A random series of articles on war gaming in 40K, FOW and other systems. The headings are, WiP; Conversions and models in various states of assembly. PiP; Paint works on various models. Mission Critical; scenarios or missions to bring a bit of a twist to a normal game. MiA; rules for units and characters that could/should/might appear in a game. Dig In; How to guides on making various types of terrain for different game systems. Sit Rep; Battle reports and after action reports on games played

Friday, August 13, 2010

40K; To Rank or not to Rank that is the question

So the ETC has come and gone and dust is starting to settle. Ireland's performance was good but should have been better. I had hoped for a top half finished instead we ended up in the bottom quarter.

One of the interesting points raised was how the team was selected. There are two distinct schools of thought on how it should be done the first is the Rankers and the second is the Captain choice. The Ranker philosophy is that the top eight ranked players at a given time are the best players in the country regardless of all other factors. Ideally the captain is the best player in the country. The captain choice philosophy is that there are 100+ players that play games in Ireland by picking players for a given purpose a better team can be created. Ideally the captain is not playing and is dedicated on getting a team win.

The common issue with the captain’s choice is that it is open to corruption and the captain will only pick his mates for the team. The counter is that such a captain is a bad captain and a bad captain would be a liability regardless of method selected. Another complaint is that the captains choice would bypass rankings in favour of getting to know the captain. The counter is the same a good captain goes to all/most of the events he should know most of the players, he should be thinking of the big picture the rankings are still important to generate names see how players are progressing. A good captain with freehand to select his A-team and a burning desire to win would be lethal when it comes to ETC. Most of the top teams use a version Captains choice and true so do some of the bottom ones but considering there are twenty four teams ahead of Ireland compared to seven below implies it is more gain than pain.

The rankers favour rankings because it is simple and is based on merit. At first pass it seems ideal. Others, like myself, think it breaks down too often and that the top eight are only the top eight at the time you look at them, next time you check the list will have changed particularly around the bottom half. Other notable issues are,
The Tristam effect;
Tristam is a good player with the second highest number of tournament wins this year but he did not make the cut for the ETC, Why? Is the answer that he organised and ref'd several tournaments? In organising/running Gaelcon and Vaticon he was penalised under the ranking system, everybody who attended got points but he did not. Without his sacrifice the rankings cannot work and the tournament scene would be a poorer place..
The Mike Brown effect
Some players are annoyingly good. But because of life commitments they have only limited time to game. They do not get to go to many events but when they do they do very well. Under rankings they are penalised despite the fact they are arguably the best players around.
The Mike Tangley effect:
Some players regularly travel aboard for big events and have played in Tournaments from San Francisco to Nottingham. They are penalised under rankings if they opted to play in a large 150+ event aboard instead of a small local 10 player ranked event. Despite the fact they bring so much to the team.
The Vulcan effect;
Some players can build awesome armies that are capable of doing very well and break into the top ten. However, their armies may not be allowable at the ETC and the player may have little or no ability with any other army but they still make the cut on a ranking team.
The Unknown Soldier effect;
Somewhere in the Irish rankings is one or more unknown soldiers. He plays tournaments with his favourite army, it is ETC allowed, the player consistently gets draws or wins but doesn't always win big or score high on the rankings. At the ETC he would be an ideal in a shield role (I will discuss the roles swords and shields at the ETC later). But he will never make selection on a ranked system
The Josh Roberts effect;
Some of the players who make a rankers team will need to change armies either it is not ETC allow or another player has first call on their armies. The argument is that they are good players regardless of armies used, Mike Brown, Dan Aherne and Paul Quigley are examples such players who can switch armies and still do well. I think that works small tournaments but will fail a ETC. A ranker who qualifies and changes army has at most 3-4 months to be become familiar with his army. When he goes to the ETC he will face Josh Robert of team England. Josh has 500 games of experience with his army. That is a game a day for nearly year and half. To get a result against that type of player a big ask of the ranked player. Its even worse if you are asking it of someone who is not playing their first choice army or have had only a couple of months in their new role.
The "I won" effect;
In order for the rankers to pick a team they must pick a point in time and say by this date the top eight are on the team. If a player is in the top eight before or after that date but not on the date they do not make the cut. Consider a player who is in the top eight for seven of the eight tournaments during the year but misses out because the one event he missed was the decider. Or consider the case of a player who makes the cuts but has soon as he qualifies he plummets down the rankings so that by the time of the ETC they are ranked forty seventh.
The precedent;
This year ETC team was intended to act as golden ticket and friends affair with players get invites to play for the team and a couple of others getting to play. As it worked out it ended up being a ranking ETC team. All of the players ranked in at some stage or another. The rankings team consisted of nothing but swords (more on this later) i.e. players who play to win and for who the concept who playing for draw is alien, you don't get to make the top ten by playing for a draw. This team went to ETC and was badly defeated, the players were good the team was not. The precedent is against the ranked team.

