Thursday, February 23, 2017

The What-If Champion of 2016 for Championship Formula Racing

... would have been Chris Long... perhaps the best what-if-champion ever.

In last week's Organized Play rankings update I mentioned that I had pretty good data going back to 2013 [1] for Championship Formula Racing results.  What I mean by pretty good data is more than one source.  Prior to 2013 close to all of my data comes from the World Boardgaming Championship tournament (and its predecessors).

From 2013 on, I had at least 2 major tournaments and sometimes some one-off races to draw from.  Below are some stats from those seasons including what I've logged so far in this season.

A race opportunity is the number of total races you could enter that season if you entered everything.  Because most tournaments end up running multiple simultaneous heats in order to accommodate large numbers of drivers, the number of actual races run is always a good bit larger than the number of race opportunities.

This historical data was good to have.  It gave me some reality checks when fine-tuning the rankings process and the 2016 data is used this year to help weight the competition in each race.

It also means that I can go back and run the rankings for each of those years.  These years aren't official Organized Play seasons and none of the what-if-champions from 2013-2016 will get any prize.

But, just for fun, what would have happened if Championship Formula Racing Organized Play had existed in 2016?  Spoiler alert... Chris Long won and racked up the most points by far of any previous what-if-champion.

A quick note about this season... because the results of a tournament and its races do not count until the tournament is over and it took me a long time to finish my F* PBeM, many of those races actually started in the 2015 season but counted in the 2016 season.

Chris won two races that season but also had two second place finishes that counted for more than many wins do based on the competition.  His best race was a win in the top tier of the F* PBeM which had a field rating of 1.55.  He placed second in another race in that series.  He also won a qualifying heat at WBC that year and placed second in a top tier race in the Redscape PBeM.

Chris' main competition in 2016 came from Randy Needham and Fabio Pellegrino.  Both won 3 races to Chris' 2 but while their top-2 races scored them more points Chris' 3rd and 4th best races closed the gap for him leaving him with a slight edge in points from his top-4 races that season.

Chris really pulled away in the rankings due to his tournament results.  Chris not only won F*, he finished 3rd in Redscape's tournament that season.  Combined he received 52.54 points from those two tournaments -- more than double anyone else in 2016.

Bruce Rae was Chris' closest competition based on tournament results after winning WBC that year.  But Bruce labored in lower tiers of F* that season and ended up 15th.  Michael Polcen won the Redscape tournament but finished 19th in F* and 26th at WBC.

One of the reasons that Chris' total score of 161.73 was so much higher than previous what-if-champions is because the 2016 what-if-season was the largest to that point in every metric except total numbers of tournaments.  But Chris drove the hell out of that season and gaped a great field of competitors.

[ 1 ] I name seasons based on the year they end.  So the current 2017 season started Septemberish 2016 but will end after WBC 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cthulhu Wars Unboxing

Michael opens his new copy of this game and we discuss our impressions from our previous and only game play to that point.  We show off our lack of knowledge about the game and I show off my bad camera skills.

We've played the game again since.  I still like it and still feel like I don't know how to play it well.  Or maybe I just need to stop trying to play with Yellow Sign.

Many thanks to Steve Schillinger and Braddock Station Garrison for allow us to use their music.  Check them out.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Championship Formula Racing Organized Play Rankings Update

A couple of weeks ago I announced CFR's organized play series.  What I did not mention at the time is that the premiere season of CFR OP is already underway.  The 2017 season will end with this summer's World Boardgaming Championships at the end of July.  Which means we are already months into that season.

So far 64 different drivers have participated in 19 different races.  Although many of those races occurred simultaneously so there have been 7 unique race opportunities so far this season.  Most of the races so far stem from the 3 rounds of my play by mail which ended in January.  There have also been 4, one-off races held this year: 2 PBeMs run under Redscape's banner and two run by me at small conventions in the Washington, DC area.

Enough talk. The PDF of the complete rankings this season so far and the current top-5 below.

Before we talk about how Doug G is leading the 2017 season so far, I'll explain what each column means.
  • Next to the rank is an indication of the change from last seasons rank (yes, I know what each driver's rank would have been last season, I'll talk more about the past in another post).
  • Total points is how each driver is ranked and is the sum of the top 4 adjusted races and top 2 adjusted tourneys.
  • Top 4 adjusted races is the sum of their top 4 race scores, adjusted for competition.  In fact, the next 4 columns enumerate those 4 races.
  • Top 2 adjusted tourneys is the sum of their top 2 tournament scores adjusted for competition.  Like races, those two scores are listed in the next 2 columns.
  • The last 4 fields do not directly count towards the total points but provide some context on the season: races run, races won, avg field rating of races participated in, tournaments participated in, and tournaments won.
If you want to know more about where these numbers come from, I've documented the methodology.

Now lets break down Doug's lead.  So far this season, Doug has participated in only 3 races -- all in my PBeM.  But he won 2 races at the highest level of that PBeM, against stiff competition, and won that tournament.  If you look at Doug's average field rating, you'll see that the competition in those 3 races was 50% tougher then the average race and that is why his 2 race wins garnered him 35 points each -- compare to my 2 race wins which were against more average competition and so generated me 23 and 20 points.  Another big key to Doug's top ranking are the points he got for winning my PBeM.  Otherwise, Gio might be the current top driver as Gio has more points from his top 4 races right now.

