12 May 2009

The Absurdity of Battle Value

There is an interesting post at Flechs ...

Ian writes ...
I’ve got a bone to pick with Battlevalue. As I was in the process of doing my research, it came up on the CBT forums recently. Unfortunately it didn’t get the discussion i think it deserves.

... and I have to agree.

BV seems to function as an attempt to express in numbers the imbalances in the game. Imbalances that increase for every variable (equipment) added without adjusting existing variables (rules and equip). BV as a game design choice is a problematic at best. [emphasis added]
Definitely problematic, but Ian has hit on a greater truth: BV is a game design choice. Battle Value (BV) takes a lot of criticism for it's flaws, and rightly so. Most people though, fail to recognize what BV really is. When we agree to play a game that is balanced (for better or worse) by BV, then it becomes a de facto rule of the game. For example, BV is known to penalize too much (reduce final BV) for Mechs without sufficient heat sinks, therefore the overgunned mechs that cannot fire all their weapons without overheating become the Mechs of choice faster than you can say "Black Hawk Prime".
[image sarna.net]

First: Does anyone find it necessary to keep track of all BV destroyed while playing a game to understand what the situation is? Of course not. Destroying equipment is an act that already has in-game value. ie. It effects game play. Point systems that have no other effect than their comparative value are arbitrary methods of evaluating game events compared to what they are supposed to represent.
Ian is 2-for-2 so far. It does not matter the BV you destroy, rather it should be much severely can you damage the other players units given the relative BV of both sides. In other words, if you can battle someone to a draw using less BV than the other player, then you should be counted as the winner. The usual tournament scoring rules do a very poor job of measuring how damaged each side really is. (I should note that the rules for the Battletech Open 2.0, which will premier at ORIGINS this summer, are a step in the right direction.)

Second: If I play a ‘mech with a point value of 1000 against a carbon copy of myself running a ‘mech with a point value of 999 on a symmetrical map. Which one will win? No idea? Me either. What about if [I] had a 950 point ‘mech? Any idea now? Maybe? 900 points? 800? Where are the significant figures in this measuring system?
Ian does it again. The present BV system (there is little difference between 1.0 and 2.0) assigns arbitrary numbers with no meaning. What is amazing is that they work as well as they do. This is a completely ad hoc scoring system that makes a number of unfounded assumptions and demonstrably wrong calculations*. Most people don't realize where it goes wrong either.

* I have a post in mind to justify that statement, and I continue to work on something better. Stay tuned.
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