations. Claw gets picked a lot. 2 heads is 1-per-team. Everything else is mostly ignored.

Trumpkin recently wrote an article about underused skills. I loved it. Check it out:
http://www.thenaf.net/2016/03/low-tier- ... OI,F020A,1
But unfortunately, IMO, the fun skills are great when the right situation occurs, but you just get way more mileage out of the standard choices.

The CRP TV-system and handicap system (inducements) compounds this, because CRP tried to make TV more accurate and the handicap system better. Meaning that if you do anything sub-optimal, then you're likely to suffer the consequences.

Now, it would be interesting to rework the skill system entirely. It could also be a mess.
So I was thinking, how about just tweaking the TV-impact of the skills?
It might seem like too small a thing, but just think the kind of antics people pull in order to maintain TV-efficiency. Firing linemen with too many skills. Firing players with minor injuries. Cutting roster to 11 (to avoid CPOMB). Asking for every 40 points of TV to "will this compare favoirably to Claw + Mighty Blow" - and nothing will. And generally tring to min-max the hell out of the system.

The idea is simple: Rather than all skills being 20K, the very best ones would be 30K, and the weaker ones would be 10K.
It just might make you not consider block, if you could get 2 or even 3 skills for the same TV cost instead.

This is my first take. I'm open to discussion.

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Thoughts?
Martin

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Last edited by plasmoid on Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 8:48 am 
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Ha, not my article! Trumpkin wrote that one :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:17 am 
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Duly noted :)

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:03 am 
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I've seen others propose something similar and I do really like the idea.

There are a few things that might be worth considering;

*Balancing the starting costs of players to reflect this change, Dwarfs/Norse/Zons starting with so much block or dodge is a huge boost
*Bring in 5k costings to help with rebalancing above and some skills could be 15k or 25k.
*Combine some skills (Foul App and Dist Pres, catch and passblock, etc) or allow player to take two 10k skills for 1 choice, maybe on doubles?
*An extra 10K added when a skill is taken as a doubles choice.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Hi Spubbbba,
thanks for your reply. I'm glad you like the general concept.

Quote:
There are a few things that might be worth considering;
*An extra 10K added when a skill is taken as a doubles choice.

Absolutely. Just forgot to mention it above.

Quote:
*Balancing the starting costs of players to reflect this change, Dwarfs/Norse/Zons starting with so much block or dodge is a huge boost

A fair point. However, wouldn't want to mess with the starting rosters, since the effect of this does not kick in until later.
I'd much rather have these rules be self contained rather than spill over into other rules.
To my mind, making Wrestle more appealing already deals with the block-heavy starters. After all, wrestle trumps block.
Perhaps Tackle should be demoted to a 10K skill. This would serve as a counter balance to any advantage gained by dodge-heavy teams.

Quote:
*Bring in 5k costings to help with rebalancing above and some skills could be 15k or 25k.

Could be done. But I'm not sure that the added granularity is needed.
I'd rather stick with the 10K increments. If any skills are considered to be weaker than 10K, then I wouldn't be opposed to 0K skills.

Quote:
*Combine some skills (Foul App and Dist Pres, catch and passblock, etc) or allow player to take two 10k skills for 1 choice, maybe on doubles?

Perfectly doable, But this is the route I deliberately wanted to avoid.
Mine is certainly the lesser of the tweaks, and (to me) that is preferable. If it works, naturally.
If it doesn't, then I agree that a more extensive overhaul would be neccessary.

(Not that it wouldn't be a lot of fun to overhaul the skill system, making all skills viable. But it would be hard to get it right).

Cheers
Martin

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:02 pm 
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plasmoid wrote:
Quote:
*Combine some skills (Foul App and Dist Pres, catch and passblock, etc) or allow player to take two 10k skills for 1 choice, maybe on doubles?

Perfectly doable, But this is the route I deliberately wanted to avoid.
Mine is certainly the lesser of the tweaks, and (to me) that is preferable. If it works, naturally.
If it doesn't, then I agree that a more extensive overhaul would be neccessary.

(Not that it wouldn't be a lot of fun to overhaul the skill system, making all skills viable. But it would be hard to get it right).


The main thinking behind this is that the reason a lot of these skills are not taken is as much because there are better choices as they are a waste of TV. So at 10k or even free, I doubt many people would take passblock if that counts as their skill choice. The only exception being a star or legend who has no good normal skill choices and wants to save 10k. But that amount is so small as to be not worth the bother.

Another thing I had a thought on was skills like break tackle and juggernaut, they are not great on many players but for some (Bull centaurs and Saurus) BT is awesome and jugger is nice too. Maybe they should stay 20k? oh and DT is a good skill IMO I'd have that as 20k too.

