Monday, 27 May 2013

Field of Glory V2 - Too Many Draws?

On Friday I posted Phil Steele's worrying comment that "V2 continues to disappoint in this respect [producing too few decisive results in 3.5 hrs] and I am losing interest I think." I said I'd do some digging and report back so here's my findings plus some comments direct from Phil.

The scoring system for FOG is simple with players sharing 20 or 25 points depending on whether the game was drawn or decisive. This means the average score per round in the Northern League can be used to measure the proportion of decisive games: the closer the average score is to 25 the more decisive games have been. Looking at FOG V1 in the 2012 Northern League Ancient & Medieval competition:

  • The average score, for two games, for all players was 22.1 points.
  • This only varied by 1.0 across all 5 rounds (23.1, 21.0, 23.1, 21.8 and 21.4).

This shows that about half the 2012 games were decisive: the average is close to half way between that expected if all games were drawn (20) and that expected if all games were decisive (25).

[Edit] After publication it was pointed out I'd forgotten to take account of the bonus points available in the Northern League. If you break a higher class army, 2 or 5 points are awarded depending on the class differences. This increases the maximum points for a win to either 27 or 30. These events are rare but do happen. I spotted two such wins in the data in rounds 1 & 3 where the average was 23.1. The "true" 25 point average is therefore likely to be less than 22.1 by some 1 or 2% at most. This means there were probably slightly more draws than decisive games than the plain average score of 22.1 would suggest. [Updated: 28 May 2013]

Compared to this general pattern, in 2012 Phil, & partner Chris, averaged 19.0 points per round (21, 18 & 18) playing V1. This is most likely to come from a combination of winning and losing draws. In contrast this year they've played one round of V2 and scored 14.0 points. It's far too early, after only two games, to draw firm conclusions from their 2013 data but it does seem that they're finding it harder to score points using V2 but they continue to draw most of their games in the Northern League.

To place the above in context the average score for the first two rounds in 2013 was the same (21.4) yet one was played with V1 and the other V2. This suggests that the switch to V2 hasn't had a major effect on the proportion of draws and both 2013 averages are well within the range of the 2012 figures. Having said that, if the average for V2 is maintained across this year's remaining three rounds then the difference will be meaningful.

As a curtesy I contacted Phil to see if he had any comment to make on my analysis. He agreed that they were finding it hard to get decisive results. Interestingly, he made a number of points about FOG V2 that are well worth repeating:

  • My armies are broadly historically [and] not entirely 'tournament optimised' and I have not liked what I have seen of V2 sufficiently to [either] change or optimise to them.
  • Most of [our] armies have a fair proportion of skirmishers [and] it is harder to get as many shooting dice as before.
  • The changes to 2nd moves; turning & moving; and skirmishers missile ranges [has] swung [the game in favour of] heavy infantry.
  • We are using 'last year's model' [and] my guess is that other players have adapted [better. Plus] we have encountered more infantry armies [which is] maybe why other players have been less affected.

Phil's points give a rational and reasonable explanation for his disenchantment with FOG V2. Despite this he clearly knows what to do to improve with FOG V2:

"The solution is that we should adapt the way we play, change the armies we play, or reconfigure existing ones."

However he raises, and then answers, the fundamental questions underlying these options:

"Do I like V2? Do I want to change my armies? Do I think [this] will give me games that are more enjoyable, more historical or otherwise more satisfying? For me the answer is a 'no' on pretty much all counts ...

Despite not liking FOG V2 Phil makes a great general point about the competition circuit:

"I appreciate that I am .. mostly .. playing the game because I enjoy engaging with the community of players I know through it."

Of course Phil, like others, has options:

"I will have a look at DBMM, and also suspect that the changes that turned FOG AM into FOG R are probably more promising from my perspective than the changes that turn[ed] FOG AM into FOG AM V2."

The last point really did strike a chord with me. In January I posted my own thoughts on whether to switch to V2 or FOG R. As it turns out it looks like the latter as I've yet to play a game of V2. However, unlike Phil, I wouldn't go so far as considering a return to DBMM V2.

Updated: Sat Oct 19 11:47:29 BST 2013 - Phil Steele has finally decided to quit playing FOG AM v2:

I'm playing the last few 'commitment' games of FoG-AM [remaining in 2013] after which I am done with it.

This is a damning outcome coming, as it does, from a long term and commited anicient wargamer.

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