There is a lot of racing left to go in this season though.  By the time we wrap this up after WBC, there will have been at least 2 more in-person tournaments as well as the end of Redscape's current PBeM series.  (Note that Redscape's tournament is 2 races in but none of the results appear in the current rankings yet.  They will when the entire tournament comes to an end.)

Stay tuned, I'll update these rankings after every major event.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Championship Formula Racing Tournament at PrezCon in Charlottesville, VA

Two weeks from today one of the oldest Championship Formula Racing tournaments gets started in Charlottesville, VA at the PrezCon Winter Nationals.  

Chris Brandt has run that event for a long time and does a great job with it.  He brings a fully modular set-up for building tracks so you end up with a different track every time and you have little idea what you will be racing on before you sit down to race.

After four qualifying heats and a final race, a PrezCon champion will be crowned.  This is also the first in-person qualified Organized Play tournament of the current season.  So the winner of the event will likely make a move in the OP rankings.  

I sadly will not be able to make it to PrezCon this winter but enjoyed my past visit and highly recommend Chris' event and the con in general.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WinterFest Sepang Results

We had 10 cars at WinterFest this year -- 3 rookies and 7 veterans.  This was the fourth race I've hosted at either of the sister conventions in Rockville (Congress of Gamers and WinterFest) and our largest field yet.  I wonder if I'll have to use a second track next year?

Michael Polcen and Kalvin Miller -- started out fast and jockeyed for the race lead until Michael damaged his car beyond repair and was forced to retire.

A couple cars tried to race from behind including Tim Mossman, Jim Fleckenstein, and rookie Rich Bernhart.  The 2-lap race was tough on those cars.  Jim got stuck in some traffic, damaged his brakes, and was forced to roll more dice to try to catch up, and eventually retired.  Tim was the only of those three to make a move up to the middle pack.

The meta-game put the race from behind cars behind the 8-ball this race.  We raced 2-laps which will normally help race from the front cars.  The ten car field did the race from the backs no favors.  And not a lot of cars tried to race from the front.  So the race from the backs quickly found themselves bumping up against the back of the pack.

That middle pack was tough and featured battles between Doug Schulz and Don Tatum (who flirted with the leaders for much of the race as well) before Tim joined the fray but usually included 3-5 cars in close formation.

click to enlarge
In my mind, the key to a good race at Sepang is the set-up for corner 4 (circled).  There is a pretty good path you can take in corners 4 - 7 for 2 wear.  But this is the narrowest section of the track and the lines are important in all 4 corners in this complex.  So other cars can easily mess up your lines.  That can be the difference between gaining or losing a turn on the competition.

I think a couple things most contributed to my win.  First, I managed to get in front of most of the pack which kept me out of traffic and using wear efficiently.

At the beginning of lap 2 I ended up nicely aligned in front of the first corner and was able to power around the outside 120s at 160 to pass Don.

In the middle of lap 2, Tim made his move through corner 2.  He was out of wear then but could end up beating me for corner 4 and causing no end of problems.  I was able to spend some wear there to pull ahead of him into second.  I was then able to stay in second and chase down Kalvin who had less wear by then.

Although I only just was able to pass Kalvin through the last corner (see photo above).  Kalvin would finish second and was really close to winning from the front of the pack.  Tim managed to stay in 3rd for most of the last half of lap 2 but spun in the last corner and fell back to 7th.  That put Don back on the podium.  Brian DeWitt spent most of the race in and around the main pack but fell back a bit at the end of the race only to come flying into the hairpin at the end to claim 4th.

I almost forgot to talk about the newly re-designed last corner.  People liked it.  I saw all three lanes used effectively.  I think it presents more of an advantage to trailing cars then the old corner.  Because there is only 1 line it is easier to move to plan B in response to the path chosen by the car in front of you.  The older configuration meant you usually committed to one of the two lines.  None-line paths were generally terrible.  I think this is now my preferred configuration.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Championship Formula Racing Organized Play Begins

CFR Organized Play is a way to publicize CFR races and crown an annual CFR champion.

In short, any CFR race using official rules, that is publicized in advance, and whose results are reported to me may be part of CFR Organized Play.  If you already run CFR races or would like to, check out more information and race result forms.

Participants in qualified CFR OP races will be ranked and a trophy will be awarded each year to the best driver.  You can read detailed information on how the ranking methodology.

A list of known and possible CFR OP races can be found on the calendar which can be found on this blog and also here.

I also plan to publish reports from CFR OP races as I am able on this blog and in emails.

At this time Jolly Roger and Ultra Pro are not officially involved in CFR OP, but I have discussed it with them, taken input, and hope that they will become involved in some way in the future.

More to come and thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, especially Jim Dietz, Chris Long, Chris Brandt, and Mike Polcen who all helped vet the details.

Friday, January 13, 2017

First Championship Formula Racing of the New Year

Wolves on Track!  Wolves on Track!
Winter Game Fest is two weeks away.  If you can get to Rockville easily, $10 gets you an open gaming area all weekend plus access to the first CFR Race of 2017.

The race will take place at roughly 10:30 am on Saturday.  We will run 2 laps at the 2016 configuration of Sepang [track map PDFdesign notes].  I will run a demo at 10:00 am.  This race will be an official CFR Organized Play event but beginners are welcome as always.

The convention is open 9:30 am to midnight Saturday and 9:30 am to 6:00 pm Sunday.  I will be there more or less all day Saturday.  Sadly, I don't think I'll have time on Sunday.

The event is held at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville, MD  20850.  More information can be found on the event site, including pre-reg.