Into the Record Books: January 2019


Yeah. January was… Interesting. Perhaps between holiday recovery or cold weather we only saw 1029 games. That’s actually the lowest number of recorded tournament games since, well, last January.

Sometimes I question the tea leaves, but let’s see how I can spin this shall we?

Played Rate:


Butchers continue to be eternally popular at 11.1%. That number has been pretty stable. This was true even when the team was subpar in season 3, so I doubt we see a slow down now that they’re perceived to be among the strongest teams you can play. Hunters also continue to be a solid pick at 9.0%. Turns out it is still fun to play with bears and shotguns. Blacksmiths round us out at 8.4%, which as we’ll discuss later, might be higher than they deserve.

I believe the most interest developments here are Farmers and Navigators. For Farmers a lot of folks considered them a little on the boring side on the onset of the season, but now they make up a good 9.1% of the field and their results seem pretty solid. The good ol Navigators have shot up to an incredible 8.6%. This is the highest played rate for a minor guild in quite some time, maybe ever. I think a part of that is due to their very high early success rate, but even more so might be simple pent up demand. Folks have been dying to get these models on the pitch for what… like almost 6 months now? I know I wrote my navigator article in August. I think has held up pretty well.


There’s not a whole lot of change from last month in the mid field. Perhaps the most interesting story is the rise in Brewers, which may be directly tied to the previous month’s success? Folks are finally starting to realize the drunks might not be so bad. Also of note is the heavy decline in mortician play rate since the start of S4. Personally I still feel like scalpel might be one of the strongest captains in the game, but I do believe they’re likely hard to pilot. Maybe that is keeping folks away. Fish and Alchemists end fairly stable at 8.3% and 7.8% respectively. Masons continue to ping pong back and forth ending at 5.7% of the field this month.


On the low end of the spectrum we also don’t see a whole ton of movement. Almost all of these teams ending within less than one percent of where they were in the previous month. As mentioned before, I believe we can expect a solid shot in the arm for at least the minors come errata season.

Win Rate:


Fish Represent! Topping the chart at 55.9% this month. Everyone was underselling you at the start of the season, but I knew you’d stay strong. Way to go boys. Way to go. From here we see navigators dip slightly, as expected, down to 55.1%. Beyond this I start to get confused.

First of all, morticians are the only “big 3” still remaining in the top tiers of win rates. As mentioned above I think lesser skilled players stay away which is allowing them to remain above 500 at 53.0%.

Second, Engineers and Union coming in at 53.8% and 54.5%?? What the hell? Cogs have been suffering for like six months or more and all the sudden decide to sky rocket past everyone? With barely any Season 4 changes mind you? And Union continues their epic rollercoaster ride with a staggering 13% increase over December? It makes me wonder if some high level players up and decided they wanted a challenge. I’m all ears if you’re able to point out the reason for this. Maybe the low play rate lets good players impact their wins more? Who is championing these dudes anyway?


Hunters and Butchers both decline in January to 52.4% and 50.9%. I’m not really sure what to make of this, particularly given butchers are barely over 50%. I’d say gaining lesser skilled players? But their play rates are decreasing as well. Maybe higher skilled players, feeling confident in their mastery, have moved to other guilds? I know of anecdotal evidence where that is specifically true. For instance my good friend Mike Klein was rocking hunters and then switched to brewers. I know Alex Botts ran Farmers in an event this month. Beyond that I don’t have much proving such an interaction. Again it could just be lower than usual numbers making things wonky.

Order and Alchemists see a pretty decent spike in wins. Order gained almost 10% and alchemists gain 5% up to 51.6%, about in line with initial projections. Order continues to confuse me. It seems they shouldn’t be very good, and they aren’t, but sometimes they’ve had some nice little peaks. Farmers continue their steady climb as well, matching their play rate. They’re up to 52.9%.


NEW RECORD – RING THE BELL! Piper said he would not be out done by Devana! He crashes to a brand new all-time lowest win record of 25%! Incredible. I am about tired of adjusting the lower end of this axis guys. What’s even more surprising is the long lamented falconers took flight to a whopping 18% increase in wins to land at 47.2%. Fly Eagles fly!

