MOBA Tournament Pick/Ban Styling

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jarrett.c.dunn
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MOBA Tournament Pick/Ban Styling

So Tactics has been out a while, several tournaments ran (and devoured by myself and various playgroups), and changes came in on Pick/Ban but I think, and it's how we play around here and now that the game has been out a year people should be familiar enough, that MOBA tournament style picking/banning would go a LONG way to shake things up more.  It works similar to present except there is an additional ban phase after each team has picked their first two characters meaning it behooves people to understand how the different characters work together and not be one trick ponies.  Around here we go even further by using the full MOBA Tournament form of banning and picking which plays out as such:

 

First ban bans a character

Second Ban bans a character

First ban bans another character

Second ban bans another character

(this of course leave 11 characters to pick from)

First Pick picks their first character

Second pick picks their first character

Second pick picks their second character

First pick picks their second character

(leaves 7 characters and hopefully each team should have an idea what the others is going for)

First Ban bans a character

Second Ban bans a character

(leaving 5 characters)

First pick picks their final character

Second pick picks their final character

 

Anyways this is just how we play around here.  Really forces people to try new combos as there is a very good chance the opposing team will jack with their initial plans (especially if they understand the Meta), so all of the groups must have a good knowledge of what their options are, and what the enemy can do.  Course we have also began playing around here with 1 minute player turns, so you are doing a full round every roughly 6 minutes (minus dice rolling) and it forces people to be able to think fast and on their own rather than sitting there talking over every single option, and only getting a full round in every 15-20 minutes.

While I realize the turn time limit is unreasonable, personally I far prefer the Ban/Pick system we use as then which ones you pick and ban is almost a large part of the game itself rather than simply knowing "ok if we can't use Citizen Dawn or Baron Blade then simply use character Y".  So give it a try yourselves in your private games, you may find you like it as well :).


Paul
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We are actually dicussing the possability of doing something like this for Season 2 of the official tournaments after Battle for Broken City and For Profit come out :)


“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” ~Obi-Wan Kenobi

MarioFanaticXV
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No tournament should ever have character bans. While this isn't as bad as tournament-wide bans, it still limits variety, and thus limits the strategic options one has in a tournament.

On that note, if a character is overwhelmingly powerful, it should be considered to eratta some of their cards to rebalance things. Similarly, if a certain character just never sees tournament use, there should be consideration for improving them.

A pure "blind pick" would be much better; each player chooses their team in full before the other player knows what they have. If you insist on metagaming, you better study your opponent's past games and see what sort of characters they prefer to pick, and the have to do the same against you.

Foote
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MarioFanaticXV wrote:

No tournament should ever have character bans. While this isn't as bad as tournament-wide bans, it still limits variety, and thus limits the strategic options one has in a tournament.

That is actually the complete opposite of what the ban phase does in tournaments. You serious with that?

You might think that when a team bans a certain character, you limit possible choices, which then must lead to a more limited variety of teams (since there are less characters to choose from).

That makes sense and sounds good on paper, but that is not at all what actually happens in practice. In a tournament without the ban phase, teams will almost always choose the best characters in the current meta. With two teams of 3, you will see the same 6 characters chosen in 95% of the games played where the only variety is the combination. Competitive gaming will always lean in that direction and the meta game tends to stagnate once those best characters and pairs are identified.

What bans do in this situation is force teams to think outside of just best meta characters because those will likely be banned. So you are free to create team comps that compliment what you ban out from your opponent and have to be creative with what the other team bans out for you. What you end up seeing is a more diverse pairing of characters to fit different ban strategies. More diversity in pairings leads to a more dynamic meta game as teams try to adapt to the current meta game through different ban/draft pairings to stay ahead of the curve.

Limitations bread creativity. It's a stone cold life truth.

--------

 

With that said, Paul, there should be thought into where the bans actually happen. I've seen a lot of MOBA's recently stagger the bans.

