Detour98F scoring system

When it comes to scoring systems, the Detrour98F is… well, it can’t be one on its own, as I was going to say, because I guess there were Detrour98E, D, etc. Although I could be very wrong. That happened once, I think.

I came across the Detour98F scoring system in an online tournament. At the time, I seem to remember it was used by DAANZ (the Diplomacy Association of Australia and New Zealand). I don’t know if it is any more but I kinda hope it isn’t.

I was new to online Dip back then and, for me, Detour98F seemed like a great system. I’ve grown up a little since then.

What is the Detour98F system?

This system is generally based on SCS, although it is littered with bonus points. It doesn’t use raw scores but standardises the scores so that a game is usually worth 100 points, which is the nice thing about it.

  • Solo = 110 points. Every other player scores 0.

When a game ends in a draw, the points are awarded such that:

  • 1 point for every SC held at the end of the game.
  • Top of the Board scores bonus points equal to the difference between the number of SCs they hold and the SCs held by the player(s) in second place. If more than one player ties for first place, 0 points are awarded.
  • If you finish Top of the Board, you score 4pts; 2nd place scores 3pts, 3rd place 2pts, 4th place 1pt. If two or more people finish on equal numbers of SCs, the lower total is scored. eg: if two players finish equal Top of the Board, they score 3pts each; if three people finish in equal 2nd place in terms of SC count, they score 1pt each. (I’ve seen this modified to score the average number of points, however, so that if two people finish Top of the Board, they score 3.5pts each; if three people finish in equal 2nd place they score (3+2+1)/3 = 2pts each.
  • Any player that survives to the end of the game scores 1 bonus point. In games where the draw doesn’t include all survivors, players will still get this point.
  • Any player that survives to Spring 1905 gets a bonus point. I’ve seen this scored as surviving to the end of 1905.

In a drawn game, the scores are then standardised by:

  • Finding the total of all raw scores as calculated above – this is the Game Score.
  • Dividing a player’s raw score by the Game Score, and multiplying the quotient by 100.

So in a drawn game, a player’s score is their raw score as a percentage of the Game Score.

1. What is the Detour98F scoring system designed to do?

Very simply, it is a tournament scoring system. It is designed to give differentiated scores that are mainly based on SC count, but which also includes bonus points based on the outcome of the game. As the majority of these BPs are based on SC count too, it is very strongly an SC system.

It does reward solos over draws, which is good. However, it is conceivable that two strong, board topping scores would produce a total of points in excess of a single solo.

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

Not particularly. If you finish a game on the same number of SCs as another player, you will score the same number of points as that player.

However, in terms of the final positions in a tournament, it would be unusual for multiple players, with decent results in most games, to finish on a tied score. This is likely to be all that is needed given that players that get decent results in most games will be towards the top of the rankings anyway and probably don’t require tie-breakers.

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

Basically, survive and get as many SCs as you can – it’s an SC collecting system.

However, the first objective is to survive until 1905. If you’re on the board in 1905, you’re taking something from the game.

If you survive until the end of the game, you’re going to get a raw score of 3 points as a minimum, and likely to be more. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the draw at the end of the game or not – you just need to survive.

It encourages players to try to build a gap, in terms of SCs, between themselves and players behind them and to reduce the gap between themselves and players ahead of them. If you’re the board leader, increasing the gap in SCs between yourself and the player(s) in second place is rewarding. And, of course, finishing as Top of the Board is a reward in itself.

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

Absolutely not.

Because this system completely ignores the draw as a result, and reduces it as simply a way to end the game, it ignores what could be termed the secondary objective of Diplomacy: to survive to the end of the game and share in the draw.

We’re back again to Calhamer’s article on “Objectives Other Than Winning“. In this article, Calhamer states that a system such as Detour98F rewards play that isn’t part of his design for the game. SC count at the end of the game is not part of the design. Finishing “Top of the Board” has no value in his design.

Bonus points for surviving to 1905… Well, why? What has that to do with the result of the game?

Frankly, the only scores that meet Calhamer’s design are the results for a solo and the bonus point every survivor gets at the end of the game.

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

Let’s try to be positive.

If you solo, you’re rewarded far above not winning outright. That’s good.

It will, over the length of the tournament, give sufficient differentiation between players to provide a ranking that is unlikely to require tie-breakers, at least in the top positions. There may be some difficulty if the tournament structure is based on the top seven players from the rankings progressing to a play-off game for the title, but this is still unlikely.

If you subscribe to the idea that a scramble for SCs towards the end of the game, and the dynamism this brings, is a good thing, then Detour98F should provide that. Personally, I don’t see this as any more exciting towards the end of a game than the battle to prevent a solo, or to survive, but still…

And that’s just about it.

In terms of playing Diplomacy, rather than simply playing a game that involves a scramble for SCs, Detour98F is a poor scoring system. In the article “Objectives Other Than Winning” Calhamer points out that most of what this system rewards is well outside his design for the game, and that just underlines that it is a poor system.


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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