Default Timer Settings

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greywolfexcel
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Default Timer Settings

Post by greywolfexcel »

Last night I played a game on the Freelands as Drakes against Dwarves. My opponent left the default timer settings on, and I was quickly faced with 50-40 second turns when I was retreating/defending during the night. I did not have enough time to move all my units (I had about 9-11), much less give thought to strategic placement, and about half of my turns did not even have enough time to recruit a single unit. There were several instances in which I completely forgot about a unit that could have escaped a bad situation, and my overall playing quality was terrible. Even when I was on the offensive I only had 2:00 at my highest time allowance.

I would really like to see the default settings changed to those that the ladder (ladder.subversiva.org) recommends. I've never felt overly pressured during my turns, and I've really only encountered the warning gong a few times (which was right before my turn was going to end normally). The settings are:

* Reservoir: 270
* Init. Limit: 270
* Turn Bonus: 200
* Action Bonus: 20

I normally don't play with a timer, so this normally wouldn't even be an issue for me, but after playing that game, it seems painfully obvious that for those that like to play with timers, the default settings should be something much more sane, if and only if for those that forget to set the timer to their preferred settings every time they start a new game.

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Sapient
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Sapient »

I'd like to improve the default timer settings since they were always just a rough estimate by me, although I did run it by Soliton and a few others and they seemed to like it.

My main intention with these defaults is to ensure that players who want to enjoy a "brisk" game of Wesnoth on a average-sized map are easily able to do so. There should be a comfortable amount of time as long as you are purposefully giving the board your full attention and not deliberating laboriously over every single move of every unit during your turn. By moving at the brisk pace which is desired, you should also acquire some reservoir time which covers you during really tense moments when you need to take that extra time to plan a cautious retreat or totally rethink an attack plan.

For me, the current default settings acheive this, however the nature of the action bonus-- which allows flexibility when army sizes have changed-- also imposes a harsh penalty if you totally deplete the timer. The inability to complete the moves of some units will compound itself by denying you their action bonus. It is possible to recover yourself from a totally depleted timer in my experience, although your play will obviously suffer during that very rushed turn where you are forced to make up for lost time.

Once the "brisk" pace is realized, I think this additional penalty effect on timer depletion is really not a problem since the reservoir does its job of allowing some turns to take longer than others. Admittedly, this additional penalty effect on timer depletion is still NOT a desired feature, but it seems difficult to avoid. We can lessen the effect by increasing per turn bonus, as you suggested. I feel you may be correct that the default per turn bonus is currently too low. However, by raising it too far, we weaken the promise of a brisk game.

Imagine for example that your opponent is down to his last unit, his leader. Is 200-220 seconds really a reasonable amount of time to move that one guy? If so, then we can accept the settings you just proposed.

I am curious to see what settings were used during the Tournament of Champions (if any).
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Aethaeryn
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Aethaeryn »

I once played with timer on a 4v4 map. This timer went down when I hesitated at the start (I don't like Knalgans, I'm an offensive player), making me rushed for the rest of the game. If my nearest opponent didn't suicide three Dwarvish Fighters by having them attack one of mine from grass and fail, I would've lost it due to the timer. I'm not quite sure how it works, but I think a first-turn bonus setting would help as I tend to play slow, but slowest on my first turn. Without better timer settings, I'll stay away from long games like the mainline 8p and 9p games...
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Sapient
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Sapient »

Aethaeryn wrote:I once played with timer on a 4v4 map. This timer went down when I hesitated at the start (I don't like Knalgans, I'm an offensive player), making me rushed for the rest of the game. If my nearest opponent didn't suicide three Dwarvish Fighters by having them attack one of mine from grass and fail, I would've lost it due to the timer. I'm not quite sure how it works, but I think a first-turn bonus setting would help as I tend to play slow, but slowest on my first turn.


