Combat Master #2 - Arch Madness


Combat Master #2 - Arch Madness


Greetings, ACCers and spectators.

This is going to be a fairly light report, focusing on two particular subjects of widespread interest: time outs, and the upcoming 2019 championship bracket.

Quick Notes

  • No Match of the Month for March, as the contents of this report are time sensitive and I don’t want to delay it while I get permission from authors and write up the match. This feature will be returning in April.

  • A quick shout-out to Kadrol Hauen and Akaarn Tayl’cor. Kadrol alerted me to a few typos in some venue descriptions, including one in a venue image. Thanks to Akaarn, said image has now been fixed.

  • Kelly pointed out that you cannot, no matter how hard you try, spell March without Arch. Marvel at the insidious ways by which I have woven myself into your lives.

Time Outs and You

Late last week, I had a long-time, frequent ACCer PM me to express their concern and frustration to me that their last several matches had all ended with their opponent timing out.

Prior to that, I had a friend mention in passing that their ACC experience involved starting a match, getting timed out on, and never trying again.

I’ve heard both of these complaints and variations of them for years. The current match completion rate is frustrating for me as CM as I know it is for many of you as competitors.

Accidents happen. Even well-intentioned and normally reliable people miss deadlines every once in a while, and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t done it myself. However, timing out is avoidable. Kelly has done 19 matches and never timed out. Kord, our most prolific ACCer, has done dozens of matches and maintains a time-out rate of only 3%.

On the other extreme, we have members who time out on their opponent more often than they actually finish a match. That’s not acceptable. It makes the ACC experience frustrating for other competitors and depresses activity throughout the club. When you enter a competition, you take it for granted that the organizer will judge it. When you do DB gaming, you take it for granted that your matches will be counted appropriately for clusters and everything else. When you start an ACC match, you should be able to take it for granted that you’ll be able to finish it.

Currently, there’s not a lot of incentive to finish a match if you’re not happy with how it’s going. Likewise, there’s not a lot to disincentivize just TOing on your opponent. I’ve been batting around some ideas on how to change that, while accounting for the aforementioned accidents and respecting members’ rights to participate in DB activity. This is a tough problem and I hope you’ll be patient with me while I figure out the best way to tackle it. I’m open to suggestions.

In the meantime, I suggest deliberately selecting your opponents and then keeping open lines of communication with them throughout the match. If you're not open to writing against a wide variety of characters, or if you know that your schedule is going to make it tough to get writing done, don't issue open challenges. If you're generally cool with giving your opponents, adjust your settings to auto-accept extension requests and streamline that process. And always, always remember that any post against you is the product of somebody's time and effort.

2019 ACC Championship Bracket

It starts a week from tomorrow.

Surprise! =/


I had hoped to be able to announce now that I’d be kicking off this tournament in several weeks, but unfortunately my RL job and DB logistics have put me in the position of either running this event ASAP or not running it at all. It’s short notice, it sucks, I know.

But it’s been a long time since we’ve had a big bracket: a year and a half since the 8-person GJW XII bracket, and three years since the last somewhat-open championship. 2019 is going to see a new bracket and a new Combat Center Champion.


The overall format is a 32-slot, single elimination bracket. Each match will be a 2+2 alternate ending match according to the standard Duelist Hall grading criteria. Each competitor will have 3 days to complete their post, with a single 1-day extension available per match. There will be a maximum limit of 1000 words per post. Winners advance, losers go into the vats where their nutrient-rich corpses will feed the next generation of ACCers, and eventually the last two writers standing will duke it out for bragging rights and fabulous prizes.

The first round will begin March 11 and I'll be distributing the first batch of invitations tonight and tomorrow.


I will be inviting 26 members. The three basic qualifications are: you must be ACC Qualified (duh), you must have won a match since the end of the last championship, and you must be in a clan and/or in a position.

Invitations will go out in order based on a qualification score. The higher your score, the higher you are on the list. How are the scores generated? Simple. I look at every match since the end of the last championship, the Grand Master’s Invitational Tournament. Every match you won, you get a point. Every match you TO’d on your opponent, you lose a point. If a match was marked as ‘Closed’ in our system, if you completed it but lost, if anything else weird happened? No effect.

There are a lot of ties, and they’re broken in this order: by the most qualifying matches won, then by the most qualifying matches participated in, then by most recent match completed.

If you’re not among the top 26 but you want to compete, there’s still hope. First, not all of those 26 are going to be available or interested in competing. If someone declines their invitation or doesn’t get back to me, I’ll be moving on down the list.

Second, you probably noticed that I’m only inviting 26 people to a 32-slot tournament. The other 6 participants will be chosen by their consuls according to whatever esoteric criteria they deem fit. The only requirement I’ve given them is that all nominees must be ACC qualified before the tournament starts.

Judges and the Tournament

The judges and I will be handling matches in the early rounds of the bracket as normal. This includes following the policy of having a second judge review the match for errors before the primary judge finalizes it. For the semi-finals and finals, Wally and I will handle the judgements.

It’s probably not a surprise that the ACC staff, both current and former, includes some of our most prolific and talents ACCers. My staff are also competitors and several have qualified for this bracket in their own right, and will be invited to compete in it.

Judges are never allowed to judge their own matches and obviously I won’t be changing that now. However, it’s also inappropriate for judges to be in a position where how they judge a match determines who they'll be facing next. I have the utmost faith in my staff’s professionalism and integrity, but even still there is an inherent conflict of interest when anyone is in a position to choose their future opponents.

