Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

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Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by sourisdudesert » 06 October 2020, 08:15

UPDATED October 6th 16:00 CET

Dear everyone.

Thanks a lot for your feedback, which help us a lot to identify solutions to make the turn-based Arena back.

Good news: based on your ideas, we managed to add some rules to turn turn-based Arena to - hopefully - prevent the cheaters to abuse Arena ranking system. The new rules are already in place, and the turn-based Arena is back.

New rules:
  • For Arena turn-based game, for a given game, you are now forced to play on the table where it's your turn for the longest time. Example: if you have 2 Carcassonne games, you can't play on the game where it's you turn for 5 minutes before playing on the other one it's your turn for 5 hours.
  • You cannot start a Arena realtime game if you have a turn based game with the same game in progress where it is your turn to play.
  • At the end of the season, all turn based games will be stopped, and the player who consumed the most time will lost the game (all the opponents will be winners).
With these 3 new rules, we hope to solve all the cheating techniques described below. We also chose a solution that does not bring too much constraints on turn-based players.

This can obliviously evolve in the future, depending on what happened.

To conclude, we hope that all of this will show that we are taking these subjects (Arena, cheating, competition modes...) very seriously. We know that there is a lot of work still to be done on these subjects and that it does not evolve fast enough for many of you, but please be sure that we are working on it.

The rest of this thread is left now for archive:

Dear everyone,

We had to remove turn-based Arena on Season 3, because it's way to easy to cheat the system using turn-based tables.

Cheaters were using 3 main techniques:

Technique A
  • You have 10 turn-based games running near the end of the Arena Season.
  • You play only on the 5 turn-based games where you are in a winning position.
  • You get the points from your victories.
  • At the end of the season, your 5 remaining games are switched to Normal and does not impact your Arena results.
Technique B
  • You start 20 turn-based games while you are Bronze 1.
  • After a while, you see that you are in a bad situation in 10 of these 20 games, while you are winning in the 10 others.
  • You start playing very quickly on the 10 games you are losing, and lose quickly => you are Bronze 0.
  • Thus, you play on the rest of your games and get a "streak" of 10 consecutive victories => you go directly to Gold (or higher), while you win only 50% of your games.
Technique C
  • You are Silver 9: one victory to go to Gold.
  • You play in a turn based game where you are in a losing position.
  • You play a real time game before the end of your turn-based game so you can have a chance to go to Gold anyway despite your losing turn-based game.

A lot of you were complaining about cheaters using these techniques, so we could not do another season with turn based in these conditions, and have to remove turn-based on Arena Season 3.

Our plan is to propose some other challenges to turn-based players in the future.

If we want to re-enable turn-based Arena, we need to find a solution so the 3 techniques above cannot be possible again. We created this thread so you can propose possible solution.

This thread has specific rules
  • Only ONE proposed solution per person (= one post).
  • Only solutions are accepted. If you just want turn-based Arena but don't have solution, please do not post.
  • Please tell which technique(s) your solution is solving (A, B or C).
  • Please read first answer with the list of not acceptable solutions before posting yours.
  • To make sure the best solutions are visible, all posts that do not respect the following rules will be removed.
Important: we really need to make the THREE cheating techniques ineffective: if there are solutions for 2 of them only, we still cannot get the turn-based Arena back.

Thanks for your help finding solution to this problem.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by sourisdudesert » 06 October 2020, 08:15

Not suitable solutions

For all techniques: changing the Arena rating system

The Arena is very popular as it is and we don't want to change the whole rating system to solve this issue (ex: possible relegation in a lower league during the season).

Note: 93% of Arena games are played in real-time, so we can't sacrifice 93% of the games to save the other 7%.

For all techniques: changing the Arena rating system only for turn based games

Ex: allow league relegation only for turn based games.

This would make the Arena way too inconsistent, and I doubt this would be accepted by turn based players at all.

For all techniques: rely on moderation

Due to the number of players, this is very complicated to manually do the check every time one of you report a cheater. It would force our moderators to review a considerable number of games, and evaluate very subjective things like "this is a losing position". It would leads to mistakes and other problems.

For all techniques: make 2 Arenas: one for realtime and one for turn-based

If the turn-based Arena is broken, there is no interest to create such an Arena.

For technique A: Transform all turn-based games in realtime game near the end of the season

Not possible: all turnbased players cannot be online at the same time. Some have many turn-based tables at the same time, or live in the opposite time zone, so they won't be able to play together in realtime.

For technique A: Stop all new turn-based games X days before the end of the Season

Only a partial solution: we cannot make sure all the turn-based games will effectively end at the end of the season: some turn-based games are running for weeks, especially when a player has interest to make it slow.

For technique A: Delay the Arena results by 1 month to let the time turn-based games to end

If you get the results 1 month after the official end of the competition, you lose 90% of the interest of this competition.

