Well, this is it. Less than 7 hours left. I used a sick day to apply for a promotion, find a new health insurer (yeah, kids, I'm old and responsible), and try to win Deadpool. Here's how it's running.

Woke Up This Morning And Had Reason to Freak Out!

Deadpool Dialogue 1

The voices in my head say that this is a sane plan.

Never you mind what I'm running for AFK. You don't want to know, as it lost over 300 points last night. At the Adamantium League level, (and really the top half of Vibranium, unless you have an overwhelming Armory bonus, defense is almost futile. Set your guys up where they could do some damage if your agent goes first, or run a team I'll call Stunners (Emma + Quicksilver) and if you're lucky, you'll win 20% of fights, and lose a large number of points due to distribution.

Before we complain overmuch about the matching while we're AFK (it's painful) let's look at something.

The Normal Distribution. It's everywhere, man.

This guy here is the Normal Distribution. This might be more math than you want, but you clicked on my blog, I didn't click on yours. Oh, and you can always scroll past.

The Normal Distribution is everywhere that things are randomly distributed with enough repetitions. Now, people's PVP scores are not randomly distributed. They are mostly earned. But, because PVP is a zero sum game with a midpoint, the distribution of PVP scores probably fits the normal distribution anyway. When you are ranked at +2 or higher, there are a lot more people below you than above you. Let's call +2 an ELO of 1400. Let's pretend that the range of people it can match you with +/- 200 (I know this isn't true, but it'll illustrate the point). There are a lot more people under the curve to the left (below) +2 than there are above, even if we say that +1.5 is 200 points below and +3 is 200 points above. By random distribution, you will be matched with more people below you than above. It makes getting ahead very hard and staying ahead nigh impossible at high level. So, the way to beat it is by playing more! Good for Playdom, as you might be tempted to buy some challenge points to finish strong. Either way.

But I Kept Calm and Carried On

That's just what to do

So, what do you do when you wake up with a goal of being in the top 1000 (something requiring 1860 points at this writing) and being outside the top 4000 and <1650 points. Well, you keep calm. You send an email to the boss and take the day off (would have been better to do this on Friday, but whatever, I'm never sick and I have a month of sick leave). Then, you get something to eat (Men's Health Mix of Planters Nuts... 2 oz). Then, get iTunes up, playing an interesting mix and go to work.

What resources did I have:

  1. 5 challenges to start.
  2. 50 challenge points in gifts.
  3. 50 allies to collect from.
  4. 5 x 5 challenge points from the free stuff page.
  5. All the challenge points that will accrue from time.
  6. A lot of gold that I don't want to use.

So, I went to work, starting with the five from overnight:

ELO Ranking
1640 4200
1651 3909
1671 3420
1677 3297
1689 3051
1689 3048
1698 2901

Then I went and played two rounds of 7.3 (I know, I'm farming 9.6, but I'm experimenting with 7.3). 6 CP and a Chrono Accelerator later, and I come back to PVP to -46. Whoa, this is gonna be hard. Back to it with ally bonus collection. I am annoyed that Playdom took this time to introduce trick or treating to ally houses. I am annoyed because it shifts balance to the boy scouts who were prepared (I know... I'm the king of prep, but two consecutive Spec Ops, an impulsive nature, and the three day extension mucked my planning) and those willing to spend gold.

I should take a moment here and break down my valuation on spending gold here. I haven't spent gold on CP in a long time, so that's a hard comparison, but let's use it. I'd value 1 gold as worth 3 CP (I know, you buy 2 of them for 1 gold), because I can get them pretty much at will and keep a stock on hand. Let's assume Deadpool will be released for 90 CP (ASSUME... I don't know anything about it, and neither do you). That's 30 gold. But I hate Deadpool. If it's Gold or Die, I suppose I could spend no more than 20 gold to obtain Deadpool and feel that I'm getting out ahead.

