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 Post subject: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 4:12 pm 
Kommissar Enthusiasmoff
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Hi all, acting with my NAF hat on as a go-between between Andy and you lot! Obviously I have a fair amount of experience of the following, but if there's anything I might not think of (and personal opinions very welcome), let me know! Post below, and I'll stick it on thenaf.net later too for wider distribution.
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Hi all
Since the release of the new edition of Blood Bowl we’ve found that many new players have had questions about the relative performance of certain teams. After all, in most of the games they’ve previously played there’s an obvious need to balance different factions against one another power-wise, particularly when the focus is on one-off games. It’s clear that the entire subject of team tiers in Blood Bowl is very familiar to existing players, but it isn’t immediately apparent to new players. That’s why we talked a little bit about it in the Blood Bowl Playbook article in this month’s White Dwarf, but we’d like to explore the subject a little more, and that’s where I’d appreciate the input of fellow NAF members!
I’d like to hear about any interesting systems tournaments and leagues have come up with to address (or redress) the balance between teams of different tiers, or simply to encourage and reward those plucky stunty team coaches! I’d like to hear which systems people have enjoyed and, if the originators are open to it, maybe include a few of them in a future article or supplement by way of examples that Tournament Organisers and League Commissioners might like to try out if they feel the need to.
I’ve asked Mike to feed suggestions back to me and I look forward to hearing the community’s feedback.
Many thanks
Andy, Specialist Brands Product Manager

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 5:19 pm 
Legend
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Well, the most obvious would be:

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 7:19 pm 
Ex-Mega Star, now just a Super Star
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I think a really nice article could be written on tiering; when it's a good idea, when it isn't, what it actually means (it doesn't mean everything is equal or there are not winners and losers in every ruleset. Meta shifts never mean everything is the same), etc. Outside of tiering, you could also talk about the common help / awards aimed at Stunties, e.g. extra stars being allowed when compared to the better teams or Stunty Cup / most foul trophies that are often keenly contested.

I'd recommend telling them about tournaments that are 'vanilla' and why they are, the top end, most competitive tournaments that tier a bit but maintain the vague status quo (and why) and the very best examples of really complex yet still simple and elegant heavily tiered systems. The best three of those I've seen around the world of BB are IronManj (super simple, but deep when you start picking at it. Now used at Spike!), MonkeyBowl and the Danish Open. The latter two are slightly more complicated and perhaps tricky to get over in a WD article for non hardcore Blood Bowlers, but an interview with Brendan or Lars would bridge the gap. Joe would obviously be a great contributor, too.

Edit: I suppose I didn't mention leagues. I have to say that I get a bit queasy about artificial 'balancing' in league play. Part of the joy of BB is the fact that not all teams were created equal. You can set your own challenge level and teams wax and wane in 'power' with TV. I think it would be a needlessly distracting / confusing thing to do to talk about tiering in a league setting to newer and lapsed players that will be reading WD.


Last edited by Purplegoo on Fri May 05, 2017 8:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 7:32 pm 
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I guess the first question is, what exactly are the goals?

I've been to tournaments which give every race the same skills package (either X number of skills to buy, or a budget, or whatever). And I've been to tournaments which divide races up into tiers, giving the lower-end tiers a small boost (extra skills or budget or whatever).

I don't think that this has made much difference in the final results - races like Wood Elves and Undead are good in just about any rule set, Halflings are going to suck most of the time no matter how many skills they have, and so on. It seems to make a difference on the margins, but I guess to say anything definitive about how tournament rules affect the standings, we'd have to somehow quantify how generous each tournament rule set is to mid- and low- tier teams, and then see how those teams do. The data is there in the NAF database, I guess the "hard work" is reading through and scoring the different rule sets.

What I can say with more confidence is that tournaments which offer a bonus to lower tiered teams definitely seem to have a greater variety of teams picked. If that's the goal of a tournament organizer (and I believe it should be, nobody likes playing against the same nearly identical team over and over again at tournaments. "Oh, Undead again? Wait, your second ghoul has Sure Hands, not Block! Variety!!!")

But the key word there is Tournament. Is GW interested in publishing rules for NAF-style resurrection tournaments? Because he might mean something more like a playoff, with teams skilling and advancing and getting injured just like in a league. In which case, experience from what we consider tournaments isn't going to be particularly relevant.

(One format that I talked about a few years ago with some friends was an auction league. Only one team of any race is allowed. One coach, starting at random, picks a team, and everyone places bids on their starting treasury. So say Orcs get picked first. One guy might bid a 950k starting budget. Someone undercuts him for 940k. Bidding continues until one guy "wins". That's the team they play, their "winning" bid is their starting budget.
You can be tactical as well, picking teams at the beginning that you know your friends want to play, hoping that they bid against each other, and so on.
Last coach without a team picks from whatever's left and has a 1M starting budget. Everyone makes plans, league play starts.
This would be especially hilarious with 24 coaches. But we never ended up playing this format, so I have no idea how it would work out in practice.)

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Fri May 05, 2017 7:35 pm 
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Yes I believe Monkeybowl was the first tournament ever to "tier" (back in 2010, if I say so myself!!) initially with bonus skills and bonus treasury, later just with skills.

The idea was to incentivise, not equalise. That may be the spirit in which tiering is intended in a number of tournaments. Certainly noone ever thinks Stunties with two or three extra skills can suddenly take on dwarves or undead on equal footing.

