Friday, June 1, 2018

Design Pattern: Repeat Play Within A Single Game

I know, it has been a while since I last talked about "Games of Strategy" (October to be precise: Why Do Players Do It Wrong?).  But I did knock out chapters 6, 7, and 8 over the winter... and then got busy and stopped blogging.

So lets talk about repeat play.  I once heard Richard Garfield say that poker is close to being the perfect game.  One of the biggest reasons being that each iteration is very short and so the game lends itself very well to lots of repeat play.

I do not remember him going into all of the game theory behind why repeat play is so good (I suspect he knows and was just trying to spare his audience the math).  After reading this part of Games of Strategy I think Mr. Garfield was right to avoid the math.

Just kidding.  A little.  I did skip much of the math...

... But the idea of repeat play was my biggest take away from this part of the book.  So lets get into the weeds on why repeat play is good and then talk about my big idea of how to take advantage of repeat play when your game takes 2 hours instead of 5 minutes.

Mixed Strategies

In chapter 6, the book discussed mixed strategies.  The idea of mixed strategies will be familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of strategies in sports from football to baseball to the book's favorite example of tennis.  A mixed strategy is when the ideal play is to randomize between a sub-set of choices.

For example, no football team will pass the ball every down -- even though it is almost always more effective.  Instead they run the ball some times... even on 3rd and long.  If teams did not mix their strategies, the defense would be able to predict the offense's strategy and pick the best defense every time.

The math I glossed over can show you the ideal mix of strategies -- maybe 60% pass and 40% run.

Repeat Play

But this all really works best if play is repeated.  If you are only playing one hand of poker, you play to win that 1 hand.  You are much more likely to simply use your best strategy. 

If you are playing an entire evening of poker, you are playing to win the night not each single hand.  Now it makes sense to vary your strategies.  Sticking with only one strategy through-out will just not be the most effective as the night progresses.

Games Within Games

Poker is a great example of repeat play creating a wider strategic space.  More options open up because you play the game over and over and various mixed strategies become the ideal options.

This is much more fun than a single game of poker.  But poker is a 5 minute game.  How do you do that if your game is an hour long?  How likely are people to play that hour long game more than once in a night?  Does repeat play have the same affect if the plays are months apart with different opponents?

What if a single long game can contain smaller mini-games that do repeat?  What does that look like?

The quick answer is that it looks a lot like a football game or a night of poker but I think there is a complication inherent in larger board games that you don't have in sport or poker.

I envision that the strategies I chose for the mini-game would not be constrained by the strategy I have for the whole game or by my current standing in that game.

I think this separation between the larger game and the mini-game is important.  If strategic options in the mini-game are affected by the larger game some of the mini-game's strategies can be made in-effective.  If that happens enough, than the mini-game loses its opportunity to have the 2-3 strategic options needed to allow for mixed strategies.

The Zero Sum Euro?

Euro games are largely non-zero sum games -- what you do hardly affects me at all.  This contributes to the lack of interactivity in most euros. 

It also means that strategic mixes are generally worthless.  The whole point of the strategic mix is to keep the opposition guessing.  But in most euros they are hardly paying any attention to you at all.

What if you put a zero sum mini-game inside a non zero-sum euro?

Now, I care what you are doing -- at least inside that mini-game.


I do not hold out this idea as any sort of ideal of game design.  I enjoy a good 3-4 hour game that I will never repeat. 

But the idea of combining repeat play within a larger context is an idea I would love to explore.


Hat Tip to Isaac Shalev at Kind Fortress who introduced me to the idea of game design patterns.  And to the excellent Lodology podcast where I first heard Mr. Shalev discuss design patterns.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Two CFR Seasons End, Big Changes at the Top of the Rankings

Organized Play Top 5 after DMV
When I posted the last Organized Play update, I mentioned a couple big series that would end soon and have an impact on the rankings.  Well, one of them just ended and another smaller one did as well.

The DC-Maryland-Virginia season got off to a small, 4-race start this year with Chris Brandt organizing.  All races were held in my back-yard of Northern Virginia but my schedule never did permit me to attend one.  Next year I hope.

