I’m writing this as a blog post because it’s quite a complicated subject and there’s no ideal solution.
The question simply is how should we handle Best in Faction awards for 3rd edition on KoWMasters.com?
We’ve been mulling it over for months in the Committee and not been able to come to a decision. That’s not because we’re truly split or anything, just that there isn’t a perfect answer and we can’t decide on the best. We’re starting to get 3rd edition results come through now, so we need to make a decision.
We’re not taking a poll, we’re not going on pure popularity of solutions. We’re just asking for feedback to help shape our discussion and come to the best decision.
In 2nd edition, there was a grand total of 21 factions, not including Historicals. In 3rd edition there are 24 factions already (including theme lists), with Mantic employees indicating in several posts that we can expect to see more themes on a regular basis. I could easily see the number reaching the low 30’s by the end of the edition.
The more factions we have, the less impressive best in faction awards are.
Already in the latest complete season, there are several factions which seemed to have been won by default – and I count myself as one of those with my Brotherhood Best in Faction award.
There were only 15 results for the faction for the entire season, and only one person – me – achieved the 3 combined scores that we use for best in faction.
I effectively had no competition because it’s a minor faction without many players. It doesn’t feel like a meaningful achievement to me.
If we have more factions added then we will have more factions like this, where the winner is effectively playing unopposed. The awards get watered down. We’re expecting an uplift in the number of players this year but I really can’t see it being enough to make every faction used enough to have real challenge for them all.
Proposed Solution 1: Just do it
As it says. Add every faction and theme to the table.
Accept that for some factions (notably themes) there will only be one or two people playing them to compete in any way. In some circumstances (as with Historicals last season), players don’t even use the faction multiple times and win with just one result.
The list will continue to get longer as time goes on.
Proposed Solution 2: Master list only
Instead of having every theme as a separate faction for the best in faction awards, we just use the overall master list. If someone uses the League of Rhordia then their result will count towards the best in faction for Kingdoms of Men. Everyone will still be working towards a best in faction award, regardless of the theme they use. They will just be competing against those who use the same master list, whether “pure” or another theme of it.
The factions page could have an option to display themes as well as master lists so that players could compare theme lists, but when we’re giving out awards it’ll be based on master factions only – not the separate themes.
This will help keep the number of factions down and make those best in faction awards more meaningful than “you managed to find an unpopular theme and took it to one event”.
One of the potential drawbacks of this is what to do about themes that change alignment – e.g. Twilight Kin being evil but their master list, Elves, being good. We don’t currently use the alignment for anything, but could in the future maybe?
Proposed Solution 3: Minimum threshold
By default, all theme lists will count towards the master list for best in faction awards. However, once the theme list reaches a certain threshold (this could be number of results, number of players or a combination of them), then it is split out from its Master list and counts as a separate faction for the purpose of best in faction.
This could get complicated and I’m personally already aware that we’ve complicated the rankings a little bit already this year.
It also raises the question about what happens if the theme list reaches the threshold, but then the remaining master list results don’t once it’s split out? What about any master lists that don’t meet the threshold? Would it feel right if a theme list met the threshold right at the end of the year?
Proposed Solution: ?
There may be other solutions that we’ve not considered. By all means provide feedback. Please just take a few minutes to think of the what-ifs before jumping to posting though. The minimum threshold solution sounds alright at first glance, but there are a few problems when you start to delve into the actual mechanics of how it would work. Not to say they can’t be overcome, but there’s the potential for increasing the complexity of the rankings for little gain.
Increased player count
We’re expecting an influx of players this year. Nowhere near the sort that we saw at the start of 2nd ed, but a healthy year on year growth. This could help make sure that there are enough players for each theme list for them to be competitive. Personally I’m not convinced the increase will be enough.
Achievements driving behaviour
I’ve recently launched an Achievements tab on the player page which gives people various objectives to try and hit throughout the year. One of those objectives is to play multiple factions – and having themes listed as separate factions could help drive this behaviour.
Best in Faction Certificates
This year for the first time I’ve provided Best in Faction certificates for each winner, presented at the Masters. A lot of the winners weren’t in attendance, so I asked attendees to take the certificates if the player lived locally and I’ll post the rest of them out.
These were funded this year by Nick’s Debit Card.
I’m happy to do it this year and given the extremely positive feedback I’ve had, it’s something I definitely want to do next year.
I already pay for the web hosting so it’s not too much more, but if there are too many factions then it starts to become a financial concern for me.
It’s not right to charge Masters attendees for these awards, and I would hate to levy any sort of “tithe” for events to be listed on the website. Some sort of crowdfunding could work if people were happy to donate.
Note that if we crowdfunded this then we could extend it to other rankings based certificates – e.g. number 1 on the leaderboard, most events attended, most factions used etc.
Best in Faction Masters Invites
One of the things that we’ve discussed in the committee is increasing the invite criteria for Masters so that in the first round of invites, we ask the top 16 players plus any additional players who have a best in faction award. We would have a set minimum number of attendees (probably around 20 I imagine). If we reached this minimum on the first round of invites then we have our masters list. If we didn’t reach the minimum then we would start working our way down the rankings as we currently do.
Currently this is feasible and would have resulted in an invite list of 24 players in the first batch. There’s usually around 2-3 declines in the first round of invites (it was higher this year due to timing), so we would have ended up with a Masters event of 20-22 players this year.
If we list all themes as separate factions then this would rapidly become unfeasible because there would be too many players for an event like this.
Yeah. So a few things to think about.
Like I said, we’re not holding a binding poll on this. We’re not going to follow every suggestion or anything. We’re just asking for thoughts to help us with our discussions.
We need to make a decision on this sooner rather than later.