The ETC and Pairings
Regardless of the selection method both systems are aimed at doing well at the ETC. They do this by winning the pairings. The ideal team consists of a mixed bag of players some are sword players, they play to win, for them the idea of a draw is alien and their armies themed for that purpose. Others are shield players, they are okay with draw and can hold their own against pretty much anything. The third type are jack of all trades they can do both but not to the same level as dedicated sword or shield players. The Ideal team consists of three swords, three shields and two jacks. The way the pairings work is that one team nominates player the other team picks a nemesis army for him to play against the cycle is repeated three times with the last two pairs consisting of two predetermined team champions and the last free players on teams. The sequence they are played is sword, shield, sword, shield, sword, shield, jack, jack depending on who has the initiative swords and shield may switch places in the sequence. The desired results is win, draw, win, draw, win, draw, draw, draw points wise the win translates 95 v 65 ETC points. There may be some upsets causing a swing of +\-20 points but by and large that is how it should play out.

The ranked team consists of nothing but swords, most of whom will have to play as shields or jacks only three will be playing in roles they are suited for. The Captains choice will consist best swords, shields and jacks available for the ETC. When the Ranked team and the Captain choice pair off both teams will be pretty similar, good players are good players after all, however, where they deviate it will be to the advantage of the captains choice. His players are picked for purpose from a larger pool while the ranked team has players who are in roles they are not accustom to or have had only a couple of month to get up to speed with.

By and large that is what happened to Ireland most of the time the swords were blunted, the shields were broken and the jacks did so-so. Intermittently swords struck and shields held but far far too few times. If you are not convinced look at the scores for Ireland at the ETC. How rounds were won by more than 115 points or lost by more than 45 points? The fault is not the players they are some of the best nor is the issue the captain he has to make do with what he has. The main problem is that team is off balance too many swords not enough shields or jacks. The result was a team where the captain struggled to get good pairings and players struggled to get good results.

Considering that the ranked team did not work this year and suggesting that we use it again next year is like WW1 if the first wave did not work we send in another wave. Yes there is the benefit of hindsight but they had that as well in WW1. It would be far better to change tactics and try another selection system and if that doesn't work then try another system the year after, to keep on driving to create the best selection process.

So having read all of the above and gotten pass the bad grammar and spelling the question is do you rank or not rank?


Mandragoran said...

Best and most concise way I've seen it put so far mate. Well done. You know my feelings...Hannibal picks the A-Team ;)

Anonymous said...

Good points. As a casual player that has only this year started attending the tournament scene it is rather strange idea that rankings would determine the Irish team - especially as you rightly point out that many players cannot actually attend many tournaments due to "life". And those they attend they end up doing very well. It should therefore be a combination of rankings and captain picking the team. It would be result in a better balance I feel. It would be good if the team was picked at the beginning of the year (January) and then starting with Warpcon they play their respective roles as they would at the ETC.

Of the course the only danger to this is that due to the geographical split of the game in Ireland with players not tending to travel to regional tournaments (and subsequent smaller turnout), the captain might favour those players with whom he is most familiar with. The conundrum is large - but pure rankings is not the best method.

pucadubh said...

This sounds like someone who knows what ETC is all about, I would recommend the incoming Captain should listen and listen good.

Anonymous said...

some interesting questions. i have some ideas that might help. will talk to you soon.

bloodclaw_97 said...

Great write up.
The the analysis of the matchup system and how to work that meta game for the types of list required is the best I've seen anywhere.

Still don't agree with the level of captains choice proposed. As one of the most blunted swords on this years team I guess that and a few euro might get me a cup of coffee :)

Anonymous said...