Blacksmiths continue to trudge along at 42.4%. It always feels to me like Blacksmiths just have some fundamental design issues (positional, activation order) which skilled players understand how to exploit.

We do see Masons and Brewers, who were both riding pretty high in December, take pretty substantial dives this month. They each lost about 10% to end at 39.8% and 46.9%.


Victory Index:


The good ol Victory index looks really really nice this month. Much more equitable than early Season 4. As a reminder this is raw wins determined by games played times win rate. It kind of gives you a feel of how top tables are likely to shake out.

Butchers, although they lost 2% of the pie, are still king here gobbling up 11% of the total wins for the month. Farmers were more than happy to pick it up. Fish remain unchanged while hunters and morticians both give up ground to Navigators storming their way to 9% of the global wins. With their reasonably strong play and win rate it would seem to me you might want to start practicing some games against good ol Winfinder. You’re pretty likely to run into her in later rounds. It kind of seems like you need to have a solid game plan into most things these days. This is probably better for the game overall.


Special Feature – Correlation:

This month I wanted to take some time to see if there is truly any correlation between played rate and win rate. This is a bit harder math so hopefully I do a reasonable job explaining this. The idea is to figure out if you all are really a bunch of power gamers after. Maybe we can see which teams have an opportunity for growth in their player base. I harvested the entire Season 4 data, from 10/17/18 forward, and plotted each guild.


There is a clear trend here. The regression isn’t incredibly strong, given an R-Square of only .3612, but if you remove the navigators it actually doubles to .6698. That’s pretty impressive actually. It would seem there is a reasonable correlation between how strong a guild is and how much it gets played. Now you might think this is a no brainer, but it goes to show you a lot of people really will gravitate towards what they consider strong. Perhaps game balance really is more important to people than aesthetic and price point…

To interpret a little further, everything below the trend line could be considered “overrepresented” or “underperforming”. That is to say for the number of people piloting the guild, you’d think their win rate would be stronger. I think the poster child of this is blacksmiths. It would seem a whole lot more people are dropping these guys than they ought to. Some theorize their high-fantasy aesthetic and low buy-in make them an attractive choice for new players. It’s actually funny Falconers and Rat catchers also fall into this category. For as little as they get played, if win rate is a predictor, they really should be played even less. Hilarious.

On the other side of the line we see the teams which might be considered underplayed or maybe have an opportunity to pick up some more players. Hunters and Morticians still outperform butchers in this way, which could be chalked up to ease of play I suppose. Maybe some of you meat heads need to make the jump to something a little more mentally taxing? I do feel early season 4 predictions vastly undersold fish and farmers too.

It is pretty amazing though to see the majority of the teams so close to that line. I think it proves how sensitive people can be to results and opinions of top local and international players. I also know that SFG pays attention to played rate, so I wonder if this is proof enough Guilds which see a disproportionate amount of play may need to be toned down a little. Ultimately though, as interesting as this is, it doesn’t predict everything. I know it is easy in this game to own multiple teams, but at the end of the day there is a barrier of entry which can suppress change. There’s also personal preference and playstyle to consider.

One thing I think we can all take away from this is to be willing to branch out and try new things. It’s always good to see a match from the other team’s perspective. While drilling your own guild is important, having a deeper understanding of the rest of the game can benefit your decision making and reaction time as well. My early 2019 goal is to get better at the fighting game. I’ve been suffering through learning Butchers. I’ve not found myself enjoying them all that much. I dig Fillet but have had some personal disagreements with Ox. I’ve been able to win with good fundamentals, but when I lose it’s because I wasn’t patient enough with the team. However! The good news is I’ve learned that lesson and the value it brings with it! I’ve started to learn how to approach the game in a different manner, and as such, how to break that manner apart.

So try something new! Even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy it there are always new lessons to learn. Plus you can always jump back to fish in the end.

Oh. By the way. Errata is supposedly coming in March so make the best out of February guys. This might be your last chance before Perkins smashes your guild to bits.


Until next time folks!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s