-1st  team bans

-2nd team bans

-2nd team picks (1)

-1st team picks (1)

-1st team picks (2)

-2nd team bans

-1st team bans

-2 team picks (2)

-2 team picks (3)

-1st team picks (3)

something like that could work as well. I am very much against triple bans however. 2 bans are more than enough.

Powerhound_2000
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I've found the bans interesting so far and I think they added a level of strategy.   Even with bans I think it is still a toss up between Absolute Zero, Proletriat, and Visionary for which one got picked the least.   


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MarioFanaticXV
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Instead of banning a character, why not learn how to overcome it? If you're worried about the game stagnating, don't be; if someone only knows one strategy, they're not going to get very far in a tournament anyways. The more choices there are in the tournament, the more adaptive you have to be to win, not less adaptive.

If we're going to make video game comparisons, why not look to a more competitive genre? Such as RTSs; look at how Blizzard handles StarCraft; they're constantly tweaking things to improve balance between the races, and they've never outright removed a unit (at least, not once the game was released; they did, of course, add and remove units during the beta stages), but instead made subtle changes to each to make sure each unit is useful through the entire game- and mind you, it's still a work in progress; the original StarCraft had ten years of patches, and is often considered the shining example of competitive video games. Can you imagine how much weaker the game would have been if- instead of balancing the game- the developers simply said "well, why don't you guys just each choose a unit of your opponent's to ban" instead of working to make sure that they didn't need to ban the units?

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I might agree if it was always the same characters banned.   It has varied between matches and tournaments.


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phantaskippy
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GtG has always said they aren't going to constantly change wording or rulings because this isn't a video game, and changing the game people play at home is not cool.

Bans increase ooptions, and force creativity.  You can't just overcome betecause the game is still dice based.

Bans aren't just picking the best player, that fails.  There are all kinds of strategies in banning that skilled teams will use.  It let's you ban a counter-pick and build teams that would struggle if you didn't have the ban.

You are going to see the same 5-6 heroes banned each game, but with 2 bans 4 of those slip through.

You also don't get into having to pick a hero you don't want just to stop the other team from getting them.  I love the current process and it will evolve as the number of characters increase.

MarioFanaticXV
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phantaskippy wrote:
Bans increase ooptions, and force creativity.

I've already explained why this doesn't work. If you're not even going to read my posts before responding to them, then this conversation is over. Farewell.

Paul
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@MarioFanaticXV

Woah, don't immediatly rush to table-flipping hostility just because someone disagrees with you!

I have read your post a few times and definitely see the logical point that you are making, but in my experience it doesn't work that way in practice. In our tournament experience, allowing alternating bans and picks forces teams makes the drafting portion of the tournament have a lot of strategic depth that it simply wouldn't have in the case of blind picks. If you go through and watch the recordings of the Tactics tournaments on YouTube, in particular the finals and (as soon as we post it!) all of Worlds, you'll see a lot of very clever bans and counter-picks. In fact, in several games, I would contend that the match is largely won or lost based on the drafting phase.


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Pydro
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Paul wrote:

In fact, in several games, I would contend that the match is largely won or lost based on the drafting phase.

Do you feel that this is a good thing?


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Arcanist Lupus
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MarioFanaticXV wrote:
A pure "blind pick" would be much better; each player chooses their team in full before the other player knows what they have. If you insist on metagaming, you better study your opponent's past games and see what sort of characters they prefer to pick, and the have to do the same against you.

A blind pick might or might not be better - but it also doesn't work for Tactics, so the point is immaterial.  If each team is choosing independently, then the same character could be picked by both sides.  Now you could in theory allow multiple copies of the same character (certainly Super Smash Bros does, and I think League of Legends does too), but Tactics doesn't.  It doesn't because GtG doesn't wish it to.

 

Speaking of League of Legends, I would contend that it is a much better analog to Tactics than RTS games like StarCraft are.  And League of Legends does use a banning system.


