Season 41 - Newsletter Part 2

Setup Details and Minor Rules Changes

July 20, 2020 / by SamE

Season 41 has started! This is the first ten-tier season, just two seasons after the first eight-tier season. To illustrate how big of a change this has been, in just six months, the F tier has gone from the bottom third of the League all the way to the top quarter!

While those changes will still take some getting used to, the cause is pretty obvious, albeit grim. This major growth of the League is just a tiny ripple effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many people in the countries players live in to seek online entertainment and competition. On top of that growth, we have intentionally expanded the tiers beyond the absolute necessity in order to increase the competitiveness of the typical League match. The average levels of the tiers are now fairly evenly distributed, with about a 3-level gap between consecutive tiers.

Players by Season, showing a distinct rise in Seasons 39-41 after holding steady in Seasons 27-38.

In all, Season 41 has yet again broken the record for the number of players and divisions, albeit less spectacularly than Season 40 did. At the start of the season, we have an even 850 players in the League, with more to be added off the waiting list as needed. While this is obviously reflective of the ongoing pandemic, we’re pleased that so many players who were trying the League out for the first time in Season 40 have returned for another season. :) And while this is nowhere near the more-than-doubling growth that Season 40 saw, in absolute terms, it’s still 11 extra divisions, our third-biggest increase ever (after Seasons 27 and 40), and larger the entire 7-division range that Seasons 27-38 saw. We still live in tumultous times!

These 142 divisions are distributed across all 10 tiers as follows: 1 A, 2 B, 4 C, 4 D, 8 E, 15 F, 15 G, 31 H, 31 I, 31 J. You’ll notice that these are pretty close to powers of two, with the final five tiers coming one division short. Our default promotion scheme will therefore be fairly predictable:

Bottom two demote; top one promotes in BCEFH; top two promote in DGIJ.

As before, the default promotion rules are as follows: Between consecutive tiers of the same size (C/D, F/G, H/I, I/J), two players from each division in the higher tier demote and two players from each division in the lower tier promote. Between consecutive tiers where the lower tier is (roughly) double the size of the higher tier (A/B, B/C, D/E, E/F, G/H), two players from each division in the higher tier demote and only one player from each division in the lower tier promotes. Rather than hardcoding these tier sizes into the rules, we’ve written this general rule there.

Top one promotes in BCEFH; top two promote in DGIJ. Bottom two demote.

The moderators retain the right to change this scheme if the size of the League should change drastically. In particular, when it comes to adding or removing a tier, we will be following the same thresholds for the total number of tiers we announced in a previous Newsletter. In particular, we will keep ten tiers if the total number of players* for next season is between 691 and 1266; our current 850 is fortunately over 100 away from each of those thresholds.

*Season 42, for the first time since Season 26, will feature a practice tier specifically for players with fewer than 30 rated games. These counts (of tiers and players) exclude the practice tier. For reference, in Season 41, there were 57 new players with fewer than 30 rated games.

September Hiatus: Season 42 starts in October

Every year, the League goes on hiatus for (essentially) the month of September for several reasons:

  • To give the moderators a break from the grind of season after season
  • To give everyone a chance to participate in the yearly Shuffle iT championship
  • To align the calendar and avoid major holidays at crucial moments

As such, Season 42 will begin six weeks after Season 41 ends, on October 12.

Minor Rules Changes / Clarifications

We have also recently updated the rules in several small ways, but which you should still know about:

  • When playing subscription-less games featuring only cards from the base set, please be sure to turn Cardlists (Ban, Disliked and Liked cards) off, as these would have too great an impact on the game with a small card pool. We’ve posted your subscription status at the start of the season in your division channel in Discord so you can anticipate which matches this will matter for.
  • In Part 1 of this Newsletter, we introduced a rule banning the consultation of external resources. Many of you asked, “What about the rules?” We’ve decided to make an exception for consulting the official rule books and any lists of client bugs. We will be compiling an official page on our website with all allowable resources soon.
  • Another clarification on the rules for flexible division sizes: If a tier increases to 7 players due to both highly-rated new players and a greater number of returning players than leaving players, then all 7-player divisions in that tier will only feature two demotions, the more generous rule. (Fortunately, there are no 7-player divisions in Season 41 of either type anyways.)
  • With the greater prestige it currently affords, Tier E games must allow spectators, joining Tiers A-D.
  • We have codified the new moderator recruitment process, having gone through it in each of the last two seasons: There must be an open application period of at least 48 hours followed by a comment period lasting at least another 48 hours for all League mods to weigh in on the applicants. The recruitment process concludes with a vote among all existing moderators on each applicant.

Season 41 Town Hall

Finally, the Season 41 Town Hall marks the one-year anniversary of our first Town Hall, and as such, we will use this opportunity to recap all of the change that has happened in the past year, and reexamine any of the decisions we’ve come to. How has opinion changed now that we’ve seen the consequences, and the League has grown? It is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of August 7-8 and will be held entirely in Discord; we hope you can make it!

