Monday, March 12, 2007

Banging my head against the new rules...

I am in the middle of two FABs. One for a returning league and one for the Koufax Champions league. Suffice it to say, so far, I'm ready to toss both the new "FAB Blackout" period and new calculation of GM Rating points out of the game.

The "FAB Blackout" is supposed to help prevent last minute poaching of players by randomly blacking out a team's ability to bid on a player after 75% of his time On The Market ("OTM") has expired. When I first read about the FAB Blackout option, I was puzzled as to why it was necessary given the penalties during the FAB for submitting offers to players during their final 10% of time OTM or why those penalties were not just increased if they had proven to be ineffective. But, I had an open mind. After 2 rounds of signings in 1 league and 1 round in the Champions league, I am now convinced that the FAB blackout timing needs to be adjusted. Let me use a real life example of what I mean and why I say that. I had put a competitive contract offer to a star player and received a +1 GM point and the ability to make 1 additional offer. My status remained "yellow" relative to that player until I went to sleep last night. I awoke this morning, got ready, went to work and eventually found a moment to check to see how things were going. I found that player was now "red" relative to my offer, which overnight had been outbid and was now no longer competitive. But, no worries I thought because I still had my ability to make one additional offer. I went to make an additional offer but found the player to be in "Blackout" though still a couple of hours away from being inside the last 10% (This was on a 24 hour scale). Somewhat paniced, I assumed that "random blackouts" meant that a player would go in and out of blackout periods. In this case, the player stayed in blackout until he signed and I was left unable to even have the opportunity to make my second offer, which I earned by making a competitive bid to begin with.

With owners of teams potentially spanning timezones that may be 3 hours or more apart, the FAB Blackout should be limited to the last 10% of a player's time OTM. Presumably, that is when the last minute "poaching" of players occurs. In a 24 hour FAB period as was the case here, the difference between 6 hours left (i.e. 75% of OTM expired) and 2.4 houes (i.e. 90% of OTM expired) is significant. In this case, thats the difference between someone on the East Coast checking the status of the FAB and updating his offers at the end of the morning before going to lunch versus someone on the west coast having just arrived at work after waking up, getting ready, taking the kids to school, etc. By the time the person on the west coast has a chance to check the FAB progress, the player may be blacked out. Granted, the same thing could occur in a given circumstance if the FAB Blackout was limited to the last 10% of a player's time OTM but the chances of it occuring are less. But, that would still stop teams from coming in at the last second to grab a player.

The final indignity of this also shows the problem with the new allocation of points for the GM Rating. As I recall from last year, teams were given GM points for competitive offers and lost GM points for non-competitive offers, rescinding offers and lowering offers. As I was making my way through the first wave of signings, I found my GM rating flucuating up and down more than I recall. When I checked on it, I found that I was losing (-1) GM points for players I had bid on but did not get and getting (+1) bonus points for players I offered a contract to and did sign. I don't recall this being part of the GM Rating from last year. I guess this was put in to keep teams from bidding on a lot of players to run up their GM Rating. I suppose there is some logic to that. The problem is that the "reward" of +1 bonus point for signing one player does not compensate for the losing other players and, more importantly, fails to reward good GM Management. For example, in my case above, I initially put in a competitive offer and received a +1 GM Point. A significantly better offer subsequently came in. Even assuming the FAB Blackout had not been in place and I had been able to make another offer, should I and all the other teams that bid on that player lose 1 GM Point each if another team made a ridiculous offer? Not to mention that the team making the ridiculous offer gets rewarded with +1 GM Point. In any given FAB, a team is going to budget what it thinks each player is worth based on position scarcity, the money it has to spend and what money the other teams have to spend. This new bonus point structure penalizes teams that make a budget and stick to it even if it means losing a particular player but rewards teams that overspend on a given player. Is that being a good GM? Should overspending be rewarded as such? Perhaps a better solution would be to award the +1 GM point for signing a player but not penalize the teams that make initially competitive offers that subsequently are not accepted by the player. This would give teams an extra incentive to sign players they bid on but not penalize them for showing good fiscal sense. Teams bidding on a lot of players just to improve their GM Rating would also continue to run the risk of getting stuck with players at prices they may not have wanted and/or having to rescind contract offers, which would damage their GM Rating as well.


Fargo Highlife said...

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Both these new rules are ineffective and counter-productive.

gamedaygeorge said...

Just like any new space, you are bumping into unfamilar things! You've hit on two of our more key rule updates for 2007, and so you can be assured that your comments/suggestions are being read.

The good news is that the blackouts are a league option which your league can turn off. During beta testing, and in early FABs we've gotten feedback indicating that blackouts were an improvement and an effecitve countermeasure against last minute sniping. However this hasn't been the experience of all users, as you've expressed

As for the GM rating updates, generally the ratio of the number of unsigned to signed offers is 2:1, so your GM rating will be more variable. But across the site, we've found that GM ratings are still increasing, be it less quickly. There was a strong feeling that it was too easy to get a high GM rating, because the information that you could get with a high GM rating was too potent. GM rating is just one of the tools you can use to try and build the best team - not all 'real world' GM's are 'nice guys', and wouldn't necessairly have high GM ratings, but they still build winners.

All that said, great post. Lots of interesting thoughts in there. If you want a more complete debate of either of these issues, I suggest you post them in the game forum, and I'm sure you'll get a lively response.