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 Post subject:
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:49 pm 
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Is the cost of skills really an issue though? I've very rarely taken a single over a double because it's cheaper; it's purely a utility decision. Maybe the one exception that prints to mind is stand firm over sidestep on an Amazon blitzer, but that's potentially more to do with my playstyle. Even so, Ive never thought "if pass block were only 10k cheaper I'd take it over wrestle".

VoodooMike has put forward some excellent discussions on whether team value is a sensible measure of matching and, iirc, that included an element of setting inducements (something like 30k per net win). It may be that focussing on the value of skills as the problem or solution is something of a red herring.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 12:59 am 
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Below I am talking in general from a leaguesystem and not from a tv-matchmaking point of view.
Individual skillcosts is imho a better way of valuing skills. It would better represent the value of the team and a one that would create more variety of skill choises. 10k here and there doesn't matter but when they add up they do start making a difference. I also think skills must be underpriced (but just a little bit), otherwise it wouldn't be fun to develop your team and the progression is part of what appeals.
The strongpoint of a straight 20k/skill system is that another system won't be fair evaluation anyway and in that case 20k/skill is simple and that the difference might not be be big enough to try to temper with it. Changing the cost of skills will also change the balance between races, some will prosper/hurt from it more than others.


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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 4:03 am 
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Doesn't this belong in the house rule section? [Yep, moved - Darkson]

Anyway...

The problem I have with this idea is that I think skills have different value for different teams.
I have never really paid attention but I think my choice of skills for an orc team would be completely different as for a wood elf team.

The best way to handle rules is, in my opinion, to leave them alone.


Last edited by Darkson on Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:13 pm 
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What Regash said, really. Teams which start with few of the 30k skills but have relatively easy access to them (and I'm thinking of things like Vamps, Slann etc in particular) will be hurt by this, and they simply don't need to be. There are better ways, imo.


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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:49 pm 
Legend
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Hi all,
sorry for the delay. Life is like that for me. My apologies.

Shteve0 said:
Quote:
VoodooMike has put forward some excellent discussions on whether team value is a sensible measure of matching and, iirc, that included an element of setting inducements (something like 30k per net win). It may be that focussing on the value of skills as the problem or solution is something of a red herring.

Mike has certainly suggested that (TV+) as a matching criteria and inducement generator for MM Leagues. As a side note he suggests that it Works the best in a no-perm-injuries setting. Which may well be a deal breaker for a lot people.
Either way, TV+ (given time) creates fair match-ups in an MM setting.
For me - in a League setting - I wouldn't want a handicapping system that compensates for skill. In a League setting I prefer the better coach to have the advantage. In that sense I prefer a handicapping system that tries to gauge just mechanical strength rather than a combination of mechanical strength and player skill. Now I know a person or two who might say that there is no way to separate strength from skill - that only performance can be calculated. I get that. But I prefer to not actively try to factor in skill. And instead try to improve TV as a measure of strength. (Which the BBRC explicitly worked on between LRB4 and CRP).

Spubbbba said:
Quote:
The main thinking behind this is that the reason a lot of these skills are not taken is as much because there are better choices as they are a waste of TV. So at 10k or even free, I doubt many people would take passblock if that counts as their skill choice. The only exception being a star or legend who has no good normal skill choices and wants to save 10k. But that amount is so small as to be not worth the bother.

I get what you're saying. And basically there are 3 obvious ways of trying to make all skill choices more equal.
1) Try to buff, nerf and merge skills, to actually make them equally valuable.
2) Assign different values to skills, and let coaches select a set value on each skill-up (basically letting coaches choose which skills to merge)
3) Assign different values to skills, hoping that team management will take care of the rest.

#3 is to my mind the least intrusive. Which of course raises the question whether it would do enough.
Maybe it wouldn't.
But I have a mind to try it out :D
But I do see coaches doing a lot of aggressive decisions to contain TV. I've certainly seen FUMBBLers discussing ignoring doubles rolls (and it being a shitty side effect of CRP rules). And generally not developing players (i.e. sweetspotting) because of diminishing returns from growing the team any further. (Like, after block, is anything else really worth it on your lineman?)

For me, I often consider making *ahem* controversial skill choices. But it is quite a deterrent to know that not only will you not have block but you'll be compared to someone who does. On forums oftens presented as "that skill combination will just mean that you'll be facing one more CPOMBer. Does it compare to CPOMB or BLODGE". No - nothing does.

Quote:
Another thing I had a thought on was skills like break tackle and juggernaut, they are not great on many players but for some (Bull centaurs and Saurus) BT is awesome and jugger is nice too. Maybe they should stay 20k? oh and DT is a good skill IMO I'd have that as 20k too.

Well, Break Tackle and Juggernaut are good on quite few players. Making those players pay the proper cost would at the same time mean that the skill would be unealing/useless to everyone else. So I'm not sure it's worth it. I'm not even sure BT and Jugger are that great on Sauras. I do agree on the Bulls. Same thing with Strip Ball and Wardancers. But is that 10K on a complete Wood Elf team really worth making a very rarely taken skill for everyone else a 20K choice?