This year there were grumblings about the team, changing to captains choice will only make those stronger and justified. I think there is far too much going on to be at most events and watch every player to see who's good at what. The rankers favour rankings because it is open, transparent and means that anyone can qualify should they prove themselves. The captains choice gives no solid criteria to be able to get on the team. As such it takes away from ranking events and the newly invigorated tournament scene, whats to gain by going to every tournament now? I can think of four people off the top of my head who wouldn't travel and just go to local tournaments. Using the rankings to choose the ETC team promotes the tournament scene far more then captains choice. I've had conversations with peole getting excited for the kicking up in tournaments over the next months with the hope of quailifying, surely a much better thing for the hobby then picking your mates.

The lonely soldier effect gets lost just as much in the captains choice, i don't believe for a second that they'll get picked up. If you can win, you can draw And even if they do, it's even more controversial The Josh Roberts effect can be over come, as was seen with Joe, who lost every game up until a month before the ETC and ended up the best scoring on the team. The captain picking a team is just as flawed, there's always going to me people miffed by not being chosen as the best. Under the ranking system you get the chance to take your fate in your own hands and if you can play well enough you're in.

The ranked team consists of nothing but swords, up until the point where there is a team. At this stage no one has a list yet. The Captains choice will consist best swords, shields and jacks available for the ETC in his opinion which is so subjective it's not funny. A couple of months to get up to speed with an army is not a big deal.

By and large what happened to Ireland most of the time the swords weren't swords, the shields weren't shields and there were no jacks. The fault is not the players they are some of the best nor is the issue the captain he has to make do with what he has. The main problem is that team is off balance too many swords not enough shields or jacks. The result was a team where the captain struggled to get good pairings and players struggled to get good results. This was a list problem from day 1, nothing else. And something that'll be sorted in the first week of the team being assembled.

Considering that the ranked team did not work this year and suggesting that we use it again next year is like bringing a gun to the next gunfight instead of a knife. It would be far better to refine tactics and try and if that doesn't work then try another system the year after, to keep on driving to create the best selection process. I would much rather have the ETC team as something to strive towards in a very clear way.


Mandragoran said...

Well a lot of people have differing opinions on how to assemble the team. I think the best thing thats come out of this conversation is that we tend to be all agreed on what the team should consist of when we get there...the only differing factor is how we get the team, not how it should operate...A long way travelled in not such a long time ;)

Dakeryus said...

@ Floody
regarding the statement "A couple of months to get up to speed with an army is not a big deal."
For the ETC between making the final cut and the event itself you will 5 months prep. Can you show me anybody in Ireland who has won two events with different armies in the last 5 months? Pick any 5 month period since the ranking began if you want. They are the sterotype player, name one? It takes time to understand an army and then use it to ETC standard. Would the 7th player on rankings who uses that army not be a better choice than the 6th ranked player who has to change?

Regarding the statement;
"....surely a much better thing for the hobby then picking your mates."
That is kind of missing the point, the Captain doesn't have any mates :( Their sole purpose is to pick and pair a team for the ETC. If you were playing your mate for a spot in the UK GT final and a draw was all that was required for both off you to go through a win/loss would mean one of you would not make the final. What would you do?

"...The result was a team where the captain struggled to get good pairings and players struggled to get good results. This was a list problem from day 1, nothing else..." That’s incorrect, lists represent the players attitudes and personality. Each player has picked an army that they somehow identify with, it was not luck dip, you/me/everybody made a conscious decision to pick army X/Y/Z for whatever reason. Scrap goating the lists doesn't address the fact all the players were the same personality type.
We had some idea what type of armies were required post the home nations but in hindsight the win inflated the egoes and the "we can take on the world" attitude took over.

Anonymous said...

First point, It's not a tournament like normal. That became clear very quickly. Your point about winning within 5 months is moot. How many people actively plan out with a group and train for a specific role in a team tournament?
The guy who comes 6th earned his place. Get on the team first. Armies second.

"the Captain doesn't have any mates". If you believe that your fooling yourself. Unless of course your captain is a robot.....

Even if the lists were all built as a result of specific personalities is was still a problem. I don't see where you're going with the last point because if everyone had the same type of list, then there's a problem with....the lists! If we had given Paul better tools, built with a knowledge of what was going on, then he'd have had better options.

Newbreed said...

