Hey all! Corey Burkhart here with some updates to matchmaking and how ladder ranking functions in the battlegrounds. Most of these updates will go into effect with the release of Frostheart (The exception to this, is the sealed gauntlet change will come with a patch shortly thereafter). We’re excited to share these with you today since we believe they will greatly improve player experiences on the ladder.
We will be updating Sealed Gauntlet to be best two out of three games with reserves in an upcoming patch. We wanted to announce this now with the changes, as we’ve been taking feedback both from the data and the players participating in Sealed Gauntlets on how to improve them. This is an important change so that gauntlets will mirror one of our major tournament series, the HEX Clash. We found that many of the players participating in the HEX Clash used the Sealed Gauntlet to practice, and we wanted to accommodate those players with a gauntlet that reflects their needs.
The Draft gauntlets and Evolving Sealed gauntlets will remain unchanged. We’ve found that these are the best two queues at meeting the desires of our player base. That doesn’t mean that we won’t continue looking for ways to improve these formats, but we feel currently they’re doing a great job at bringing the experience the players are looking for to life. Again, this change is not coming out with Frostheart’s release, but will be in a patch shortly thereafter.
As with the matchmaking we offer, we’re always looking for ways to improve our existing systems. With Frostheart, we’re implementing several changes to improve the play experience of all players climbing the ladder.
This improvement starts at the base. At the core of it, the ladder system has struggled with player pairing focusing on getting the fastest matches possible rather than on the best possible match experience for you, the player. Upon review, we wanted to create a system that could provide both—fast matches against relatively evenly skilled opponents. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, since the more restrictive you make a match-making system the longer it takes to find an opponent. We don’t want players waiting for minutes at a time to find an opponent, so a delicate balance needed to be made if we wanted you to battle against as evenly skilled opponents as we could find.
To compound the issue, we wanted to provide a change that works for both Limited and Constructed. Currently, the Limited ladder doesn’t pair you against someone based upon an external rating. Instead, we pair you based on your record within the gauntlet you’re currently running. This is important because each Limited tournament has numerous variables that make it difficult to smoothly integrate an external rating system. Each Limited tournament is different, and the decks you play may vary greatly in power from one gauntlet to the next. Furthermore, players play limited for all sorts of different reasons. Some are looking to just get into the game for the first time, others are looking to build their collection in a fun way. Some play to qualify for the Cosmic Crown Showdown (CCS), while other’s play for the fun of it. We needed to have our systems accommodate an exceptionally wide range of desires and personalities.
So what does that actually mean for you? To break this down, I’m going to get into some specifics of the math behind the ladder and how we calculate the rating used to rate people in Cosmic.
The ladder formula uses a modified ELO formula. We take the ratings of the two players, and have them fight for the other’s points based on the differences in their ratings. For each game a player wins, they take points from the loser. There’s one part of this formula called the “K-Value.” This is the amount of weight a tournament is worth. When a player wins or loses a match, the K-Value is the maximum a player could ever win or lose. Up until now, we’ve made all tournaments worth the same amount, but we’ve found that a little motivation in guiding players of different skill levels won’t prevent players from playing, but will instead help them find better overall matches.
Thus, with Frostheart, we’re making the following changes:
K-Value by format:
Before these changes, a major problem with the ladder was that rating is a function of time. With everything worth the same amount of rating, the best way to play a match if you are a CCS shark was to play the tournament that takes the least amount of time. Thus, we saw many of our top end player’s playing as many Evolving Sealed Gauntlets as they could. Evo is many things—it’s a best of one format filled with constantly changing decks that’s quick, fun, and exciting. Players of all skill levels love it, but it shouldn’t be the default format for everyone all the time.
The old ladder system demanded you play as much as you could as quickly as possible, and we want to move away from that. We’re confident that altering these K-Values will incentivize those players looking to grind rating efficiently to move towards the Sealed and the Draft Gauntlets, while the players not looking to grind rating can play whatever it is they’re in the mood for.
With this change, we’ve also slightly adjusted the incentive for playing matches. To prevent players from sitting on their rating and feeling like they should not play HEX to protect their current rank, we adjusted the formula slightly to benefit those formats that take a little more time to get going (I’m looking at you draft gauntlet). Because you have the time waiting for the draft to fire and the time it takes to draft the cards, we altered the formula slightly in favor of ratings for this format. Therefore, players looking to grind rating should feel very comfortable that their time spent in the draft gauntlet is well worth their while.
That’s all I have for the Frostheart matchmaking and ladder updates. We constantly check in on the forums to hear what you, the players, have to say about the current state of things as well as your suggestions to improve them and take all the feedback you have to heart. We know that you’re exceptionally passionate, just like we are, about HEX, and we want to make sure we offer to you the best experiences that we can.
See you on the new and improved ladder!