Edain 4.5 – Gondor Review

After 3 or so years of waiting, Edain Mod 4.4 graduated to 4.5 this last week and the fun has been a-flowing. This patch constitutes a complete overhaul of several of the key gameplay mechanics such as economy and god powers. It adds new units and textures which are both visually pleasing. Importantly though, the patch re-invisions each faction to make them more unique, less exploitable and arguably much more fun overall. Gondor/Arnor being my favorite army, I will start the assessment with them:

Gondor’s Economy:

Previously, individual economy buildings had to be upgraded separately in order to accelerate the flow of resources and/or expand population cap. Now, however, pop cap is an incremental research option in the citadel (so resource buildings lost won’t shrink your cap), and econ upgrades are purchased at a forge or similar research building (in Gondor’s case, the Marketplace has been repurposed to do this). All new econ buildings take the global research level instead of needing to be leveled up once built. Econ buildings don’t deteriorate revenue based on how damaged they are (thank the maker). Upgrades tier at 1200 for level 2 and 2400 for level 3 (on castles, outposts and settlements separately). Pop expansions are 200 cap for 500 resources, all the way up to 1500 – a reduction in cap from v. 4.4 by 300 I’m sad to report.

This new restructuring paces the game significantly slower than it was in the previous iteration. The resource penalties are higher, which draws out the time to collect resources and thus, things in the game take longer to unfold. I do like this change though! Games feel more deliberate, less rush rush hasty.

Gondor’s Army:

There’s a new mechanic for the manor houses that gifts their elite unit cost reduction to regular infantry and archers, which causes a late-game surge when all the pieces fall into place. Once researched at the marketplace. That’s a 60 resource reduction on the cost of all units, if you are at the max number of houses built. It’s stellar. That, in conjunction with the already existing reduction mechanic for cavalry through the farms, waging war with Gondor is fast and furious like I remember it being in the previous version of Edain, but even more so than before.

Signal fires were totally overhauled, which made me sad since one of my favorite strategies was a spam with signal fire units (since they’re free in v. 4.4) after the god power additional battalion upgrade.  Sadly, the timer-spawned units are not happening anymore. Now, the signal fires collect a “resource” every 60 seconds called a “signal rider.” the units can be bought once you have enough currency, 2 is the starting low value and 10 is the largest sum of riders that can be spent at once. 10 brings 8 full level 2 battalions of the standard 4 types of signal fire unit (swordsman, axemen, pikes, archers). This mechanic lets you place the battalions at your discretion near the signal fire building instead of having them spawn automatically. It also is upgraded to 3 total battalions once you buy the god power upgrade. The units are the same quality, but just more deliberate about how and when they are brought to the battlefield. You must have the cap available to summon whatever you pay riders for, or you will lose the units that don’t fit under the cap to the cosmic ether… never to be seen again.

Arnor is largely unchanged with the exception of their spellbook. They still lean on swordsmen instead of the pikes of Gondor. Their allegiance with the elves gives them one of the game’s best elite multipurpose units. The spellbooks are better duplicates of each other then they were before so I really like the fact that they made Arnor just a dusty mirror of Gondor. As it should be, they’re all the same people, just split between the two kingdoms of men.

I don’t use the settlement rangers… regular archers are more than sufficient in appropriate number to thin melee units. Rangers are only an option on castle maps since then there’s a good chance of reducing their cost with the manor house mechanic. I never use Faramir. I use Pipin, Boromir and occasionally Denethor. I sprinkle Gondor knights… they add substance to any real push. Can’t win with infantry alone. Siege comes in to play every game, and trebuchets are as effective as ever.

All told, I’m  pleased! I give the whole update an A. Gameplay has been very good against the hard AI. I have tried several different build orders and am starting to settle on one that keeps me in contention and paces expansion along with the necessary economic hurdles. Edain team really came through with a phenomenal update, meeting 3 years of my pent-up expectations. I continue to play and explore all the unique features they have added to the different factions. Not to mention the fact that the next major update will be coming sooner, and it will have the final faction missing from Edain: Goblins. I believe they will be known as Misty Mountains now since it won’t be just Goblins but an amalgamation of Gundabad, Moria and Mirkwood. W is a Gobs guy from way back in the day, back when vanilla Battle for Middle-Earth II hit the shelves (in 2006). He loved them, and Edain has taken them away for years and years. Now, finally, and perhaps even this spring, they will be welcomed back into the fold.

Ultimate Apocalypse Build Order: Tau Empire

It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these, but I know the others I published years ago are long irrelevant due to many many patches since they were written. The newest version of UA at the time of this post is the one we will be focusing on. THB.

