It is my great pleasure to bring to you a slightly different perspective on the 2015 Spring Kotei Season. It is the perspective of somebody new to the game who is experiencing their first Kotei season, and the perspective of somebody who enjoys statistics and the weight of numbers. Given that this is my perspective, I’m going to avoid making comments about the strengths of individual decks (although it might be hilarious for veterans to see a new player muddle through a deck analysis), and will instead stick to looking at the numbers coming out of the various Kotei events.
Before we get started, I should mention that all of the statistics that I will talk about in this article are drawn from a google sheet document that I have been keeping and updating which can be found here. This document also includes links to the top 2 decks for each event, the statistics gathered for previous Kotei Seasons by Geoff Prugh, and tracks storyline decisions. It’s really a one-stop shop for all your 2015 Kotei needs! I highly encourage you to check it out and to refer back to it each week to see how the latest events have gone.
I’m sure that many of you are interested in seeing how the individual clans are performing and an article about how the Mantis seem to be crushing all in their path and the massive bounty posted by Scorpion players for Spider players to corrupt Mantis icons, but I’m going to save that analysis for another day. If you absolutely can’t wait, you should check out my collected statistics above, or read Chris’ great analysis of the Ivory Strict events here. No, today I want to touch on a topic that I think has weighed mightily on the minds of many L5R players – Kotei attendance in 2015 and how it stacks up to past years. Before I begin I think it is important to say that I think that the overall health of our game is a complicated thing that encompasses many different variables including the total number of players, the retention of old players, and the acquisition of new players. But one of those factors is certainly how well tournaments are attended. Since many of those other factors require information that I do not have access to, I will simply have to analyze this piece of the puzzle and assume (naively) that it is representative of the entire picture.
So how can we compare attendance data? Well, we could start off by just looking at the total attendance of all events in the Kotei Season. This straightforward approach quickly runs into problems – first, the 2015 (Spring) Kotei Season isn’t over yet, and I don’t want to wait to make a preliminary analysis! And perhaps more significantly, different Kotei Seasons have had a different number of events. And because we would expect that a season with more events would have more participation, a simple comparison would be meaningless.
The next thing we might do is look at the attendance numbers for individual Koteis. Nine of the eleven events thus far have had past events in the same (or nearby) locations, and this provides us with valuable data for a direct comparison. Unfortunately, looking at a single event is a recipe for statistical problems – having a sample size of 1 is guaranteed to lead you to false conclusions. And the attendance for each Kotei is an individual story made up of many different factors. Was the attendance at the Quezon City Kotei down because the Philippines has two Kotei events for the first time in years? Was attendance in Knoxville up because this was the last Kotei for the fantastic and much loved tournament organizers there? Did the horrible storms in the eastern United States impact the attendance of the Atlanta Kotei? To avoid needing to look into the minutia of each event, we need a broader way of looking at Kotei attendance in general.
A decent way to look at the entire Kotei season is just to look at the average Kotei attendance for each year. This figure is shown in the table below. Unfortunately, I only have access to the four years of data (which was graciously collected by Geoff Prugh), so we’ll have to limit our analysis to this period. If any readers have access to older data, please feel free to send it to me! But even just considering the past four years, the trend is unmistakeable – average attendance at Koteis is falling.
|Avg / Event||32.9||39.8||47.8||64.1||58.7|
In some ways, we could simply stop our analysis here and talk about what this decreased attendance means and how to address it, but that would ignore the wealth of data we have from individual Kotei events. Ultimately, I think the best way to compare Kotei attendance across the years is to combine the previous two approaches. For each year, we can add up the attendance for all events held in the same location as a 2015 Kotei. For each 2015 event for which there is no historical data, we can add the average Kotei attendance for the appropriate year. As an example, if we did this for 2014, we would add up the total attendance for the 32 events in 2015 that share a location with a 2014 event. For the remaining 12 events, we would simply add 39.8 participants (the average Kotei attendance in 2014). Doing this gets us an adjusted 2014 attendance number of 1899. That represents the number of participants we would have expected in 2014 assuming that there were the same number of events as in 2015 and they were held as the same locations as in 2015. The chart below contains all of the adjusted attendance figures.
