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FIST Report Supplemental #4.1: On Pazaak

Potential Changes to Pazaak

All-

After reviewing Pazaak Turbo Mode and its effects on time to cluster ratios, I have made my concerns to the rest of DC and am leaning towards one of the following changes. A decision hasn’t been made, but the DC is leaning towards one over the other.

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Course of Action 1: Establish a “No Turbo Mode” Policy

This option essentially adds the requirement for you to utilize a side-deck whenever you play pazaak. You will still have the option to choose basic or advanced cards, but playing Turbo Mode will be considered a form of cheating.

Course of Action 2: Nerf Pazaak

This option will allow you to continue to utilize Turbo Pazaak, but at a cost to the cluster reward for the game. Currently, Pazaak provides .5 CFs per match, with a modifier for winning or losing. The change will reduce Pazaak cluster reward to .33 per Match and keep the modifier for winning and losing.

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I am looking for member feedback on these two options. This is not a poll. Constructive feedback via email or in the comments section is fine. Feedback that benefits the group is good. Is there a third or fourth option that the DC and I aren’t seeing or thinking of?

Feedback that talks about how boring Pazaak is for you or how much you hate pazaak will be ignored with great prejudice.

Thanks.

-Drac

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Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:21 PM
Andrelious vindictive

I'm sorry but a valid way of playing the game is not cheating. What if two people play a game where neither person uses their side deck due to a lack of useful cards?

Both options make Pazaak a far less desirable game, but option #2 is a much less bitter pill to swallow, even if that does mean 3 wins (or 9 losses) per CF.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:22 PM
Test

Pazaak game serves an incredibly important role in this club, especially with the last few years of moves off computers to phones/tablets/etc. It's the one Star Wars game anyone can play. It's free, it doesn't require really any computing power at all, and it has a relatively mild learning curve.

Stock Pazaak as it was coded does not require a sidedeck for it to function - so that's how it goes. I'm uncomfortable throwing around the word cheating when the game was built that way.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:33 PM
Avatar4

The issue is our cluster numbers are based off the imperfect but best option of time a game takes to play. If members can play the game in far less time, we need to adapt to that somehow.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:35 PM
Test

I know, Mavlet. How much of a time difference are we talking about here?

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 4:56 PM
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we have seen 12 matches done in under 5 to 10 mins. If not quicker.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:01 PM
Teylas av

Just because it's a valid way to game doesn't mean it isn't cheating for the DJB. Power leveling in D3 for rewards was a valid way to play the game. It was cheating as far as earning rewards for the DJB was concerned.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:06 PM
Kelly headshot

Before I voice my opinion, I'm not happy that it has come to having to tell people how to play a game or accept that a platform will have it's already little cluster value reduced. I exclusively get my CFs from Pazaak, and yeah maybe it isn't the best game, but it is the only free platform we have and should be grateful for. I would prefer the first option, not because I enjoy telling people how to play games, but if the side deck were optional, you'd be able to play without one. So it comes down to playing the game in a way it wasn't intended to be played and lower the cluster value, or play the game how it was supposed to be played and has been for years and keep the cluster value the same.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:22 PM
Test

"Just because it's a valid way to game doesn't mean it isn't cheating for the DJB. Power leveling in D3 for rewards was a valid way to play the game. It was cheating as far as earning rewards for the DJB was concerned."

From what I gather, that power leveling was people...not actually playing the game? They'd get dragged through and not actually kill the monsters?

A better example would be the swaying rule for the Jedi Knight games. It was considered cheating and it damn well should not have been. It's how the game was designed, and nerfing the game to fit the DB's weird and often detrimental approach to gaming did not help the club one damn bit when it came to attracting people that were good at Jedi Outcast/Academy.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:22 PM
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Whether or not anyone wants to construe these particular practices as "cheating," we must call an exploit an exploit, and by our own standards, the Turbo Mode would be an exploit. Yes, it is built into the game; however, having a mechanic be possible through the game's system itself does not mean that that mechanic is legitimate to use within our system, which designates its rewards based on the amount of time/effort typically put into a single match or game. We've been here before, and we have been responsible in recognizing this in the past, even to our own detriment for the overall benefit of preserving our CF system and preserving the most fairness possible for the most members possible. The argument here is not whether or not something should be done, but which option is the most correct.

