I’ve seen a number of people belly aching on the forums and in Facebook lately about how EE has been ‘terrible’ or ‘comparable to Lotus’ . This article will analyze how balanced the 2012 Kotei season was. I am intentionally avoiding GenCon in my analysis as it is not directly comparable to the average Kotei (and because it’s a third set with an environment deforming deck in it). Only time will tell if Lion blitz is as environment defining/deforming as it was in GenCon.
I was able to find some nice records that Geoff Prugh was keeping, and I’ve used those to analyze the levels of parity found throughout the Kotei season. From here on out, most of my graphs will have “Unaligned” on them, but I’ll be kindly ignoring our Ronin brothers/sisters for most of my numbers. Sorry kids, you’re not supposed to be competitive.
This is the graph of all 58 Kotei that I have data for. Each clan (I’m not counting Unaligned as a real clan) should average about 6.4 wins if things were perfectly even. The red line represents that perfect scenario.
Let’s compare this to Lotus; the big, bad l5r environment boogieman.
The orange line is the “if all wins were equally distributed” line. Do you notice anything here? I thought so.
The Kotei environment’s balance was -not- in any way shape or form similar to Lotus. Yours truly happened to nab the last Lion Kotei win in 2004. There were no Lion Kotei wins in 2005. There were no Kotei wins by Lion in 2006. That was Lotus, ladies and gentlemen. As bad as things are for Crane, they still won (Or is that Winner’d?) two decently sized Koteis. Spider, sure, go ahead and complain that this season was lousy for you, but if I’m remembering correctly, last arc was pretty darn Spider-tastic (Never forget 7/29/2011).
So what should we take away from this year’s Kotei season? In order to answer this question, we really need to ask what level of play are people talking about being balanced? My assumption was that people tend to look at Kotei results in terms of overall number of wins, without really paying attention to the number of people making the cut from each clan, or size of the various Kotei won. I think it’s a grave mistake to assume that the Moscow Kotei with 14 people is as competitive as the Paris Kotei, which had 157 attendees. People might see the win on the board from Moscow, but it certainly isn’t going to be as representative of the environment as the results from Paris (Cue 14 angry emails from Russia). I’m not saying small wins aren’t important, and requiring of skill, I’m just saying that they aren’t representative of the larger metagame.
So I fired up the old Microsoft Excel and set up the data to look at the results if we were to exclude results that had under a certain number of participants.
There were 35 Kotei with 60 people or more. Removing all of the smaller Kotei gets us a better picture of what was actually powerful, and the conclusion I draw is that the environment was very balanced. When Crab, Dragon, Lion, Mantis, Phoenix, Scorpion and Unicorn are all within two wins of each other, I think the balance of the Kotei environment was fantastic.
Strange Assembly’s Chris Stevenson prefers looking at the numbers of people Making the Cut when he’s considering how balanced an environment is, and so I’ll briefly look at the numbers behind who made the cut at different thresholds of relevance.
Unsurprisingly there isn’t as much variance here between the results at 40 and 60, because of the significantly larger number of data points we’re looking at. The clans, by and large, look pretty balanced in both of these pictures. Obviously some clans (Spider and Crane) under-performed when it came to wins and making the cut, but by and large this info seems to make sense.
I think the biggest surprise for me was when I ignored all Kotei that had under 90 people. Anyone notice anything here? I’m not going to say that the Kotei environment was going to be the same as the GenCon one (Lion blitz deformed that environment just a bit), but I do think it’s interesting how well Lion does in the cut at larger events.
Do you think people at the largest tournaments are bandwagoning with any more frequency then smaller Kotei? They aren’t.
A few notes:
Dragon were a tad overestimated. Dragon’s wins were mainly in small to mid-size Kotei. They won events with 87, 84, 53, 61, 51, 43, 61, 48, 22, 14, 24, and 30 players.
Spider and Crane are terrible. Definitely, go ahead and grouse; it’s been a long time since you’ve been competitive.
Really though, you might consider switching clans right now.
Phoenix were underestimated. Phoenix won Kotei that had 79, 70, 74, 96, and 157 players. Those are no joke events.
I completely understand if you don’t like how the environment was this Kotei season. That’s fine and there are legitimate complaints about how some decks play and how certain cards are to face. Design can definitely address those and learn from them for the future. Do me a favor though, and say that you don’t like how the cards play or how fast things are. Do not say that the environment this Kotei season was unbalanced; because the data just don’t support that conclusion. This summer was awesome in that you could take a deck from just about any clan (ignoring Crane and the Spider) , and win in a large, highly competitive Kotei. It isn’t always like that in L5R and it isn’t always like that in that other game, either. Design did a great job balancing the game at a high level of card power, and they should be commended for the level of balance reached.
(Unless you’re Crane or Spider)