Chris ended up winning the final race last weekend and was able to take the season victory as well.  That gave him a little boost in the rankings up to 3rd from 6th.

Michael Polcen and Tim Mossman also benefited from doing well in DMV this year.  Polcen moved up from 15th to 7th and Mossman moved up from 11th to 8th.

OP Top 5 after San Marino
But then the San Marino 2017-2018 season concluded with Gianluca Lari winning the race and securing the season title as well.  The San Marino season was the longest in person season with 9 races and currently is the 2nd most valuable tournament in the rankings.

That gave Lari a huge points boost to propel him from 13th to 2nd!  Unseating Tatum who has been the #2 ranked driver for most of the last couple of years it seems.

Danilo Volpinari ended the San Marino season in 2nd and moved up the OP rankings from 17th to 6th.

Why Did Some Drivers' Point Totals Go Down?

Astute observers of the two charts above will notice that just entering a race and series result for San Marino cost everyone in the top 5 points except Lari.  Why did that happen?

Almost entirely the point loss was due to a change in the points each driver received from placing well in previous tournaments.

All points for the rankings in CFR Organized Play are adjusted based on the competition in a given race or tournament.  The points received from a race against average competition is multiplied by 1 (granting no bonus or penalty).  The points multiplier for an above average race is something greater than 1.  So, if the average race value changes, so does every races' multiplier.

At this point in the season, race multipliers are not moving much.  After 58 races, the 59th is not going to move the needle much.  However, San Marino was the 5th tournament in the rankings.  Which gives it a much bigger impact on the average tournament multiplier.  

Since the San Marino series ended with an above average value the average value increased.  That means that the P1 tournament Galullo won is now closer to the average and so the multiplier got smaller.  Effectively all multipliers for previous tournaments got smaller.

Oh, and expect this to happen again since Redscape and WBC have historically been graded as above average tournaments.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Indianapolis Build

Another track build from a request.  This time Indianapolis.  Although the oval was officially an F1 track from 1950 through 1960, scoring back then let you drop your worst couple results from your season total which let all the regular F1 drivers safely skip this race with no consequences.

It wasn't until Indianapolis built an infield section that the track held a real F1 grand-prix in 2000.   This new track configuration featured one of the famous banked corners and most the two straights on either end of it.  The rest of the track was a tight, twisting affair before dumping cars back on to the oval.

Not a ton of great video to watch from this track as YouTube is a glut of video about the infamous 2005 race when all but 3 teams withdrew because their tires were imploding under the stress of the banked corner.

I did find corner speeds online.  So, good data to work with there.  Notes (pdf) in hand, I came up with some initial corner ideas (PDF) and started a build.

This was a tough track as the main straight is super long but the track in total is pretty short.  So I had competing needs to put enough spaces in the twisty in-field to get me back to the main straight and make the main straight long enough to feel right and come in around 60 spaces.

Often when building a new track my first build is close and just needs tweaking and refining.  Not so this time.  I got a lap into a test of the first build above and decided it was terrible.  I was shooting for an infield that was close to 1-line but this attempt gave too few choices to drivers.  I also decided to exaggerate the short straight in the middle of the infield and compress the corner sections on either side of it.

A number of iterations later and I was happier with the final version (PDF).

As happened when I built Imola, shrinking up the number of spaces in the in-fields resulted in some creative corners.

Corner 1

This was the only real good passing opportunity for F1 cars when the track was used by them.  That said, the green line will usually be your best bet.  Although running wide so that you can delay braking before taking the 60s through the corner can work and landing right on the apex on the red line can also be an advantage for next turn sometimes.

Corner 7

This may be one of the oddest looking corners.  It was not meant to look this odd but the combination of my layout and how I had to twist the track to make it fit and allow cars to fit inside it...

Anyways, this corner is important because there is a short straight right after.  So speed exiting this corner can be important.

It also works closely with the corner immediately before it.  If you are clear of Corner 6, taking the 60s for a faster exit can be best.  But you can often spend the less wear to exit through the 40 space at the cost of a slower exit speed.

