Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Swamp Table Project: Lantern Bushes

Since Michael and I got into Infinity I've been tinkering around creating paper-craft terrain.  Mostly this was printing out patterns I found on the internet and gluing them to boxes.  It was a fun way to get my feet wet, but the quality was hit or miss and the durability was not great.  So I went down the serious terrain making rabbit hole (the Terrain Tutor to be specific). 

When I came up for air I decided that I was going to put together a scratch-built swamp table suitable for Infinity and maybe other things as well.  I've now made a lot of progress and wanted to share some pictures.

First up are what I like to call Lantern Bushes.  These were the first really interesting piece of terrain I scratch built and were very much inspired by a piece of what would normally have been trash.  I didn't have the swamp table idea yet but these pieces ended up fitting the theme.

Michael had a couple strings of lights under his old loft bed with these really nice paper coverings.  I decided that they would make great alien trees or bushes.  No need for paint.

I used chipboard as a basing material.  Painted it a bluish green and used some blue aquarium stones to give it an alien feel.

Roughly every other lantern was elevated on a plastic tube from the inside of a roll of doggie-poop bags.  I used modeling clay to form the root structures.  Some painting later and I had 4 pieces of larger scatter: Two pieces have two bushes and the other two pieces have 3 bushes.

The chipboard was not my best call.  As you can see in a couple of these pictures, the corners warped up a bit.  I did go back and try to warp it back the other way but couldn't correct it fully.

Below are pictures of the pieces with 3 bushes.  Higher resolution images here.

The next thing I tackled was one of the larger pieces destined for this table -- a ruined farm house.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

WBC 2020 Tracks... assuming that is a thing this year

Indianapolis corner 1 at the end of a 4-wide straight.

Editorial Note: since this posting, WBC 2020 was cancelled.

When I checked BPA's web site last night, they had not yet made a decision about WBC 2020.  Just in case, intrepid steward Chris Long has picked some tracks.

In no particular order, the qualifying tracks will be:

Group 1:
This would be the first time that Indy has appeared at WBC.  Also, 4-wide straight.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Judging Track Styles

For a while now, I've been organizing tracks on my web site by the play style those tracks tend to favor.  In this case I'm judging tracks along the race-from-the-front and race-from-the-back axis of broad strategic choices.  All other things being equal, some tracks are just easier to hold a lead on than others.

Besides being interesting information, I like to use this data when picking tracks to use in a series.  Picking different kinds of tracks keeps the racing interesting from race to race.  I've also noticed that some drivers are just better at different strategic styles so a variety of tracks helps to keep the competition fair for everyone.

I've updated the table and some of the calculations that go into some of the scores.

How to Read the New Table
There is a lot of information below and in the key at the bottom of the track listing, but the top line are Raw Score and Adjusted Score.

Raw Score is my best guess based on results and Track Score of how a track favors play from the front (negative numbers) and play from the back (positive numbers).  A score over 1 or under -1 are suggestive of a strong lean.  Scores closer to zero are pretty balanced (or could favor middle strategies).

Adjusted Score is basically the same thing but relative to all the other tracks,  So where raw score tries to objectively describe a track, Adjusted Score is comparing that track to all the others.  Interestingly, there is less variation in those two things after using my new Layout Score than there used to be.

Measuring Tracks Based on Results
Ideally I score tracks based on actual race results from organized play.  In a perfect world I would ask each driver before the race how they were approaching the race strategically... instead I find proxies.  The two proxies I work with are qualifying position and start speed.

Qualifying position is an obvious stand-in for strategy.  Race from the front strategies like to start out front.  However, its not perfect.  There are times you make a pole bid hoping to end up one place only to end up somewhere completely different.

Start speed is another decent proxy in my view.  Race from the front people tend to like a 100 start speed.  Again, not always a perfect approach.  I've seen people take the 100 start speed not because they wanted to start with the lead but because they wanted to bid nothing and work up to the mid-field in a couple turns.  Some tracks are also laid out in such a way that 100 start speed may be of minimal value or hugely valuable regardless of overall strategy.

Certainly these two measures can produce mixed signals.  I've seen cars on the front row of a starting grid with a 20 start speed and cars near the back with 100 start speeds.  That said, I think these are decent tools to work with.

Basically I find the average number of points scored by people who started the race in the front 2 rows ("the front"), middle 2 rows ("middle"), and back 2 rows ("back").  [See the bottom of this page for how I score results.] I do the same for start speeds with "fast" being 100 or 120, "medium" being 60, and "slow" being 20 start speed.

I then figure out how much better front did than middle and how much better back did than middle.  Then I add those two numbers together.  A result of 0 means that middle was best or that neither front nor back seemed to hold an advantage, a negative result means that results favored cars starting in the front 2 rows, a positive result shows that results favored the back 2 rows.  Then I do the same for start speeds... negative results showing the high start speeds did better and positive results showing that the 20 start speeds did better.
( (Qbd-Qfd)*Q + (Ssd-Sfd)*S ) / (Q+S)
Q = the number races where I have data for qualifying
Qbd = Qb - Qm
Qfd = Qf - Qm
Qb = the average points scored by someone starting in the first two rows on this track
Qm = the average points scored by someone starting in the middle two rows on this track
Qb = the average points scored by someone starting in the last two rows on this track
S = the number races where I have data for start speed
Ssd = Ss - Sm
Sfd = Sf - Sm
Sf = the average points scored by someone with a 100 or 120 start speed on this track
Sm = the average points scored by someone with a 60 start speed on this track
Ss = the average points scored by someone with a 20 start speed on this track
In the end this is a track's score if I have enough data to feel good about that.  I'm not sure how many results makes me feel really good about this method, but for now I pretend to feel good at 10 races.