Therefore, judges will not be involved in any matches in their half of the bracket. If there is a chance they could face you before the finals, they will not be involved in the judgement of your match. Period.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns about the ACC via Telegram (@Archenksov) or email ([Log in to view e-mail addresses]).

Beware the Ides of Arch,

Combat Master

Damn, I've almost had an ACC match for every year of my life, I guess I'm either ACC old or just young irl. As for the timing out stuff, I tend to try and have a post written before the halfway reminder email is sent out, worst case scenario, I can post even if I may not win a match, best case scenario, I can get a post proofread and see if I can add to what's already written before the deadline.

Is this going to be seeded or random?

Alaris: Seeded by Elo, with the caveat that I'm probably going to have to move people around a little. The more judges who are eligible to look at a match, the quicker they'll be able to take care of it. Most likely that means the judges will be stacked in one half of the bracket that I'll judge with Wally or a non-competing judge handling the Rule of Two for me, while the judges will split the other half according to availability.

Admittedly, I'm one of those who tends to time out more than complete, although I don't think by much. I'd say part of it is simply thinking you can have stuff done at the last minute, but it's really an exercise in having a consistent writing mindset and thinking about your battles in depth for a long time in a fairly specific way. I think part of why people may time out more is because of lack of seemingly winnable outcomes. In the past I've been turned off by the ACC, not so much in my own battles, but watching battles of other Clan members where trivial and subjective marks were taken in order to either elevate or deescalate someone. There are also members who clear cut win most of the time, and it's demotivating to play against those people because you know it's meant to be fun, but you're also going to lose.

Plus, when members who aren't combat motivated play, then it hurts them because their actions or aspects aren't devoted to combat. The arguments have been made that if you don't want to fight, then don't use the ACC, use fiction competitions. But the ACC is fiction and we use combat in fiction comps as well. If the ACC allowed less combat and more "combative narrative", I think many people who simply want to roleplay, argue, or complete something without having to bash sabers or shoot blasters would be interested in playing.

Just a few thoughts. I'm still personally interested in playing scenario halls or waiting until the pilot halls are tested and open up.

Disclaimer: You is used many times in this comment, it is not targeted at Dek or anyone in particular, but is more a general term.

Dek, some good points on why people may time out. I agree some of it is overconfidence in their abilities to get things done at the last minute. Procrastination is the ultimate enemy in the ACC.

I personally don't like the "lack of seemingly winnable outcomes" as justification for timing out, it's not a mentality we as people who work within the ACC are fond of. Even if this extends beyond the combat portion and is "this person is a better writer, so I shouldn't try" To give a personal anecdote, I was facing someone who'd won an ACC tournament and I believe was either a Judge or had been a Judge by that point. I gave it my all and narrowly missed out. Fast forward to Atra putting out the call for Judges just over a year ago, he asks for a match as an example to show an applicant's understanding of the ACC's systems. (something like that) I chose that match I could have given up on, and while not initially selected, Atra was impressed enough with my application that the very next spot that came up was offered to me. Also, if you don't finish a match, you don't get feedback and can't close the perceived gap between you and whoever it is you think you'd always lose to.

As for " trivial and subjective marks were taken in order to either elevate or deescalate someone." The overwhelming majority of the ACC rubric is Story, a completely subjective category. However, it is very rare, in my experience as a Judge, to give anything lower than a 3 in Story. In the same way, 4 is almost always a Syntax score unless there are multiple, repeated errors that affect the readability of the post in the eyes of the Judge(s) looking at the match. 5 is a perfect post from a Syntax point of view; even some of our most experienced writers don't get a five every time. This brings me to Realism and Continuity, these both start at 5 and are very achievable scores if a writer pays attention to both member's snapshots and the events that happen before their post and even within their own posts. This is something the ACC, in my time working within it, has made moves towards simplifying, with feats about skills or powers that are on the sheet showing up if you click on the relevant skill or power.

That was a long point, but I'll finish up on the "members who aren't combat motivated". Writing combat isn't for everyone, and we at the ACC aren't going to pretend it is. I personally see this as the reason the Funderdome exists. One of my earliest matches I judged was a Funderdome where IIRC, the characters argued over something totally non-combat related. The key to the ACC, no matter which hall, is conflict. If it's Co-op or certain scenarios, then that conflict doesn't have to be between the characters, though in the latter it could be. The Funderdome requires conflict between characters, but the conflict is open to being pretty much anything(The notorious rap battle being one fine example) I would thoroughly encourage non-combat focused characters to engage in the Funderdome, and maybe find a buddy and enter Co-op or scenario matches.


Scudi Ferria(ACC Judge)

I would agree with what you are saying for the most part. We do have to follow a legible rubric and interact with the CSs and rules and such. I still think there is possible room for improvement. Maybe I just need to be complete more ACC matches and eventually become a judge to understand the system a bit better.

I will say though that having to start a match in the Funderdome to still be a serious match doesn't seem like a good option. I do think that everything should be focused on conflict, but not necessarily "me vs. you, fully engaged" combat. For example, a battle of wills of survival, or of minds in a place where the smartest (not necessarily the strongest or most strategic) wins. I'd rather those be not judged in the same hall as a rap battle was judged (which it was fun to read, and see what happened next, but not in the same way as another type of battle would be).

I do feel like some of these are smaller tweaks that could bring more desire to the ACC. I've always found the ACC interesting and want to see it become bigger, but just always feel half hearted to participate (minus that one time before the last GJW, where I was pumped AF).

add me to the list of subs for the tournament. I'll give a try to it.

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