I've been building more corners like this based on an interesting insight I read a couple years ago from the driver who used to play the Stig on Top Gear.  It was a discussion of different racing lines through a corner.  While there is a theoretical ideal line through most corners.  Most drivers don't take that line.  They take some variation of it based on competing desires.

Some drivers want to brake later.  This has the advantage of allowing them to maintain speed longer before the corner.  However, they end up having to wait longer before accelerating out of the corner again.  My quick way to model this is to effectively take a speed limited space away from the beginning of the outside lane -- allowing the car to travel faster before having to slow down.

The other option is to brake sooner.  This gives them a slower entry into the corner but lets them get back on the acceleration sooner.  My quick way to model this is to take a speed limited space away from the end of the inside lane -- allowing a car to accelerate out of the corner sooner.

Corner 13

Of course the final, banked corner of the lap needs to be important for this track.

I played with some of the concepts I noted above and with different racing lines.  I ended up tweaking this corner more than any other.  Having 4 lanes for the first time in a CFR build was challenging.  Maybe because I'm not used to trying to develop that many meaningful options.  

The far inside lane plays off of the early brake / early accel concept.  The next 2 lanes are actually the most efficient.  The 3rd lane is more efficient if you get stuck in the corner but cars with lower top speeds may not be able to take full advantage of that.  The outside lane is sub-par.

Another oddity of this corner is that the two inside lanes have a 120 posted speed limit and are the same number of spaces in length.  The outside lanes both have 140 speeds and the same length.  This is a nod to the fact that it is a banked corner which should narrow the difference in distance traveled between lanes.  But the lines running through the two middle lanes create 4 different options.


Despite the super fast back end of the track, I think this will play out as a pretty tight track that favors running from the front.  However, I would not be surprised if it ends up being a yellow track at the end of the day.

Will its nearest comps end up being Sakhir (PDF) or Barcelona (PDF)?  We will begin to learn that as it gets played.  The track is scheduled to be run during Redscape's next season.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

WBC Tracks Announced for 2018

Since we decided as a group that we still want to know the track selections ahead of time, here is the much anticipated announcement of our track selections for this year's WBC.

The basic criteria we use is to cycle through the colors, one group a year.  So since this year it is Blue, Purple, Red, and Yellow that means that next year would be Purple, Red, Yellow, and Green.  That gives the greatest variety of tracks and keeps shifting what we play at any given time.  Within that selection, we simply pick tracks that either haven't been played at WBC before, or haven't been played in the longest amount of time.

So without further ado, here are the tracks:

Qualifying Heat 1, 2 blue tracks + 1 purple:
Valencia (PDF) last seen at WBC in 2015
Oyama (PDF) never seen at WBC [Edit: this track will run 5 laps because it is short]
Baku (PDF) never seen at WBC

Qualifying Heat 2, 3 purple tracks:
Sochi (PDF) first seen at WBC as last year's finals
Francorchamps 1983 (PDF) never seen at WBC
Castellet (PDF) never seen at WBC

Qualifying Heat 3, 3 red tracks:
Imola (PDF) never seen at WBC
Nürburg (PDF) never seen at WBC
Estoril (PDF) never seen at WBC

Finals, a yellow track:
Suzuka (PDF) last seen at WBC in 2013

Lots of the tracks above have never been used at WBC because they are very new.  Oyama, Baku, Castellet, Imola, Estoril have all been built in the last year or two.  Baku has only been on the F1 calendar for a couple years now.  Oyama, Castellet, Imola, and Estoril were all built as special requests of one variety or another and are older tracks from a variey of eras: 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Nurburg is a track that I built a good bit ago but yet has never made an appearance at WBC for no good reason.

Lots of tracks that should provide an edge to racing from the back this year until Q3 which is literally some of the tightest tracks ever.  Bidding in Q3 should be very interesting.

And then a great looking finals track in Suzuka.