What you are proposing then is an increase to the "initial time"... this is possible, but of course the timer can not take into consideration whether you never liked Knalgans before. It would defeat the promise of a brisk game if we must always assume that the players are using an unfamiliar faction every time. I don't think that's a desirable goal for us to model with the default timer settings.
Aethaeryn wrote: Without better timer settings, I'll stay away from long games like the mainline 8p and 9p games...
You mean without better defaults? Or are your desired values really ourside of the available range?

Another thing: this was a game with 7 other players right? In a game like that, I will often have most of my moves planned by the time my turn arrives. If you want a leisurely game which includes chat and frequent interruptions, then you should *not* be using the default timer settings. In fact, you may not want to use the timer at all (as you stated).
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Fosprey
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Fosprey »

I personally dislike ladder time.
I would like a timer more based on on units you have, but it should work isntantly, so you move it, you get the time, so you can keep the resvoir, low, but you can use your unit movement just to get a very high reservoir, but it can give you time to tink that turn.

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Aethaeryn
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Aethaeryn »

Sapient wrote:What you are proposing then is an increase to the "initial time"... this is possible, but of course the timer can not take into consideration whether you never liked Knalgans before. It would defeat the promise of a brisk game if we must always assume that the players are using an unfamiliar faction every time. I don't think that's a desirable goal for us to model with the default timer settings.
It's still a disadvantage, especially a player 1 disadvantage on a fogged game - all the other players can think on p1's turn and don't need to waste down their timer but p1 has the disadvantage of having to think fast on its initial recruits.
Sapient wrote:You mean without better defaults? Or are your desired values really ourside of the available range?
I think the problem is not many people understand how the timer works, thus requiring good defaults.
Sapient wrote:Another thing: this was a game with 7 other players right? In a game like that, I will often have most of my moves planned by the time my turn arrives. If you want a leisurely game which includes chat and frequent interruptions, then you should *not* be using the default timer settings. In fact, you may not want to use the timer at all (as you stated).
I was player 1. As said before, I couldn't think before my turn arrives, thus eating my timer.
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greywolfexcel
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by greywolfexcel »

Sapient wrote:I'd like to improve the default timer settings since they were always just a rough estimate by me, although I did run it by Soliton and a few others and they seemed to like it.
Great! :)
Sapient wrote:My main intention with these defaults is to ensure that players who want to enjoy a "brisk" game of Wesnoth on a average-sized map are easily able to do so. There should be a comfortable amount of time as long as you are purposefully giving the board your full attention and not deliberating laboriously over every single move of every unit during your turn. By moving at the brisk pace which is desired, you should also acquire some reservoir time which covers you during really tense moments when you need to take that extra time to plan a cautious retreat or totally rethink an attack plan.

For me, the current default settings acheive this, however the nature of the action bonus-- which allows flexibility when army sizes have changed-- also imposes a harsh penalty if you totally deplete the timer. The inability to complete the moves of some units will compound itself by denying you their action bonus. It is possible to recover yourself from a totally depleted timer in my experience, although your play will obviously suffer during that very rushed turn where you are forced to make up for lost time.

Once the "brisk" pace is realized, I think this additional penalty effect on timer depletion is really not a problem since the reservoir does its job of allowing some turns to take longer than others. Admittedly, this additional penalty effect on timer depletion is still NOT a desired feature, but it seems difficult to avoid. We can lessen the effect by increasing per turn bonus, as you suggested. I feel you may be correct that the default per turn bonus is currently too low. However, by raising it too far, we weaken the promise of a brisk game.
Ok, it seems that we have very different ideas on for what purpose the timer should be used. IMHO, timers are a good way of ensuring that players don't spend inordinate amounts of time checking and rechecking their moves. I played a 3v3 with Noy, Wintermute, and jb a few nights ago where one of my allies took turns of up to ~10 minutes, simply because he was checking positions, checking ZoC, rechecking damage, doing calculations, etc... He made the game much slower than it should have been; the ideal timer would have encouraged him to be more courteous (read: play faster) to players while still giving him plenty of time to move.
Sapient wrote:Imagine for example that your opponent is down to his last unit, his leader. Is 200-220 seconds really a reasonable amount of time to move that one guy? If so, then we can accept the settings you just proposed.
I don't know of anyone that purposely waits for their entire timer to run out; when their turn is done, they end it. I suppose it could take up to 60 seconds for someone to move 1 unit, but I can't say that has really ever happened to me.

