Chances of Winning

Discuss Mongoose miniatures game here, including Mighty Armies, Gangs of Mega-City One, and Battlefield Evolution.

All things being equal (knowledge, skill, etc) is there be a 50% chance of victory for either player?

Yes
8
28%
No
21
72%
 
Total votes: 29
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markn
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Chances of Winning

Postby markn » Tue May 09, 2006 10:46 pm

This question is inspired by the "Is there such a thing as game balance" thread that was started a few weeks ago.

IMHO, ACTA is based on the analogy that Fleet A can beat Fleet B who can beat Fleet C as opposed to two equal players, with equal skill, with equal knowledge each having approximately a 50% chance at victory. Indeed in some matchups, Shadows vs Narn or Shadows vs Vorlons for example, things have to go just about perfect for the Narn or the Vorlons to win. And these aren't the only cases.

My question is - All things being equal (knowledge, skill, etc) is there be a 50% chance of victory for either side? Please don't debate whether you think I am correct in my thinking or not but whether you believe the game as is, is as equal as you CAN get.

At this point, IMO, I don't think this is the case. I'm just curious if I am part of a minority who thinks this or a majority.

In your answers, explain why and also explain which list supports your answer (SFOS, tourney list or both). Additionally, any examples of fleets not being equal ore being equal would be a great benefit as well.

Thanks and I am looking forward to your answers... :D
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Postby Geekybiker » Tue May 09, 2006 11:15 pm

Absolutely not. The biggest reason is the priority level system. It assumes ships of the same level are equal and they absolutely are not.

To fix balance issues this forces them to constant change ships, rather than just tweak point values. Makes fine tuning ship balance difficult if not impossible.
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Postby Slightly Norse John » Tue May 09, 2006 11:18 pm

I do not understand why you are asking this complicated, obscure game theory question that you want a digital answer to. What principle is at stake here?
If you're using the same fleet, EA Rebel vs Clarkist, Centauri inter house squabble, Green Drazi vs Purple Drazi, something like that- then, yes, it's usually very bloody and lots of fun.
Is game theory more important than the game itself? No. Is the point of games where options are mirorred on each side to give full play to the player's skill and experience? Yes. Was ACtA a game based on a specific universe, and did it attempt to retain the flavour of that universe and it's various races, with their differing abilities relative to each other? Yes. Is it right to sacrifice that on the altar of this quasi-mythical beast 'game balance?' No- well maybe just a little bit.
If you want as much equality as possible, play chess. Or Go. Otherwise, stop reading the game design theory and play the smegging game.
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Postby markn » Tue May 09, 2006 11:36 pm

Slightly Norse John wrote:I do not understand why you are asking this complicated, obscure game theory question that you want a digital answer to. What principle is at stake here?
Why? Simply, because I love the game! I want ACTA to be the best damn game there is. Bar none. Every thread that talks about tweaking this fleet or changing that ship is haphazard and provides very little real evidence as to what issues are in the game. This threads intent is to determine if A) some kind of equal probability exists in the game and B) if there isn't, where are the issues. The game is indeed about fun, but who wants to field a fleet that tactically, has difficulties winning a large percentage of matchups - particularly when money is spent on a fleet (and if you are canadian like me you spend a LOT of money on each fleet - for the record I have bought the EA, Shadow, Vorlon, Centauri, Narn and ISA starter fleets so I support ACTA a lot). I expect, as a player, to have a reasonable chance of winning ANY ACTA game no matter what fleet I have and no matter what fleet my opponent chooses. I will lose some based on skill, I will lose some based on experience, I will lose some based on mistakes, I WILL lose some based on ship choices but at the end of the game is there a reasonable chance of victory with my fleet? At this point I don't believe that is the case in certain matchups. I want to expose these matchup that a majority of the people have issues with. I hope to see repetitve data. If 5 posters post that the Narns can't beat Shadows then either of 2 things need to happen. Either I want to be told that this is the game design and the way its intended to be or the designers notice that there is an issue that needs to be looked at.

With a 2nd edition appearing next year, wouldn't you want to see the best damn ACTA game there is? The playtesters have already commented that their isn't enough time to test everything (sag x 10 anyone?) so lets provide some productive feedback. Lets help them do their job...

If you still disagree with me Slighlty Norse, play 10 5 point Raid games as the Vorlons against the Shadows. You may see what I mean.... :wink:
Last edited by markn on Tue May 09, 2006 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby nekomata fuyu » Tue May 09, 2006 11:38 pm

Gyah! Disregard one of those yes votes (the only one at present). I answered the question as is (if all things are equal, then yes, you will have a 50% chance of victory) before realising that what you were really asking was "Are the fleets equal in the first place?"

