UPDATE (January 24th): Arena mode is back (like it was before).
Following the survey, we are opening back the Arena today.
There is no change compared to before. The reason is this: following the survey, we are working now on a new version of the Arena, with significant changes to the lobby part to fix the following issue:
_ we want to make easy for players from the same leagues to match together.
_ we want to find a way to have a real competition for the least played game.
_ we want to reduce waiting time before Arena games.
We decided to re-open the "old" Arena while working on this new version, because even if it is not perfect a lot of you appreciate it.
We really want to have the best system for the Arena on BGA. It may imply that we had to go through several systems before finding the right one, and this may be confusing for some of you, but we are confident that with our work and your feedback we will build something good here.
Thanks for your patience.
What is Arena Mode?
Arena Mode is a new major competitive mode for all games on Board Game Arena.
Playing Arena Mode, you meet opponents in a competitive spirit, and try to become the new world champion for each game!
How does it work?
Arena mode is seasons based.
A season lasts 3 months, so there are 4 Arena seasons each year.
At the end of a season, top players for each game will be the new BGA world champion (ex: Race for the Galaxy World Champion - 2019 Winter).
What if I do not care about competitive play?
Arena Mode is 100% optional. You can play on BGA using "Simple mode" and never care about it.
We created Arena Mode because playing "for fun" and playing "competitively" is not really the same thing. We want to regroup players who are playing "for fun" together, and players who are playing "competitively" together.
Before Arena Mode, it was unclear if a game was "competitive" or not because a lot of players care about their ELO ranking. With "Arena Mode" and "Simple mode", we want to create a place where you can focus on competition and rankings, and a place where you can just play games without caring about any "metagame".
What are the rules of Arena Mode?
Some Arena mode rules may change from one Season to another, so everything that we explain here may change in the future if we see that it doesn't work, if we want to try something different for a given season, and so on.
To access Arena Mode for a game, you first need to reach 100 ELO points. It gives you access to the lower Arena league (Bronze league). You start with 1 Arena point ("Bronze - 1").
When playing on Arena mode, you play each game with its competition configuration (see "What is the competition configuration?" question below). You cannot choose your opponents: a matchmaking algorithm is choosing your opponents for you.
When you win a game in Arena mode, you gain Arena points. You gain 3 Arena points when beating an opponent from the same league, 2 points when beating an opponent from league N-1, 1 point for beating an opponent from league N-2, and so on (and the same for higher leagues).
When you lose a game, you lose Arena points. However, you cannot go below 0 points.
(Note: If you play a 3+ game, the number of Arena points you get is divided by the number of opponents. So beating 5 opponents from the same league brings you 3 x 5 / 5 = 3 points).
When you reach 10 points, you are promoted to the upper league, with 1 point (ex: "Silver - 1"). You get a corresponding trophy, and you can no longer be relegated for this season.
Your goal is of course to reach the highest league before the end of the season
How many leagues there are?
It depends on the popularity of the game: the most popular a game is, the more leagues there are (and the most difficult it is to reach the top).
During the BETA TEST (see "Season zero" below), we will set up only 4 leagues (Bronze / Silver / Gold / Elite) for most popular games, and only 2 leagues (Bronze / Elite) for the least popular games. This is intentionally. We may add additional leagues during Season 0 if needed.
What is the "Elite league"?
The most active players for a given game (especially the best ones) may reach the most prestigious league: the Elite league.
In Elite league, the rules are different: each player has an Elite Arena Score (EAS), which works exactly like a standard "ELO rank". Based on this EAS, you get your world rank for this game (ex: 45th) and you can try to become the world champion
This EAS is hidden as long as you are playing in inferior leagues, and is revealed when you enter the Elite league. Basically, if you beat very good players during this season, your EAS will be high, and if you beat weak players your EAS will be low.
What happens at the end of the season?
For each game, the best players will receive the BGA world champion trophies for the season depending on their final rankings.
When a new season starts, everyone is relegated to a lower league (and EAS is reseted).
Why did you introduce this Arena mode?
At first, we wanted to make a clear distinction between competitive and non-competitive mode on BGA. This way, you can play "for fun" or "for competition". Before that, we had some mismatched situations like having beginners at game tables with opponents playing with a very competitive spirit.
But the most important reason is that the previous "competitive play" based on ELO ranking was not satisfactory. The best way to be world #1 with the previous system was to get a very important ELO (sometimes by choosing carefully our opponents) and then to stop playing. We wanted to change that, and to build a system where being the world champion is a real challenge, where you cannot avoid the best opponents and cannot avoid to play.
What is the "competition configuration"?
All players who are playing a game with Arena mode for a given season are playing with exactly the same configuration. This way, the whole Arena tournament is consistent (a debate + poll has been made here to reach this conclusion).
Example: for Kingdomino, during the first season, the Arena configuration will be "2 players, with 7x7 grid and +10/+5 bonuses for Castle on center and full kingdom).
Choosing a specific configuration for each game is sometimes a difficult decision. The good news is that if the community is asking for a different configuration for a game, we can change it from one season to another, or make cycles between some configurations (ie: configuration A during Spring season, then configuration B during Summer season, and so on...).
How about the ELO ranking? Is it going to disappear?
ELO ranking is the best and most accurate way to check the level of your opponent. This is an essential feature for an online boardgaming platform, so we won't remove it.
However, ELO is not a good choice to build BGA leaderboards, so leaderboards will be based on the Arena ladder.
Basically, with the new Arena mode, you should not care too much about your ELO anymore. Think about these examples:
_ National Soccer teams do not care too much about their "FIFA rank", while they do care about winning the World cup.
_ Best Chess players do not care too much about their ELO, while they do care about being FIDE World Champion.
_ ... and so on.
Will there be less players for the non-competitive games?
A large part of the work we did on the Arena mode was to make sure it won't happen.
To ensure this, we built "bridges" between Arena mode and Simple mode, so there will be no "hermetic" barrier between the Arena lobby and the Simple game lobby:
_ when you are in "Simple / Manual" mode, you are warned when players are waiting for opponents in Arena mode. This way you can join them.
_ when you are in "Simple / Automatic" mode, you can extend your current game request to Arena mode with just 1 click. If we cannot find you a game in "Simple game" mode, you'll be redirected to Arena.
_ when you are in "Arena" mode, you can also extend your current game request to "Simple game".
How about turn based games?
Arena mode is both for realtime and turn based games.
The only constraint for turn based games is that a turn based game must start and end during a given Arena season to be taken into account for this Arena season.
When will it be available?
Arena Season zero (beta test) will start on Monday January 13th 2020.
Note that the BETA test may be interrupted at any moment if we see that there is something wrong. We want to make things right, so we prefer to cut the whole thing than providing a bad service.
What is Season zero
The first season (season 0) will be a BETA TEST season.
It will be used to get your feedback on the Arena mode. All the features may not be available during this first season.
This first season will not necessary last 3 months, and it may be "reseted" if needed (ie: all players rank reset).
As this season is a test, the trophies associated with the season won't bring prestige immediately. We may decide to attribute prestige to them later, once we're sure everything is well.
During this first season the Arena mode will probably be far from perfect, so that's why we need your feedback to find how to make it better.