Monday, April 23, 2018

CFR Rankings Shuffle

I spent some time last week updating the CFR rankings and noticed a couple things.  First, I was very far behind recording results from the Detroit series that just finished its 8th and final race.  Also, the Detroit series was the first tournament to have that many heats. 

Both of these events caused some shuffling in the rankings for different reasons.

In the past, tournaments were either online or at a convention and included 3, 4, or 5 heats.  Not much variation there.  But Detroit raced 8 times this year and San Marino will finish their 9th race soon.  That feels different to me and was not really taken into account in the way I was gauging series value before.  So, change.

I am now taking into account the number of heats that a series or tournament has when judging the value of said event.  This is in addition to the quality and quantity of competition that made up the majority of the original measure and determines the events Field Rating and AFR.  The last factor remains a bonus for events held live which is included in AFR+ as seen on this chart.

Otherwise, the addition of results from the last 6 Detroit races and the last San Marino race and most importantly the final rankings from the Detroit season rocketed some drivers up the poles.  Obviously, the reconfiguration of the series rankings had some affect on rankings as well.  With PrezCon results getting a bit of a bump.

Rankings Update

That said, Doug G still rules the roost.  Having won 3 races and 2 events already this season, has granted Doug a huge lead over current runner-up Don Tatum.

Gary Sturgeon was the big winner after this update and an early candidate for rookie of the year as he won 2 races in the Detroit series and won the season for a nice point total.

Mario Ales did well in the only tournament he ran in that has completed.  Dave Ingraham has some better race results than either Sturgeon or Ales but placed 3rd in the only event he has finished in the points for although is the early candidate for come-back racer of the year.


The next shoe to drop for these rankings will be the completion of the San Marino season in early May.  Probably followed closely by the end of the current Redscape season.

Current San Marino season leader Gianluca Lari is sitting 9th in the CFR standings.  A season win would likely vault him up to 3rd but he will have to fend off Danilo Volpinari and Palmiro Matteini who would both jump up into the top 10 with a season win.

Tim Baker seems like the odds on favorite to win Redscape this year which would likely jump him up from 12th into the top 5 in CFR.

Season Stats

So far 2018 has seen much more racing than 2017.  New or re-generated season in San Marino, Detroit, and Washington DC contributed to the 57 races included in the rankings so far.  47 were recorded for all of the 2017 season.  
The season is also on pace to include 7 tournaments and currently includes 126 different drivers.  Last season had 5 series and 100 drivers by the end.  

The downward trend in field size continues with races averaging 9.1 drivers.  Last season saw an average of 9.5 drivers.  This continues a trend I've seen even prior to organized play rankings.  Some of this is due to reductions in field size standards in both my PBeM as well as at WBC -- two of the larger CFR events.

I can not point out too often how much credit the community of CFR drivers and especially stewards deserve.  It continues to be a pleasure to be a part of.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

PrezCon 2018 Results

Huge thanks to Chris Brandt for running the CFR event at PrezCon.  Its a great event.

Below is Chris' recap of the proceedings.



Prezcon 2018 was held February 19 - 25, 2018. The Championship Formula Racing (CFR, nee Speed Circuit) Tournament consisted of five races, each with some unique theme. We also changed the process for getting to the final. Although we count points for each heat (1 point for participating + 3 for a win + 1 for each driver you beat) it no longer determines the starting grid, so bidding for start position is still critical.

But, before we started racing, we held a brief ceremony in which Dave Ingraham was presented with a “FERRARI CFR SET”, consisting of a 1/87 Ferrari Enzo, numbered 18 for the year, a set of Ferrari speed cards and matching red dice. Let me tell you, 1/87 Ferraris are hard to find. This one was disassembled, stripped painted, and a driver positioned in the cockpit. An engraved plaque cited Dave as a driver and friend.

Heat 1 – Mystery Track! (Wednesday 2/21/18 – 1700)

The first track was built on the spot, a Prezcon tournament tradition. It was a lengthy track and we crammed 11 drivers onto it. Here’s a shot of the entire field, early in the first lap. 