|# of Events||11 / 48||62||60||60||60|
|Avg / Event||32.9||39.8||47.8||64.1||58.7|
Astute readers will note that all of this fancy mathematics ends up at numbers remarkably similar to what we would have gotten if we had simply taken the average number of participants for the year of interest and multiplied it to the number of events in 2015 (39.8 average attendance in 2014 * 48 events in 2015 = 1910 adjusted participation). But I feel that my somewhat more sophisticated method provides a (slightly) more accurate prediction and since I went through all of the trouble to do it, I’ll continue using those numbers!
The question now is what to do with 2015. There isn’t a really good way to predict how many people will attend Koteis this year except to simply multiply the current average attendance (32.9) by the total number of events (48). This calculation would predict that the total number of 2015 Spring Kotei participants would be 1580. If that number remains unchanged, it will represent the third consecutive season to have decreased participation, and would represent a continuation of 2014’s ~15% attendance decrease from 2013.
|Adjusted Attendance||1580 (Predicted)||1899||2246||3011||2680|
|% Change from last year||-16.84||-15.44||-25.40||+12.37||NA|
This article isn’t all doom and gloom, however, for a few major reasons. My projected 2015 Kotei attendance is based on less than a quarter of the season – there is plenty of time for that number to go up and for expectations to be confounded. One reason attendance might increase is the release of 20 Festivals, which seems to have been very well received among players in a way that Ivory was not. The set has been praised for it’s balance, the help that it brings to clans that have been struggling (notably the Spider Clan), the selection of reprinted cards, and more. Now that’s not to say that 20 Festivals is perfect, but it’s a good set and is a step in the right direction with broad support from the community.
A second reason to be hopefully for an increase in attendance is the excitement generated by the unfolding of the current story. I don’t think the story of the colonies and the Ivory Kingdoms ever really had the appeal that prior stories have had. In contrast, the coming storm and the mystery behind what sort of cosmic juju is about to hit the fan seems to have better captured people. Even if we don’t know exactly what saving an icon means exactly, there is a sense of importance and suspense regarding which icons will be saved and what the fate of those left unsaved will be. And the fact that even during these dark times the Clans have the ability to antagonize each other is just fantastic. Perhaps the best sign that players are excited about this season and are embracing it’s story implications is the number of bounties that have popped up in the last week or so – several of which total $250 or more!
Really, my only complaint about the story is that AEG has kept things a little too close to the chest. Being a little more forthcoming about the destruction that looms on the horizon might have made people care more about it from the beginning. The fact that the Great Carpenter Wall was saved during the Atlanta Kotei to prevent it from being corrupted by the Spider rather than to save it from the coming darkness is indicative of the fact that players had too little information to be invested at the beginning of Kotei Season. Personally, I would have released parts of the dark prophecy as a teaser for the Kotei Season. Missed opportunities aside, now that we have a little more information about the high stakes of the present season, player engagement seems to have increased we may well see an increase in participation as players flock to save their clan’s greatest treasures.
In the end, I think it is tempting to look at this data and to ask who or what is to blame for the decline in Kotei attendance, and what that fact portends for the health of the game as a whole. And undoubtedly there as as many different answers to these questions as there are readers of this article. But I think these are the wrong questions to be asking. The questions we really need to be having a conversation about are where do we go from here and how do we build a better and larger L5R community? There have been some great thoughts posted on the AEG forums, but if you have any constructive ideas about how to boost Kotei attendance or to strengthen the community, please post them in the comments below.
As for myself, I will attend my first Kotei ever this year (and hopefully more in the new Fall season), so I’ll at least raise attendance by 1! I will also keep collecting and updating the 2015 Kotei statistics here in the hope that it will be a valuable resource to the community. And I’ll post some more articles here on Strange Assembly about Kotei results (and maybe even some on my perspective as a new player) in the hope that somebody reads them and becomes a little more excited about the game.
L5R’s day isn’t over yet, not by a long shot.