Tribute Scoring system

If you want a different type of scoring system, the Tribute Scoring system is a good option. It was designed to score a League series of games, rather than a tournament, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be used in a tournament.

As a reminder, a League series is a series of games that is finite. It isn’t an on-going series, which is scored using a ratings system; a League is played over a prescribed period of time (a season, if you like).

The Tribute system was designed for the Windy City Weasels, a Diplomacy club based in Chicago, Illinois, USA (just in case there are other Chicagos out there and, when someone said “Chicago”, you didn’t think of the Chicago).

The Tribute Scoring system (and its sister Half-Tribute, which I’ll describe below) is a Hybrid system combining the DBS concept with SCS scoring – but one which scores are modified by players being ‘paid tribute’ by lesser placed players. I find it interesting and, if I were to use an SCS system for a tournament, this would be high on my list of options (as, in fact, all three SCS systems I discuss in this series would be).

What is the Tribute Scoring system?

You can find the Tribute system described here (with a useful interactive table to actually do the scoring for you!). However, I’ve described it below.

A Solo = 100 points. Nobody else scores anything.

In a draw, points are awarded as follows:

  • Players are initially awarded one point per SC held at the end of the game.
  • 66 points are initially awarded by sharing them between all players in the draw.
  • The player that ended on most SCs is paid 1 point in tribute for every SC they hold over 6 SCs. Every other player who scored points reduces there score by the number of points individually paid in Tribute.

The Half-Tribute Scoring system

As described here, in this version, instead of paying a point in tribute, only 1/2 a point is paid. This has an impact on how the game is played.

Here’s an example of a 4-way draw using the Tribute Scoring system:

PLAYERSCsDraw PointsTributeSCORE
A1416.5(14-6)x3 = 2454.5
B1016.5(6-14) = -818.5
C616.5(6-14) = -814.5
D416.5(6-14) = -812.5
Tribute Scoring eg1

In a game where multiple players share the highest number of SCs, the Tribute payments is split equally between them:

PLAYERSCsDraw PointsTributeSCORE
A1216.5[(12-6)x2]/2 = 634.5
B1216.5[(12-6)x2]/2 = 634.5
C616.5(6-12) = -616.5
D416.5(6-12) = -614.5
Tribute Scoring eg2

1. What is the Tribute system designed to do?

The system is designed as a League scoring system. In this, it takes into account a larger number of game than a tournament would, usually. It has a Draw-Based Scoring base, but combined with a Supply Centre Scoring system. It is, then, a hybrid.

Given that the majority of points is awarded based on DBS in a drawn game, it feels as if it is a DBS system principally. And, certainly, if you are part of the draw but survive on a small number of SCs, the points awarded for being in the draw are significant.

However, because it awards points based on the SC count at the end of the game, if you finish on a high number of SCs in a game where there are 4 or more players in the draw, this magnifies the SCS aspect of the system.

This means it is a complex system that might benefit you to keep players alive in the game, but might benefit you to get yourself eliminated from the game!

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

In a League format, it should be noted that this aspect of a scoring system becomes less important the more games are involved. This is because, the more games that are played, the more differentiation will happen based on game outcomes alone.

However, the Tribute system has a distinct advantage over a straight DBS system in this. Incorporating the SCS aspect means that greater differentiation will occur. And the addition of the tribute payment also increases differentiation.

In theory it’s difficult to say that it would be as good at differentiating as the Sum of Squares scoring system because DBS is involved, and because the differences between SC count in SoS are magnified. I guess you’d need to ask Windy City Weasels how good it is at this aspect!

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

OK – so this is complicated.

Obviously, as with all good SCS and Hybrid systems, the solo is all important. You score the best number of points possible and nobody else does.

If the game is heading for a draw, though, it gets complicated, for the reasons discussed in (1) above. The fewer the number of players involved in the draw, the higher the value of the DBS and SCS aspects. However, the fewer the players in the draw, the lower the value of the tribute simply because fewer players pay you!

It looks to me as if the ideal result, other than a solo, is for you to finish on 17 SCs with all players involved in the draw! This will score a very high 83 points for the winner – a very high score for a player in a drawn game.

This makes the system complicated on it’s own and it is difficult to judge what are the best options when the game is coming towards a draw. This could be peripheral, however, as the likelihood of this happening is highly improbable.

Do you play to reduce the number of players in the draw? This will increase the number of points you get for being involved in the draw, but will also reduce the amount of tribute you can be played. Playing to increase the number of SCs you hold if you’re leading in this respect will benefit you… but this will depend on which players you’re taking the SCs from!

There is an aspect I haven’t mentioned above because it is improbable that it would come into play: The Tribute payment cannot exceed the points awarded for drawing the game. In a 7-way draw, the draw value is 9.4 (66/7). This means that you cannot receive more than 9.4 points in Tribute from each player in a 7-way draw. With Half-Tribute, because the number of tribute points is halved, this aspect is removed.

Half-Tribute also reduces the advantage for finishing on most SCs. If Tribute has an emphasis on finishing on most SCs, Half-Tribute returns some of that emphasis on surviving.

One negative aspect of Tribute is that, in some cases, it may improve your chances in the tournament to get yourself eliminated from a game: Diplomicide. This will mean that you score nothing from the game but it will reduce the points the best placed player(s) score.

Whatever else you take into consideration, if you are tying on SCs with another player, it is better to try to grab an extra SC, preferably from that player! Otherwise, the Tribute score is shared, which could significantly reduce the points you score!

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

Frankly, no. As with any SCS system, the SC count really doesn’t fit in with Calhamer’s design for Diplomacy. The caveat – that tournament games (and if Tribute were used to score a tournament) use the now removed “Short Game” rule, as discussed in the Sum of Squares post – can be taken on board, but this is not really part of Calhamer’s design.

The DBS aspect is better placed in this respect. In fact, Tribute is greatly suited to DIAS games, where all survivors are included in a share of a draw. Tribute doesn’t take anything other than a DIAS draw into account, so it certainly wouldn’t be much use in a tournament to included DINS (non-DIAS) draws.

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

Well, it’s interesting; if this translates as good for you, then it’s a winner.

You might classify it as either complicated or confusing. As with other Hybrid scoring systems that have approximately equal weight for both the DBS and SCS aspects, you are never really sure which aspect you’re playing towards as the game heads for a draw. What are you playing for!?! For me, though, due to the shifting nature between a DBS focus and an SCS focus, this makes Tribute intriguing, rather than confusing.

One aspect I definitely don’t like is the possibility that Diplomicide could be a viable option. It isn’t great that getting yourself eliminated from a game is potentially better, in terms of overall League scoring, than surviving into the draw. When Calhamer’s idea is that, if you’re not going to win, preventing someone else from winning and your survival are the next best options, deliberately getting yourself eliminated is nonsensical.


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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