But, I'm getting way ahead of myself... here's the Ally Collection (and freebies while claiming ally bonus):

ELO Ranking
1652 3887
1657 3764
1677 3331
1690 3070
1707 2761
1726 2436
1724 2477
1744 2184
1752 2074
1776 1780
1790 1641
1797 1566
1814 1398
1804 1500
1811 1434
1816 1393
1830 1267
1843 1162
1835 1219
1846 1134
1856 1048
1864 983
1871 905
1832 1235
1819 1378
1826 1206
1839 1178
1853 1066
1856 1040
1866 943
1873 890
1885 776
1896 666
1888 826
1892 722

Wow, that's a lot of fights. In there, there are no offensive losses. Not one. There are AFK losses (and a couple wins), which is why they drop down even while winning. Remember our bell curve. We are more likely to be matched against someone below us the closer we get to the top. And in the top 1000, you are very near the top, considering that roughly 2.6 million players entered the tournament. There was also a flash crash (1896->1888 which was actually a flash crash, an AFK win and an AFK loss).

But there I was, in the top 1000. Silly, I decided to use one of my five challenge point coins. Silly, because the action will intensify, and I will only have to make something back later with fewer resources. But I did it, and used some frees accumulated after using the 5 and some of the gifts.

ELO Ranking
1884 (LOSS) 785
1900 658
1910 593
1925 489
1938 409
1916 541
1932 440
1946 362
1956 309
1970 258
1945 (LOSS) 360
1969 258

I've noticed that the PVP AFK AI may have been tweaked to be a bit less aggressive. I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but it makes it easier to win on offense, and you CAN control how many offensive attacks you make. You cannot control how often you are attacked (and I am picked a lot).

So, at this point, inside the top .0001%. I've been higher, but I don't see the point in pushing it with as much time as is left. We are less than 5 hours at this point and I cannot push a lead that will be insurmountable. Assume the safe line will be 1900. To survive a full night of attacks, that would require at least 2200. I have been trying for a few days to get to that height, and I hit walls at 1950 and 2050 where I get matched against a lot of tough lowbies and get hit on the defensive side pretty hard. I spent most of yesterday pushing through an 1850 wall, a 1950 wall and a 2050 wall. Over the 2050, I could not get. Then down to 1900 five hours later. Back to 2000+, but <300+ overnight. Gotta finish strong. But be in position in two to three hours to finish strong. So, let's save resources here. (while writing this up, I'm down 54 points, and ranked 562nd).


  • Challenge points time provides
  • 46 single challenge points from gifts
  • 4 * 5 challenge points
  • Up to 60 battles purchased with gold
  • Over 140 possible fights. Yoiks.

Under Two Hours Left... The Don't Panic Thing Might Not Work Out So Well

I'm fond of saying, "Don't panic, there will be plenty of time for that later." Well, with under two hours remaining, I am under heavy fire. I have had 8 fights in my last 15 where my score went down despite winning because I'm getting multiple attacks while I'm attacking. This is why I wanted to build a buffer earlier, but I don't think I could build it high enough. This is going to mean Plan B goes into effect.

Plan B is to crush very hard in the last 45 minutes. This means fighting very fast. With a bit of luck, I can make it. But it means suspending logging of fights. Sorry.

Right now, I'm on the cusp of Adamantium, which has moved to 1880 or so, and might go up to 1900. I can get to 1900. I know I can.

Under 24 Minutes and I'm Not Panicking... I'm Frenzied

Top 500 with 23 minutes to go. There is hope.What it's like is a lot like treading water. You win, but you lose an AFK match, so you stay in place, or go up a bit or down a bit. It's crazy but I'm floating at the middle point of the top 1000. You have to play very fast to do this, because there are a lot of people who belong in the top 1000... Maybe 2000 maybe more. But only some of them will win the lottery among us marginal top .0001%.

14 minutes to go and I just popped my last 5 pack. I bought one 3 pack for two gold before, but I think this will be mostly free.

8 minutes to go, 492nd... cannot stop the play... can't really take the break to write.