That said, nerfs, by their nature, always hurt everyone who plays a game/class. Adjusting the rules only impedes a certain play style, one we're already arguing is questionable. Requiring a Side Deck seems to do the least harm and most good.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:27 PM
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Everyone please make sure you Email your vote and or concerns to the Fist too.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Test

That's my point, Atty. Trying to force games to fit the DB's often skewed/screwed up viewpoint has not been beneficial, and has only served to make gaming less and less important.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 6:44 PM

So lots of back and forth on the ethics of the choices, but what about practicality? With option one how wpuld you determine if they used side deck, as a pvp platform we use no screenshots in submission, this means every match a fist staff member would have to go to the pazaak site and scroll through the log and find the matches. Does the log diferentiate between turbo matches and normal matches? This seems like alotof extra leg work for the staff. I say nerf it because unless i am missing something this would be insane to validate every match submitted not being done in turbo.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 6:52 PM
Kelly headshot

It doesn't differentiate because you need to select a side deck to play.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 6:53 PM
Avatar4

Supposedly turbo Pazaak lowers match times by up to 50 %. That's pretty massive. On top of that it puts even more in the hands of RNG so really the only reason to do it is to speed up a game for clusters in the DB.

There's no great comparison here unfortunately, but a comparison to JA may be apt as one reason the server is required is because of damage, health and shield values. Were these values altered games would go faster or slower which is why we enforce our servers.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 8:28 PM
Arden

The only question I have is whether or not there's an easy ways to tell which one people are playing at any given time. To me, from what it sounds like, with out a side deck it's kind of a different game altogether. It might be worth looking way to support both as seperate platforms.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 8:47 PM
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The second you throw in the word "cheating" you bring in the CoJ. I'm not the JST or RHoJ, and I won't be either anytime soon, but if I were my first question would be how does the Fist's office intend to prove cheating happened if they go with option 1? We don't collect log information from pazaak.org, nor do we require screenshots for match submissions. Option 1 is unenforceable under current rules, though if the Fist started to require screenshots (I'm thinking the 'so-and-so has won the match!' screen), that might work. Unfortunately, this would increase overhead for everyone involved. Simply reducing the CF award maintains Pazaak as a low-overhead platform for both players and staff.

The CF represents two things: time invested and skill. If I do a full slate of JA duels, I get awarded a lump sum of CFs based on the expected amount of time that it took me, with a bonus for matches that I won to reflect my skill. That applies to every single platform we support. And now that people have found a way to cut the time invested in a match and eliminate the factor of skill altogether, it should not be surprising to anyone that either the rules for earning a CF, or the amount of CFs awarded, if not both, are going to be adjusted to recognize that. As some have pointed out, similar attempts to bypass the time requirement for Clusters have resulted in matches being thrown out and/or been successfully prosecuted before.

The arguments that playing without a side deck is somehow legitimate for pazaak strike me as entirely disingenuous. This is being done to blitz through matches as quickly as possible to make it easier to get CFs. You mash the button to get a new card until someone goes over and repeat for twelve matches to hit your daily limit of matches with that person in 5 minutes instead of 25. That's why we're having this discussion. It's not about how people want to play paz for fun, it's about how people want to game the RoC for CFs. If you want a JA comparison, it's two people starting duels and then taking turns jumping off the platform so they don't have to bother with the lightsaber combat.

If you really want to play without a side deck for the skill challenge, I'm sure someone can run a comp series for Blackjack.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 8:57 PM
Thanadd db %281%29

Alethia's analysis is fantastic.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 9:07 PM
Sanguinius tsucyra entar avatar

Sure, let's limit gaming even more, that'll be a good idea.

