The 11th Company 40K Podcast

Welcome to the 11th Company BLOG. The 11th Company is a Warhammer 40K podcast dedicated to players, strategies, and tactics.

You can download our episodes at the website, from ITunes, several podcast sites, or connect directly to the RSS Feed. We try to release a new Episode every Monday Night. Check it out!




Podcast Archive:

Search This Blog

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tournament Situation (Time):

Instead of spinning another tale of tournament etiquette gone a wry, let me describe the situation as neutral as possible. Please help me to deal with situations like this better in the future.

We, my opponent and I, are on the bottom of turn 6. My opponent has pretty clearly won on all 3 of the objectives. We are, however, unclear on the end time of this round, wondering if there is enough time left for a turn 7. The tournament packet stated all games should be at least 6 turns if possible, with a 7th turn on a 4+, don’t start a turn if you have less than 10 minutes left. My opponent is about to move his last unit, a Chimera with a scoring unit inside, and about to end his turn 6. He makes a statement to the affect that he needs to know if the game will end right now or if we will have an next turn, because that will determine how he will move this last tank. He freezes the game, sends someone to go find the T.O.

Several minutes go by (three to be exact). The gentleman comes back and states we have 9 minutes left. I insist on a turn 7 on principle. I take my last model, shoot my bolt, roll and pen, then roll a 1 on damage chart, fail to take out a Storm raven. He kills my last model and wins full points.

Okay, forget being neutral.

Different game, Different tournament: My opponent has a lot of infiltrating troops; I roll my non preferred wave. All objectives are placed in cover. My opponent holds all objectives on turn 1. I hide and cower in various corners, till I finally get the strength to take him on at the bottom of turn 4. I still have units coming in, about one-fourth of my army. My opponent informs me that we have 20 minutes left, there is no way I can win, good game. The tournament rules were: play 6 rounds; get a turn 7 on a 4+, only start a round if you have time to finish.

I insist on starting a round 5 and after a little arguing call over a T.O. We get a non committal answer, we start playing. We actually played 2 turns and finished turn 6 with a minute or so to spare, I about tabled my opponent, at the end of the game I had full points. Yelling and screaming, fist balling in response to my insistence. I did get an apology at the end. Both of us had a 1-2 record in a 5 round battle point tournament at this point, so both not even close to being contenders.

I realize I have time as a pet peeve of mine, but am I being unreasonable? I play 2000-point games at our club easily in less than 2 hours. My army (Daemons) does nothing during the deployment zone, I rarely bring shooting elements, I rarely have my whole army on the board at anyone time.

Let me know what you think I should do differently….

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tales of nice dice and killin’ fury little mice.

You can skip to the last paragraph if you know all about dice and shenanigans.

Articles have been done, redone and outdone on cheating or the perception of cheating with dice. A few simple internet searches will easily give you more material than you would probably want to research. Yet every tournament I see similar shenanigans. Now I am not accusing any of my opponents or any participants, in the last tournament I played, of cheating. I am saying that some assisted in causing the perception of cheating or more precisely did thing that caused the perception of cheating to not be debunked. Hmmm, sounds overly wordy or complicated. Let me make a little list to be clearer.

If you roll a specific set of dice only when you need to roll high, such as leaderships and morale, you create the perception of cheating.

If you paid more for your dice than you did for your custom Forgeworld Landraider painted by Baraccass from (how’s that for product placement), your opponent might think you are up to something.

If you pick up the good dice when rolling a large number of them, instead of the ones and other failed dice, your opponent is going to raise an eye brow.

If you use small tiny dice that have odd hard to see paint schemes like black pips on grey/black swirl dice, your opponent might have to borrow my glasses.

If you load a bunch of dice on your hand and just drop them on the table, your opponent might have the urge to shake the table.

If all your dice are white with black pips and you declare that the alabaster ones are the melta, the ivory the plasma gun, the milky one is the storm bolter, the pale one is the heavy stuber and all the white ones are not worth mentioning, your opponent might think he is colour blind and need a ref.

If you use casino dice, incase you missed a previous bullet, your opponent certainly will consider the fact that you might just be cheating.

If you do funny things with your hand, like rolling dice of your fingers, two at a time, always with certain pips up, your opponent will ask to talk to a pit boss,…err never mind.

The short of it is, if you do certain things that are questionable, even though in most cases you are not even thinking about cheating, you are creating a perception that cheating is going on. Why alienate players our community is small enough and we are after all playing with toy soldiers. You will not gain the respect of your fellow peers and the admiration of mighty fine women, nor will the prize pot buy you a fancy sports car. You will, however, end up with a reputation that people will talk about for years.