Before I get to 10 races, I also look at some elements of the track layout.  I weight the results score more and more as I get more and more result data.

Measuring Tracks Based on Layout
Finding objective attributes of a track that predict how it will play has proven difficult.  I started with 5 attributes based mostly on gut.  But recently I've reassessed how well those attributes predict actual results and that led me to find new attributes.

Originally I used 1) Long Straights, 2) Corner Density, 3) Width, 4) Longest Straight, and 5) Track Length to concoct a layout score.

Long straights was a weighted count of straights longer than 7 spaces.  Corner Density was the length of the track in spaces divided by the number of corners on the track.  Those two measures were meant to explore how tight and twisty a track is.  Are there a lot of short straights between tightly packed corners?  If so, this could contribute to a race from the front strategy.

For width I measured the percentage of 3-wide track against the total length of the track.  This is all about passing.  Two wide track gets bottled up and blocked a lot easier than 3-wide track.  So a higher percentage of 3-wide should be better for running from behind.

Longest straight and track length are exactly what they say they are.  Race from the front cars tend to buy wear and start speed at the expense of acceleration, deceleration, and top speed.  So long straights can hurt those kinds of cars -- and by extension, racing from the front.  Finally, the shorter the track the easier it should be to hold on to that lead.

However, after updating my data recently I ran some regressions to see how good I my layout scores were at predicting results.  Turns out... not so well.

Y-axis is number of long straights.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
Y-axis is corner density.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).

Y-axis is the length of the longest straight.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).

Y-axis is the track length in spaces.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
Turns out track length, longest straight, corner density and number of long straights really aren't very predictive of how these tracks seem to be playing out.

Y-axis is the % of the track that is 3-wide.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
3-wide is better... although the internet tells me that 0.3 is considered a weak correlation so this still isn't terribly predictive.

So I took a bunch of other measures and made up some new ones to try and find more predictive track attributes.  Literally the only thing I could find that hit the 0.3 mark is the number of corners that are 3-wide (for corners that change width I count it as 3-wide if it ends 3-wide).

Y-axis is the number of 3-wide corners.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
This makes sense.  Corners are bottlenecks and good opportunities to pass so having more room in the corner, especially the all important exit row, makes sense as something that would assist running from behind.  Interestingly, the raw number of 3-wide corners was more predictive than the percentage of corners that are 3-wide.  This also makes sense... more raw opportunities per lap is better.

I tried creating a new layout score just based on this metric as it had the best fit, but the result included obvious blind spots.  I added back in the percentage of the overall track that was 3-wide and that helped a little but it felt like I needed more attributes to round out this track-based score.  So I went searching for modestly predictive things.

Turns out the number of "medium" straights is more predictive than a lot of other things I can measure.  In this case medium straights means straights that are longer than 3 spaces and shorter than 10 spaces long.  Why?  Because that data ended up being the most predictive.  Why?  No idea.

Y-axis is the number of medium straights.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
Finally, I tweaked corner density to make it more predictive by only counting the number of corners that have a speed under 120.  (When I assign a single speed to a corner this way, I use the fastest speed through the corner that is not obviously less efficient than other options.)

Y-axis is track length divided by slow corners.  X-axis is results score (lower favors play from the front).
So I created a new Layout Score based on these 4 things, but I weighed the score so that the first two things counted more than the last 2.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

CFR Organized Play 2019 Final Rankings

Don Tatum is the only driver to have finished Organized Play in the top 5 all three seasons.  He finished 2nd in 2017 and 4th in 2018.  This year he breaks through to become the 3rd CFR Organized Play Champion.

This was a season Don really ran away with.  Early in the season, it seemed that Tim Baker might give him a run (Tim ended the season 3rd) but by the time we got to WBC, really no one was in striking distance.

Don won 8 races this season (last season's champion Michael Polcen was 2nd with 5).  Don was also the only driver to win 2 events this season.  In the end he finished 50 points clear of runner-up Bruce Rae.  The 2018 season was decided by 6 points.  2017 was decided by 21 points.

Huge congratulations to Don.
2019 OP Top 20
Rookie of the Year
Bill Worrell raced for the first time in CFR Organized Play this season and won the Detroit Season including 1 race win and several more podiums.  He finished the season 5th.  

There were 42 rookies to Organized Play this season out of the 151 total drivers ranked.  Only two others finished in the top 50: Scott Cornett who ranked 22nd this season and Phillip White who ranked 41st.