I believe a timer is meant to be an encouragement for players to not take inordinate amount of time thinking/checking their moves. I don't really know anyone that would play with a timer for the pressure; having that looming over your head the whole time makes the pace of the game frantic, and less fun. Changing the defaults to something closer to an average turn (about 4-5 minutes, in my experience - your mileage may vary) would be a change for the better, I think. If players want a "brisk" game, they can turn the time allotted down; I really doubt that 40 secs - 1 minute resembles what the average player wants for their turn.

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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Sapient »

greywolfexcel wrote: I believe a timer is meant to be an encouragement for players to not take inordinate amount of time thinking/checking their moves. I don't really know anyone that would play with a timer for the pressure; having that looming over your head the whole time makes the pace of the game frantic, and less fun.
Chameleon_effect would play sometimes play with far less time than the defaults, IIRC, to create speed matches. But, that is not the goal of the default settings. You and I agree in general with the default purpose of the timer, but let me assure you that I have played multiple matches where the opponent would sometimes take more than 1 minute to move a single unit. I think we want to prevent that with the default settings, if possible.

Also, I have heard complaints of players who take excessive amounts of time each turn just to try to wear down their opponent into abandoning the matchup. We definitely like to minimize that effect with our default settings.
greywolfexcel wrote: Changing the defaults to something closer to an average turn (about 4-5 minutes, in my experience - your mileage may vary) would be a change for the better, I think. If players want a "brisk" game, they can turn the time allotted down; I really doubt that 40 secs - 1 minute resembles what the average player wants for their turn.
Umm... what gave you the impression that 40 secs to 1 minute is the current default setting? If you deplete your timer totally then maybe that is what you will have. But... that's why you start with 270 seconds and have the opportunity to build up a reservoir even higher.

In my experience the current defaults are far from "frantic," although I am open to the possibility of increasing the settings. I am also interested in what some of the ToC players think about this.
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TL
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by TL »

Sapient wrote:Umm... what gave you the impression that 40 secs to 1 minute is the current default setting?
Probably the fact that 40-60 seconds is the current default setting for many turns. I have to say I've never really understood the rationale behind the action bonus system; three units making a suicidal last-ditch charge are alloted twice as much time as a dozen units staging a tactical retreat (the former gets 40 seconds turn time + 39 action bonus, the latter gets just the 40 seconds with 0 action bonus). It almost seems like a calculated attempt to encourage rashness, since it rewards attacks but never provides any time allotment for maneuvering (except what you accumulate indirectly through attacking).

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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Sapient »

right, the reason you don't get an action bonus for just shuffling units around (or just having lots of units which aren't being moved at all) should be fairly obvious though... otherwise Northerners and Undead could game the timer system and then we would be talking in a thread where the topic was about the timer being "unfair" :?

Explain your "many turns" statement. Do you disagree with my statements about timer depletion? Or did you read them? If you are not playing at the minimum pace then eventually it will catch up to you and then you get "slammed" with timer depletion. However, if you avoid that by playing at the minimum pace (on average) then it shouldn't occur. So try to explain what you are complaining about more specifically please. Which setting do you find to be incorrect.
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by TL »

Sapient wrote:Explain your "many turns" statement.
It is not at all uncommon for a turn to go by in which only a couple of action bonus-worthy events occur. For each of these turns that happens, you are only budgeted 40-60 seconds worth of clock time. Yes, you have reservoir. In the long run you're still not allowed to spend much longer than 60 seconds a turn maneuvering, though; anything longer is not going to be sustainable except in short, highly aggressive games.