Now to the point of me writing this in the first place, for the people that stayed with me the whole article and people that skipped ahead to this point. My game 5 at endless, in Raleigh NC, saw me rolling hot, maybe even white hot. My opponent was rolling 1’s like he needed to win a Yahtzee tournament. After a bit of grumbling, my opponent asked if we could share my dice for the rest of the game. I found that to be a unique and great solution. Instead of calling me a cheater, or faulting me for creating the perception of cheating, he presented a solution that satisfied both our interests in the game. I piled my dice in the center, and we really enjoyed the rest of the game. His dice luck did not, regrettably improve by the way. You may say this only worked because it was the last game, and we were both not in the running, but I would have gladly used this same solution with the player I played with his big bag of casino dice. Props to my opponent for finding a table side solution, without causing hate and discontent.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Balanced versus Unbalanced Part 3

So, in the last article, I did an analysis of an unbalanced list versus a balanced list and their respective, projected performance across rounds of a win/loss tournament. By looking at the analysis, you would think that there never is a reason to take a balanced list to a tournament. However, as you will note, I also noted that as the percentages changed, so too did the results. The reason is that our study was completely correct, but these changes in the effectiveness of each list, especially those that seemingly approached a balanced list slowing down in performance showed a clear problem with the entire study.

The real reason why our unbalanced lists keep seeming to outperform our balanced lists in these examinations is not because of some hidden truth. It’s actually a good bit simpler than that. The real reason is that, statistically, the unbalanced lists we have been examining are just flat BETTER than our balanced list.

How so? Are you saying that somehow our unbalanced list is better than a balanced list? No. What I’m saying is that our assumptions about how an unbalanced list and a balanced list, using our previous examples, is fundamentally flawed because we are comparing a jet plane to a bi-plane.

The reason why we could see this happening was that as we change the win percentages on our unbalanced list, the rate at which they would outperform the balanced list also changed. This was clearly indicative that not all unbalanced lists or equal, and indeed, it was also clearly shown that the unbalanced list was not equal to the balanced list in terms of quality as they began to approach each other.

As was pointed out in the comments of the previous post, statisticians use a concept called “expected return” to describe what the expected result of a scenario will be in the long term. For example, we all know that a coin has a 50/50 chance to land on heads or tails. Thus, our expected return of Heads when flipping a coin is 50%.

Likewise, our balanced list has an expected return of 50%, being that is has a 50/50 chance of winning any game. However, our list that would win 70% of the time versus 70% of opponents and 30% of the time versus 30% of opponents “appear” to be a good logical comparison, but it really isn’t. The truth is, the expected return of “WINS” for that list is actually (0.7 * 0.7) + (0.3 * 0.3). Thus, the expected return from this list is actually 58% wins and 42% losses. The reason why it is outperforming our balanced list is simply because it’s a better list! It has nothing to do with the balanced or unbalanced nature of the lists. If you compare two lists with an equal expected return, you will find out that the results vary as the round go up as to which list is better but actually tends to favor the balanced list. The truth is, in the long run, they are probably fairly equal.

So, what you are saying is that, this is a sham? No, what I’m saying is that the problem is that we are so focused on balanced versus unbalanced in this discussion when what we should be focused on is the concept of expected return. (Congrats to the commenter from last post for figuring this out early!) The real truth is, balanced or not, it’s the expected performance of the list which is what is going to carry the day across many rounds of tournaments.

So, how is this useful? In some ways it really isn’t which is in and of itself is a useful result. As we said last time, at the end of the day, any result we would come up with would be shaky at best, and what we have discovered is that the assumption about making an arbitrary comparison between what seems like an unbalanced list versus a balanced one is not what we need to do doing. If you want to know if a more balanced list performs better or worse than a more unbalanced list, the way to do that really is as simply as playing a lot of games with it and seeing which one wins more.

The reason why this is true is the only way you can even start to gather data about the overall effectiveness of the list is to play it. Then, the better list will be the one with the highest expected return against across a variety of games.

The reality is, at least in terms of this discussion, a better list is simply a better list.

The next thing to discover will be if two lists which have equivalent expected win rates but different unbalances will perform the same, better, or worse. Evidence so far supports that as the rounds go on, the lists which approach more even percentages tend to perform better.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To Balance Your List or Not To Balance Your List?

This is a continuation of my previous musings from last week. The thought? Overall, will a balanced list perform better at tournaments than an unbalanced one? First, what does balanced mean?

In the context of this thought experiment, the term "balanced" means "equal chance to beat all types of lists". Thus, the perfectly balanced list means that it has a 50/50 shot of winning every game it plays, versus 100% of all other lists, assuming all other things being equal.

Thus, an unbalanced list must be a list which has an uneven chance of beating some lists and losing to others. For example, you might tailor a list to win a high percentage of the time versus most other kinds of lists you expect to face but expose weaknesses to a lesser percentage of lists. For example, an unbalanced list might be a list which wins 70/30 of the time versus 70% of other lists and only 30/70 of the time versus the remaining 30% of lists.