And in any way, we cannot make sure all the turn-based games will effectively end 1 month after the end of the season: some turn-based games are running for weeks, especially when a player has interest to make it slow.

For technique A: No more additional time for Arena turn-based game (fixed initial time, like in tournaments), to make sure all games end before the end of the Season.

This game mode may be appropriate for tournaments, but is a real disadvantage for you if your opponent is in a timezone where he/she goes to sleep after you (=> during the night, this is YOUR thinking time that is always decreased).

For technique B and C: "Storing" the results of your games, and apply them to your Arena rank in the exact order the games started

This would mean that:
_ you could win a game, but immediately lost a lot of Arena points (because of your previous loss).
_ you could finish a game and don't see any change on your Arena ranking (because the result is "stored").
_ if you start a turn-based game that runs 2 months, then your Arena rank will not move during 2 months, even if you play tons of realtime game.

So obviously we won't do this.

For technique A: Random date for the end of the season

We can't, really: all competitors needs to know the rules of the Arena. BGA would be accused to chose the date by some players unsatisfied with their position at the time chosen for the end of the season.

For technique A: Disqualify a player if he/she has more than X games in progress at the end of the season

This is not always your "fault" if you still have some remaining games. If you are disqualified because your opponents are slow, this is not acceptable.


Suitable solutions (with potential defects)

For A&B: For a given game, force you to play on the turn-based tables where you are waited for the longest time

Ie: if this is your turn on a table of 7 Wonders since 6 hours, you MUST play on this table before any other Arena 7 Wonders table.

For A: At the end of the Season, on each turn-based table still running, the player who consumed the most thinking time lose the game

This player is considered "responsible" for the way too long game, and consequently lose the game.

For all techniques: Allow only 1 game game at a time

It solves all the cheating techniques, BUT if you play a turn-based game during 6 weeks, then you can't play any real-time game during 6 weeks.

Allowing 1 realtime + 1 turn based would not solve technique C.

For C: Disallow starting a realtime Arena game if this is your turn in a turn-based table with the same game

Note: this only makes C more difficult but not impossible.

(writing in progress)

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Laurent B
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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by Laurent B » 06 October 2020, 08:59

USER UPDATE: I kindly disagree with your comment, because "not seeing your rank updated during several days" should not be a problem in the Arena as it is a competition and like any other competition only the result at the end of the season matters, right ?

Coming back to your concern about being able to keep a track of the current rank of a player within the arena ranking, I suggest the following ideas (in addition to the chronological order):
1) to indicate that the current player's rank is temporary, it's an estimation that will be re-evaluated once the on-going turn-based games of this player will be taken into account (chronological order) depending on their games won or lost. You could even change the color of the player's rank icon to indicate that this is a temporary rank.
2) to not grant access to any higher league until all on-going turn-based games are finished, or downgrading the player to an inferior league is he/she shouldn't have accessed to an higher league if the games were played in a chronological order (such as real-time games); Same principles for the trophies at the end of the season that shouldn't be granted based on the temporary rank but based on the chronological rank,
3) to reduce the game duration by forcing players to play at least once per day for example (this is a competition) for preventing users to delay the update of ranking on purpose;
4) to force the players to play their turns on arena games by chronological order by disabling the "next" button and always forcing the display of your oldest on-going game first, to make sure you don't avoid playing at one particular game on purpose. If the player is in front of its screen to play at a game, this player should have time to continue its on-going arena games.

As this chronological order solution, along with suggestions for keeping track of the current level of a player, could solve the 3 issues (A, B,C), I am kindly asking you to reconsider this option (my last attempt, I won't insist).

ADMIN UPDATE: not suitable solution (see why in first answer)

One possible solution to solve these issues would be to apply the EAS / ELO points won or lost by chronological order.

If you take into account the starting date of a game, you can implement a system that waits until your previous games are finished before updating your EAS / ELO points.

This way, you can launch several games but you cannot "cheat" by delaying games, the points will be updated according to the chronological order of the games and not according to the order of your choosing.

This method will give the same results as in real-time mode except that you have more freedom to play during the day at a time that suits you, instead of trying to find 15 min, 30 min or more just to play a game.

As BGA already keeps the history of the games played for each player by chronological order, I assume it's technically feasible.
Last edited by Laurent B on 06 October 2020, 12:46, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by TrapArecev » 06 October 2020, 09:04

ADMIN UPDATE: not suitable solution (see why in first answer)

Suggestion: why not increase the Arena Season with one month, in which no new games can be started, and all the remaining ones must be finished, (with very limited use of allowed breakes) up to the point that also the Reservoir of deliberately unfinished games is entirely dried up. In the mean time, the New Season could already start, causing no loss of playing time, the only drawback being that the definite winner of last season is declared with some delay. It would not seem too hard to find a solution somewhere along these lines.

Edit: Add to this that the handful of unfinished games that, after a month, would impact the top ranks should be arbitrated, like in the old days was customary in chess tournaments, by a committee of qualified players. I suspect very few games would necessarily need arbitration.