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phantaskippy
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It happens even more with blind pick, and if you watch the games character selection is about equally important to how well you play.

Really there are three roughly equal determiners of any match:

1.  Your draft strategy.

2.  Your play strategy.

3.  Your dice luck.

Blind pick is a different strategy but changes the game as you either have to allow duplicates (boo) or divise a fair way of deciding what happens if the picks overlap.  Which usually ends up less balanced.

Mariofanatic, I read your posts, you didn't explain at all why bans don't work.  You said they are bad and blind pick is better and then talked about Starcraft.

Please feel free to share, or quote your argument where you show why bans don't work, because I missed it.

MarioFanaticXV
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Quote:
If you're worried about the game stagnating, don't be; if someone only knows one strategy, they're not going to get very far in a tournament anyways. The more choices there are in the tournament, the more adaptive you have to be to win, not less adaptive.

Bans are really only useful if something is truly and completely broken; and that's not something that one should see in a game. If a game can only be fixed by removing characters, it's a sign that the underlying game is flawed and in need of serious repairs. I don't feel Sentinel Tactics is a bad game, and certainly not bad enough that we need to talk about allowing character bans. Yes, some characters may need a little tweaking, but forcing people not to use characters that they've bought and paid for is just asinine.

...And don't even get me started on TCGs which take the banning approach...

Quote:
Woah, don't immediatly rush to table-flipping hostility just because someone disagrees with you!

Huh? I displayed no hostility; someone was refusing to address my points, and I made it known that I wasn't going to waste time on such, and promptly dropped the conversation. After years of debating on the internet, I've found that if people continuously gloss over your posts without actually addressing them, they're generally not going to get the point after a second or third attempt, and it's better to just move onto the next person.

MarioFanaticXV
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Arcanist Lupus wrote:
MarioFanaticXV wrote:
A pure "blind pick" would be much better; each player chooses their team in full before the other player knows what they have. If you insist on metagaming, you better study your opponent's past games and see what sort of characters they prefer to pick, and the have to do the same against you.

 

A blind pick might or might not be better - but it also doesn't work for Tactics, so the point is immaterial.  If each team is choosing independently, then the same character could be picked by both sides.  Now you could in theory allow multiple copies of the same character (certainly Super Smash Bros does, and I think League of Legends does too), but Tactics doesn't.  It doesn't because GtG doesn't wish it to.

Speaking of League of Legends, I would contend that it is a much better analog to Tactics than RTS games like StarCraft are.  And League of Legends does use a banning system.

Blind pick is the only alternative I can really think of the the current drafting system; I mean, other than random teams, but I don't think anyone's gonig to be arguing for that over the current system- it'd be even worse than a ban-based system.

phantaskippy
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Bans are effective in any game with enough characters with different strengths and weaknesses that a good strategy can be counter picked.

You are looking at bans as a fix for something broken, but it has a lot more strategic depth than that.

A ban can be used to break up a team comp that would counter what you are going for.  An old example would be the Ambuscade-Omnitron pairing that was big early on.  Banning Omnitron would break up that pairing, and get rid of one of the main counters to a Citizen Truth build.

The opposing team might ban Dawn, seeing Omnitron banned as a signal Truth is coming, or they might ban Tachyon, looking to use someone squishy like Unity, or ban Baron Blade because they want to go token heavy, or any number of heroes that can thwart any number of strategies.

The bans have changed because the game isn't broken, and the bans made players learn more strategies, and not just perfect a few strategies.

It must also be remembered that ththese tournaments are designed to advertise the game, and bans help do that by getting more characters to the field and different strategies being used each game.

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I think there should be a distinction acknowledged between what different people mean by the word "ban" in this context. Specifically, I feel like there's a difference between "Global Bans" where a character is prohibited from a whole event by a governing body, and "Local Bans" where a character is prohibited from a match by the strategic choice of a player/team.

