PSA: Keep matches fair

I’m working on the new match submission form right now. I wanted to take a moment to remind people who are organizing matches to make them as fair as possible.

All too often, people have quit Factions after their first match because the organizers were too eager to hit the Start button, and it turned into a horribly (and predictably) one-sided stomp. Please take a minute to check the ranks of both sides and ask if people are okay with the matchup before beginning. If there are any subs in the match, consider asking them to switch sides to make it more balanced.

Once we have five players on each side, I like to summarize the rank balance to the lobby in the following format:

CupcakeTrap: BILGEWATER: Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Gold, Bronze
CupcakeTrap: THE SHADOW ISLES: Platinum, Platinum, Platinum, Silver, Silver
CupcakeTrap: Is everyone okay with that matchup?

Of course, imbalanced matches can be exciting, and we do adjust match point values accordingly — so if your low-tier team gets stomped by a high-tier team, it’s not going to hurt your faction much, and if you manage to pull off an upset victory you’ll bring in a huge point bonus. If people are okay with the match being imbalanced, that’s fine. But if they’re not, either the match should be rebalanced or they should leave and find a different match. Don’t railroad people into a match they don’t want to play.

How much imbalance is too much?

I’ve recently completed a new round of statistical analysis on prior Factions match data, attempting to compute typical winrates for different matchups. More on that later. But I’ll share a few key findings below.

Here’s a winrate chart for selected matchups, based on differences in the lineups on each team. “H” means Diamond or Platinum, “G” means Gold, and “L” means Silver or Bronze. “H beat L”, for instance, records the percentage of the time that, where two teams were identical except for one having a Diamond/Plat (H) in place of a Silver/Bronze (L), the team with the Diamond/Plat won. That winrate (H beat L) happens to be 67% — already a pretty uphill battle for the lower-ranked team. Doubling the size of the gap (HH vs. LL) increased this winrate to almost 90%. People shouldn’t be tossed into a match with only a 10% chance of success unless they’re really okay with that.

If you’re wondering why I collapsed Diamonds/Plats and Silvers/Bronzes, there’ll be more on that later, when I put together a proper writeup on these statistics. In short: if we treat each tier separately, there are 8,001 possible matchups, which is far too many for us to analyze with our small dataset. Going from five categories to three reduces the number of matchups to 231, a much more manageable number. Why collapse D/P and S/B specifically? Because the data indicates that Diamonds/Plats are much more similar in terms of game impact in Factions matches than either is to Golds, and likewise for Silver/Bronze. As always, statistical modeling involves tradeoffs between accuracy and feasibility.

Thanks for running matches!

I would be remiss not to add: my sincere thanks to everyone who organizes matches. It’s absolutely essential to Factions that people are willing to get matches going on their own, rather than just waiting for staffers to do it. That said, please do try to make matches as even as possible, or (if they’re uneven) to make sure that everyone’s okay with that and has fun.

And, as always, have fun in-game. A little friendly all-chat banter goes a long way toward relieving stress and preventing rage. Remember: these aren’t solo queue randoms, they’re your fellow Factioners. We’re all in this together.


Caitlyn, you monster.

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One comment on “PSA: Keep matches fair
  1. StormRevolver says:

    i was watching the first match and the stupid server dropped me :'(

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