Charge: bid system

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Sihrtogg
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:02 am

Charge: bid system

Postby Sihrtogg » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:13 am

TL;DR
Why no bid for offense/defense assigned unit comps in Charge?


Dear Frozen Synapse Community,

My history with the game is as follows: I played during the first release. Got bored from newbie-stomping myself a way into top50, laid the game down for years, now returning to the scene and enjoying the higher level of competition as well as the new shield unit. I love this game for its vast tactical options and deterministic gameplay (no luck *during* the match besides Disputed drop locations). Now that I can find proper opponents I'm once again under its spell.

In my humble opinion the most strategical game modes are Charge and Secure, where one is asked to predict the outcome of any hypothetical bid distance or zone even before a single step is taken. I adore this bidding phase assessment concept. Sure extermination is fun, but bidding truly is the big juicy cherry on the cake, as it provides a complete extra layer of depth. I can compare it to the doubling cube in the classic game of backgammon, where you have to also assess the entire game state with many turns to come and determine your victory chances, but let's not get carried away.

What completely boggles my mind however, is this: why is the unit set-up in Charge determined for each *player* (me vs you) rather than for each *side* (offense vs defense). As it is right now, you might face an imbalanced set-up and/or map (I have nothing against these features mind you, I don't call for complete mirror maps and set-ups) and there's nothing you can do about it except press the surrender button, oh wait...
Imagine sniper + rocket launcher vs. double shotgun on a map with just a few walls on the far shotgun side (extreme example). Now in extermination, that is just the randomness of the game and there's nothing we can do about it. However in bid games there is a clear answer that makes any game, no matter how unbalanced, a cutting edge decision:

Let's imagine that instead of having a player assigned unit set-up at the start of the game (I have the SN + RL, no matter what), it is defined for instance that whoever gets to play offense will play rocket launcher + sniper and whoever plays defense will get double shotgun. Now it's a true challenge between the players, facing the exact same imbalanced situation: I have this great unit comp for this map, but how far can I really get? Can I get all the way across the map in 6 turns? Probably not. So once again this game has become an interesting one where both players really have to stretch their limits. Whereas in the current way things work you're just stuck with the double shotgun and out of luck: I can bid about 2/5 of the map and you have a lose-lose situation: either you have to bid further and advance into open space with the shotguns only to get sniped down with ease, or you have to prevent me from reaching my line, which also involves getting easily sniped or blown apart from defensive positions while awaiting turn 6.

This extreme example can easily be extrapolated to regular games in which a combination of player defined unit types and side of map clearly favors one player and kills the match in what otherwise could have been an enthralling game with imbalanced set-ups, rebalanced by an outrageously high or low bid.

In conclusion, I propose to change the way bidding in Charge works as mentioned above because I believe the current bidding system is a complete misfit to an otherwise beautiful game mode. I would also love to hear opinions on the advantages of the current bidding system from the players that love the game mode as it is right now and point out the blatant oversights in the considerations I have made as a not-all-that-seasoned veteran.

Thanks for reading,
Sihrtogg
wonderhero
Posts: 585
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:02 am

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby wonderhero » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:41 pm

Sihrtogg, it's a brilliant idea and I hope devs will take a closer look at this.

If I understood right each player chose a side and start to bid. The one who win the bid will play that side as attacker. And if both chose and bid the same thing then the bid winner will be chosen randomly.

We can think further more and let the players to chose the team (red or green) too, then the side (left or right) then they must bid.
I think the same idea can be applied to Secure mode.

In this way nobody will complain about imbalanced team composition and will be more funny and entertainment for Charge and why not Secure modes.

I totally agree.
Gandalf8
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Gandalf8 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:43 pm

Hi Sihrtogg,

nice idea for improvement, although (according to my impression) not fully thought through yet. Let me add the following considerations:

First of all, with the automatic match making system in control, severely imbalanced setups may occur in any game mode, not only in Charge. If you feel that with your equipment and position, you won't stand a chance against your opponent's, then the usual reaction is not entering the fight at all, discard the setup and create a new one which hopefully is more balanced.

Second, for the current Charge mode, thinking about how far you can get with what you have at your disposal is an integral part of the game. In that sense, I wouldn't call the current bid system a "complete misfit". Like most other parts of the game, it may not be perfect, but at least it's clear, and apparently, for most setups, it works quite well. Again, if you feel that you only have the choice between two losing options, don't start the fight at all.

Third, in Charge you currently don't bid for offense or defense. On the contrary, finding yourself in either role will be a consequence of the bids of you and your opponent; he who bids farther is in the offense. If you don't want to be in one particular of the two roles, bid appropriately. Again, if you don't want to be on either side, don't start the fight.