So Tau have long been my favorite faction because I like the units and build order plus the melee to ranged ratio is very nice in my opinion. I have a preference to play them, but against the Hard and Harder AIs I have a little trouble, or, had. I have since implemented a new build order which maximizes the potential for success while limiting the vulnerability to the rush. Orks and IG will hit hard and within the first five minutes so it is important to have a strat that compensates.

The goal of the strat is to balance tech with unit production and timely units as well. Transition to vehicles quickly. Backloads armies with elite ranged.

I still think there’s no defense to an Ork rush, but every other faction can fall victim to this sequence.

Within the first few minutes:

Go barracks (ranged) then as many requisition nodes as possible until 4 – 5 are capped and listening posts are built. Then hit the first two power plants to quickly go tier 2. While all of that is going on. you need a commander and 1 melee or ranged squad (whichever is better). The military units should come out of the barracks not HQ building. These steps are core to any future build order because they enable fast leveling for the commander unit.

As Tau, I choose the ranged commander, the XV22 and a squad of Fire Warriors. Keep them together at some central point so they can act on intrusions. I also get a Kroot Alpha squad out and hold the next front with them. I need to get to tier 2 very fast. I’ll back up a second squad of FW and max out their squad size.

Next is a mad dash to tier 3. Try to build some Hounds out to beef up a unit presence and I will drop a Devilfish or two since the AI will have vehicles at this point as well. I stay away from the Skyrays since they don’t really mature as decent artillery until tier 3. So I do the best I can to hold ground until I get to both types of tier 3 that the Tau have (melee and ranged). I crank on tier 3 units and the new commanders/squads. I The secondary ranged commander and the command squad for ranged are good enough to hold a front by themselves with limited interaction from units and vehicles. They pack quite a punch once the base-level is up above 5.

Also, get that Ethereal out as soon as possible and flip on the create bodyguards function on all the time. Set the Ethereal somewhere where it isn’t in immediate peril and let it keep popping out free Fire Warriors in the backline somewhere. Those three unit squads pack a hefty punch, can capture nodes and are reinforceable if they lose members.

I get the Kroot Commander out on that massive beast and just let him tank the shit out of any melee that is happening on the battlefield. The Kroot Alphas are usually pretty strong by then too, and I do make sure to have them cannibalize as much as possible along the way so they end up with some late game relevance. The final push should be made when the commanders are all at max level. I typically go to production increases when it comes to the passive upgrades.

Barracudas are good at holding the sky and pummeling vehicles which is needed in my infantry-heavy approach. Since Knarloc Riders count as vehicles I’d say 50/50.

All along the way, I buy my technologies once the units I need are in play. I work on making them stronger only after I have secured some ground. I’ll spend up-front money on units and then make them stronger as they are in play, hopefully creating an instantaneous advantage. I think this start works, with the 4 or 5 requisition nodes first thing and then tiering up as fast as possible. The command units can hold ground for the most part, and I’ll combine the Kroot Alphas and the XV22 if I need to in order to hold a point. I value the Tau since they have multiple ways of countering.

ECONOMY UPGRADES YES: As soon as they are available since nodes and generators have limited yields. Get the economy upgrades to power your push and maximize your resources. Decay is based on time.

Try that and see if it works for you. A real hardcoire Ork rusher will still kill you. There’s no stopping an Ork rush. I’ve decided.

The ERA Equation

Fictional Fantasy Baseball – The Studyball Kurmudgeons

Rarely do I freely venture into the land of mathematics, but as that pertains to statistics, one could say there is love, not anger, death and PAIN. I’m not sure my endeavors serves any other purpose other than to fascinate my brain and make it work in a different way to figure out the solution to a problem, but regardless of notoriety, the task is noble. Back in the good ol’ days I was writing equations while manic that Excel couldn’t resolve, because they were written stupidly and abhorrently complex, ah yes, sweet memory… wait, this is a not good memory… however, I was able to do most of what I wanted, but not all. Fortunately I have found a middle ground between epiphany and practicality. The mechanism of my learning has been a logical argument within Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets): IF/AND.

Excel allows one to look at or through data in a variety of ways, and boy is there a lot of data around Baseball. I take real 7-day MLB sums from players across the league and the results tell me something about how my own scoring configuration might balance, or scale in certain areas, as appropriate. The things that are hard to write equations for are those that modify or scale a result, or have an array of possible outcomes but somehow need to all be accounted for. Building a massive array by entering all the possible outcomes is not practical when dealing in hundreds. Equations need to be sleek, quick and able to return a sensible answer under any circumstances.