If we are looking to imitate success, then the ranking approach seemed to work for the Poles. They are the champions. They remained undefeated despite having a team based on the top ranked players from their national league rather than one chosen by their captain.

And as a counter to the idea that a good player cannot succeed without months of practice, I will point out that in the actual ETC event, the three highest scoring players on the Irish team were the three using lists which they had developed after the Home Nations. That's what? Two months of not particularly intensive training.

But aside from that, the merit-based system is the fairest and most objective available to us. It may not pick the best combination of eight players but I trust it to come closer than I would the perceptions of a captain which are coloured by his familiarity with players/past encounters/reputation/tournament attendence (which can be affected by his geographical location).

I'm entirely with you on the swords/shields concept, we wasted a few hours (and quite a few since in Ireland) in Dusseldorf airport discussing potential combos.

If we want a stronger showing next year, then we simply need to send the eight best Irish players equipped with eight lists designed with that approach in mind.

Anonymous said...

As the famous political scientist Basil Chubb noted, the Irish seem to have something of an obsession with personalism.
Have to agree 100% with Padraic and Floody here. A team selected solely by the captain is a fast track to an Irish team dominated by bias and insularity. The idea that one individual is capable of effectively assessing the merits and flaws of the every tournament player in the country is somewhat incredulous, as is the belief that this same individual's judgement is more qualified than the objective standard supplied by a wide range of tournament results annually.
I absolutely agree that lists need to be chosen on a "sword, shield, jack-of-all-trades" basis and this is one of the major lessons learnt from Ireland's first E.T.C. adventure. Our lists were not adjusted to cope with the E.T.C. metagame and in my view this was the single largest reason for the team's failing, rather than any fatal flaw in the selection process.
Simply put, give the best players the best tools and they will adjust and thrive.


Dakeryus said...

Hi Cian,
Thanks for joining in, A couple of comments
“...The idea that one individual is capable of effectively assessing the merits and flaws of the every tournament player in the country is somewhat incredulous, as is the belief that this same individual's judgement is more qualified than the objective standard supplied by a wide range of tournament results annually....”

Happen twice a week every week at football. A manager sits down and picks his starting eleven from his pool of players. I’m guessing a similar thing is done in other team sports. Why is that method of selection used instead of the top eleven goal scorers being on the team then deciding between themselves who will play what role?
Mike, Barra, Myself and probably Jimmy probably already have experience of putting together a team be it for work or cricket so the skill set is already present in the 40K scene.

“ players..”
I’m not convinced the best players are the top ten rankers only that they are some of the best at that the time they are in the top ten. I listed eight issues and it could be argued that the two golden tickets for the captain/vice is a ninth issue for the ranking system as opposed to the one possible two issues with captain choice would the system with the least number issues not generate the best team?

“...Adjust and thrive...”
Unsure, looking at the current top ten I don’t see a lot of players doing well with multiple armies. At the ETC there was only player that had placing with multiple armies (well done Floody). I’m willing to be proved wrong thought how do you fancy trying to win two events with different armies between now and qualification? If one guy does it’s a minor win for the rankers, two guys is a solid win and three guys in a massacre (plus the team then gets its three shields in the bargain)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response,

Well I would have to challenge the soccer analogy as I don't think it's really a fair comparison. Soccer players work as a team, all playing in the same game, and are required to work together at every stage during the ninety minutes. The manager doesn't necessarily pick the player who is the most skillful in a particular position but takes into account his ability to link up with his team mates during that game. Warhammer is very different. All players are required to individually play matches and their results are joined together to create a total team score. In this respect it is far closer to golf and I would point out that Ryder Cup selection relies heavily on rankings.
Also I still don't accept that there is a someone in the country who intimately knows the playing style, mentality and individual skills of the 140 or so 40k tournament goers in the previous calendar year.

"I’m not convinced the best players are the top ten rankers only that they are some of the best at that the time they are in the top ten."
I'm not quite sure how to interpret the above statement. Are we to assume then that tournaments are not a fair gauge of skill at the game. Peculiar, because tournaments reward winning games, which is precisely the objective of the Warhammer. Ergo performance in tournaments throughout the year would directly correlate to skill in Warhammer. If there are players who have performed averagely throughout the year, despite being well regarded, should we really be choosing these now off-form gamers ahead of someone who has excelled this year?
It would then be argued that the ranking team is full of "swords" and not "shields". I have to ask then, how is it the captain is to select great "shield" players. He won't find them at tournaments, where, by and large, all skilled players play to win and bring lists with strong "sword" capabilities. He must then choose them from players he knows already for a substantial length of time and has seen play quite frequently, probably in his own locality, more than likely his own club. A team picked with this insular mindset would destroy any notion that the E.T.C. team is anything other than the Captain and his buddies heading off to the European Championships. In a team selected purely by the Captain, where is the failsafe that prevents teams being chosen on the basis of personalism?

