A Basic DBS system

After including a post on the Calhamer Point scoring system, perhaps I don’t need to worry about posting about a basic Draw-Based Scoring system, as there’s no more basic a DBS system than the Calhamer Point.

However, I think the pure Calhamer Point system is too simplistic, no matter how it is used. It’s not a good tournament scoring system (but it wasn’t really designed to be) and, although it would work over a large number of games, as a ratings system it isn’t great, either, simply because not every player on a website or in any community has always played a large number of games.

So what I’m going to try to do here is explain how a DBS system could be used as a tournament scoring system and a ratings system. I’m going to use a very simple DBS system, and – although I haven’t called it this in the title of the post – I call this system the 360 DBS system. I’d like to say because it’s an all-round system (360o, get it?) but it’s because each game is worth 360 points.

What is the 360 DBS system?

  • Solo = 360 points; everyone else scores 0.
  • Draw = 360/n points where n is the number of players in the draw.
  • 7-way draw = 10 points each.

Why such a low score for a 7-way draw? Because, well, come on!

That’s the basic system. However, at this stage it is simply the Calhamer Point system but replacing the 1 point with 360 points. From that point of view, it has the same weaknesses as a system as the Calhamer Point system. So it needs adapting.

Tournament Scoring adaptations

In a tournament, due to the small number of games, the following adaptations should be made:

  • The total points the player has is divided by the number of rounds in the tournament (not the number of rounds the player has played): P/r
  • As a tie-breaker, the number of points won in head-to-head games the tied players competed in together is compared; the higher scorer placed above the lower scorers.
  • As a second tie-breaker, the number of solos places a player higher then others, then a comparison is made by draw size: players with more 2-way draws are placed higher, then 3-way draws, etc.
  • As a third tie-breaker, games where players lost are compared by comparing the number of games where players survived but weren’t involved in the draw (if games allowed surviving players to not be included in the draw – DINS games); the number of games players where a solo was earned by another player where the tie-breaker players survived. In other words, survival places a player above elimination.

Ratings system

In a ratings system, the following adaptations should be made:

  • Divide the total points the player has by the average number of games completed by all players in rated games.
  • Where a tie-breaker is required, players who have completed more games are placed above those who have played fewer, based on the idea that consistency is valued more than fewer games.

1. What is the 360 DBS system designed to do?

With the adaptations of the basic system, the 360 DBS system can be used as a tournament scoring system or a ratings system.

As with any DBS system, it is more sympathetic to the way Calhamer designed Diplomacy. Solo first, settle for the draw second and prevent someone else winning. It is debatable whether a 3-way draw is better than a 4-way draw, but that is common amongst DBS systems.

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

The adaptations for the tournament scoring system are specifically designed to avoid using SCS systems. The problem with using supply centre count as tie-breakers is that this isn’t the focus of the main adapted system. You don’t want confusion based on using two systems which encourage incompatible play. Dividing the total points won by the number of rounds levels the field for players who don’t play in each round of the tournament.

The adaptations for the ratings system are also aimed at preventing an incompatible system being used. Dividing the total points by the average number of games completed by every player that has played in rated games means that it again levels the field. It means that players who have played a small number of games and done well face the same divisor as players who have played a large number of games. The drive of the ratings system is consistency.

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

The prime objective, as in the game rules, is to solo. Players score the full points in the game if they do this and prevent anyone else from getting any points.

If a game is heading towards a draw, the best results are awarded to draws which feature the smallest number of players. This means that draw-whittling could be involved; it is again debatable whether this is an aspect of play that should be rewarded.

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

As far as the game result is concerned, yes. The game’s rules state that winning is the first objective. Second comes preventing someone else from winning and surviving to be part of the draw. The number of SCs a player earns in a draw is not taken into account at all and this is reflected in a DBS system.

Draw-whittling, as I mentioned above, is a problem. There’s nothing about this in the rules, however, although this is because the rules are for a stand alone game. When you introduce scoring, you’re creating a variant and, with this system, the variant encourages the practice.

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

DBS systems are more sympathetic to the rules of Diplomacy than SCS systems. That has got to be a good thing.

Draw-whittling is something I don’t like, personally. But I also acknowledge that this happens, for different reasons, under an SCS system. In the latter case, it tends to be because the grab for SCs leads to players being eliminated. However, under an SCS system, it is often more profitable to grab SCs from players who are closer to you in terms of the number of SCs or even who have more SCs than you. If you don’t like draw-whittling, DBS systems are not ones you will like.

When applied to a ratings system DBS can lead to cherry-picking, too. This is when players enter games with less experienced or weaker opponents deliberately. It gives better players a good chance to amass points that would be harder to come by in more competitive games.


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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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