Now let us have a look at your proposal. The obvious open question is: How can an agreement on the setup be achieved if there's more than one open variable in the equation? Currently, this is the distance; farther distance wins the bidding. According to your idea (if I understood it correctly), we would have to agree on up to three parameters, namely

  • distance,
  • role (offense/defense), and
  • weaponry (i.e. side (red/green))

Obviously, the three variables are not independent of each other; in the defense, you will probably want different weaponry than in the offense. Also the distance that you think you can travel safely will probably depend on both role and weaponry. Furthermore, in setups obviously imbalanced like the one in your example, both players will most likely opt for the side with the better odds. Do you really just want to throw a coin to resolve such a situation? It's unlikely that this will lead to satisfied players. A potential solution might be vastly extending the bidding phase, e.g. over several turns, and have each of the variables be chosen by the player who bids farthest. This would be similar to the auctioning phase in the Skat card game. But still, I am very much uncertain about the proper procedure and sequence in which the variables should be determined.

Finally, I don't have much hope that the developers will actually consider implementing a big change in gameplay like this years after releasing the game in its original form. Currently, they don't even react to much more obvious defects of the Charge setup (see http://forums.mode7games.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&p=27042#p27042). Before this is fixed, you cannot risk playing Dark Charge at all unless you are certain that your opponent does not cheat.

CU, Gandalf8
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Neofelis
Posts: 144
Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:20 am

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Neofelis » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:28 pm

wonderhero wrote:If I understood right each player chose a side and start to bid. The one who win the bid will play that side as attacker. And if both chose and bid the same thing then the bid winner will be chosen randomly.

We can think further more and let the players to chose the team (red or green) too, then the side (left or right) then they must bid.
I think the same idea can be applied to Secure mode.


I think the idea was that for example the left side always attacks, so you bid how far you could charge with that team when the right side team defends, so you don't need to choose a side/team.

I think this actually seems like a very good idea, for the reasons mentioned in the original post. As for bidding the same, maybe you could just have the first bidder win, so you'd have some incentive to figure out your bid quickly? Although that would be unfair when the opponent is away when issuing the challenge, so maybe randomizing it would the best way, after all. The same should work well for Secure, too.
wonderhero
Posts: 585
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:02 am

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby wonderhero » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:47 pm

I see. Should be easy to implement.
Gandalf8
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Gandalf8 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:40 pm

Hi Neofelis,

Neofelis wrote:I think the idea was that for example the left side always attacks, so you bid how far you could charge with that team when the right side team defends, so you don't need to choose a side/team.


thanks for the clarification. It sounded differently to me, and I believe that wonderhero's interpretation was a different one, too (see hist first reply).

But yes, with the aforementioned restriction (left side always attacks, you always bid for the attacker), this could actually work, because we are back to a single parameter for the bidding, the distance.

As for bidding the same, maybe you could just have the first bidder win, so you'd have some incentive to figure out your bid quickly? Although that would be unfair when the opponent is away when issuing the challenge, so maybe randomizing it would the best way, after all.


I still consider random decisions arbitrary and thus dissatisfying. To that end, I would still prefer an iterated bidding procedure ("You have lost the bidding and will have to play defense. Do you want to increase your bid?"). In this manner, bidding will continue until neither side is willing to increase their bid, and in case of a draw, he who has bid there first should be declared the winner (of the bidding). Needless to say, this version would be more difficult to implement ... :)

CU, Gandalf8
Space Voyager
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:01 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Space Voyager » Sun Nov 16, 2014 1:53 pm

Neofelis, perhaps that really was the idea behind the mode, yet it does not work exactly as planned. In FS one needs to ALWAYS (with rare exceptions) be on the attack. This is the bane of new players - they don't realize that even though they are defending a spot (or a line), they need to be very active, which leads to nice turnarounds in games. The moment one starts to wait for the opponent, he/she is losing.

The thing that bothers me with modes like Charge the most is team inequality. I'm here to start a thread for Wonderhero, asking him to hide the three games I challenged him in, all three mostly useless because one or the other has little chances of success. In two of them I would definitely lose against him, the third is in my favour. He could probably still win (being Wonderhero and all), yet it would be no real success of mine if I won.

Just an example; one side has 2 MGs and 2 snipers, the other side has 2 MGs and 2 SGs. The map is full of "buildings" Seriously, attack or defend, there is just no way for the snipers to be effective in such a map. It is an instant loss.

So, considering that both sides are always on the attack, the teams should be far more on an equal footing, especially when one team is under pressure to advance. This would be my suggestion for the developers.
wonderhero
Posts: 585
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:02 am

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby wonderhero » Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:06 pm

Space Voyager welcome to the club of the few players that believe in imbalanced maps. He he!
Would be nice to have an option to deny a specific map before first turn to not waste opponent's time.
Zlabi
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:39 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Zlabi » Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:23 pm

Wow, this is a great idea. Would be wonderful if this could be implemented.
Currently the automated Charge setup is in almost all cases unfair. I never rely on the automated setup.
Other modes have imbalances too, but in Charge its just outrageous.