I do believe that the best players in the country have the ability to adapt and thrive. You mentioned Floody, Paul Quigley and Dan Aherne as examples of such skilled players. Performance in tournaments is as much about an strong knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent's army as it is about intimate knowledge of your own. The highest ranking players evidently have a very strong knowledge of the game as a whole and that knowledge is applicable regardless of what list he is required to play.


Dakeryus said...

I thought the soccer analogy was really good :)
Shields become defenders, jacks midfielders and swords strikers. Each players contribution counts towards the teams round result. In football if you put a striker in a defender position they are not the best they then to migrate towards the opposition goal (any comments Padraig? ;) ). Similarly if you put a sword type player in a shield role they won’t be the best they will try to push the limits. We saw it at the ETC and at the five nations. The best example I can think of is when Mike made a play which he knew was risky but had high reward when the mission only needed a draw.

Funny, you should mention the golf analogy I did speak to a golfer pre-ETC to get some understanding of how they do pairing for events. I thought it might be useful if they had any tips (which they didn’t). Rankings come into play for pairing but for team selection they were less of an issue. In golf teams pair of by their handicap (if I wrong I can give you the name of the guy who told me to verify it). The top handicap players in Europe play the top handicaps players in USA.

I think we are in deep sh*t if we need to go through all 140 players to get a team of eight. Probably the first dozen or so will suffice. Better yet we could put up a call to arms post on the warhammer forum asking for players who are interested to declare they are available it would be an gauge of interest.

“..where is the failsafe that prevents teams being chosen on the basis of personalism?
It is a leap of faith, I agree, a high risk high reward scenario but if it doesn’t work you just drop it for next year and then go round wearing “I told you so “ T shirts. ;)

PS Are you still game to try and win two events with different armies?

Where did you get the info the Poland selection process. I browsed the captain’s interview I was a miffed he did not discuss how they picked their team?

“..three highest scoring players on the Irish team were the three using lists which they had developed after the Home Nations..”
Hmm, I not sure of the merits of discussing the inidividual players results in a team based event without Paul’s inputs on his match-up. How do you differentiate actual versus expected results? If Joe was getting good pairings then the expectation is he should be getting 100+ points. Similarly, if Jimmy was acting a “human” shield, and getting bad pairings, he is only expected to get 60 odd points. Jimmy, I would use this as justification for your results ;). The point being on a round by round bases the expectation of players changed depending on how Paul worked the pairing without that info we are just speculating.

Not to pick on Joe but to use him again as an example of adaptability. Joe started and end the season as a CSM player chopped and changed his list and made it awesome it is now arguable the finest CSM list around, but he still fought as CSM for more than a year to get to the list. What happens in the situation where we get two IG* players in the cut and neither have shown any great skill with any other army. Are they both still in? Even if the next guy down the list has a complete different army that could be an asset (I’m thinking Daemons, Orcs or something)?

*sorry Cian, we could substitute any codex in as an example.

Dakeryus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pinball Wizard said...

Captain's choice reeks a bit of fascism. All Hitler's buddies got on grand after 1933. Not saying the Irish ETC team is prone to Nazism or anything, I just don't see how it can be 100% fair.

I favour the current setup with the slight exception that I think there should be two wild cards instead of one. That way nobody gets their emo girly feelings hurt when they're not picked. If you make the cut you're in. If you don't want to change armies, then take the blue pill. The numerous effects that were mentioned are each highly rare occurences despite happening. I honestly do think that if Mike Brown could get the time away to go he'd be first choice wild card most years due to his innate understanding of the game.

Not only does the rankers before wankers scheme work better, it creates hype as Mr. Flood said. I'm genuinely looking forward to Gaelcon because I want to fluke my way up to getting that best Eldar tag on RHQ which would be novelty value for a poor army. If it was captain's choice I can see a lot of people not bothering to go. Why would you? D4 for a long weekend? That shit's expensive.