As the race went on two things were clear Chris G, driving the Austin Healy and Mike L, driving the silver and orange 911 were going to rely on the dice. Chris used the cubes heavily to get out to an early advantage but, as they always do, they failed him eventually and he dropped out. Dave’s new Enzo, in the middle of the pack in this picture, waited for the right time to make a move. And, he had a lot of it, as the track was a bit too long for a tournament heat and people ended up burning through their wear. To the right is the full track, perhaps the drivers found the different pavement types distracting as many of the modular pieces were undergoing renovation.

So Dave’s Enzo ended up in a duel with defending Champion Don’s yellow DELL Porsche 911. As the went down the final straight, confusion ensued and Don, attempting to prevent a high speed draft opened the door for Dave’s Ferrari to slip inside and take the win when Don failed his top speed roll. The third picture of this race shows the final seconds as the cars flash across the finish line. Current number 1 ranked driver Doug Galullo finished third, but that trio left the others way behind.

Here are the final standings for the first race.
1. Dave I
2. Don T Failed TS roll to get edged by Dave.
3. Doug G - Failed ACC roll near the end.
4. Lane N - Came out of nowhere but was WAY behind the first 3.
5. Chris B - Broke brakes midway through, hurting the come from behind plan.
6. Mike L - Ran out of wear early... but didn't break anything!... except dice rolling records.
7. John S - Broke top speed pretty early but hung in to finish.
8. Stuart T - Had to leave.
9. Chris G - Left suddenly... must have made two dozen rolls successfully, of every sort...
chance, top, brake, accel... it was nuts.
10. Scott S- New to the game. Didn't expect it to last this long. Had to leave.
11. Bill Beckman - Crashed

Awarding points as described earlier gave Dave 14 points, followed by Don at 10, Doug at 9 and
so on.

Heat 2 – 90 Minutes du Prezcon. (Thursday 2/22/18 – 1300)

The 90 Minutes du Prezcon was an experiment in conducting a timed race. We raced for 90 minutes, finished that turn and then five more. This caused a LOT of confusion. Although we ended up racing just over three laps there was concern about how many laps of wear and skill we would get – the race rules stated, “Three laps of wear and skill”. There was concern about people “gaming” the system and delaying if they were doing well. (Editor’s note: Some people are painfully slow under all circumstances, not just in a timed race.) There was confusion over drafting in the long banked curve, even though it was repeated numerous times and posted on the track map and on the curve itself.

This race started the same as the prior one with a handful of drivers taking off at a sprint. Brian DeWitt, a twice-defending champion, missed the first race, but played skillfully in this one. The rest of the field went at a slightly more moderate pace, trying to conserve a little wear, and see what the leaders did to each other. Eventually the usual lack of wear slowed them all down, and the rest of us closed in. It once again came down to the last turn. Dave had passed Doug and Don and was behind Brian – and even got by him. But Brian came back with a little more speed and got inside of me in the last corner. There was drag raced to the finish, with Brian winning, by virtue of being on the inside, and Dave right beside him in second. The rest of the field was very close behind. For whatever complaints there were about the race, it was very hotly contested.

1. Brian
2. Dave
3. Doug
4. Stuart
5. Don
6. Lane
7. Chris B
8. Mike L

Sadly no pictures exist of this race, so perhaps time will eventually erase its memory. From a GM standpoint, I still think this is a good idea and it didn’t seem to faze most people. I’m not the GM next year, but would like to see some sort of timed race used again in the future. 

Heat 3 – Prezcon Mille (Friday 2/23/18 – 1300)

The innovation continued with Mille Prezcon - one long torturous track. This race drew a slightly smaller field, perhaps because people looked at the track and feared that we would be racing three laps, but we raced only one, although we allowed 3 laps of setup for wear and skill. At just about 200 spaces, this was a long track with 22 curves, many of which had varying radii, tight curves, long and short straights, and, of course, a bridge. Dave later noted, “It was a shining example of what is possible with a modular track design system. It was very cool.” 