Also I am unconcerned with players "cheating" to get a gold or whatever in-between-trophy, which this solution does not adress. There is a plethora of trophies on BGA, most of which are meaningless. I got "elite" in real time with King-Domino, coming in at 300, so clearly I am not really an "elite" player in that game. But who cares when trophies are there mostly for fun.

Winning seasons however is important, but even more so, in our competitive environment, is dominating the ranking. So ELO-lists, better indicators of playing strength, are badly missing.
Last edited by TrapArecev on 06 October 2020, 09:24, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by Jason Goff » 06 October 2020, 09:04

ADMIN UPDATE: potential solution (with defects - see first anwser)

One obvious (to me anyway) solution would be to put turn-based players on the same footing as real-time, that is, they can only participate in one turn-based or real-time arena game at a time.

This would prevent Technique A, as you are only participating on one game it is impossible to focus on only the "good position" games.
This would prevent Technique B, as you only have one game to play.
This would prevent Technique C, as any one player can only be in a single arena game at any time.

This would allow turn-based players who do not have the luxury of continuous time to play in real-time, to still participate in arena games.

You could adjust this slightly, and allow one turn-based and one real-time at the same time, so that someone playing turn-based could play real-time if they wanted to, however this would still allow Technique C, for which I can see no other solution other than the one outlined above.

I hope you get turn-based Arenas back soon!


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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by ureloch » 06 October 2020, 09:19

ADMIN UPDATE: not suitable solution (see why in first answer)

Random Deadline.
What if you DON'T announce the exact time for the end of a Season?
i.e.: you announce that next season will end between 15th and 30th of december, but you don't give any exact time. The end could even be randomly created at any time in those 15 days. When the deadline comes, the turn-based games scorings are frozen, no matter who is playing. The pending games are out of season. This way, cheaters wouldn't be able to get advantage from their game-stretching.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by pistiorama » 06 October 2020, 09:21

ADMIN UPDATE: potential solution (with defects - see first anwser)

Technique A and B: againts theese techniques you can just limit the number of the active turn based games. If you can play only one game (and if it is not finished at the and of the season, the player with more time wins), it is impossible to cheat.
(Even with lets say 3 possible games it is very hard to cheat - I think one active game is a very strict rule).
Technique C: If you are playing a turn based game, you can't start or join to a real time game.
I rarely have time to play a real time game, so I hope you turn the turn based arena back soon.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by gal_gal » 06 October 2020, 09:34

ADMIN UPDATE: potential solution (with defects - see first anwser)

All these techniques have one thing in common and that multiple games running at the same time. thus enabling only one competitive game at a time (which is anyway the case for only real-time games) seems to solve them all. i.e you can have one turn-based game or one real-time game but not both at the same time. However this results in other problems, as you cant complete many games like that if.

ADMIN UPDATE: not suitable solution (see why in first answer)

Another idea is to make it possible to downgrade from the ranks, and blocking turn-base games only for the last week or so of season.

The big problem with not able to turn base and real time at the same time, is being held hostage by other players, i.e. a good player is in turn-base and someone makes it so long so it prevent them from doing anything for a while. That why downgrading will have effect on C, while still having two games at a time.
Last edited by gal_gal on 06 October 2020, 09:41, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by Billy Pilgrim » 06 October 2020, 09:40

ADMIN UPDATE: not suitable solution (see why in first answer)

Hi. I play mostly real time arena, but for Sapiens (my favourite game), I have to go turn-based as otherwise it just isn't possible to get a game. For me, the two arenas solution would work well. It definitely added something to be in competition against the other players and to try to get from bronze to silver to gold etc, and I would miss this if it went away.

Thanks for a great site (about to upgrade to premium) and thanks for listening to the feedback.

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Re: Turn-based Arena: proposed solution to get it back

Post by Solinete » 06 October 2020, 09:51

I also noticed that some players use the techniques to remain points.

ADMIN UPDATE: potential solution (with defects - see first anwser)

It is really difficult to prevent. The most simple would be limit the number of plays in every game for turn based arena. I mean 1 play for every game you are interested, it will force one to finish the game. I believe that it is no realistic but this solution exists.

ADMIN UPDATE: potential solution (with defects - see first anwser)

The other solution I can see is the one that is used in Yucata, you have to complete the games in the order that the system forces you, it means that is possible to put some type of switch to avoid a player pass to another table. It would be implemented only to arena plays and not to normal.
Also is important to put the time clocker. I had one player with -15 days and he was still playing the other 2 turn games of Hive so I was forced to end the game. So if the time clocker is far away from a acceptable timer (such -5 days or some) and also is possible to detect if the player was avoiding purposely the games (the previous system I said, same in Yucata, would work in such situations).

I thought there are more turn based players than real time players so I was surprised to see such percentage.

For any clarification, you can contact me, and I hope that I proposed some valid alternatives/solutions.

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