However I think the biggest fault with captain's choice is that it will create regionalism naturally. One year a dublin captain and his mates and Floody will go. Next year a Cork captain, his mates and Darragh will go. That's not to say you're exclusive but you'll only know your own area because the other players aren't hiking up to your tournaments and vice versa. Hence you bring what you know. This would lower the interest of Kilkenny, North Wexford, Limerick and the like.

Now that's not to say the current setup works. Under rankers you get less time but by definition you get more committed players. Every opportunity must be exploited. Weekends being booked off, bringing full strength to 5 nations. We definitely need a more involved approach post qualification. The team went very Man City this year. All great players with a wealth of talent that I would find near impossible to best, but no team really. We need to be more Birmingham City in our approach.

Either that or just start dropping hints in each ETC table as gaeilge without making eye contact with your friends and assure your opponents that you're just reciting poetry.

Daniel Ahern said...

Hey folks, thought I'd pitch in since my name was mentioned :D

First off: Well done to the lads who went over. I know ye were expecting to do better, but being realistic about it ye did really well considering it was the Irish's first attempts at breaking into the ETC scene.

Secondly: Give me some of those dice, they're awesome (seriously, give me the company name!)

On the prep for next year:

Player abilities:
I agree that there needs to be a certain element of the sword/shield/jack division amongst the armies. I do not agree that the ranking players are necessarily all sword players, but the ranking does encourage it. This is where things can go one of two ways:

A) All players are taken at face value from their position in the rankings
B) Discretion of player choice is offered to the Captain

What really strikes me here is the potential inflexibilities of system A the potential for abuse of system B. Pure ranking is, in my opinion, the system that will benefit us most as a gaming community leading on from this. Following the example of the Poles here is what I'd advise, at least for one more year. They have a vast wealth of players to choose from and their player base is far more experienced than ours, but we have an opportunity here to learn from them. With the Captain, Vice Captain and 1 wild card, there's already likely to be a solid core of gamers involved and I have the utmost faith in Floody to be impartial when it counts. We will all compete and make our claim fair and square.

The Captain:
Darragh you make some very interesting points on the Captain, but I was particularly interested in how you think they should not be a competing player. You do also note that you think the captain needs to be the best player. Would you not agree that it would be better to have your best players play and perhaps have the captain as an organiser/sub? Going to the ETC with your best player sitting it out strategising may not be the best solution. There are some fantastic organisers out there who are better at identifying people's strengths and weaknesses in gameplay and being able to take themselves completely out of the equation. With this in mind, what particular aspect of a non competing best player captain would be most beneficial?

Named effects (loved the examples)
The Tristram Effect:
This is something that's worried me, since Tristram has already dedicated himself to Vaticon (pfft stop calling it retcon) next year and wont be able to get his points because of it. It'll be annoying me personally because of running Warpcon too, but this is a personal annoyance of mine since playing at Warpcon is awesome (shameless plugging all round). Hard to get around this one tbh.

Continued in part 2: Stupid character limit

Daniel Ahern said...

Ok, I lost most of this due to this blog fecking it up, posting what I managed to save:

The Mike B effect:
Life takes precedence, but these players will still be able to rank as I believe the ranking for the ETC next year will take in your top 4 events for your position? This means that 4 is the magic number. Not sure there's much of a way to nab in players that have as much going on as Mike and the many other parents, full time employees etc more than has already been allowed for.

The Tangney effect:
Interesting to consider foreign events, particularly as they would provide us with players with a broad experience. I haven't been involved in the ranking system much but I was under the impression that the point of the Irish team was not just to do well but also to reflect the participants on the Irish scene?

The Vulkan effect:
Using an army thats illegal for the ETC isnt a problem imo as you may be likely to be asked to use another, particularly with the proliferation of powered armoured codices and obscene special characters that are littering the battlefields. In your example, the player who demonstrates the complete inability to utilise another list other than one who requires special characters as a crutch is a player that is useless to the team full stop. Vulkan doesn't stand alone there, with Logan, Ghaz and their imba little possie of brokeness. Perhaps a little flexibility by the team to remove a player who has proven unable to compete without their crutch? Implementing this would be hard to do though as it comes back to opinion.