Here’s one of the top ranked CFR drivers, Don Tatum, enjoying a aerial view of the track. This was all built using two different modular systems, a “parallel edge” system and a hex system, along with the conversion pieces to link them together. We were lucky that another game had left three tables together and covered for this nice setup. Surprisingly, Don kept smiling during the entire race.

The Mille turned out to be a unique race. There was no repetitive groove to be found because each upcoming turn was a new adventure. It was too big to pinulate, so Don had to drive by the seat of his pants, which was most unusual for him. 

Here’s a shot of the pack crossing our now famous bridge. Yes, it’s a little steep for race car suspensions, but we have not had a fatality… yet.

This race proved to be an interesting change of pace. The drivers appeared to enjoy it, it was very competitive, and we were able to pick up the track as we finished racing across pieces of it, speeding
cleanup, which is extremely important in a tightly scheduled convention with people ready to swoop down like vultures when a table comes open. 

Winner Dave Ingraham provided his own account of the race to another of the groups in which
he races. I could not improve on this!
The start went pretty well with the leaders, for once, not being able to pull away from the second pack, as least for a while, and a couple of us were able to still stay with them. Doug, Don, Stuart Tucker, myself and Mike Greason separated from the last three cars. We stayed in that pack for nearly the whole race, until wear started to get thin. By the way, I want to thank all of these four for providing a huge number of slipstreams to me. It saved considerable wear and kept me near the front. In the end, it came down to the last three corners. There was not much wear left in the front runners. I had the car with the most with three. Doug had one, Brian, who had caught up with the leaders had one, and the rest were without. I led, and after the next to last corner, had moved away enough to not be challenged, and finished in 1st by eight spaces by Doug, Brian and Don in very close order.
Thanks and congratulations to Dave!

Heat 4 - Short Track Mayhem (Saturday 2/24/18 – 0900)

No fancy poster for this race. This was five laps on a very short track with just four curves. However, each driver was given only THREE laps worth of wear. This meant that we did approximately the same number of curves and spaces as we did in the Mille, but this time we were repeating the laps and establishing an effective route was critical. With the confusion of the start and finish laps considered separately, this gave us three laps of consistent racing.

As you can see, the track is very simple, although it does incorporate our famous bridge. The bridge was also the only two lane portion of the track, meaning that passing was not too difficult. There were a wide variety of car designs for this race as different drivers approached the greater number of laps differently. 

The many different strategies meant that the field became very spread out. Don leapt out to his usual early lead, but the pack eventually reeled him in as his wear ran out.

With three curves to go, Dave was sitting on six wear and looked to be in  command. But a couple of very rare tactical errors at the end allowed Chris to sneak to the inside lane and take a win after three lackluster finishes… with Dave right beside him. This locked up Chris’s participation in the final, which had been in doubt (by Chris!) up until that point.
In the shot to the left, you can see how spread out the pack was about halfway through the race.  That’s Don’s yellow Porsche in the distance, but he was unable to maintain that lead.

This was another experimental race. We had not done this before and it seemed to be well received by the participants. I believe it’s worth considering for future events.

Finals – (Saturday 2/24/18 – 1600)

The finals were run on the Padborg Park track, one of several built from the modular system. Fortunately I have a bunch of books with track maps and there’s this thing called the internet to provide more data, including videos, of races at these tracks, so the modular system has proven to be very useful in creating just the right track for different types of races. 

Padborg Park is a difficult track for which to plan. There are some long straights, but there are also very tight curves. In addition, some of the curves are just close enough that it can be very expensive to spend wear in two of them at a time.

Nonetheless, current World Number One ranked Doug Galullo edged last year’s champ, Don Tatum for the win, with Dave Ingraham just behind in third. If you’re watching the rankings on the Speed Circuit and Racing Games Facebook group, you’ll note that these three drivers were #1, #2, and #4 ranked after Prezcon, which seems to bring a stronger field each year. 