My task over the last couple of days was to make a logical equation using AND, IF or both, and try to weight the ERA over a game period like ranking the scoring/yardage surrendered by NFL team defenses. ERA becomes a scaling reward for low totals, and becomes a worthless (or a negative total) after 4. I had a similar equation already written for the NFL spreadsheet but all the values and references had to be changed.

=SUM[this is just the mechanism that will total the result as an integer]

(IF([condition/test],[result if Y],[result if N]

IF(AND[condition/test],[result if Y],(IF(AND[nested IF as negative response triggers second criteria in the next argument while building off the previous argument, as long as AND is present]

My initial equation looked like this:

=SUM(IF(D1=0,””,(IF(D1<.001,[value cell 0],(IF(D1=0,[value cell 1](AND(D1<.99,D1>.001,[value cell 2],(IF(AND(D1<1.99,D1…….. so on and so forth, moving the needle higher as the ranges of ERA are graded as they fall between one of the equations areas. But I was acting like there was a value below zero I had to be worried about, which is a product of using the equation from the NFL Fantasy Scorecard where those values are possible in the net yardage equation. After taking notice of the parameter change, I rewrote the beginning. 

There is a little “housekeeping” to settle up front, taking into account all numbers that COULD BE RENDERED on the spreadsheet. The D1, lets just say is the cell where the manual ERA will be entered on the sheet.

This specific line means, if D1 has no value in it, show nothing (represented by a text quote with no text “”) since zero is an ERA value there should be nothing to render if the cell is empty. 

After the above action, the next is to squarely assign a value to 0, since bridging ranges on it is problematic. The, the lowest value in the first range, mathematically expressed in greater-than less-than form. This can be repeated over and over, laying one on top of the other as the N condition until a result is returned.

The whole equation on the spreadsheet itself looks like this:

 

=SUM(IF(C21=“”,0,(IF(AND(C21=0),Rules!B40,(IF(AND(C21>0,C21<1),Rules!B40,(IF(AND(C21>0.99,C21<2),Rules!B41,(IF(AND(C21>1.99,C21<3),Rules!B42,(IF(AND(C21>2.99,C21<4),Rules!B43,(IF(AND(C21>3.99,C21<5),Rules!B44,(IF(AND(C21>4.99,C21<6),Rules!B45,(IF(C21>5.99,Rules!B46))))))))))))))))))

Those values triggered a result dependent on the integer in the cell, and were located on a separate page within the file:

The parallel between the NFL DEF/ST is undeniable because it is pretty much the same fucking thing. Beautiful how those two very different stats have a parallel in that scale, plus the way that can be whittled until bare at times, much like watching one’s team getting tired in the 4th quarter,defending the lead… this should give something additional for my nonexistent owners to fuss about. I wish there was someone who would fuss.

Making the equation and seeing the result it had on the scorecard was very rewarding, adding a boom-or-bust possibility to the pitcher’s slots on the roster. I like potential, and I like unexpected, crushing agony. Both remind me of how nice normal is.

 

 

Now I have a new scaling toy to play with, but another though I had is that pitchers aren’t the only ones with an ERA these days. Position players are now often used as a bullpen if a game is out of reach for example, and the manager wants to save his relief bullets. This could be hell for your average owner, when suddenly your 2B throws 17 pitches and has 4 ER with zero K, HR allowed and a 9.00 ERA!!

Fantasy Football League Career Statistics (Retired)

The image below captures all aspects of my FFL history. Judge me as you see fit. It was very stressful to have that going on year after year.

In one of my leagues there was money every time, if I finished 3rd. I finished in the top three on FIVE occasions. That’s 5 times in the 6 years we had a league.

Interesting stats:

Finished in First: Twice

Finished in Second: Four Times

Finished in Third: Three Times

The Studyball Kurmudgeons: Fantasy Baseball League?

I know I have said at other times that I was “satisfied” with the tinkering of the scoring. I wanted to do a “past 7 days” filter so I could see what a scoring summary might look like for that interval. I had whole season numbers, but I wanted the Head-to-Head games to be competitive, not boring and incrementally relevant despite the season’s length. I saw what a above average season point output would look like, and there were clearly some areas that needed adjusting.opportunity to scale some things back. The I ran a new set of season numbers with mid level talent and tinkered with the balance some more.

The latest set of numbers came from a pretty high-output names, and some not so much. I think this latest tinkering is the best to date, since I am very concerned with the individual games not being monotonous. I also added a handful of “high level” achievement in the game, like a grand slam, a no hitter… etc.