The Unknown Solider:
There may be alot of these out there, but the sword players in the top listed rankings may also be able to emulate this role. This also applies to the jack of all trades players who may not be top level scoring but are able to adapt to any army or scenario and have an intimate knowledge of the game.

Josh Roberts effect:
Thanks for the mention by the way :)
There are huge gaps in the updates applied to certain codices and certain players have the luxury of playing a high number of games to find out what works for them. In your example I hope Josh played those games against equally competent players but the point was well made. Here is where the biggest issue with ETC selection occurs - Who gets priority in a clash of army experience and ranking position? For example:
Bob and Steve both qualify by the rankings. Both were primarily guard players for the tournaments they competed in (and in their own games at home). For the example, Bob has more experience with guard and is a better player than Steve. Bob can play other armies pretty well but he's insanely talented with guard. Steve can only really play well with guard and is slow to learn but is adamant he can get used to it in time. What do you do? These are all issues of using ranking, but also choosing players. Picking the best guard, BA, SW, Marine, DE, Eldar etc players based on who you know is also a bad idea should someone unknown come to the fore and then get denied just because he's not as well known as say, Mike B.

Daniel Ahern said...

The Lynx effect:
We should get that guy. If he has a spray can of lynx that can do that imagine what he can do with an army!

Irish gaming:
The Irish tournament scene is divided at the moment and there's a certain feeling of Cork vs Dublin going on, from what I've heard and seen since my return to 40k. Back in 3rd and 4th ed competitive 40k in Ireland it was more about clubs having fun rivalries, now it seems to have become something bitter that really needs to stop. We're all playing our little toy soldiers for fun at the end of the day.

At this point I'm tired and probably rambling a little, but I think ye get the gist. Use ranking, I'm awesome, have lynx as sponsors for the Irish team and Floody is totally right and should definately pick me for the wild card. Very interesting read Darragh, very nice. Also Hannibal didn't pick the A-Team, he discovered them through a series of unusual events and they banded together, at least if you're to borrow from the film :P

Dan Ahern

Dakeryus said...

Cheers for joining in Dan.

Poles having rankings but I'm still waiting for details on how they use them for team selection. If it was pure rankings why do they have nine players of their team rooster. If you know of a link were the Polish players discuss how they pick a team please send it on I would love to read it.

The Swedes (winners last year) also have rankings but only the top three get spots the rest are conditional wild cards. This is one of the reason why I'm keen for the more wild cards model. Here is the Swedish interview where they discussed team selection

The potential abuse under captains choice is a trust issue. People don't trust the captain to pick the best team. If players don't trust the captain any selection method is comprised. Do you not think an impartial player who has made a commitment to the team (by ruling himself out for the ETC) could generate an Irish A team? If you sat down with a tea and biscuit who would you put in for your top eight (don’t tell me, but try it, its a bit of craic).

Losing a good player to make him not playing captains is a bit of a paradox. I think when you measure the pro’s and the con’s it was more good than harm.

Stick with the rankings for another year (or once more over the trenches). hmm I don't know, the fact Paul, who has sat in the Captains chair twice, is pushing for change kind of suggests we should change. I think his half assed comprise is crap ;) but the fact he knows what he is talking about means I’m willing to try it. I think Paul is the only person around at the moment to make an informed decision on how to select the team, everybody including myself is just passing time. The fact his inputs are largely being ignored suggests we are not learning from the past performance and are destined to repeat the same mistakes.

Its not really “Dublin V Cork” or “something bitter” just a discussion on how to do things it should happen at some stage better now than later.

Dakeryus said...

The Tristam effect (we can call it the Dan affect in Cork)is a big bug bear for me the fact you guys are going through the greive/stress of organising an event and then getting tanked at rankings is a bit of a kick in the teeth. Without your efforts the rankings are pretty meaningless.

Anonymous said...

"Stick with the rankings for another year (or once more over the trenches)."
Very strong words. I think completely overhauling our selection process and moving in the polar opposite direction has all the signs of a knee-jerk reaction to performing relatively poorly this year. We've already established the lack of tailored "shield" lists was a major flaw in our E.T.C. preparation yet it seems a couple of us are not willing to allow a team of ranked players the opportunity to try these new roles and adopt this new approach.