Final Results:
1. Doug Galullo
2. Don Tatum
3. Dave Ingraham
4. Mike Lind
5. Chris Brandt
6. Stuart Tucker
7. Lane Newbury
8. Brian Dewitt

I present another of Dave Ingraham’s colorful writeups. Many thanks to Dave for these and some corrections he provided.
At the start Don Tatum stalled. Meanwhile, Brian DeWitt and Stuart Tucker jumped off to a quick, one turn lead. The rest of us hurried after them, with Doug Galullo leading this pack. Near the end of the first lap, Brian’s engine blew up, putting him out of the race. The rest of us continued to chase Stuart, with Doug pulling away from us, and closing on Stuart. By this time Don (in the yellow Porsche) had caught up with us, and was back in the chase.
The last two laps were a bit frustrating, as I couldn’t seem to get past a veerrryy wide BMW. When I finally did, it was too late. Doug won handily, followed by the comeback driver of the race, Don. I squeaked past Stuart for third, when he crashed in the last corner, with Mike Lind 4th and Chris Brandt 5th.
Here are some pictures from the finals. Enjoy the pictures and please come join us next year!
The Track – Not especially complex, but it was very competitive.

The Pack – Trying to catch Doug!

Doug’s Camaro stretches his lead on the way to victory.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Imola Build

My latest track build was Imola and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  Imola is the other F1 track in Italy and has hosted a number of grand prix under the name of the San Marino grand prix.  San Marino being a small nation in central Italy near the track.  Huge thanks to the San Marino group for giving me a great reason to build this track.

My usual process starts with lots of research...

Here's my notes (pdf) after watching these videos and more, reading notes online, and finding speed and braking notes for each corner.

I went into the build thinking most corners would have racing lines with only one decent path through each corner.  I also felt like this was generally a tight track that was hard to pass on... except Tosa -- which I would give multiple paths through to create the action we would sometimes see there and that I would try to exaggerate for game balance.

Here's my initial sketch of the corners for each track.

This initial plan worked out really well and I was just about to wrap up development when I noticed that the track was a LOT longer than I had planned.  Somewhere along the line, I lost track of my planned space count and made the straights a lot longer.  I had to cut them back a lot.

As a result I got pretty creative with some of the corners... effectively taking spaces away from some corners to add spaces back to some of the straights.  I think the end result is a technical track that drivers will have to pay attention to or risk taking a corner wrong because they assumed they knew how it would work.

Tosa is clearly the signature corner of this track.  As one of the slowest corners on track it provides a braking opportunity and one of the few good passing locations in real life.

As you can see, this is not a "normal" looking CFR corner and combines a lot of tricks I've used before.

Having the racing line in the middle lane means that in some cases, a car can under-cut that ideal line if they have the braking and/or wear to pull it off.  Allowing a car to accelerate 40 mph from the first inside 40 space into the following 80 space can make that particularly effective if they hit that apex just right.

The two 100 spaces outside provides another avenue through the corner which can be effective if you hit it just right.  Leaving the speed off of the last space of that path also means cars can accelerate quickly from that lane.  Lining up the last two spaces of the middle and outside lane provides cars with ways to avoid congestion in case of slow traffic ahead.

I'm excited to see how the track works when raced in anger for the first time and pleased that that will occur at the San Marino game convention to boot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

P1 PBeM New Season Announcement

The 2017-18 season is over for my play-by-mail series.  Which has been struggling with branding for a while now but I'll now be calling the P1 series for this post.

Doug Galullo won the season after winning the 1st two races in the top tier -- coasting to the series win even after finishing last in the final race of the season.  Below is the 2nd to last turn of race 2 in Baku.  Doug was 4 spaces behind Don and Chris a turn before this image.  Going 200, Doug closed the gap through the last corner.  Next turn, Doug would push to 220 while Chris L would fail his push to 180 and get beat out at the line.  Third to first in the last turn of the race for Doug.

Now lets look forward to the next season featuring some changes.  First off, thanks to everyone who responded to my survey (See the survey results).  Here's the summary of what will be new.

  • No more mid-season demotions or promotions.
  • Slip movement guidelines.
  • Bidding change.
  • New series names.