Yes, it's nice that the timer stops people from taking 4 and 5 minute turns over and over again (something I know I'm guilty of myself sometimes). But running at even 2 minutes a turn on average (hardly what I would call exhorbitant) means you are very likely to end up crashing your reservoir if the game lasts longer than 10-15 turns, as whatever reservoir time you build up in actual assaults is getting bled away turn by turn when you're not attacking all-out.

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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Sapient »

Ok, there seems to be a concensus emerging that the 30 second per Turn Bonus is too low. I can agree with that. 200 seems a bit high, though. What do you think it should be TL ? I'm leaning towards 50 seconds for the new value.
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by Wintermute »

I have had several bad experiences with the default timer settings, though I grant that they work for some styles of games. Replays of many ToC games show many turns where there are lots of units (all) moving without taking things or attacking. Those turns can destroy the game with the current timer settings. It could be argued that that is the fault of the player, but then that is implicitly encouraging a player to make moves for the sole purpose of gaining time - which is clearly a bad thing.

I remember one game (no replay, sorry), where I was in a situation where my opponent was forced to retreat for two turns, after which I could be certain that he had little to no time (like 30-60 sec) on his clock. I had plenty of time in this case, so I made a very careful attack that I would probablynot have otherwise made because I knew he would rush his response, not being able to think through the best moves for 15 units with less than a minute, and I would have plenty of time left (since I got all the action bonus for attacking). Sure enough, he was not able to counter me well, and the game spiraled out of control for him - exactly because the turn he needed time the most was the turn that the default timers settings give you the least amount of time relative to your opponent - right after a massive attack.

I have been on the other side of that matchup, and it's not fun. Personally, a high fixed timer (5 min say, as a default) would be a simple default setting that would work well for many people. However, if a more complicated timer is wanted, perhaps giving the defender a bonus when his units are attacked would at least be fair.
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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by TL »

I believe the current default for turn bonus is 40, actually. 50 wouldn't be bad, 60 would probably be better IMO. The present settings generally do a decent if modest job most of the time, although if both players are playing conservatively they can hurt pretty badly (but then, that type of playing tends to be associated with veteran players who probably can get by with tighter turns); the problem is that although the system allows you to build up a stockpile, you're not going to get the chance unless you play at a pretty rushed pace all the time. In a moderately aggressive game you can perhaps get by with taking 2 minutes every turn, so long as you never ever take any longer than that since you're not going to be able to accumulate any extra reservoir time that way. An extra 10-20 seconds each turn means you could take those 2 minute turns and get a cushion on top of that to take a few extra minutes here or there when things get tough, which I suspect is probably closer to what people would tend to think of as "brisk".

I still wouldn't mind seeing it go even higher, though. I agree that for the standards of "brisk" play you don't need to give a minimum of 3.5+ minutes for every turn, but I don't think aiming for a 3 or 3.5 minute average turn (say in the 90-100 turn bonus range) would hurt. I think people may tend to view the timer first and foremost as a way of potentially stopping 6+ minute turns, with not so much emphasis on keeping the average turn below the 3 minute mark (or stopping people from taking a minute and a half to move their 2 remaining units, for that matter). And more generous default settings on the timer may encourage more players to use the timer at all, which I think would generally be an improvement.

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Re: Default Timer Settings

Post by suokko »

How about making multiple default timer settings. Then default timer settings could be selected from drop down menu. Current sliders could be hidden and only shown if choosing advanced timer settings.

possible choices would be:
blitz
fast
normal (a bit slower than current defaults?)
slow
very slow (for Gallifax, if he really likes 10 minutes timer settings)


I don't have any interface mock up or time settings thought out. I don't usually play timer games.

It is true than relative new players can't play current default timer settings. They need some extra time to check for damages and movements etc because they can't know it from memory. Current defaults are generous enough for experienced player. At least I have rarely less than max time left after my turn.

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