The overall model is balanced enough to keep things competitive among similarly knowledgeable players, mind you. The bonus FPs from a big play is probably enough to lift someone who is trailing late, or crush your foe into the turf with a massive play that sets you on the path to victory.

Let me first show you the scorecard, which was totally redone as of last time I wrote about it.

 

 

 

 

95% of that is real data from active players over the last week, and it helped me to see where the final adjustments to the scoring were to be made. With the recent live-data scenario, I can say that the current scoring setup promotes intense and interesting games, and that’s the main point. Here are the (maybe) final scoring tweaks.

 

Clearly position players other than pitchers do well in this mode, but the pitchers come out looking like NFL fantasy quarterbacks. When they’re hot, they’re lighting everyone up and things are generally: yay! When they’re not, they become a vast, expanding black hole consuming all nearby fantasy points if they stray too close.

 

Big plays get rewarded, sometimes massively. Emongously. Trabookafred!

 

 

Maybe one day I might run this league… probably not though.

It’s just fun to think about.

Another, differently shaped golden trophy would look nice in my castle.

Revised: Fantasy Baseball Scoring PERFECTED(?)

I was reading over my last post and I didn’t like the way the roster was breaking down into relevant and irrelevant levels of worth/value. Nearly every roster spot should have ways of achieving success based on a focused study of statistical output.

With that in mind, I went after trying to understand how the points were being accumulated, and how my weights were amplifying/deflating some values over others. I decided on a core format style which I feel would make for the best type of gameplay: steady accumulation with rare bursts of point gain interspersed. This likely leads to close games decided decisively (on one scoring event) or juggernauts demolishing their foes as they “go off” for big points. Steady accumulation on events like walks, singles, strikeouts (pitchers), assists, RBI or runs scored keep things close, hopefully, allowing for talented drafters to show how they set their lineups well in anticipation of big games for a given player. Only 7 bench slots means you can’t keep one of every position player on your bench for replacement, you will be FORCED to play the wire, like all good owners should if they expect to do well.

So, after some tweaking, I came up with a scoring set I like. I added Innings Pitched (.1 rounded down, .2 rounded up) as a trickle stat for pitchers that makes them better producers on a consistent basis. I changed the value of some of the offensive stats to neuter the distance between them and pitchers. The result is a dog that won’t impregnate any other dogs ever again.

 

 

So, the output of this needed to be judged somehow with actual data, which I provided the scorecard long before I began tweaking values. I have included my sample line up card here so we can look together and see how the values are expressed as fantasy points. Please note, this data is the ASB benchmark I have mentioned in other posts. The idea here is to highlight a “best case scenario” data-set to judge how high, potentially, the ceiling of exclusivity can go. On a game-to-game basis, this is going to be a more interesting thing to see. Looking towards a high point of 7,000+ fantasy points of season accumulation, and an unknown number of games in which to disperse them. I am THAT unfamiliar with the format that right now, I don’t know how long a MLB fantasy season is, or how frequently “games” occur as daily would be impossible. I can imagine daily maintenance being necessary, but having as many match-ups as there are games is a nauseating thought.

 

In my first post I talked about my points of emphasis in the game itself, and among the values that have endured to arrive at the final cut is Pickoffs. A rare but consequential event, the point value of which is devastating. 12 points for this event is the most heavily weighted event I score in this league template. Why? Because it’s a tease. Like picking a really good punt/kickoff returner in the NFL, you’re hoping your lousy pitcher redeems himself because his Pickoff move is phenomenal. Will he reward you with an unprecedented point total, or will he leave you starved for an event that, at best occurs less than 20 times a year for the league leaders? If he goes off, your cushy seat to victory is more likely than it was a minute ago, but your bet is on the rare event, or the steady churning motion of a consistent, winning pitcher with no rad move to first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have achieved a balance that now seems both competitive and enjoyable. It is the best I have achieved in my limited experimentation with the format, and really brings an element of uncertainty to drafting. I also foresee players making (nearly) irrelevant contributions due to lousy performances being more harsh than in the NFL. A zero is never ever wanted, but expected from time to time, but maybe in this league three days of .25 fantasy points might be just as terrible, if not worse.

Maybe one day I will know.  It’s a fun to think about.

UPDATE: Mid-Afternoon

For the sake of comparisons, I ran a simulation based on an actual head-to-head matchup, which in the regular season collect data over 7 days or so. I wanted to see what a high-output production would look like, which would be an approximation of having a “good week.” See below, though this is an unlikely final lineup, it is a possible one, and definitely a Cubs fan.