Mid-Season Driver Movement
I was leaning towards eliminating the mid-season driver movement so I was glad to see the survey results agree with me.  I think the move from a pure ladder to more of a pyramid structure for the series means that people can move from the bottom to the top tier in a couple season.  I also do not like punishing drivers who push hard for a race and crash or dnf.  For instance, Chris Long ended up performing very well in the top tier this year but DNF'd the first race of the season.  Having 2 races to prove he should stick in the top tier was good I think.

There was some controversy in the top tier last race about double slips and the appearance of team-work.  Guidelines will be promulgated to the stewards so that we can promote as fair a racing environment as possible.  All of the words will take up a lot of space.  The short version is:
You can't line up to give someone else a slip next turn, unless there is another reason to.
Those reasons can be many and pretty liberal but there has to be some reason.

Knock-Out Bidding
For the 2017-2018 season, the 3rd tier will stop using knock-out pole bids.  The top two tiers may continue to use knock-out pole bids if the drivers and stewards in that race unanimously agree.

Since the races do not directly feed into each other this season, I had the freedom to rename the series.  The top tier will be named P1 after the series at large.  The two second tier series will be named Divoll and Reilly after the co-designers of the original Speed Circuit.  The third tier races will be named after old formula greats: Ascari, Clark, Fangio, and Moss.

Other Updates:
The Driver and Steward line-ups will be announced later.  If you would like to volunteer to be a steward, let me know.  It is no lie to say that this series would cease to exist without the excellent stewards that sign up for more time, effort, and grief than you'd think.  If you want to help out, I will be very grateful.

The first race of the season will be Montreal (pdf) -- so sharpen your knives.  I will announce race 2 and 3 in the season at later dates.  The main reason I delay announcing tracks for this series is that it is the most effective test bed for my tracks.   One race of a track in P1 is now 7 play-tests at once.  In 3-4 months, the track I most want to validate or test may be very different, so I hold off as long as I can.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Organized Play 2018 at the Half-Way Mark

This blog post is going to start like a confessional.  It's been two months since my last post but I have another organized play update.

click for larger

Here's our new top 10.  As promised, we now have two tournaments in the books for the 2018 season.  No surprise than that the winner of both events now tops the rankings.  Doug Gallullo was 4th a couple months ago, but he won PrezCon and then won my Play-by-mail event.  The points from those events plus two more good race results puts him nearly 50 points ahead of Don. 

But more points will be available as the season progresses.  Three live series are scheduled to finish up by early summer and the Redscape play-by-mail series has started its final race.

Already, 2018 has eclipsed the inaugural 2017 season in nearly every category.  So far, 119 drivers have been ranked over 50 total races.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Organized Play Rankings Update for Championship Formula Racing

I've been silent for a while... been busy at work and my web site went down!

Still busy at work, but the web site is back up so here's a long over due update on the 2018 Organized Play rankings.  But with not a lot of words...

< click to see larger size >

A quick look at the current top 10 above shows some of the usual suspects, some drivers showing improvement from last season, and some new drivers to these rankings.

Doug G is looking strong still with his only 2 races being strong wins.  Tim Baker has the best single race score so far on the board.  No series have completed yet but Doug G is in line to score a ton of points as the champ of my Play by mail.

So far in 2018 there have been 29 races ranked including 102 different drivers -- which is already a new record for drivers ranked in a season.

Looking ahead, my PBeM will be finishing in the next month or two and PrezCon is gearing up for February.  That will close out the first two series / events of the season which will add more detail to the growing puzzle of who will win the 2018 season.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

CFR at Winter Game Fest January 13th

Last Year at CoG Winter
Winter Game Fest is right around the corner.  If you can get to Rockville, MD, $20 gets you tournaments, an open gaming area all weekend, plus access to a Championship Formula Racing race.

The race will take place at 10:30 am on Saturday.  We will run 3 laps at the modern configuration of São Paulo [track map PDF].  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 9:00 am to midnight Saturday and 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Sunday.  I will be there more or less the whole weekend.

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.

Corner 1 at Sao Paulo (from my Historical Driver series)