Anti-sandbagging proposal: Veteran's pools for lower leagues

With the talk of league restructuring on the forums and the birth of the Gameplay Faction, I’d like to discuss the problem of sandbagging and propose a solution. I’m strongly opposed to the solution I most frequently see proposed (viz., capping individual event point achievements in lower leagues), because I believe it will a) not be very effective at discouraging sandbagging and b) be highly effective at hurting the low-level players it’s aimed at helping. I believe my proposal solves the problem and does not have these flaws.

The problem

The greatest problem in the lower leagues is level imbalance between competitors. Competitions are generally interesting (good) when all participants have near-even odds of winning, and boring (bad) when they are one-sided. Close competition makes games more exciting, because gameplay decisions have bearing on the outcome, raising the sense of stakes. Improving matchmaking means placing competitors in competitions that are close, not one-sided stomps. This is the goal of league systems in most games.

The platinum, gold, and silver leagues are full of matchups in which no such balance exists. Level 40s are being told to compete against level 200s and 300s. The game is not designed to make such matchups winnable for the level 40, hence they realize it’s pointless to try; they get discouraged and lose interest in competing or the game as a whole. If a matchup isn’t winnable, it shouldn’t exist, and there’s currently nowhere for sub-100 players to go to reliably find winnable matchups.

There’s been a lot of talk of high-level players in low-level leagues as “sandbagging.” As a player in a low league, I’ve seen and talked to a lot of players 100+ levels above me, who I have no hope of touching or defending against. I’d say, broadly, that they all have different reasons for being in lower leagues, and most of their reasons are pretty sympathetic and reasonable. I would also say that all of them break any semblance of competition in lower leagues by being there, and I’m also sympathetic to the ~1200 other people who have to compete against them, too. To solve this problem for everyone, it’d be helpful to understand the high-level players’ motivations:

  1. Jackasses who want easy PVP and team prizes by stomping low-levels with no resistance. (classic sandbaggers) These are what everyone thinks of when they think of sandbaggers.

  2. Ex high-leaguers who are tired of diamond/sapphire for various reasons, and want “gentle retirement.” (You may or may not perceive a difference between these guys and type 1. I’d say one distinguishing feature could be the effort they expend; if they are trying hard to take #1 in events, then they aren’t really gentle retirees. Of course, with breeding/fort, they still score massive points for their team even without effort.)

  3. High-levels playing with low-level friends or family. (Again, if they Really Want To Help Their Family by taking #1 in every event, they are not very easily distinguishable from type 1, because that means making everyone who doesn’t have a magical fairy godfather lose.)

  4. People who aren’t very competitive, don’t care very much about wars, or don’t maintain a full roster, but who have been around long enough that they’ve leveled quite a bit.

  5. Reformed teams on their way up. You have a 30-50% chance of facing them any given week at the bottom of gold right now, higher odds in silver.

This is a pretty diverse list. League-based achievement caps on personal rewards would deter type 1 from hanging around low leagues. They’re unlikely to help much against types 2-5, who–while they might be nice people–still tend to ruin low level competitions just by being there. Caps will definitely hurt high-performing noobs, with the result that we’ll spend more time in low leagues, getting beat up by types 2-5.

The solution

I’d propose as an alternative the creation of standard and veteran (overleveled) pools within lower leagues. The way it’d work would be that if a team has overleveled players (either a hard threshold, like 150 for Gold 5, or a statistical threshold, e.g. over 2 standard deviations above the subleague median), they get put into the veteran’s pool and matched against other veteran teams for their weekly batch of 25. Optionally, the top subleague of each league could be left undivided as a gating mechanism to keep teams from moving up unless they’re actually able to compete at the next level.

This way, high level players would not be forced to play in more competitive environments than they actually want to, and low level players will actually be able to compete in weekly events if they’re in a level-appropriate league. It’d keep competition fair without disrupting teams. If you’re a level 300 who wants to take a break in Gold, the system doesn’t keep you from doing that; it just makes sure you fight against other 300s taking a break, instead of 40s trying their best.

It has the additional benefit of not discouraging high-performing noobs from growing fast, which is a problem that capping personal achievement points incurs.

I’d suggest applying this system to bronze, silver, gold, and probably platinum to start.

Request for comments from:
@Warlord @TheRedDelilah @PGJared @PGCrisis

Thanks for reading!

6 Likes

I support that idea.

Not sure if PG CAN implement that but I totally agree ppl should be able to fight vs players of their own natural level.

Only problem I see is if there is only one 300 or 200 in the entire league.

Also this would only impact PVPs right? So the team with the 300 would have still a major advantage when it comes to wars. Precondition of course that wars end in 250 in that league. If not this shouldn’t matter.