We recently ran a Pazaak comp that relied solely on RNG to win and it was incredible fun for me and others. I don't see the problem to be honest, especially when we're limited on the games the masses can play. Not all of us can afford a PS4.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 9:13 PM
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Alethia's comments are spot on. That's the whole point of this discussion.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 9:45 PM
Bladeavatar100px

I favor option 2 for the below reasons: 1) Alethia's post above. 2) I believe freedom in playing a game is pretty important. But that extra game mode needs to be considered in the "average" Pazaak fight. Since it is too burdensome to manually check each pazaak match, option 2 makes more sense. 3) One should enjoy playing the game, win or loss. If you are turboing through because you hate the game but just want to get it over with, why game? I personally think it is horrible to set up anything knowingly or unknowingly where the message received is "you may hate playing this game, but do it for the clusters."

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 10:13 PM
11708 atraventus avatar

"Stock Pazaak as it was coded does not require a sidedeck for it to function"

The game requires you to select a side deck in order to participate in matches. It will literally spam you with messages preventing a match if you try to do so without picking a side deck. That means using a side deck is a requirement for it to function. It could happen where you never need to touch your cards, I've had that happen before... but never have I seen a "turbo pazaak" in natural conditions.

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 at 10:28 PM

I disagree with Alethia's comment about it being done just to make it easier to get CFs, the one time I've done it was for competition participation, not CFs, if I was after CFs I'd never be playing Pazaak since the amount you get is already so low.

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 3:35 AM
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Sang:

We recently ran a Pazaak comp that relied solely on RNG to win and it was incredible fun for me and others.

Malik:

I disagree with Alethia's comment about it being done just to make it easier to get CFs, the one time I've done it was for competition participation, not CFs, if I was after CFs I'd never be playing Pazaak since the amount you get is already so low.

To clarify, I have absolutely no problem with that comp. Nonstandard gaming comps are fun and we see them all the time - one of the first comps I did when I joined was collecting vendor trash from four-legged animals in SWTOR, and I'd toss stuff like Brotherhood Bloopers in that category as well. If you want to turbo for comp participation and a crescent, turbo your little Sadowan hearts out. The Fist can figure out if he wants to award CFs for that comp, and I don't really care one way or the other.

What I have a problem with is making that a valid playstyle for every Pazaak match, which is what this thread is actually about. Malik is correct that the payoff for Paz is already low enough that allowing turbo isn't going to dramatically increase the number of CFs that go out across the Brotherhood. What it would do is dramatically alter the way we handle PVP score comps, which are a staple of feuds and GJWs. Pazaak is already the overwhelmingly popular choice for those events because of how easy it is to get a match going compared to JA, XvT, or other platforms that give a higher per-match pay out. If some members are able to half or quarter the time commitment for PVP matches by playing turbo while the rest of us continue to play standard rules, it give them an unfair advantage in a high stakes comp that is probably going to be fairly close anyway. It's less likely to tilt a cluster race, but that is a possibility as well. Drac and company are trying to head that off once and for all before we have people trying to sic the CoJ on each other over GJW results.

And call me old fashioned, but there's also the matter of principle. You don't get the cluster because you played a video game, you get it because you contributed X minutes of your time to the betterment of the club by giving your opponent someone to game with. That's why CF awards scale with the time investment, and also, I believe, why they scale with the size of your group - the Fist is encouraging big parties because it does more to build the Brotherhood gaming community than the same two guys playing every weekend. If you guys run a particular comp where playing turbo is the entire point, that's fine. I don't know if it should get normal CFs, but it's certainly not cheating and you should get participation credit for it like any other comp. But if we're playing Pazaak normally and a couple of turds in the corner show up and use an exploit to get the exact same reward we get without any of the effort? That strikes me as fundamentally sleazy. I don't view that as the same thing as your turbo comp at all.

And to follow up on another thing Sang said:

I don't see the problem to be honest, especially when we're limited on the games the masses can play. Not all of us can afford a PS4.

