Mystery Scoring system

The Mystery Scoring system is named because you never really know what score you’re going to end the tournament on until the end of the tournament. See? It’s a mystery…. ooooohhhhh.

This is one of my scoring systems. I’ve designed a version of this before and, well, it wasn’t great. It was more of a mystery but it didn’t really boost a solo victory very much. Given that the number of solos in a tournament is usually very small, I don’t mind that, but it was a weakness.

So here’s an updated, different version of the Mystery Scoring system.

What is the Mystery Scoring system?

I don’t know.

OK, sorry. No more like that.

The Mystery Scoring system is a modified DBS system. However, rather than sharing a set number of points in a drawn game, like a regular DBS system, there is a set number of points for earning a draw no matter how many players share the draw.

  • Solo = 204 points; everyone else scores -34. (It’s based on 34 x 6, if you hadn’t worked it out.)
  • Draw = 100 points; everyone not involved in the draw scores 0. (In a tournament where surviving players may not be involved in a draw (a DINS system), then awarding a base score of 5 points could be awarded to those survivors excluded from the draw result.)
  • A 7-way draw = 5 points. Again, 7-way draws really shouldn’t be an outcome in a competitive game.

Then the number of points awarded is modified using this formula:

  • M = C – Σ(g1 + g2 + g3 + gn)

where …

  • M = modifier (the way the points scored is changed)
  • C = the number of SCs held by a player at the end of a game
  • g = the highest number of SC held by the leading player at game end

So, to find the modifier for each player when a game ends:

  1. Take the number of SCs held by the power that ended the game in first place. If there are multiple players in this position, then take just one score, eg if two players finish on 10 SCs, the g score for that game is 10. If the game ends in a solo, g is the actual number of SCs the soloist ended the game on.
  2. Find the total of all g scores.
  3. Find the average – Σ – of g scores (rounded to one decimal place).
  4. Subtract the average of highest SCs from the number of SCs held by a player at the end of a game. This means, if a player finished a game on 12 SCs, and the average of highest SCs is 10, the player will receive an extra 2 points. If a player’s SC score is 1, and the average of highest SCs is 10, the player will lose 9 points from their total. Players that end on 0 SCs have the M value subtracted also.

1. What is the Mystery Scoring system designed to do?

The Mystery Scoring system is designed for tournaments only. Because there are a small number of games in a tournament, the modifier is important in differentiating between results, a problem magnified by players participating in a draw earning 100 points regardless of how many players are involved in the draw.

It rewards solos over draws but having a modifier that means points can be lost as well as gained, means that a solo isn’t going to ensure passage to a final (or top board) on its own. There needs to be a degree of consistency.

And, because the modifier score isn’t certain until all the games in the tournament have been completed, the actual positions in a tournament are never certain.

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

Scoring 100 for a draw, regardless of how many players share the draw, means that the base score is less effective in differentiating than a regular DBS system. This is problematic.

As with the DC(C) system a small modification is therefore going to be required and, again similarly to the DC(C) system, supply centre count is the best way to do this. The DC(C) system utilises Sum of Squares scoring but this doesn’t add the element of… well, mystery that is needed in the Mystery Scoring system.

The M value will effectively add an aspect of differentiation. It won’t significantly damage a solo as, with a solo, the M value will always be positive (unless every game ends in a solo!) In a drawn game, however, it means that a player will need to finish on a high number of SCs to result in a positive value, unless no game ends in a solo.

The M value may be a small modifier, but significant.

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

As with any decent scoring system, the primary objective is to solo. That results in a significant number of points advantage over a draw, and results in other players losing points. Gaining a solo will also almost certainly result in a positive M value addition.

Preventing a solo is therefore also important. If a player is moving towards soloing, there is a great advantage in banding together to prevent that happening. A player stopped on 17 SCs will probably get a positive M value added to their score, but will see their base points cut by more than half.

It is not important how many players are involved in a draw, unless the game results in a 7-way draw. If the tournament’s last game is a final, featuring the top 7 players from qualification (as is quite common in online tournaments), or the game ends in an agreed draw prior to the Game End Date (or is otherwise manufactured), then I’d even suggest it results on 0 points awarded prior to being modified. I mean, come ON!

Having a base score of 100 points for a player involved in a draw may not be to everyone’s taste. Classic DBS systems don’t utilise this scoring, after all. However, it does mean that there’s little advantage in draw-whittling, when players extend the game to eliminate smaller powers; the M value will handle this to some extent.

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

In almost every respect. The modifier is off-design but is a small differentiation that is necessary in a tournament based on a DBS system.

Winning the game is the main objective, in line with Calhamer’s design.

Preventing the win and surviving to be part of the draw is the secondary objective, again in line with Calhamer’s design. Similarly, everyone involved in a draw sharing equal rewards is also part of Calhamer’s design.

Then again, scoring a basic 100 points for being involved in the draw is inconsistent with Calhamer’s own tournament scoring system.

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

Because the system hasn’t (yet) been applied to a tournament, we have to say we don’t really know. Having said that, the vast majority of scoring systems can only be hypothetically evaluated because they never get used!

The basis of this system is that it is a modified DBS system and, for me, that is always going to be a better way of scoring tournaments (and as a ratings system) than an SCS system. The game isn’t about how many SCs you hold, after all, unless you hold 18 or more (or none). If you’ve read the whole series, you’ll probably be tired of hearing that!

Personally, the 100 points score for a draw simply reinforces a draw being a draw. I’m not sure there’s anything significantly better in a hard-fought 3-way draw than a hard-fought 5-way draw, which is what commonly is reflected in a regular DBS system. And, for me (if no-one else!), a 2-way draw just shouldn’t happen unless using a DINS system.

I can see, though, that this wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste and I can see that, unlike the DC(C) system, the use of SC scoring to create an M value might make SCs more important in the Mystery Scoring system. When there’s less differentiation between results in a draw, there’s more emphasis on tie-breaker scoring.

Still, if you earn more draws you’ll finish with more points than if you earn fewer, so that the impact of SCs as the modifier will only impact those players who finish on the same number of draws. That, perhaps, is what it should be. Under a regular DBS system, two 2-way draws might see you finish on the same number of points as three 3-way draws (see the 360 DBS system, for example). For me, I think consistency is better than not and, under the Mystery Scoring system, two 2-way draws scores 200 base points whereas three 3-way draws scores 300 base points.

On the other hand, the Diminishing Value DBS system (which I haven’t written a post on yet but it will be linked below when written) is closer to a standard DBS system and rewards three 3-ways more highly than two 2-ways.


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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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