The internet has been ablaze with the whole Roanoke Eight Intentional Draws debacle and FFG have responded.
In a nut shell at the Roanoke regional tournament at the beginning of April the top eight all decided to all intentionally draw their last game of Swiss and thus all qualify for the top eight cut as they all sat on 20 or 25 points prior to drawing. This meant that the next players below them who were sitting on 15 points could not get into the top eight cut even if they won their last game, which a number could have and potentially three players could have swapped out had the games actually been played.
The top five players were effectively playing a dead rubber in that they would mathematically qualify anyway even if they did lose due to the number of players at the event and MOV scores. I’m not saying I agree with their decision, as personally it’s just not cricket, but FFG have created a structure that allows it and the number of rounds for cuts is one too many which can lead to this. As mentioned on the latest episode of the Kessel Run the player numbers and number of rounds created a perfect storm for this to happen.
Part of the issue is the number of Swiss rounds FFG suggests are played before having a cut. In the Roanoke event it suggests six rounds after 41 players or more are signed up. They had 41 or 42 then got a couple of drops. Regardless, even if you had 48 players, five rounds rather than six would leave you on two players with 5 wins and six with 4 wins one loss. 64 players with five rounds leaves two players on 2 wins and ten on 4 wins one loss. Both reasonable to make a top eight cut from. This does not remove the possibility of an Intentional Draw occurring but is limited to the top table in the penultimate round.
I would reduce the number of rounds that FFG suggest currently by one for most events with a cut. An incentive for the top table to play could be to award the player who finished top in Swiss the option of picking their quarter final opponent from the other players making the cut as a reward for finishing top of the Swiss rounds.
In the FFG tournament rule pack it both states that intentional draws are okay and later under sportsmanship says that it is not permitted under match fixing. It’s a piece of writing that Games Workshop would be proud of as it can be read a few different ways to circumvent the Unsporting Conduct section which at the same time having an Intentional Draw is colluding results and treating your opponent with a lack of courtesy or respect. Personally that’s not just the opponent opposite you , but your other opponents in the hall that could qualify.
After much internet rage and direct emails to FFG about how intentional draws are wrong FFG responded. Firstly and quite quickly about how they are looking into it and how Intentional draws are a valid, sporting and a necessary competitive tool, que more outrage and laughter. Then with a confirmation a week or so later to confirm that for their game systems like X Wing which have single round Swiss rounds, (where a round constitutes one game not best of three), draws will be removed from the scoring system beginning August 1st.
Intentional Draws will still be allowed for other systems presumably card based ones where a round is multiple games and they went to great lengths defending and plugging Intentional draws as valid, competitive and fair. The reasoning is fair enough for those games but for games like X Wing and seeing the amount of backlash caused from the community it was probably a bit too defensive of their position on it. Needless to say the X Wing community for the majority is now happy about it although there is speculation running around as to what the solution will be.
Switching Draws to Zero
There is a bit of a pointer as to which way they might be thinking if we look how the Hanger Bay Side events at the Hoth Open were scored. The scoring was 0 points for a draw or loss and a win of any type constituted a win. So no modified win, a win of any kind was a win.
Draws are incredibly rare, the three reasons a draw can occur baring intentional draws are:
1: No one manages to kill anything or get half points in the allotted time
2: Ships are destroyed but those left total the same points such as two academy Tie Fighters Vs one TLT Gold Squadron Y Wing or two ships exactly the same.
3: Simultaneous destruction
Receiving 0 points in cases one and three is not really harsh as either no damage has been done or you have been destroyed too. In situation two it’s a bit trickier and is probably the more common but the game thrives on a straight win/loss mechanic and removing the whole mechanic of scoring the draw forces people to play the game as there is no advantage to running and hiding to run out the clock to get a point.
Another idea being mooted on forums is using the initiative as a tie breaker. So in the case of a draw the player either with or without initiative is the winner. Currently in knockout rounds, in the case of a tie the player with the initiative wins. My only bug bear with using initiative to determine the winner in the case of a draw is that having or not having the initiative is beneficial depending on the list build and opponent. This could leave it a viable option for say a twin IG88 build to just fly around for 75 mins not engaging then getting the win due to initiative choice. Easier said than done though.
There has been a lot of ideas pushed forward by the community for changing the scoring system such as awarding points for a modified loss. Seeing as modified wins are relatively rare in itself, doing away with them and turning a win of any kind into a full win seems fair enough. Reducing draws to 0 points is my preferred option but as a result you could not then award points for a modified loss.
Part of me wonders if they might keep with a full win at five points, modified win at three points and an initiative won draw at one point. This would leave all losses and an initiative lost draw at 0 points although would give room to manoeuvre if they wanted to award 1 point for a modified loss.
The caveat to that though is FFG’s big stance on why they introduced Intentional draws in the first place to eliminate match fixing which could point to a win being 1 point and anything other than a win as 0 points.
I guess we will have to wait to August to find out.
What are your thoughts for a solution? Are Intentional Draws good or bad, has the internet gone a bit crazy and is the X Wing community guilty of too much abbreviation? (in every other draft I had a joke about Darth Vader having VI, a Venereal Infection, but FFG responded before publication of the original article).