2012 Kotei Season Parity Analysis

by Slaven

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.

Hey, I was thoroughly dominating the tournament scene less than a year ago!
You young ‘uns. I was deforming the environment for two years before you showed up!

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)



22 thoughts on “2012 Kotei Season Parity Analysis

  1. A very interesting read. Would love to see comparison after Winter Court and Euros to see just how much changes over a year.

  2. You might want to check your figures, as according to jadehand.com, the 2005 Kotei season was Diamond Edition. 2006-07 was Lotus (I remember, because I top 4’d in 2007 with Test of Enlightenmantis).

    1. Diamond in law, Lotus in spirit, I think. The 2005 Kotei season included the first Lotus-bugged cards, and began that arc’s ridiculous power levels. I’m presuming that he picked 2005 because the insanity of Khol Wall and Warrens of the One Tribe (possibly the dumbest card ever printed) made that Kotei season incredibly lopsided, which serves his point better.

      More importantly, I think Slaven is responding to an argument that people aren’t making. When people compare Emperor to Lotus they’re talking about power level, and faction balance isn’t really a response to that.

      1. To ignore the Kotei season where Test of Enlightenment was legal completely ignores the most powerful segment of the arc, and the one which most players point to when they cry “Lotus”.

    2. You are correct. My brain was almost sure those were in Lotus, but it turns out they were at the tail end of Diamond and at the beginning of Lotus legality. I’ll have to get that edited. That particular Kotei season was lame though; that point still stands.

      1. Oh, absolutely. Between WoOT and pre-nerf Khol Wall, late Diamond was busted. Which I guess is a point for Lotus in that it had slightly better faction balance than the tail end of Diamond. ;D

  3. I haven’t really been unhappy with the balance of EE. I’ve been unhappy with the power level and randomness.
    My personal feeling has been the EE has been relatively well balanced but partly because of the randomness.
    We talk about this more on the GenCon episode which isn’t up yet.

      1. “Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.- Adams.

        Just replace ‘life’ with ‘creating order’.

        1. Don’t worry! I’m sure next arc will remember to leave out random powerful cards like Creating order and Game of Di..

          Oh, right.

  4. Thanks for the write-up, guys! I’m glad I took the two years off when Spider was OP and winning all over the place; I love playing Spider but I like working for my wins. This season was a tough one for the arachnids at least one version of the ninja deck is viable (if it does crumble to KL) and Paragons seem to be coming along. Hopefully the two new sets next year will directly address the problems that Spider and Crane had while helping curb some of the more winning clans. I’m hopefully for an even more balanced 2013 kotei.

  5. Crate to me feels weak when I make decks. Not terrible but generally weak.

    Spider doesn’t feel weak card wise to me, but going second nearly all the time is its problem because otherwise it is on parity with most other clans. Ninja can make up for it but the others are looking to strategies that benefit greatly from getting in the first shot.

    1. Those are my feelings on Spider as well. Ninja have access to several movement cards that allow them to ignore most personalities early on to take the early provinces and eventually create more than or equal forces for when you’re finally opposed. But most other builds simply put guys on the table who, while having decent gold-to-force ratio, don’t really have the printed actions to compete with an early board where you’re generally out-maned 2-to1 and often times against better printed actions. Crab have a lot of delay or negation to stay in these fights. Unicorn avoid them. Mantis have the economy to give them access to expensive strategies that would hinder other clans when used early/mid-game. And Scorpion can often avoid early offensive battles by using a non-military strategy. Spider don’t really have any of this going for them at the moment and are sort of brute force type of guys in an environment where brute force doesn’t win games.

  6. Yeah, Spider breeder was completely ridiculous, and before that there was goblins, if you counted that as a Spider thing. (A few Spider personalities with a healthy dose of Shadowlands Horde.)

    As another guy who plays military which goes second to KL, I feel your pain. But at least now you have the option of Ninja/Superfriends.. It’s a totally legitimate deck, even though Interference kicks it in the teeth.

    1. Yup. I’m actually an old school ninja player (I became an official IA member back when you had to win a largish tournament to become part of the Ninja Clan) so the current situation is isn’t too terrible for me personally. But as a clan, it would be nice to have more than 1.5 viable strongholds. The commander and conqueror strongholds are a complete joke for any sort of tournament play and the kensai deck actually works better out of the ninja box. I like that the DV stronghold finally has options rather than literally playing everything that’s available, but it too still has some way to go to be consistently competitive. An additional battle DV that effects opposing cards and a few more personalities with good abilities that don’t come with restrictions would be very welcome and I think needed.

  7. I find it really hard to agree that the season has been “balanced” when your whole premise lies on making a caveat that Crane and Spider sucked. You’re leaving out 22% of the clans (2 out of 9) in order to reach to your conclusion.
    In the words of Tenacious D: “That was awesome! – compared to bullshit”. Your analysis is great, save for the fact that you deliberately choose to restrict it to 7 of the 9 “competitive” factions. :-/

  8. Maybe. I have to agree that if you only look at 7 Clans, then the season was “quite” balanced.
    However, there is quite a big difference between the #1 Clan (DG with 12 wins) and the 7th (PX with 5). A 7-win gap is in this case more than double what PX got. Obviously the problem is with DG and CB winning way more than their average (12 and 10 Koteis respectively). PX underperformed, but barely.
    So if you think the bar is to be set at 7 wins, then CB and DG overperformed, and the rest were around what was expected from them, statistically speaking.

    The problem remains in that the analysis should be about 9 clans, not 7, and then the whole premise crumbles down: the season was not balanced because two clans seriously underperformed. It even showed in participation: both were dead last (excluding Ronin and TFT, obviously) with CN losing 27.1% of its Kotei player base, and SP losing 20.4%. So 1 out of 4 CN players from 2011 decided to switch clans, and 1 out of 5 SP players also decided to switch clans.

    No comparisons should be made between 2011 and 2012 results because both CN and SP has broken or quasi-broken SHs in Embassy and FotD. But the loss of players is an interesting piece of information to analyse.

  9. We’re not trying to say, “This environment is totally balanced, just don’t look at the two clans behind the curtain.” There’s a big difference between ‘perfect’ balance and ‘fairly good’ balance. This absolutely isn’t the most balanced environment we’ve ever seen. (I think there were some very well-balanced periods in early-mid Celestial.) But when the goal is nine balanced clans, they’re doing a decent job. Even Magic messes these things up, and they have a lot more money and a lot more testing behind it.

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