Feeding, building and fortification event would still give the team with the 300 an advantage.

Just some initial thoughts and feedback.

1 Like

But I started again, does that mean I will have to drop down to silver with a load of noobs because I’m level 56?

Solution: Play Atlas, everyone exists together harmoniously so there is no issue.

2 Likes

How the “other half” life huh?

There is a flaw to this: if you group teams based on one or more high level players in a team, the lower level players on those team will get screwed over more than they are now.

I think one way to make this more fair would be to change the amount of points you win in a PvP event.

Currently, the points you win are based on the highest level in the team. For some teams the highest level is 80 and for others it is 200. You get the same points for attacking both of those players regardless of your own level.

I think they should change it so that the points you win are based on your level (if there are players higher than your level on that team) or based on the highest level players (if they are all weaker than you). This can help lower level players get a more fair amount of points in events compared to the bigger players, and thus give them a more competive advatange than they have now since all levels woukd get around the same points per attack.

I noticed this problem when I had an advanced team in platinum 3 with my main account and a training team in gold 3 with my alt account (which is lower). I was able to get better points with my smaller account in a lower league. Things like that encourage bigger players to move to lower leagues and deceases the desirability of higher leagues (individual prizes are better than team prizes).

The current system rewards you for staying in lower leagues and punishes you for being in higher leagues. It also punishes lower level players who can’t get the same amount of points per attack as a higher player can.

3 Likes

If that system were to be used, then it’d need to take the wing into consideration too. A L2 followed by a L500 isn’t a show of skill/challenge :see_no_evil:

(Re to SelimaLeona that isn’t showing)

But you can still get points that way now. :woman_shrugging:t3: This method would at least allow lower levels without backup a chance to get max points from a team with levels too high for them to hit on their own.

I forgot to say that the max points you can get should be maxed out at the highest level on the team (if they are all weaker than you) or at your level or like 10 levels above you (if they have higher levels than you). The exact placement of the cap can be discussed.

(Re to forScience that isn’t showing either lol)

Panda, Tell pg to add everyone to Atlas and we all can play on the same field

4 Likes

Didn’t Red have a part 2 to the restructure that would’ve resolved this problem a lil bit?

I support it, but the damn rewards need to be scaled appropriately. If by my being on a Gold team is going to cause them to get harder leagues, then they should get rewarded more for being penalized for having someone on the team to learn from instead of just floundering in the wind like most of the teams down here are that don’t have someone of a decent level…

1 Like

Thanks for the reply!

As far as scope of applicability goes, I think PVP events should definitely use the pool. I’m inclined to say that minor events should use the pool, too. It doesn’t affect the core gameplay of minor events, since raiding is global, but on the other hand, it doesn’t make very much sense to place teams in competitive ranking against each other if one has an insurmountable advantage over the other.

Wars would be unaffected. We absolutely want overleveled teams to be able to fight and win wars against lower levels to gain rank, if they want; it’s the only way for them to move up.

Seems reasonable. I’d be in favor of scaling up rewards for veteran’s leagues so that they’re somewhere between the standard pool’s rewards and the next higher league’s, to reflect the intermediary difficulty.

I think this solution is overly complicated for what it accomplishes, see the KISS principle. Simply capping personal rewards will do the trick and remove the motivation from sandbaggers to take advantage of the system. Setting up a sandbagger-friendly sub-league will only worsen the situation in my opinion. Those choosing to sit in lower leagues because they are taking a break or supporting family or friends will not prioritize rewards anyway, and those just passing through are onto greener pastures as it is. And do not worry about the newbies, those playing that intensely will not be very small for long.

1 Like

Hey, I think you’ve misunderstood both the problems with point-capping and the benefit of this proposal.

I agree with you that high-levels supporting friends or family won’t prioritize personal rewards. The implication of this is that capping personal rewards will do little to encourage them to move on to a higher league, hence they will continue to sit in low leagues, hence competition in those leagues will continue to be absurd for everyone else. Even moreso than now, because then if low-levels decide to buck up and try to earn their way out of this situation, they’ll run face-first into a cap and their progression will stall. So, again, it doesn’t solve the problem and it does hurt newbies even more.

Point capping is simple but it’s also pretty likely to accomplish the opposite of its stated goal.

Not sure but, if you just make a better team, they won’t beat you and then you don’t have to worry about it.

1 Like

PG can’t figure out how to roll it out…

pentalize the low level members for not spending enough to level…its not hard to get to 300 plus in 8 months…only cost about 15K…money should not be an issue. jk

A cunning ploy to recruit promising Whalegnawer pilots for your new team, sir.

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.