Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Data of Bloody Big Battles

If you follow this blog you know I am very big fan of Chris Pingle's Bloody Big Battles rules. So much a fan that I have written scenarios for them. After a discussion at the Yahoo Group about scenario balance, I decided to collect data on plays of scenarios and too look up indicators of balance. After a couple of weeks I got responses on 131 plays of 46 BBB Scenarios.



For each scenario I noted the following information
Plays: How many times was it played in my data
Historical Victor Won: Did the play result in a victory for the combatant who won in history?
Draw: Did the play result in a Draw? In BBB Draws in the scenario rules represent the historical outcome.
Historical Defeated Won: Did the play result in a victory for the combatant who lost in history?


I also included info on two balance Rules. These only apply to scenarios with 3 or more plays, as fewer plays do not generate enough data to provide indicators.

1) 1-1-1 Rule: For Chris a scenario at the least should produce at least one victory for the historical victor, one draw, and one victory for the historical defeated to be considered as giving everyone a fighting chance (not necessarily balanced). Did the scenario plays produce such a result? If this is the case it is noted with a 1, if not it is left blank. Again this applies only to scenarios with three plays or more.

2) 1/3rd Rule: BBB scenarios try to do justice to history. But history is merciless. Most battles result because one of the two sides made a big mistake, and as a result battles are usually asymmetrical. In another name there is a reason why the side that won, won. Thus a balance system were all three results are equally likely would betray fidelity to history. On the other hand, it can be boring and frustrating to play a game that you have no chance of winning. Thus BBB scenarios are built with the goal of giving a fighting chance. But how much? Chris, and I agree with him, believes that if 1/3rd of total plays of scenario result in either a draw or a victory for the historical defeated, than it can be considered a good scenario. If this was the case, then I note it with 1. If not I leave blank. This applied to only scenarios with 3 or more plays.

The data in pic form is here. I also uploaded it on the BBB Yahoo Group.


What does the data tell us.

Of the 46 scenarios, 17 had only 1 play, 10 two plays, and 19 three plays or more.
Of those 19,  8 had three plays, 2 four plays, 1 five plays, 3 six plays, 2 seven plays, 2 eight plays, 1 nine plays.

The total plays on file (observations) was 131. Of those 45% (60) were victories for the historical victor, 22% (29) Draws, and 33% (43) Victories for the historical defeated. At the grand level we have thus a good spread for balance purposes.

One thing noted about the scenarios with the most plays is that they tend to be light on terrain requirements, which might explain why they tend to be played more often in the data.

When it comes to balance. Using the 1-1-1 rule, of the 19 scenarios with more than three plays,  7 exhibit indicators that they might have balancing issues. When it comes to the 1/3rd rule that raises to 8. Six scenarios share balance issues under both rules. These are Tacna, Nashville, Langesalza, Gravelotte, Spotsylvania, and 3rd Pleven. The most egregious cases are 3rd Pleven (with all 7 plays resulting in a victory for the historical defeated), Gravellotte (with all 3 plays resulting in a victory for the historical defeated) , while Langesalza, Tacna, and Nashville all had 3 plays each, all resutling in victories for the historical victor.

If we look at only games with five or more plays, of the 9 scenarios only two have issues under 1-1-1, and only three under 1/3rd.

What does this tell us. In general BBB scenarios tend to give good games. The majority of scenarios with multiple plays also produce indicators that they are balances. However, there are some scenarios that will need to be revisited.

So keep on writing, playing and tweaking them! And try some of the terrain heavy scenarios!

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