Monday, October 31, 2011


When I first played the card game Dominion, I was "less than overwhelmed". Eventually the game grew on me to the point where a year later, I was playing in a tournament. Other than a weekly lunchtime game, I don't get much chance to play face-to-face. That's why I've been enjoying playing on-line at the Isotropic server.

There's been a long-promised official on-line version, but in the meantime, Isotropic fills the void nicely. It supports all of the released cards (often within hours of their release), and it is in fact used by the game designer and developers to playtest new expansions. There's a nice "auto-match" feature where you can tell it how many players you want to play with, and which expansions you prefer, and it sets up a game with other players.

This being a site by and for gamers, there's a "meta-game" of ranking; it uses an algorithm to determine how good you are based on how well you play against players of various rankings. What I find interesting is that it gives you both an estimated rating and a "plus/minus" error range. Then it awards you a "level" on the basis of the lowest part of that range.

So you start out with an estimated rating of 25 (the average), but an uncertainty of 25. Thus, your starting level is 0. As you play, the uncertainty is reduced -- but as a new player, you may find that your play is somewhat below average. Hopefully, your level moves up over time.

On Sunday, my estimated rating was 33.495 with a plus/minus of 19.492, netting me a level of 14. That's down from Saturday's level of 15. The drop is probably a result of a game Saturday night which was almost finished when I bumped my laptop battery on the side of a chair, turning the computer off and disconnecting a turn or two before the end of a game where I think I was doing pretty well. That's OK, though -- I'm sure I've benefited from others' inadvertent disconnections, too.

Yesterday, during the sad, sad Redskins game, I played three 3-player games. I won the first two, and came in second in the third one. Coming in second shouldn't have hurt me too much -- the opposition was ranked fairly high, and the ranking system counts it as a win over the player who came in third, and a loss to the first-place guy.

Looking at the leaderboard now, I see I moved up to 16th level. Encouragingly, that was more due to my rating creeping up to 35.195, and less due to my plus/minus dropping to 18.899. My total of 27 games is very small. I'm ranked #1609 overall. #1608 has played 577 games, and #1610 has played 1220. So I'm hoping if I can find more time to play, I can move my level into the twenties.

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