I also agree with Geekybiker that the priority level system doesn't help matters. It is in effect a convoluted points system where you can only ever have one of five different points values, and where 1+1=2, 2+2=4, but 1+1+1=4.
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Postby JayRaider » Tue May 09, 2006 11:44 pm

Thats harsh John.
In some cases you are correct, there are great imbalances. And debate is continueing on these issues.
To summarise No, there isn't a 50-50 chance in some matchups.
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Postby Reaverman » Tue May 09, 2006 11:50 pm

JayRaider wrote:Thats harsh John.
In some cases you are incorrect, there are great imbalances. And debate is continueing on these issues.
To summarise No, there isn't a 50-50 chance in some matchups.
The decision on Victory lies in your selection of ships for your fleet, bad selection and you lose before the first ship is moved. Thats not to say I think this is unfair, on the contrary I think this is good. The player has to select the right ships, for the right sort of battle. Like the saying goes, "Never turn up with a knife, when it turns out to be a gun fight" :twisted:
Last edited by Reaverman on Wed May 10, 2006 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby markn » Wed May 10, 2006 12:00 am

reaverman wrote: The decision on Victory lies in your selection of ships for your fleet, bad selection an you lose before the first ship is moved. Thats not to say I think this is unfair, on the contrary I think this is a good. The player has to select the right ships, for the right sort of battle. Like the saying goes, "Never turn up with a knife, when it turns out to be a gun fight" :twisted:
And this SHOULD be the largest determining factor. This is also what separates experienced players from inexperienced players. But, are some matchups just a little too difficult? Here's an example (it may be legit, it may not be), 2 new players buy the game. They decide to do a campaign. Player A chooses Vorlons, player B chooses Shadows. Player B wins every or almost every game because he can stay out of the Vorlon front arc. What if its a 1 shot game? Does it change anything? Not really. In a tournament? Maybe, because you have to play against other fleets and so you need to be the best all around but you still need to pray that the Shadows will get beaten by another fleet who has their number...Back to A beats B who beats C. This is the conundrum. Was this intentional, I don't know. If so, then tweaking to "what feels right" is the right approach. If not and the environment is truly out to give any fleet a reasonable chance of beating other fleets then we need some statistical data to back that up - hence this poll....

I hope you see my point.
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Postby lastbesthope » Wed May 10, 2006 12:05 am

The question is meaningless.

If all things were equal then noone can win.

You wan't a game where everything is equal, play noughts and crosses.

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Postby Slightly Norse John » Wed May 10, 2006 12:16 am

We're never going to achieve perfect game balance, not least because even if it existed we probably wouldn't be able to recognise it and agree on it, and I don't think it's actually an objective worth achieving. It runs the risk of losing a very great deal of the flavour of the background. I don't expect to win with every fleet against every other fleet, at least not at even odds, not without having to choose carefully and fight hard.
The Vorlons do have difficulty engaging a fast moving fleet, and they are probably not as good as they ought to be, partly as a result of a balancing exercise gone too far. Drastic solutions are almost always, in some respect, wrong solutions. I'd like to do away with the special damage system for ancients- another case in point, but it doesn't look as if this is likely to happen.
As far as pointing out things that are 'wrong' with the game, there are fifty- plus pages full of stuff on the forums. It's been happening for a lot longer than you or I have been on the forums. Things- like SFoS, like the tourney lists- happen. You don't need to tell the sun to rise in the morning.
Just how long ahve you been a member of the Game Police?
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Postby Locutus9956 » Wed May 10, 2006 12:35 am

As Ive said elsewhere, the fleets are not completely equal, but so what? It is POSSIBLE to beat any fleet with any other fleet, of course some cases are going to be something of a mismatch (shadows vs vorlons for example, SM vs forward arc only...).

But frankly as long as players are free to choose fleets from varying ships then its virtually impossible to balance lists for every possible combination and fleet seelection of course plays a vital role too.

For example last week I played a game of EA vs Centauri, I was using Chronos Frigates, a Warlock and an Apollo, ie a fleet FULL of high hull loaded with interceptors and excellent all round firepower, my opponent was using large numbers of Demos, who rely on outmaneuvering their opponents and hitting with lots of INTERCEPTABLE fire. Neither of us were in doubt how the game would most likely go but that didnt matter, as it was still fun to play and interesting to see how it went (unsurprisingly the Centauri counld not inflict much damage with most of their fire absorbed by interceptors and the Demos coulnt attack from a weak/blind fire arc as the Chronos simply dont HAVE a weak arc).

A couple of weeks BEFORE me and the same opponent played another EA vs Centauri game where I was using some Chronos (I LIKE Chronos, so sue me :P) againt 5 Sullusts now in THAT game my Chronos got ripped to shreds by battle laser fire almost before they got a shot off.