Under 5 and top 400... reloading because the 5's mess with the timer on Challenge Points. Under 4 minutes. 13 minutes to next free one. I'm gonna let it sit for a minute.

And I think I hung on. Game reset now.

and ...

How sweet it is.

I did it.

True that.

The Final Tally

  • Agent Level - 204
  • Rating - 1935
  • Rank - 471st
  • League - Adamantium
  • Fights in Tournament - 2838
    • 1512-1326 (53%)

Things I Learned

There's a strategy for everything and there's a counter to every strategy. Yep. But that said, some things are way more annoying than others. I use some of them, under the principle of it being better to use annoying stuff than get punked by annoying stuff. But, somethings are set up so that any hairless ape could use them, while others require some brains. I am not for the nerf of the brain things, but the any ape category...

  1. P5 Emma's Passive - There is no accounting for it, other than to assume it will always work whenever you put a crucial debuff on someone. I don't mind it removing the four basic debuffs. But Stuns should go ahead of Cosmic Power and damaging debuffs should as well. It also shouldn't clear targetting features.
    1. It's not bad when Emma has to do this manually, because she can't do it every turn, and she burns a turn to do it. But when it's passive and random, it should be tweaked for timing.
  2. Grief. I have every expectation that it's damage will be scaled downwards ere too long. Or a coolup or cooldown put on it, to prevent the old "Agent goes first, Quantum Jumps his whole team, gets Emma's buff, and then murders the whole team with four stealthy area of effect attacks.
    1. Another idea would be to remove Stealthy.
    2. Another idea would be to fix how counter attacking works so that they respond to stealthy.
      1. I dunno that any of those are great, but the weapon is a wee bit broken at the moment.
  3. Mockingbird. She needs a turns limit. Something like fatigue that will keep her from getting 3 turns in this sequence: Colossus Smash, Mock turns Blaster, Critical Intel, attack Colossus, Tact Agent attacks Blaster Mock, Mock gets Tactical Insight, goes Infiltrator, attacks Colossus, Critical Intel processes, Blaster Mock attacks Colossus, and agent gets a followup turn, where he goes P4-attack Mock, Mock changes, jumps him again, and gets a fourth free turn before her actual turn.
  4. The matching engine is cruel. I understand some of the cruelty, but it could do better.

Then there's stuff I actually learned that was good. For the next one, I am sandbagging and playing the absolute minimum PVP until the last week, when I will work very hard to push to 2200 where I can ride the last day a wee bit more gently. I got matched with 2200+ people about three times today. I played way over 150 fights on offense. That says something about the paradise that the 2250 and above see, that I never get to experience.

There is value to picking a good team on offense and playing it a lot. I changed my strategy about halfway through the tournament from the Need for Speed team that I had been running for months and the Dark Rush team that I ran at the end. When you play a team with a particular strategy, you first start playing it by rote, especially if it's characters that you don't use a lot. Rote play with a good team is okay, but as you gain more experience, you learn when to ditch the script and do other things. I have a good feel for that with Invisible Woman and Colossus, and even with the NfS agent. I am developing that feel for Emma Frost and the DR Agent. Dark Rush is a little more complicated than Need For Speed, and really, I could have gone back to Need For Speed once Grief became the dominant weapon (IW's shields are more consistent than Emma's Stun, in a tanking environment). But I'm getting far off topic. I did better than I thought I could in this tournament because I play a lot of PVP with the same team and developed an understanding of how that team works.

Coming Soon

A Boyscout Guide to the next PVP tournament with some strategy, and possibly a more thorough blog on the metagame that I saw at the end of the the tournament, and how to counter it.

Post Script - Two Months Later

They did tone down Grief with a damage reduction and a 1 round cooldown, so you couldn't spam it with Power of Four. They put a turns limit on Mockingbird. And now they have tweaked the matching engine a couple of ways to reduce the cruelty. They also made changes to the speed meta which has removed much of the "First Agent to Go Wins" angst that marked the first tournament. I don't work for playdom, but I might have a reader or two who do.

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