Some tournaments like Flame Bowl (Nippylongskar) didn't meddle with skills or TR but instead gave bonus points for winning with lower tiers. I actually do a bit of that (as well as bonus skills) at Monkeybowl these days: in the event of a tie the lower tier combination is placed higher.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sat May 06, 2017 2:11 pm 
Godfather of Blood Bowl
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I wish there was a like button on this forum. Loved what Purplegoo wrote ... all of it. Just copy and paste it here for my response.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sat May 06, 2017 3:50 pm 
Super Star
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Was the question from Andy in the OP not about what/why the tiers are as they are, but how to effectively get rid of them and make all teams more equal in a tourney? That's how i read it anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sat May 06, 2017 6:59 pm 
Kommissar Enthusiasmoff
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Itchen Masack wrote:
Was the question from Andy in the OP not about what/why the tiers are as they are, but how to effectively get rid of them and make all teams more equal in a tourney? That's how i read it anyway.


Possibly. I think it's quite an open question about how tiers work in tournaments, basically.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sat May 06, 2017 7:41 pm 
Ex-Mega Star, now just a Super Star
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I think all of the answers talked about that, anyway, Itchen?

If it's off topic, just ignore my waffle. Textbook Phil. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:10 pm 
Kommissar Enthusiasmoff
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Thanks all. First draft: http://www.thenaf.net/2017/05/tiers/

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:15 pm 
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When you talk about team tiers and winning percentage, is it worth qualifying that we're talking about a tournament environment? I think the vast majority of NAF games are played at an effective TV of about 1100-1250 or so, once you factor in the skills and such.

This can change a lot at higher TV, and the whole TV system sort of breaks down a bit at very high TV. Which is not relevant to the NAF but is absolutely something GW needs to consider.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:16 pm 
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What are these "slann" your draft talks of? ;)

On a quick read you might want to make it clear that your "rough" tiers at the start of the piece are perhaps tournament-guided, as they are not the tiers as per the BBRC for league BB (which you then present lower down).
Your NB about Orcs being tier 1 at NAFC is unneeded, as their present in the pic.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:27 pm 
Kommissar Enthusiasmoff
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Ta.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Sun May 07, 2017 9:28 pm 
Kommissar Enthusiasmoff
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rolo wrote:
When you talk about team tiers and winning percentage, is it worth qualifying that we're talking about a tournament environment? I think the vast majority of NAF games are played at an effective TV of about 1100-1250 or so, once you factor in the skills and such.

This can change a lot at higher TV, and the whole TV system sort of breaks down a bit at very high TV. Which is not relevant to the NAF but is absolutely something GW needs to consider.


This article is aimed at one-off games and tournament play, not tweaking teams in the future, but I take your point.

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 Post subject: Re: GW asking for feedback re: NAF tournament rules
 Post Posted: Wed May 17, 2017 11:06 am 
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Trying to go for complete balance across 24 teams with an advancement element of the game is a practical impossibility. For example when we compare Blood Bowl to Guildball we can see a couple of important mechanic differences. Guildball only has 9 teams. It also has a special mechanic where the players of one of the teams (Union) can be used to fill the spot for other guilds (each guild has a list of the 6 players from Union they are allowed to take). This means that if during elite level play a gap is spotted that makes a certain team easy to beat there is a host of special Union players that can be used to plug the gap until a revision to the rules in the following season.

When we look at elite level play in Blood Bowl we see that there are also 9 teams that we would consider to be tier 1 (WElf, DElf, Und, Liz, Dwf, Amz, Nor, CDw, Skv - have deliberately left out Orcs). Whilst there is some variation within those teams it is pretty small for a typical tournament of around 1.1m and 6ish skills. That means that all else aside Blood Bowl is just as balanced as a game like Guildball on a size-for-size basis.


Then in addition to that Blood Bowl has a number of other teams that are not as good within the typical tournament build. But these teams tend to be that way because of the lack of core starting skills. Block and Dodge are so vital to the mechanics of the game, that Lizardmen are the only Tier 1 team that does not have 6+ Block or Dodges on a typical tournament roster, and they have plenty of other things to compensate. Looking at the tier 2 teams we see that they don't have as many of these, but the ones just outside of that cutoff (Humans and Necro) tend to be the choice when Tier 2 gets a buff. The ones with fewer (HElf, PElf, and Chaos) tend to develop incredibly well because those key skills not present are incredibly easy to get. Two 'bad' advancement rolls on a High Elf catcher turns them into a rookie non-leaping wardancer, because Mv8 St3 is incredibly powerful, and the team can have 4 of them. Chaos get strength and mutation access across the entire team. This means that the tiering at higher TV is totally different to the tiering at lower TV, as the important but easier to get skills become common.

If you wanted to boost these teams for tournament play then you'd either make them overwhelmingly powerful at higher TV or you would need to reduce their potential. But how do you do that for High Elves, for example, when their potential comes from having stats over skills? Do you make the catchers St2 and give them Dodge? Now without the Strength they are weak as a team, so maybe give them a big guy? All you are doing is making them more like Wood Elves. You are not balancing a team so much as replicating another. High Elves work as a team precisely because they are not good at tournaments.


There is always the case that individual teams will need some changes. Loner on goblin trolls for example still makes no sense when the general stunty rule seems to be that the big guys are a core part of the team and not loners. But I think that the design philosophy is fundamentally spot on for a game with so many teams in it. There are just under a dozen teams that work well in tournaments. There are about another dozen teams (with some overlap) that work well at high TV league play. The only teams that I think should even be under consideration are ones that do not fit into either of those groups and are also not stunty teams. But who are those teams? Probably Humans (I still think they should have made catchers 0-2 Ag4 to mirror Skaven rather than what they did). Maybe Slann?

And that's just mechanical reasons before you get to personal tastes like some experienced players actually liking there being a harder difficulty setting in taking a more challenging team in their leagues, or people in generally preferring the diversity of having other teams rather than caring about if they are the best. Or even in people liking to take stunties in a big tournament to race against other stunty teams for a special award. What's the point in a stunty cup if goblins are as good as Undead?


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