Here's a more concrete and less math blah example! Let's say you come up with a killer Tyranid list that rocks most Marine lists provided they don't have Land Raiders in it. If we could somehow calculate the number of Marine lists without Land Raiders and came up to 80%, and your Tyranid list wins 80% of the time versus Marine lists without Land Raiders, we can say that your list wins 80/20 versus 80%. If your Tyranid list only wins 10% of the time if the Marine list contains Land Raiders, your list has a 10/90 versus the remaining 10%.

Obviously, an unbalanced list will perform better with a higher win percentage versus a higher percentage of armies and a lower losing potential versus the lowest percentage of armies.

There's so much to investigate on this topic because the notion is exciting. Keep in mind though that all of these numbers, at the end of the day, are mostly bogus. I mean, seriously. How can we calculate your "win %" with "all things being equal" versus some arbitrary "percentage" of lists out there. We can't, but you can make a serious go of it. You could look at lists brought to tournaments in the last year, play against them with someone about equal skill as you, several times each, and get a rudimentary percentage. It won't be perfect, but it's better than nothing. In any case, I just wanted to come right out and say, at the end of the day, any results we come to will be shaky at best!

So, in the previous article I showed that a list with a high percentage chance to win versus a high percentage of armies, and a lower percentage chance to win versus a low percentage of armies actually performs better in a 4 round tournament than a "balanced" list most of the time.

The next thing I wanted to know was if common wisdom is right... shouldn't the more rounds you play in a tournament mean the balanced list does better? Turns out, common wisdom is wrong. Not just wrong, but completely wrong. Indeed, the numbers show us that the more rounds you play, the more likely the unbalanced list is to outperform the balanced list.

Here's some numbers for you to chew on.

List A)

Let's assume that List A has a 70% chance of beating 70% of all lists. It has a 30% chance of beating 30% of the remaining lists. (Also seen as 70/30 V 70% and 30/70 V 30%)

List B)

Let's assume that List B is a "balanced" list and has a 50% chance of beating 100% of all other lists. (Also seen as 50/50 V 100%)

Assuming Win/Loss Tournaments. Also, assuming that a Positive (+) matchup for A is one of the 70% of the lists A does well against. A Negative (-) matchup for A is one of the 30% of the lists A does not do well against most of the time.

2 Round Tournament:

A) 49% (2+) : 49% to win.
42% (1+/1-) : 21% to win.
9% (2-) : 9% to win

B) 25% to win (0.5 * 0.5)

List A outperforms List B 49% of the time. Thus, List B is a better choice for a 2 Round Tournament.

4 Round Tournament:

A) 24% (4+) : 24% to win
41% (3+/1-) : 10% to win.
26% (2+/2-) : 4% to win
8% (1+/3-) : 2% to win
1% (4-) : 1% to win

B) 6% to win

List A outperforms List B 65% of the time. Thus, List A is a better choice for a 4 Round Tournament.

6 Round Tournament:

A) 12% (6+) : 12% to win.
30% (5+/1-) : 5% to win.
32% (4+/2-) : 2% to win
18% (3+/3-) : 1% to win
6% (2+/4-) : 0% to win
1% (1+/5-) : 0% to win
0% (6-) : 0% to win.

B) 1.5% to win.

List A outperforms List B 74% of the time. Thus, List A is a better choice for a 6 Round Tournament.

8 Round Tournament:

A) 6% (8+) : 6% to win.
20% (7+/1-) : 2.5% to win
30% (6+/2-) : 1.5% to win.
25% (5+/3-) : 0.5% to win.
14% (4+/4-) : 0.2% to win.
5% (3+/5-) : 0% to win.
1% (2+/6-): 0% to win.
0% (1+/7-) : 0% to win
0% (8-) : 0% to win.

B) 0.4% to win

List A outperforms list B 81% of the time. Thus, List A is better for an 8 Round Tournament.

Seeing a pattern? You should be noting that not only is A more likely to outperform B the higher the rounds go, the % by which A is more likely to outperform B goes up.

So, I did a little study after realizing that. What about lists that are closer to balanced or further away? Well, it ended up like this:

The Gray Line represents the balanced list. As the rounds go up, it begins to under-perform versus unbalanced lists.

The Red Line represents an unbalanced list with a very high win % versus a very high % of lists. and a low loss % versus a low % of lists.

The Green and Blue lines represent unbalanced lists with progressively lower win % versus lower % of lists OR higher loss % versus a higher % of lists, respectively.

The way it works is just like you would expect. The better your unbalanced list is versus most other lists, the better it will do. The way that is measured in this experiment is by the "SPEED" in which it will start to outperform the balanced list where the "SPEED" is the number of rounds in the tournament.

So, a better performing unbalanced list will start to outperform the balanced list in less rounds. A lesser performing unbalanced list takes more rounds to outperform the balanced list.

Eventually, though, all unbalanced lists will outperform the balanced and approach 100% of the time as tournament rounds go up.