Looking over the 7 day output, I can see now that with 18 roster slots, some of those position players are bound to crater, while one or two others rocket up. These scores remind me of the FNFL scale which goes something like this:

0 – 5 = Wretched
6 – 10 = Minimal
11 – 15 = Average
16 – 20 = Above Average
21 + = Exceptional

We had a “200” barrier in my Detail Oriented league a few years ago… whoever gets there first is almost certain to win. That seems accurate as reflected here, but the flexibility of upward expansion for some of the roster slots seems outstanding. I like the way this looks, but also recognize how vital fielding the right players is, and making sure your roster is up to date. The restricted bench makes for a more competitive free-agent market, inciting wire competition.

FF Thoughts: Balanced Scoring Theory

It has been my experience in designing fantasy scoring systems for the NFL that the weight of every statistical category must be appraised in respect to the total items being scored, roster positions available and some form of biased incentive.

It can be said, as a baseline, common events should not be comparable in worth to rare events. It is this weighting that defines the terms of competition, and an aspect I particularly relish. I have beliefs about what aspects of a given sport are more difficult to achieve versus things that should occur and do occur regularly/often. What I cultivate in participants is a similar respect for the remarkable and an interpretive invitation to strategize.

As I develop my thoughts on how to apply my prior FNFL experience to the FMLB format, I intend to be true to my signature preferences and unique interpretation of the sport (s). MLB tends to be more statistically dependent (developed) and maybe even drowning in an excess of interpretations and comparisons. I hope to cut through the bullshit and boil my league rules down to the essential, and the remarkable. The mundane have been exiled!

Scoring: Two Factors

Weighted Scoring Categories

I use a combination of elements to determine what value to assign things: (commonality/frequency + subjective difficulty + game-flow based significance = relative weighted value). Through this, you should begin to see my perturbed view of the sport, and what makes it interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of my preferences become apparent with how harshly things are penalized, or how they are rewarded. Based on an ideal set of player’s 2018 All-Star Break statistics (relative mid-marker), the draft will see offensive players going first, but relief pitchers among the second wave. See below for the impact on how the team should be built in terms of available point scoring potential.

Difficult plays and stats that are hard to earn are weighted, but more heavily towards the remarkable. Outfield Assists for example, as I have stated in previous posts, are pretty fucking awesome. Clearly there are more points to be scored as an offensive player, but that seems to follow logic in terms of actual gameplay. Still, I see that, if there was to be a draft, I could see multiple strategies towards some desired stat-cultivation effort to specifically target a course towards relevance, and the postseason. Plays that cause outs, or kill rallies, or erase runs are dealt with harshly.

 

 

Roster Positions – Team Size

Depending on what is being scored/weighted, the roster needs to reflect a discipline to balance, and an incentive for a diverse live draft by fairly distributing point-earning opportunities across positions. As you can probably tell from the scoring table listed above, there are some positions on the lineup card that are going to be, generally, better contributors than others. The roster below is ordered in terms of fantasy point scoring weight/ideal projected point output potential (Great, High, Average, Low-ish

1B
2B
SS
3B
OF1
OF2
OF3
OF4
RP1
RP2
RP3
SP1
SP2
SP3
SP4
SP5
C1
C2
______
(18)

There would be 7 bench slots, rounding out the active roster at 25. There’s a certain nostalgic symbolism I wish to also encapsulate, (see the 5 man rotation, the 7th, setup and closer slots). I feel like there are 4 starting outfielders on every Major League team as a baseline based on logic, and the nature of the positions. I did not feel it necessary to be specific about the outfield positions as this level of specificity doesn’t add to the fun and makes drafting arduous because of the constraining requirements of the roster slot. In my build, OF gets to be more useful, potentially, based on a freedom to load RF or CF or whatever your preference.

C has become like FNFL TE to me now. Hit or miss, boom or bust, this roster slot looks like the one that will inevitably fuck me somehow. C rates low, even with All-Stars driving the stats, but they seem like to do so in bursts rather than consistently. Plus, this is another roster position that is most-likely to have a savvy backup on real MLB rosters.

I foresee infielders (with the exception of C1/2) being hard to find after some trends have been established. I have often wondered about free-agency and waiver pickups in FMLB. Maybe this will be something I learn about later, or maybe not at all. 

Well, I think this league would be fun, but this will never happen, more than likely. Good things to think about though, and that’s really all I’m trying to do. I just want something to feel good about, and excited I guess. Things have been really hard lately, and my energy is running dangerously low. I’m going to need help soon, and this little exercise has been one of my coping activities to help myself think about something positive and fun while also innocuous. Thank you.