My point is from either of the above games you might draw the conclusion that 'EA beats Centauri' or 'Centauri beats EA' when in fact I think theyre reasonably well balanced depending on which ships you take. Now of course there are other cases where the two fleets in general ARE mismatched (Vorlons vs Shadows as I mentioned, EA vs Minbari would be another good example (though personally I think EA stand a pretty good chance if they do ok on their stealth rolls).

The game is NOT balanced between all fleets, but how you play those fleets DOES make a big difference. And lets face it if it wasnt fun we wouldnt play it as much as we do :)

One last thing I'll rant about a bit. The 'points' system. If you think its a problem or that the fact that ships 'cost' differently at different levels doesnt make sense then I think you have misunderstood it somewhat:
Ships of a given priority level are abosulutely NOT equal to each other, but for the most part you can build a FLEET of a given value at a given PL that is more or less equal effectiveness to any other. Now there are some ships which I think ARE a little wrong (the tournament Saggitarius for example) but look at just about ANY miniatures game and tell me there arent units everyone thinks of as 'broken' or 'unbalanced'.

As to the differing values per PL, for example in a War level game you can get 3 Chronos for 1 (ie the same cost as a Warlock) but at Battle level you can get 4 Chronos for 2 points (the same cost as a Warlock). The reason for this 'diminishing returns' as you go below the scenario PL is to me at least specifically DESIGNED to encourage people not to fill a War level game with swarms of low level ships. The PL system deliberately encourages you to take ships close to the PL of the scenario. You CANT go more than two above and if you go more than 1 below you dont get 'your moneys worth'. That to me is the genius of the PL system.

Besides, I'd be willing to bet that if we DID use a more traditional points system there would be no end of winging that such and such a ship was overpriced or far too powerful for 200pts or whatever. :P

Sorry for the long rant :P Brief summary: The fleets arent perfectly balanced in all case, but I think for the most part the better player (or at least the luckier player ;) tends to win.
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Postby Apachex » Wed May 10, 2006 12:39 am

Your basic point is sound. The use of a very broad point level system does lead to the game being more of a rock,papers scissors approach. (I think of it as a beer and pretzels game.) This was necessary to keep the game balanced. Point values are always a difficult thing to quantify and those who specialize in gamesmanship will always find the loopholes necessary to get an edge. I think the Vorlons and Shadows are woefully underpowered, and fighters are of limited value. I think that the ships that are most represented in the show are undervalued while the non-series ships steal into the limelight. For tournament play I think the game is too flawed. For fun and enjoyment, I think its great.

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Postby markn » Wed May 10, 2006 12:45 am

Slightly Norse John wrote:We're never going to achieve perfect game balance, not least because even if it existed we probably wouldn't be able to recognise it and agree on it, and I don't think it's actually an objective worth achieving. It runs the risk of losing a very great deal of the flavour of the background. I don't expect to win with every fleet against every other fleet, at least not at even odds, not without having to choose carefully and fight hard.
The Vorlons do have difficulty engaging a fast moving fleet, and they are probably not as good as they ought to be, partly as a result of a balancing exercise gone too far. Drastic solutions are almost always, in some respect, wrong solutions. I'd like to do away with the special damage system for ancients- another case in point, but it doesn't look as if this is likely to happen.
As far as pointing out things that are 'wrong' with the game, there are fifty- plus pages full of stuff on the forums. It's been happening for a lot longer than you or I have been on the forums. Things- like SFoS, like the tourney lists- happen. You don't need to tell the sun to rise in the morning.
Just how long ahve you been a member of the Game Police?
Ok, John, whats your beef? I am trying to constrctively support and improve ACTA. Whats wrong with that? Your attitude is very dissappointing and extremely rude. I'm pretty easy to get along with.

I'd explain other stuff to you but I think its pointless. Besides, I apparently have other game systems to police....
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Postby Locutus9956 » Wed May 10, 2006 12:47 am

I think the game is flawed for tournament play UNLESS you use the tournament lists, which I am by and large growing more and more fond of.

But look at other games that routinely get played as big tournament games. For example the 'big two' GW games (WFB and 40k) can anyone who plays 40k in particular HONESTLY say that half the various forces in that game are all nicely balanced? Theres got to be at LEAST as many broken army lists (potentially depending on what you choose) as there is in ACTA. And ACTA is much more fun to play too :D (If Im going to get trounced by a beardy army list Id much rather it was a fleet of B5tastic Sharlins than a load of Khorne berserkers or whatever :P

DISCLAIMER: This is not a go at the whole GW universe, Im actually quite fond of the setting. But Bablon 5, simply put, rules all from a gigantic solid paltinum, diamond encrusted throne of supreme goodness :P
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Postby markn » Wed May 10, 2006 12:59 am

Locutus9956 wrote: It is POSSIBLE to beat any fleet with any other fleet, of course some cases are going to be something of a mismatch (shadows vs vorlons for example, SM vs forward arc only...).