I don't have a single CF or CE from a console, barely got any DB credit for the last AAA PC game I bought (a year ago), am away from home 60 hours a week, and most of my CFs in my career came from mobile games when Valhavoc was Fist. Trust me, I'm not trying to purge the filthy casuals here. I only got to participate in the COU/PLA feud's PVP score comp because I was able to snag a pazaak match with Kelly. I have no interest in trying to kill paz as a platform or discourage people from playing it, but what I want even less is for people to be forced to choose between playing turbo or being competitive in PVP events, or to feel like their time is cheapened by other people using an exploit. Neither of those are healthy for the Paz community.

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 12:55 PM
Andrelious vindictive

Could we not just set up GJWs and the like so that Pazaak can only be used for participation?

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 2:59 PM
Valhavoc avatar

My only feedback is that if option 1 is not enforceable / easily verifiable it should probably be ruled out.

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 6:05 PM
Comic 008

I have to agree with Val here. I can play a game of pazaak with full sidedecks and actually using the cards with certain people in probably the same time as this "turbo pazaak" thing. It's entirely possible if you have a combination of 1) people who are paying attention and focused on getting it finished and sometimes 2) are pretty good with math and sometimes 3) People who don't really care about winning.

I don't necessarily believe nerfing the CFs is the right move, because like I said, I can play legitimately and use all my side deck cards and still finish very fast, and technically I'd be getting less CFs for doing everything "right." But of the two options... banning something that is unenforceable is going to make an absolute mess of the situation in regards to some people claiming other people are playing this 'banned' mode and nobody being able to prove anything.

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 6:36 PM

I somewhat disagree that turbo Pazaak takes no skill.

Almost anyone that I play against regularly, including myself, plays with mostly negative cards. I can only assume others do this for the same reason I do, let the RNG play out and see if it gets you a good hand and correct down if you it does not.

I could then argue that turbo actually requires more "skill" in the fact that you have to make much more tougher decisions. My opponent is at "12" and I am at "16", do I stand knowing he has 40% chance to beat me with his next card and only a 20% of going over or do I risk it and draw another card knowing I have a 60% chance of going over with that next card. If anything, no side deck is harder in some ways because no safety net exists.

I have pretty good fast twitch skills so I'm not afraid of those types of games but I'm also not going to dismiss something as requiring no skill challenging just because it isn't using those that specific skill set.

Posted on Jan 5, 2017 at 11:54 PM

If the real issue is that it affects PVP score, then why not alter that instead? Or as Mark said, make the game valid for participation only in GJWs/Vendettas? And I don't buy into the whole "leaving it to RNG", granted I've only played it once, I still looked at the cards and made decisions about whether or not to stand, it's not simply just about letting the cards be dealt until the first person goes over 20.

Posted on Jan 6, 2017 at 12:48 AM
Image

The issue at hand is how Pazaak is played (and rewarded) now. It's utilization during Vendettas and GJWs (and I lean toward Malik and Andrelious' opinion in that). is a good topic, but not related to this discussion.

I will have a final decision on Saturday. Thank you all for your comments.

Posted on Jan 6, 2017 at 4:24 PM
Firithav

As a person who does little gaming, Pazaak is one of the few I can and do play. So my CFs come from it more than any other game. Lowering the amount granted is just going to hurt some of us who aren't the hard core gamers.

That being said. To play a match you HAVE to load a side deck. Though not necessarily use it if you can hit 20 without it. I have played numerous matches where I never HAD to use it, as has anyone who plays on a regular basis. BUT it is there for when I need it. That's how the game should be played.

Loading all 1s as a side side deck and burning through is fine if you are doing a specific comp like the recent "Luck" one CNS did. The decisions were left to fate and some gutsy choices.

Doing it just so you can finish angam and get CFs? No that's not playing the game the way it's designed, that's bored people snagging some cheap CFs.

Cheating? Eh, strong word but yeah turbo would probably be considered that in broad terms.

Should there be a time limit from start to finish that FistBot can track? Maybe, but when it's down people still play and enter their scores when it comes back up. So there is the honor factor to conside there.