I do agree that DT could/should be priced at 20K.

Dode said:
Quote:
Teams which start with few of the 30k skills but have relatively easy access to them (and I'm thinking of things like Vamps, Slann etc in particular) will be hurt by this, and they simply don't need to be.

I see what you're saying. But it also feels a bit like a red herring.
Those teams will be weaker no matter what. They're designed that way.
But a Vamp picking up Dodge (for example) gets a heck of a lot better than a vamp without Dodge. I don't think that advantage is very accurately priced at 20K. Even if he is on a team intended to underperform. Heck, you even say that developed Vamp teams can be quite good - maybe that's because they get to Blodge up ST4 AG4 players for cheap.

Dode said:
Quote:
There are better ways, imo.

I'm not sure that there is.

Cheers
Martin

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:17 am 
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plasmoid wrote:
But I do see coaches doing a lot of aggressive decisions to contain TV. I've certainly seen FUMBBLers discussing ignoring doubles rolls (and it being a shitty side effect of CRP rules). And generally not developing players (i.e. sweetspotting) because of diminishing returns from growing the team any further. (Like, after block, is anything else really worth it on your lineman?)

Isn't that just a side effect of them being another form of MM, something BB wasn't designed for? I certainly see a lot loss "sweetspotting" in leagues.

Quote:
Well, Break Tackle and Juggernaut are good on quite few players. Making those players pay the proper cost would at the same time mean that the skill would be unealing/useless to everyone else. So I'm not sure it's worth it. I'm not even sure BT and Jugger are that great on Sauras. I do agree on the Bulls. Same thing with Strip Ball and Wardancers. But is that 10K on a complete Wood Elf team really worth making a very rarely taken skill for everyone else a 20K choice?

Sounds like you need race (or positional, or even both) specific skill tables*, if you're going to compromise on things like that. Any system that (for example) is going to give Wood Elfs an advantage at low TV compared to now is a bad system.


* Of course, then you'll have the endless debate/argument about what skill belongs where for a Blitzer compared to a Catcher, and what position a dwarf "lineman" really is etc etc etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:18 am 
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plasmoid wrote:
Mike has certainly suggested that (TV+) as a matching criteria and inducement generator for MM Leagues. As a side note he suggests that it Works the best in a no-perm-injuries setting. Which may well be a deal breaker for a lot people.
Either way, TV+ (given time) creates fair match-ups in an MM setting.

For MM it's better in a no permanent injury setting - that's because the "rez" setup deals with the massive and uninvested playerbase issue in which people are constantly attempting to game the system or play their own meta-games (eg, griefing). In other environments that's not much of an issue and thus, doesn't require that sort of solution.

TVPlus is better than TV in all environments for everything TV is used for. Full stop. It's an easy claim to make since TV isn't used for much other than calculating inducements.

plasmoid wrote:
For me - in a League setting - I wouldn't want a handicapping system that compensates for skill. In a League setting I prefer the better coach to have the advantage. In that sense I prefer a handicapping system that tries to gauge just mechanical strength rather than a combination of mechanical strength and player skill.

I prefer that too. What you, and many others can't wrap your head around is that there is presently no way to do that... and, in fact, that is not what you're doing with your suggestion, either.

So, with that, lets talk about METRICS.

As you may recall from past discussions, a metric is an objective, numeric measurement that we use to determine the effects of change in an experimental environment. It's not simply important, it is utterly mandatory if we want to even flirt with validity.

When someone says their car is better than your car, the first question that should pop into your head is "better how?". That's your instinctive understanding that "better" or "worse" require a metric or they're just shit-talk like that sign that says "Voted #1 pizza in the city!" over every single pizza parlor in town. Voted by whom? The owner of the shop? It's meaningless without the objective metric.

So then, what's your metric for determining positive or negative effect of your proposed changes in terms of TV being a measure strictly of mechanical advantage and not coaching skill? Are we going to plug in the arbitrary change, have people play 100,000 games, and then see if the effect of TV difference on win rates has decreased? At what point will we say that TV is now perfect... when there's no difference in the win rates based on TV? That means that every modification of any sort to your valuing system requires another massive number of games in order to see if you've positively or negatively affected the metric.

If we're also going to accept the idea that some rosters are, or even might be better than others we'd need to examine the inter-roster win rates as a factor of TV difference and see the differences decrease over time.. since the differences in the rosters are really differences in TV's application to the combinations of stats and skills possessed and available to them. Any intra-roster comparisons jack our required dataset up by a factor of... hell, 100? maybe more. It's rough enough that datasets like FUMBBL's B over a year were barely large enough to examine some rosters... and weren't enough to examine play at higher TV levels.

