Scoring Draws

David Norman

At World DipCon 8 earlier this Month, I played a type of game which I have never played before: Tournament games, without a time limit. The way that these games went has lead me to seriously question the way that games are scored. In particular, in the rules, it says that "Players may terminate the game by mutual agreement before a winner is determined, in which case all the players who still have pieces on the board share equally in a draw." I now feel fairly strongly that the word "equally" should not be there.

To back this up, consider the Saturday and Sunday games I played in. In the Saturday game as England, I walked the Northern half of the board, seriously knocking down Germany and then France, before knocking them both out completely, while Turkey was having similar success in the South. In then end, I held the Northern 17 centres, and Turkey held the Southern 17, for a two-way draw.

In the Sunday game, I played Austria. Russia and Turkey tried the Juggernaut, and so Italy and I fought back as one, and the four of us slugged it out, with nobody making much progress, while France and Germany swept through England, and then France stabbed Germany, and very quickly got to 14 centres, with a practical guarantee of making it to 17, and a good shot at a win. The four Southern powers plus the remains of Germany were forced to immediately stop all their fighting, and form a 5-way alliance to set a stalemate line across the map before France won. We made it, but only just, and with no way that any of the five powers in the alliance could be eliminated without giving the game to France, the game was declared a 6-way draw, with the centre count at 17-6-4-3-2-2.

And so I look at those two games, and I think. In the Saturday game, Turkey and I got the equal third highest single game score of anybody in the entire tournament. Only Chris Martin and John Quarto-von Tivadar scored higher, with their solo wins. In the Sunday game, France got one of the lowest scores of anybody who didn't lose. There were no 7-way draws, and so only the people who were eliminated, and those who accepted draw votes which did not include them scored lower. And yet France's result and final position was one of the most impressive of the tournament. That just doesn't seem right to me.

So where do we go next ? The next obvious possibility is to score the games according to supply centre count. So Turkey and I in the Saturday game, and France in the Sunday game, would all score 17/34. The other powers in the Sunday game would score 6/34 down to 2/34 for their relative centre counts. I don't like this idea either, for two reasons. Firstly, this would encourage the people in the 5-way alliance in the Sunday game to fight amongst each other, to make themselves more powerful in the alliance, when what they should really be doing is defending against France. Secondly, I do not think Italy, who finished on 6 really had done three times better than Russia, who finished on just 2. We all were in exactly the same position. We could either work together, and hold the line together, or we could throw the game to France. Nobody had any greater or lesser choice to do this than anybody else.

And so I propose a new system - one that reflects how the game ended. Instead of voting for a draw between a list of powers, you vote for a draw between a list of alliances. An alliance is defined as a group of one or more powers, who are capable of protecting themselves from invasion by any other alliance. So in the Saturday game, the two alliances would be "England" and "Turkey." In the Sunday game, the alliances would be "France," and "Germany/Italy/Austria/Russia/Turkey."

The next step, I am not sure about. Either, "each alliance shares equally in the draw," or "each alliance shares a fraction of the draw according to its supply centre count." I am a little undecided on this one. I expect considering some examples will help. Once each alliance has been given a score, then that score is divided equally amongst the members of the alliance. This divide should definitely be equal. If it is not, then this method is no better than assigning scores according to supply centre count.

In most cases, the alliances are fairly obvious. There will be a stalemate line, and the powers one side will be one alliance, and the powers on the other side will be the other. However, there are some exceptions. I think the most obvious, is England on 14, Russia on 13, Italy on 7, where Italy holds something like Portugal, Spain, Marseilles, Tunis, Naples, Rome, Venice. Italy quite clearly could not hold of England and Russia if they decided to both attack. However, he can hold his own diplomatically, by threatening that if either power attacks him, then he will throw the game to the other power. I therefore think that this is a situation where there are three alliances on the board.

Having said that, if alliances score according to the number of centres they hold, then Italy is actually worse off than if he was accepted into an alliance with one of the other two. If he is on his own, then he will score 7/34. However, if he is accepted into an alliance with Russia, then he will score half of 20/34, which is 10/34. I therefore think that this clearly means that the rule should be that "each alliance shares equally in the draw," giving Italy a score of 1/3 if he is by himself, or 1/4 if he allies with either of the other powers.

David Norman

If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, and clicking on the envelope above does not work for you, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.