On a side note: I don't understand why the computer tries so hard to make different squads, since it is obviously really hard for an algorithm to do, whilst preserving fairness. Just automatically generate symmetrical squads and leave the fancy setups for the players to design. This is true for all game modes in my opinion.
Gandalf8
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Gandalf8 » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:19 pm

Hi Zlabi,

Currently the automated Charge setup is in almost all cases unfair.


I'd rather say it's imbalanced by design.

Just automatically generate symmetrical squads and leave the fancy setups for the players to design.


Would that even the odds? No, it wouldn't, because the map itself is still asymmetric. To be really "fair", you would have to make that symmetric, too. But that would take away much of the fun, wouldn't it?

CU, Gandalf8
Zlabi
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:39 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Zlabi » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:48 pm

Hi Gandalf,

Gandalf8 wrote:Would that even the odds?

Does "even the odds" mean to make it more fair, or does it mean to make it exactly equal? Serious question here. I thought it meant the former, but you used it like the latter.

Gandalf8 wrote:No, it wouldn't, because the map itself is still asymmetric.

Either way, I still think the biggest problem is the imbalance in team composition. Most maps would be very much playable from both sides with equal units and the right strategy. Of course there are still extremely one-sided maps, but in my experience the squads are the main problem.

Gandalf8 wrote:To be really "fair", you would have to make that symmetric, too. But that would take away much of the fun, wouldn't it?

People who want that can still make it in the advanced setup. I just think its a poor design choice to make the standard something that generates bad match-ups in such a high frequency. It's annoying to be challenged to so many matches that aren't even remotely balanced. (We can discuss further with PMs if you like, since this kind of misses the point of this thread :) )

Also symmetry is not the only possibility for fairness: Sihrtogg's way would be by definition completely fair to both players. I'd really like to see that in the game, but observing the development of the game in the last years I won't get my hopes up too high.

Greetings,
Zlabi
Gandalf8
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:14 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Gandalf8 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:44 pm

Hi Zlabi,

Does "even the odds" mean to make it more fair, or does it mean to make it exactly equal? Serious question here. I thought it meant the former, but you used it like the latter.


What I had in mind was something like "give equal chances to both sides". As you pointed out correctly, this does not necessarily imply "giving equal equipment" to both sides, although this is probably the most obvious way of achieving the goal.

Either way, I still think the biggest problem is the imbalance in team composition. Most maps would be very much playable from both sides with equal units and the right strategy. Of course there are still extremely one-sided maps, but in my experience the squads are the main problem.


Well, you probably have more experience on this field than me, so I will just accept your judgement here. :)

(We can discuss further with PMs if you like, since this kind of misses the point of this thread :) )


Feel free to contact me if you think there are any open issues needing clarification.

Also symmetry is not the only possibility for fairness: Sihrtogg's way would be by definition completely fair to both players. I'd really like to see that in the game, but observing the development of the game in the last years I won't get my hopes up too high.


Agreed, unfortunately, to both parts of the statement. mode7 obviously doesn't even have time neither for answering queries from the community, nor for fixing bugs that are years old; why would they want to implement new features?

CU, Gandalf8
wonderhero
Posts: 585
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:02 am

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby wonderhero » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:06 pm

Gandalf8 wrote:To that end, I would still prefer an iterated bidding procedure ("You have lost the bidding and will have to play defense. Do you want to increase your bid?").

If a player has great advantage as attacker then he can profit because he knows that his opponent don't want to attack (win the bid).

Zlabi wrote:Just automatically generate symmetrical squads and leave the fancy setups for the players to design.

I like this idea and I believe that the most imbalance is in team composition. Why ? Because:

1. The squad is very small. This means that every unit weight a lot as value. If one dies then the chances to win decrease drastically.
2. Rocket L. and Shotgun are advantaged by a lot of walls while Sniper is in disadvantage and vice-versa. So in this case no matter if the map is symmetrically or not.
3. Clearly a squad with explosive units is much more desired instead of one with only direct fire units. For instance: GL/RL+ 3xMG vs 4xMG. The same for Shotgun: SG + 3xMG vs 4xMG

But if the map would gives us symmetrical squads and let us to chose what units we like then would be much more balance and fun.

Regarding the feature of this game, indeed Gandalf, I think our talking here is in vain.
Space Voyager
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:01 pm

Re: Charge: bid system

Postby Space Voyager » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:14 pm

I completely agree with WH... Than again, where else would you talk about it to get more effect?

Sometimes it seems as though Mode7 dropped this game. A shame really, as it is currently the best tactical game available.

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