That brings us to the second (or primary, really) massive flaw in what you're trying to do: if your aim is to price each skill appropriately then each skill is a variable itself. The only way to test the effect of a single variable is to control all the others and then deliberately adjust it... and the only way to know that we've made an "appropriate" adjustment is if all the other variables are likewise appropriately priced... otherwise we may simply be over or underpricing one skill which is compensating for the over or underpricing of another skill.

Ultimately even if, across the span of decades of trial and error, you found a pricing setup that eliminated TV difference as a predictor you'd still be unable to say that individual skills were priced appropriately, just that the collective cost of popular skills seems to be high enough to make the overpriced inducements better available as a means of bridging the gap between teams of different TV.

plasmoid wrote:
And basically there are 3 obvious ways of trying to make all skill choices more equal.
1) Try to buff, nerf and merge skills, to actually make them equally valuable.
2) Assign different values to skills, and let coaches select a set value on each skill-up (basically letting coaches choose which skills to merge)
3) Assign different values to skills, hoping that team management will take care of the rest.

#3 is to my mind the least intrusive. Which of course raises the question whether it would do enough.

You can do #3 by doing nothing at all. It's what is already in place - team management is already what is compensating for the varied values of skills. Changing the cost of skills arbitrarily is... nothing but changing the cost of skill arbitrarily under #3.

Let me give you a #4 that is obvious to the stats folks: create a frequency distribution of skill selections being made within a given environment (preferably large-scale) and then increase the cost of any skill that falls 2 standard deviations above the norm, and decrease the cost of any skill that falls 2 standard deviations below the norm. Then your price changes are not arbitrary, they're based on team management - meaning they're based on the collective "wisdom" of all blood bowl players regarding the value of certain skills. Repeat the process until there are no skills in the +2z category, and make 5k the minimum cost for any skill.

plasmoid wrote:
Those teams will be weaker no matter what. They're designed that way.

TV difference is also "designed that way" since it is primarily about inducement calculations and the designers made inducements overpriced. If you're trying to "fix" TV then you're flat out saying you don't care how the game was designed, you think it'd be better if it were designed differently. When you go that route you don't get to use "but it was designed that way" as an excuse for directly relevant issues.

Ultimately, your proposed system can have its "#1 pizza parlor in all of blood bowl" sign, but until you work out the logistics of applying an objective metric and creating internal validity within the system, that's about all it will ever be able to boast, even if you could secure the participation of the entire blood bowl world across decades.

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:31 am 
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Thanks for the kind words Plas :) I'm famous! Not sure how I missed this thread up until now. If anyone's interested, I'm continuing the series. The next article is already written, I'm just waiting until I have an hour or two free to take some photos. (spoilers: it's about Stand Firm, Grab, Fend and Shadowing, or control).

Having read through this thread I have to say I love the idea stating in the original post. The very fact that I've written these articles and whatnot shows how much I enjoy bucking the trend and trying something a bit different. Those that listen to the podcast know that this weekend I'm taking a Beast of Nurgle with Sidestep, two NW with Grab and two more with Stand Firm to Crumb-bowl. While fun, there is always the problem though, as you say, of facing a player that's taken one of these top tier skills with your own player that's taken something less competitive. Having Stand Firm is great, but ultimately Block is more useful. Mostly. That being said, I'm not going to stop defending them, taking them, and encouraging others to do so too!

I honestly believe altering the price of skills could work. Some skills are just better than others, and it's very hard to argue against it. Accurate is just better than Strong Arm in 90% of incidents. The exception is in TTM, but even then... is 20k a valid investment for the occasional thrown halfing or snotling? Why not make Strong Arm 10k, or at least in some way cheaper than Accurate?

I don't know if it's possible, but one potential way of gauging a skill's worth is in how often it's taken. If there were some way to collate all the times a skill has been taken versus times it's been overlooked, you might have a sort of hierarchy of the value the community places on that skill. Is block taken more than any other skill? Then it's clearly the best skill out there (from the point of view of the coaches), so could be worth a lot of TV. As virtually no one takes Shadowing, perhaps it should be worth much less. I would find it very interesting to see how people would alter their builds accordingly.

I understand the skepticism that people have, but what's the problem in trying? If Martin wants to give it a go, and I'd be very willing to help (if he wants it), where's the harm? You never know, this could be the start of CRP 2.0, the iteration that finally brings equality to the races! Martin Luthor von Drakenborg would be proud!

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 Post subject: Re: Tweaking the Skill System
 Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:31 pm 
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As I've not seen it mentioned already, you can also take a look at the Monkeybowl rules set, as Brendan does a similar thing there.

I would guess some differences will be related to stacking (i.e. Monkeybowl doesn't allow it, which I'm guessing is why piling on is different)

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