Most Improved Driver of the Year
Stephen Peeples participated in a single Organized Play race last season and ranked 125th.  He participated in 6 this season, including 2 wins to rank 40th -- a jump of 85 spots.

Steward of the Year
For the last two yeas, Chris Brandt has run two different events -- the in-person PresCon tournament as well as the local DC-Maryland-Virginia season.  He is the only person to run two events a year and both grew this year.  Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Organized Play 2019 Home Stretch

People have noticed that I asked if any one could overcome Don's huge lead at WBC and failed to answer.  So, lets do that.

Note that this is a bit of a guess.  The numbers of points people could get winning races and the WBC event itself will depend on how many people attend.  However, assuming a slightly larger attendance then last year three people seem like they have a chance.

Tim Baker, Brian DeWitt, and Bill Worrell appear to have a shot.  Each would likely have to win a well stocked* qualifying race AND the Finals.

Meanwhile, Don has pretty much maxed out his points potential.  Pretty much all he can do to defend himself is win the finals so no one else does.  Unless lots of people do show up and the races end up being worth more than I have guessed.

* Depending on the heat, WBC qualifying races can have 6 or 7 participants.  More will typically mean more value for the race.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Organized Play Update and Clarifications

The 3rd CFR Organized Play season comes to close in a couple weeks after WBC ends.  Don is 70 points above every one else in the rankings.  Can anyone catch up?  First a quick reminder of how scoring works.  Later this week, I'll get to some thoughts on how this season can end.

Each player's score in organized play is 5 parts race scores and 2 parts tournament scores.  When a player has more than 5 races or 2 tournaments under their belt on the season, the best 5 or 2 are picked for this purpose.

Race Scoring
Every place from 1 through 10 in each race is awarded points: 23 for 1st, 18 for 2nd, 15 for 3rd... Those points are then multiplied by a field modifier and a live event modifier.

For example, Don's best race shown above got him 38.13 pts.  That race was a win in the 1st race of the top series of this year's Redscape PBeM.  In this case the race win value of 23 was multiplied by a field value of 1.658 = 38.134.  The event was not live and so did not get a live event multiplier.  If it HAD been a live, in person event it would have gotten an additional 1.19 live event multiplier

For example, the highest values race so far this season was my win in the 1st DMV race this season.  It had a field rating multiplier of 1.522 but was also an in person event and so it also had a live event multiplier of 1.19 -- total multiplier of 1.806 (1.522 * 1.19).  That means my win that race was worth 41.54 pts (23 * 1.806).

What is the Field Multiplier?  Lets go back to Don's best race.  The field multiplier there was 1.658.  That means that the field of drivers was 65% better than the median field of any race this season or last season.

How is that Calculated?  Every driver has a field rating that is the sum of their top 5 race results (without multipliers) from this season and last season.  For instance, Don's field rating is 115 because his top 5 race results are all wins worth 23 points (remember, no multipliers here).  After adding up all of the field ratings of all drivers participating, that total is compared to the median total to generate a percentage.

What is the Live/In Person Multiplier?  Its a bonus meant to compensate for it being a lot easier to get a lot of drivers involved in a PBeM rather than having them show up in the same place and time for a live event.  It is calculated by figuring out what the multiplier would have had to have been in the past to make live and PBeM's roughly worth the same.  Note that there is a different live multiplier for races and for Tournaments.

Tournament Scoring
The last two bits of a driver's score in organized play is the score from their top 2 events of the season.  If I participate in an event, be it a PBeM series or a local season of races or a weekend tournament at a convention, I will get points for the races I participated in AND also for my final ranking at that tournament.

Scoring for events works exactly the same as for individual races.  Well, except for two things.

  1. The live event multiplier is slightly different... because individual races have been impacted less lately by the live vs. virtual divide than entire events have been.  So for this season the live event multiplier is 2.2.  
  2. Also, the field rating is calculated a little differently in that the field rating is multiplied by the number of heats in an event.  So an 8 race season will get more love than a 3 race tournament.

For example, Don's best result in an event so far was his win of the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) season.  The win being worth 23 points * .838 as the event had a field rating below the median (largely due to being fewer races than many events) * 2.2 since the event was a series of in person races = 42.4.

Monday, April 29, 2019

WBC Tracks Announced

The 20 space-long straight at Hockenheim

It is that time again, time to announce the tracks for WBC -- the last event of the 2019 Organized Play Season.  This is a great event and one I always recommend.  It is the largest single weekend event in CFR.

Chris Long continues his fine stewardship of this event and has selected the following tracks:

Q1 (yellow tracks -- favor running from the front)

  • Suzuka (PDF map) was the finals at WBC last year
  • Francorchamps 2007 (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2014
  • Sakhir (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2013

Q2 (green tracks -- balanced)

  • Speilberg (PDF map) never before seen at WBC
  • Yeongam (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2016
  • Silverstone 2010 (PDF map) never before seen at WBC

Q3 (purple tracks -- really favor running from the back)

  • Sochi (PDF map) was the finals at WBC in 2017
  • Shanghai (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2016
  • Sepang 1999 (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2016

Finals (blue tracks -- favor running from the back)

  • Hockenheim  (PDF map) last seen at WBC back in 2017
More Information