 

Global Bans would be (and have been, in other games) used when one character/strategy/whatever is overly centralizing -- you either use that character, use one of the few counters to that character, or are at a significant disadvantage. Akuma in Street Fighter 2, Meta Knight in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Stoneforge Mystic in Magic: The Gathering. These bans increase the strategic space of the game, because the centralizing factor has been removed.

 

Local Bans are used as _part_ of the strategic space of a game. Because these characters are banned as an active choice by a competitor, their purpose is to fight against what the other competitor wants to do. Examples include champion banning from various MOBAs, and Stage Banning in Super Smash Bros. A secondary effect of Local Bans is as a stopgap to centralizing characters, this is true. But that's not their primary purpose.

 

In reference to errata, my personal stance for non-digital games is that the game should be as close as it can possibly be to its print version. I would infinitely prefer to ban a character from competitive play than to errata what their powers do, and cause schisms between how the game plays "at home" vs "at a tournament". Sure, there are difference already (and will continue to be), but none of the game components lie to you currently. Errata, specifically power level errata (as opposed to "oops we goofed on templating" errata) would cause that.

 

(Digital games are entirely different, since you _can_ make sure everyone is playing the same game there.)

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Correct me if I am wrong, but won't the official tournaments always use the most current expansions. If so, you can easily include errata for some cards in the next expansion for previous characters. Then, you wouldn't have the issue of a different home game. In fact, you can even include some story reasons why these cards change. If you still don't want an "errata" you could always include ourright new powers. You can either give some characters new powers in place of others, give everyone new powers and make sure the "Weaker characters" get stronger powers, or even just give new powers to the chacters that aren't used so much. This could be a new theme too. At the end of each tournament, the 3 characters picked the least get a new power in the next expansion.


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MarioFanaticXV

There is a reason why the current ban system works better than blind pick, because there are characters in the current meta who are clearly superior to all others.

Lets say you have 7 options, option 1 is clearly superior whilst options 2-7 are about the same level, in any competitive environment, without question, you will always pick option 1, because you want to win, in this case, despite having the appearance of 7 options, you only really have 1 if you want to succeed.

Take away option one for both teams however, and suddenly your options are expanded, there is no clear winner between options 2-7 so although you've lost an option, you now have 6 viable options for victory.

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I wouldn't says clearly superior. Each character has their weaknesses that can be exploited and characters that are good at exploiting those weaknesses. In this case, for the Worlds game, if they studied their opponents' previous games they can tell what team compositions they prefer. Then they can ban key characters from that composition to counter their opponents' strategies.


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Donner wrote:

I wouldn't says clearly superior. Each character has their weaknesses that can be exploited and characters that are good at exploiting those weaknesses. 

That is not quite the case just yet however. We need a larger cast until that's really true.

Case in point is Dawn. Dawn's largest strength is the pure action economy she gets through her citizens having their own turns and not awarding victory points for being killed. It takes a large amount of resources from the enemy team to take away her biggest strength. In the current game no one really is a great counter to Dawn, hence why she is either consistently picked or banned in every game.

I am really hoping the new "fat spite" has a mechanic that "eats" fielded minions (such as Citizens/Bots/ect) in some form or another, providing a solid counter pick to really strong meta characters like Unity and Dawn (Unity already has a strong counter pickup in Ambuscade, but you get the idea). I'm very much looking forward to all the new characters and what kits they bring to the table and how they will challenge the current meta.

 

MarioFanaticXV wrote:

Bans are really only useful if something is truly and completely broken

This is 100% false for a magnitude of reasons, not the least of which have already been voiced and echoed in this thread by myself and others. Bans are not about "fixing" the game. They dont "fix" anything. They are limits imposed to cultivate more creativity in team building. And thats exactly what it does. Proof can be seen in practice 24/7 on Twitch if you watch competitive MOBA's and with the way the Tactics meta has been changing through its life cycle.