Setup Meeting Minutes

  1. Changes from the moderators
    1. Timing of the moderator selection process
      • The current rules state: "When new or additional moderators are needed, there will be an open call posted to the forum. New moderators are chosen by a vote of the current moderator team."
      • However, the current details don't specify the timeline of how moderator selection works. Goal is to be more transparent with the moderator selection process.
      • Motion to include the (minimum) timing of the moderator selection process in the rules.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • Vote: Length (published as the minimum) of the open call in days (approval voting, 1-5)
        • 2: 9 votes; 3: 7 votes; 4: 2 votes
      • Vote: Length (published as the minimum) of the comment period in days (approval voting, 1-5)
        • 2: 10 votes; 3: 6 votes; 4: 4 votes; 5: 1 vote
    2. Cardlists in Base-Only Matches
      • In base only matches, players are currently allowed to use cardlists (ban/dislike). However, because the base set is a small pool of cards that you are limiting to even a smaller pool of cards (eg. banning all engine related cards in base), it drastically affects the types of boards rolled.
      • Motion: if a match is played using only the base set, cardlists (ban, dislike, like) should all be off.
        • YES (unanimous)
    3. Tiers that must allow spectators
      • Currently, only players in tiers A, B, C, and D may not agree to disallow spectators. As tiers grow in competitiveness, like the games we see in E, we want to increase the tiers that must allow spectators.
      • Players in tiers A, B, C, and D may not agree to disallow spectators. Motion to extend this requirement to E.
        • YES (unanimous)
      • We allow players from lower tiers to agree to disallow spectators (default being allow spectators), which is different than upper tiers. Some lower tier players may not want the pressure of being spectated, but having a cohesive rule that applies across all tiers may be beneficial.
      • Should we get rid of the tier requirement entirely (requiring that all matches should require spectators to be allowed, regardless of tier)?
        • NO (3 dissenting)
      • Dissent (tracer): When you sign up for league, you're signing up for a competitive environment no matter what tier you are at. Part of that environment is having people able to watch you play.
      • Dissent (catmom): I also think that there wouldn't be that many people watching lower tier games anyway, but it might be helpful for the people in the lower tiers to get a sense of what spectating is like. I understand people are shy, but this is a community revolving around a virtual game. I think allowing spectators also fosters the expectation of community here.
    4. Consulting Resources Rules Clarifications
      • Currently, the league rules specify that "Consulting outside sources like strategy articles in the middle of a game (unless both players agree otherwise) is prohibited." However, sometimes players may have questions regarding client bugs/dominion rules/errata clarification.
      • Motion to, in addition to the public discussion of rules with your opponent, explicitly allow private consultation of a list of allowed resources (Rules, Errata, Client Bugs) maintained on the website.
        • YES (unanimous)
    5. Multiple causes for 7-Player Divisions
      • Currently, there are different demotion rules depending on the type of 7-player divisions. If a 7-player division is triggered by a highly ranked new player, then the bottom 3 demote. If a 7-player division is triggered by a returning player, then the bottom 2 demote. This creates some inconsistency (especially if there are multiple 7-player divisions in the same tier), confusion and extra complexity.
      • Motion to clarify in the rules (possibly subject to change later): If there are both highly-rated new player(s) and returning player(s) forcing 7-player divisions in a tier, then only two players demote in any 7-player division in that tier.
        • YES (1 dissenting)
      • Dissent (volfied): We need to do everything we can to eliminate 7-player divisions quickly. This is one more step in the wrong direction.
  2. Promotions/Demotions
    1. Promotion/Demotion Scheme for Season 41 -> 42
      • Current Season 41 max (also approximate) # Divisions by Tier: A 1, B 2, C 4, D 4, E 8, F 16, G 16, H 32, I 32, J 32
      • Motion to set the promotion/demotion scheme in the image above as the default.
        • YES (unanimous)
  3. Town Hall
    1. Season 41 Town Hall Topics
      • Various topic suggestions came from Season 40's returning form for the next town hall. Note that there will be a 6 week break following Season 41, where an additional town hall may be inserted.
      • What should we cover in the mid-Season 41 Town Hall (~3 weeks from now): 1. Skip this Town Hall (next one would be in the long break) 2. Timers (pre-client implementation) 3. Flex Divisions (revisiting Returning Form + topics from last Town Hall) 4/ Seeding + New Player Placement (revisiting town hall) 5. Expansions (allowing people to restrict to less than full random) 6. Smorgasbord (miscellaneous topics, mainly revisiting) Approval voting.
        • 1: 1 vote; 2: 6 votes; 3: 9 votes; 4: 6 votes; 5: 7 votes; 6: 13 votes