But frankly as long as players are free to choose fleets from varying ships then its virtually impossible to balance lists for every possible combination and fleet seelection of course plays a vital role too.
Your post was very thought out and well put. I agree with a lot of your statements. A lot of battles will make it look like Centaurie can't beat the EA. I agree. My goal is find out if there are any that CAN't be won based on a fairly serious (AKA tourney) environment. I don't think the Vorlons can do it against the shadows. I'm also not so sure about the Narns against them as well. I looking to find out about others. Hence the reason for supporting statement.

Thanks for your reply.

PS - I can't speak for other mini games. I just hope to help make this game better. That's all.
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Postby CZuschlag » Wed May 10, 2006 3:04 am

"I don't think it's actually an objective worth achieving."

Oh dear. I find this disheartening. I hope that's just frustration speaking; as some systems have taken steps to continually improve their product, many times, by, in effect, admitting they missed.

Star Fleet Battles, for example, regularly admits its mistakes. I can't count the number of alterations and proposed changes to the Lyran Tournament Cruiser and the fiddling with the special tournament ISC damage rules. And those are fights with very simple analysis: one ship vs. one ship!

However, the point is that they continue to try. Small tweak here, small tweak there. Try this. Then that. Maybe another thing. Give one ship something that helps in this bad matchup, but take something else away to hurt a match where you have too strong and advantage. They even try to stay flexible with tactics evolutions, such as the breakthrough Andromedan cookbook published by a South Carolina group some years back.

And yet, the game isn't a 50/50% vanilla matchup. You just don't fly plasma like drones, hellbores like web casters. It's no game of pure symmetry. Some matchups are bad, but not too bad ... rarely is a matchup worse than 37%/63%. And lord knows, it's not like the owning company ain't makin' money off it. They even sold software about the game, for g'nesses sake.

It can be done. We can get there with what is admittedly a very elegant system in an intriguing setting. It'll take a long time, though. Be patient, we're still trying to evolve the answers. I hope.

Of course, if one simply rejects this argument, I fear for the progress of this elegant, eminently playable, game. There's no reason for not trying to make it better. Some of us have read the folly of "This is the best of all possible worlds." (from Candide, by Voltaire).
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Postby Geekybiker » Wed May 10, 2006 6:42 am

I think one thing you should consider in the 50/50 issues is the setting as well. It is repeatedly claimed that SFOS is balanced for campaigns. That may or may not be the case. However the same fleets in a one off game may fare very differently as risk assestment and objectives change alot between the two settings. Heck, game size and PL makes a huge difference. Scouts for example are worth alot more to a large fleet than they are to a small patrol force.

Id like to think that we can achieve something approaching a equal chance to win assuming a good fleet choice and equal skilled opponents though.

Ever play a game called demonworld? My favorite fantasy setting. Hex based, and the units are pointed according to statistics. Beautiful minis too. Sad that it never really caught on here though.
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Postby H » Wed May 10, 2006 8:24 am

oooh, handbags!!
seriously, there is no need for people to get defensive or be a bit trite or anything, this is a pretty easy going forum, and we all have our various opinions. Whatever is discussed is surely for the good of the players and the Game.
At the end of the day, it is Impossible for anything to be balanced, ever, even in a game such as noughts and crosses, aka tic tac toe, human error takes a hold and one wrong nought and you have lost. No matter how weak a fleet is perceived, one good solid 6-5 or 6-6 crit can turn a battle.
I suppose this is Ironic coming from me who has deemed his Narn Worthless, but in principle, I love the game, I like some of it's quirks, and I feel minor tweakage could improve the game, but at the same time it could go to far. Who knows, it's all an adventure and a journey for us to take together (apart from the playtesters who take it months before!!).
Lets enjoy it, and ease off on the bitterness and petty squables!!

here endeth my sermon!
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Postby Gorkamecha » Wed May 10, 2006 2:14 pm

I'd like to see how the Abbai would do against the Minbari or Shadow. On paper I just don't see how they could survive.

Or the Vree for that matter.
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Postby markn » Wed May 10, 2006 2:22 pm

One thing I would like to mention at this point is this. I don't expect a 50/50 chance in every matchup. What I would hope to strive for is at least relative chance in winning. At the worst I think a matchup should be no less than 67/33. Odds are against you but you feel you still have a reasonable chance. As the previous poster posted, some matches on paper just don't look plausible. Now having said that about 2 months back I would have said that the Narn have no chance against the ISA but I tested and tested and lost and lost and finally came up with a combo that is capable of beating 5 white stars. Not an easy task but one that taught me a LOT about tactics. I applaud the designers for this, as it took some real planning on my part to come up with a winning combination. It wasn't obvious but it was possible.

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