"I think Paul is the only person around at the moment to make an informed decision on how to select the team"
*sprays the coffee he was drinking all over desk, much to the bemusement of his co-workers*
I don't believe for a second Paul would be arrogant enough to genuinely believe that. While he was our Captain in Germany, and a fine one at that, he is by no means the only one capable of offering an informed and valid opinion on E.T.C. selection process. Aside from those of us, like Paul, who have first hand international experience, there are many others who have (and will continue to offer) well thought out and strong argumentation for one point of view or another. The suggestion that we should sit quietly and accept whatever Paul believes to be best for the country's entire gaming community smacks of exactly the kind of closed-shop, insular approach to team selection that will ensue should we adopt a "Captain's Choice" model.

Like I've said before I believe the ranked team will, by its very nature, comprise of stronger players than the subjective selection process of "Captain's Choice". Outside of this, however, there are the considerable benefits of the ranking process in, firstly, energizing the Irish gaming scene and, secondly, providing complete transparency in how our team is selected. These benefits should not be disregarded so readily and are impossible to emulate under a "Captain's Choice" model.


Dakeryus said...

Sorry if it appears arrogant Cian it was a statement of fact not intended to offend. Nobody here has sat in the seat and made the call we have speculate about it, thought about it, still have not done it.
Saying we have ETC experience does not equal ETC captains experience by how much is a matter of opinion (again Paul is possibly the only person who can comment on this). As players we should be interested primarily in the making the cut and therefore have a vested interest in how the cut is made. For the Captain team selection is only part of the problem there are other factors which they must deal with mainly captains council and logistical shit.

Nobody is suggesting you “should sit quietly and accept whatever” rather the exact opposite bitch and moan as only wargamers can but at the end of the day any discussion has to reach decision and if your arguments have not made him change his mind then it’s his call and move on.

Since “closed-shop, insular” are important issues you should be aware that they could also happen under a ranking only system. Picture this rankings points becomes the only think that counts pretty soon everybody shows up with uber armies and the enjoyment factor of the event starts to suffer. If people don’t enjoy events pretty soon they stop going and supporting rankings events until all that is left is a hard-core clique who keep playing with themselves. That is bad for the national and international scene Ireland become the Italians or worse think of a team made up of guys exactly like the Czech guy you played. Before you spill any more coffee that is not an implausible scenario there have already been events in England where organisers have declared it as a non ranking event because they don’t want that type of mindset there. At the ETC captains council some countries vote against others on principle (because they think they are jerks).

Saying ranking “energizing the Irish gaming scene” is incorrect it occurred at the same time as the ETC came about. How do you differentiate the impact of the two? It could be said more people are interested in getting on the team than getting top spot in Ireland if that was the case then the ETC not the rankings energizing the scene .

Incidentally, captains choice offers more spots on the team (the non playing captain takes a player out and there are no golden tickets meaning there are eight spots up for grabs compared to 5-6 with rankings). That people are not willing to trust another player with the role is disappointing. Does that mean you never trust any player regardless of circumstances.

Again we are at an impasse Captains choice Vs rankings you cry “fix” I cry “crap” you want transparency, I want results. If both systems worked ideally they would generate the exact same team. If the both broke down which would be worse?

Ps any interest in winnnig two events with two different codexs with 5 months to demonstrate good rankers and good players?

Dakeryus said...

Gents I'm moving the post to the forum. Its cloging up the blog the link is here.

Farseer Dave said...

Excellent post m8.

Alot of people seem opposed to the captains choice system . I will however point out that team usa was mostly organised under this system , the captain Ben Mohlie picked most of the players for his Team. Team America did very very well at their first ETC . so the team he selected was obviously vry strong.

In America 2 spots were given out Based on your placings in a particular tournament , so 2 members ''earned'' their spot.

What if we had a similiar system the captain picks all but 2 of his ETC team , he puts together what he thinks is the best bunch of guys/ladies on the Irish scene atm.

Then the captains selects 1 major event (6 game one like gaelcon pref and also none of his chosen etc team members can attend) and the top 2 finnishers of that event get offered a place.

I think this way the captain can select Guys he knows will deliver on the day (joe cullen for eg) but it also leaves the door open to skilled players who may not have time to attend evry event . They will only have to attend this 1 particular one and place in the top 2.

not a perfected concept by any means,
Food for thought though.

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