Hurst Tournament Scoring system

This scoring system is one on its own! It’s a SCS system, and supply centres are the only thing considered. Controversially, it doesn’t consider solos at all and this is, for me, a problem. When I’ve considered using it I’ve modified it to recognise solos.

What is the HTS system?

Well, first, it’s a tournament scoring system as the name suggests. I’ve never seen it used in a tournament, though, and I’ve never seen it used anywhere else.

It does something very different from any other scoring system because it doesn’t deal with games as single entities but compares results in all games across the tournament.

Basically, it compares results by powers. If you’re playing Austria-Hungary in a game, your outcome from that game will be compared by all the other outcomes for Austria-Hungary across all games in the tournament.

  • The result of the game is solely how many SCs you ended on at the end of the game. If a game ends in a solo, every surviving power scores the number of SCs held at the end of the game. If the winner owned more than 18 SCs, the actual number they finished on is taken. If a player lost but survived, they score the number of SCs they held. If a player is eliminated, they score 0.
  • Find the total number of SCs held at the end of the game for each power in each game played. This total is found when games end and changes at the end of each game. It is across the whole tournament.
  • For each power, find the mean total of SCs held. This is found using the total above and divided by the number of games finished. This is the Power Score.
  • For each power an entrant has played, find the difference for the number of SCs they held at the end of the game and the mean total of SCs held by that power. If a player ended with 15 SCs for England in a game, the mean total for England is subtracted from 15. This is the Player Score for England.
  • Find the total score of each power score the player gains across the tournament. If there are four rounds, the player, the player’s scores for each power are totalled. This is the player’s Tournament Score.
  • Divide the total of a player’s scores by the number of rounds in the tournament. If a tournament is a four round tournament, the player’s tournament score is divided by four. This is the Tournament Points won by the player.

Here’s an example for a four round tournament for one player:

PowerSCsPower ScorePlayer Score
Italy53.1565 – 3.156 = 1.844
England97.3869 – 7.386 = 1.614
France169.3416 – 9.34 = 6.66
Germany07.8050 – 7.805 = -7.805
Tournament ScorePSItaly+PSEngland+PSFrance+PSGermany = 2.313
POINTSTS/4 = 0.578
HTS eg

The player, then, ended the tournament with a score of 0.578. This looks like a poor score but is probably a decent one.

If there is then a final game, taking the top seven players and giving them a game to play off, and this player played the same power in this game, it could be that:

  • The Final was seen as a one-off game, with a solo in the final winning the tournament and a draw sees points calculated for the player and the total is added to the Points.
  • In a draw, the Player’s score for the final is doubled, to put more emphasis on the final, but still divided by the extra round, making TS/5 instead of TS/4.
  • If a player plays a power in the final that they have played previously, this generates a second Player Score for the final.

The possible modifications for a final game are not taken into account for the HTS system because Hurst was designing a system for FTF tournaments, where a final game isn’t usually held. In fact, the HTS system doesn’t even feature a Top Board in the final round of the tournament, which is a staple of FTF tournaments.

1. What is the HTS system designed to do?

The assumption with the HTS system is either that games don’t end in a solo, or that it is only SC count that should be taken into consideration. This means that players are only playing to accumulate SCs.

It can only be used for a tournament. The design of the system would tend to level out the points over an on-going series of games. While there would be differences between Power Scores, the fact that the sheer number of games would even out the number of SCs held at the end of a game, and therefore even out Player Scores for each power, means that it wouldn’t be a successful ratings system. And that leaves aside the fact that solos count for nothing!

2. Is the system effective in differentiating between players/results?

It is very effective in this regard simply because it counts SCs and it compares results over the whole tournament. How likely is it that a two players will play the same powers across a tournament and get the same number of SCs for each power?

3. What are the objectives when playing to the system?

Simply, to collect as many SCs as possible. You don’t need to worry about winning or drawing, you just need to own as many SCs as possible at the end of the game. This could lead to some very dynamic play… or it could lead to play being very cautious. After all, when you’ve reached a good number of SCs, then you could well decided to defend your holdings.

A lot would depend on whether or not the Power Scores were made public throughout the tournament. For instance, if you were playing France, and you reached a number of SCs higher than the Power Score (the average number of SCs held at the end of the game for every France) then you could probably afford to be cautious. You’d get a positive score at the end of the game (although you would also be raising France’s Power Score in doing that).

4. Are the objectives consistent with the design of Diplomacy?

The simple answer here is absolutely not. The rules of Diplomacy don’t have the accumulation of SCs as an objective, other than reaching 18 and thereby winning. If the game ends in a draw, the number of SCs held has no impact on the game – all the survivors simply tie, equally.

Also, because it doesn’t matter what the outcome of the game is – whether it resulted in a win or a draw – it moves away from the rules of Diplomacy. This is probably why it has – to my knowledge – never been used: it is, perhaps, a step too far away from the objectives of the game.

This could be countered by taking solos into account. Perhaps, if a player soloed, they would score 18, 34 or the number of SCs they actually hold, with nobody else in the game scoring anything. 34 is, perhaps, too much – it would almost certainly mean that anyone else playing that power, unless they also soloed, would receive a substantially negative score. 18 SCs matches the victory criteria and is probably enough to produce an advantage, although is it big enough when someone else could score 17?

5. Overall, is the system a ‘good’ system?

I don’t think it is, no. However, it is an intriguing one!

It isn’t a good system because it ignores solos. I accept that solos are in short demand in a tournament, but to ignore a win completely is ridiculous. Making the only criteria for success the number of SCs held at the end of the game regardless of outcome is a long way from Diplomacy.

What I do like about the system is that it compares results over the whole tournament. You’re not just playing against people in your game, you are playing against every other player who controls your power in every other game in the tournament.

Some people don’t like this aspect; they prefer to have each game be a single scoring event. I can understand that. However, what comparing results over the tournament the way HTS does reduces the differences between powers.

Let’s take Italy and France, for example. All the stats show that France has more victories than Italy. A lot of people recognise that this is because Italy is in a worse position than France on the board. Some say that the geographic and strategic differences are not so big that they have an impact on the results; it is more to do with how the powers are played – Italy needs to be played in certain ways.

Whatever the reason, Italy doesn’t compare well with France. If the luck of the draw sees you play Italy while another player controls France, the chances are that your results are going to be poorer for doing so. With the HTS system, you are being compared with Italian players only. This, is, potentially fairer.

I found this system intriguing enough that I used it as the basis for my own system, the Mean Comparison Scoring system, and this is in another post in this series.


Published by Mal Arky

I'm a Diplomacy nut... if you haven't guessed. I write about the game Diplomacy, mainly as played online on websites, such as Playdiplomacy, webDiplomacy and Backstabbr. I write books on Diplomacy, too. First one to be published soon!

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