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  1. - Top - End - #151
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    It also presupposes that judges read judgments posted by others prior to posting their own scores; I can assure you not all judges do that.
    Yes, if judges all don't read each others comments until after they wrote theirs, that would negate potential biasing. That being said, with public posts, we have no guarantee left or right.

    @Seerow: I think the question of timeliness is a far more interesting and relevant one. It might be worth it to court risk in favour of keeping things moving.

    The format of judging is how it has been handled for 50+ iterations of Iron Chef and 20+ iterations of Zinc Saucier and there have not been any issues of bias to my knowledge.

    .....

    Believe me, I would have scored these builds the same way whether I was first or second or third, etc.
    The point of these things is that they're subtle.
    See: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lj/the_halo_effect/
    and http://lesswrong.com/lw/j7/anchoring_and_adjustment/
    and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandwagon_effect

    You probably don't realize you do these things, and you probably do. That's what all our modern research in psych/neuropsych/behavioural psych/behavioural economics shows.

  2. - Top - End - #152
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    dysprosium's Avatar

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    When I was in college (early 90s), a reading assignment I had was an essay rather similar to the halo effect web article you posted.

    The gist of that essay (of which I cannot remember its name) was that people cannot make their own decsions or have their own opinion when anyone tells them anything about the thing the people are looking at or thinking about. An example that was used was one person telling someone else that the Mona Lisa is a great painting. Now the person already has an idea in their head that the Mona Lisa is a great painting even without knowing or seeing it.

    Point is there, that I understand the point you are trying to make. I did not make my judgements based upon NoACWarrior's post. There is no way for me to prove that to you (or anyone else) because you cannot prove a negative. The only thing I see between my scores and NoACWarrior's scores are that the two he scored the highest were the two I scored the highest and the two he scored the lowest were the two I scored the lowest.

    Actually looking again at my scores, I have a clear front runner with the next three builds closer together in scores.

    A third judge could post scores that could make the Unrogue move into first place. Would that indicate a counterbias then?

  3. - Top - End - #153
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Eh, I didn't realize this would be an issue otherwise I wouldn't have posted it until I was told I could.

    For the future we might want to do something like an open google doc view only and refer the contestants to it while they do their rebuttals what not thru the PM system, or open up a portion of the google doc so they can post anonymously and the judges can then respond there and update scores. This would definitely stop issues where people judge based on other judges since both the scoring and the rebuttals are offsite.

    This would also ease undue burden on the chairman and make for a much faster process. At the end of the rebuttals the judges would then post their scores to the thread within 24 hours and final results / tallies can be made.

  4. - Top - End - #154
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Don't feel bad NoACWarrior, no one realized there would be an issue. And in this poster's opinion it is not an issue.
    Last edited by dysprosium; 2014-04-09 at 02:15 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #155
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by dysprosium View Post
    ...you cannot prove a negative.
    Yeah, but you can't prove that you can't prove a negative. So maybe you can prove that something can't....I'll see myself out.

    Quote Originally Posted by dysprosium View Post
    The only thing I see between my scores and NoACWarrior's scores are that the two he scored the highest were the two I scored the highest and the two he scored the lowest were the two I scored the lowest.
    Aha, j'accuse! Four out of four builds have been compromised!

    Quote Originally Posted by NoACWarrior View Post
    For the future we might want to do something like an open google doc view only and refer the contestants to it while they do their rebuttals what not thru the PM system, or open up a portion of the google doc so they can post anonymously and the judges can then respond there and update scores. This would definitely stop issues where people judge based on other judges since both the scoring and the rebuttals are offsite.
    Or would it just move the bias somewhere else?

    Quote Originally Posted by NoACWarrior View Post
    This would also ease undue burden on the chairman and make for a much faster process. At the end of the rebuttals the judges would then post their scores to the thread within 24 hours and final results / tallies can be made.
    Gives the judges a relatively small "launch window," doesn't it? I hate to sound like a contrarian, but my good friend Johannes Sebastian once told me if it ain't baroque...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    Yes, if judges all don't read each others comments until after they wrote theirs, that would negate potential biasing. That being said, with public posts, we have no guarantee left or right.

    @Seerow: I think the question of timeliness is a far more interesting and relevant one. It might be worth it to court risk in favour of keeping things moving.
    I agree with that sentiment. The articles cited are interesting, but in a world as complex as ours come with their own set of questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    The point of these things is that they're subtle.
    See: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lj/the_halo_effect/
    An interesting read, but I don't know how relevant the halo effect is to our competitions. In all, they seem to be tied to physical characteristics unknown via the Net or character traits masked by the current process of anonymously posting entries. I could see this effect coming into play without anonymity, i.e. "I think of OMG PONIES as a great optimizer, thus his work must be great optimization and I should always score it higher, regardless of its actual merit. Also, he's one good-looking sonofagun." I wonder if anonymity does anything to mitigate this effect, but I'd think that it does.

    Another interesting read, and more germaine to our competitions. I could see this idea of anchoring having an effect from one judge to the next, i.e. "OMG PONIES gave this build a 5, so I can't really give it a 1 because my mind is subconsciously trained on 5." However, the article itself says that "debiasing manipulations for anchoring have generally proved not very effective."

    I'll admit that in my earlier days, I exhibited fierce anti-anchoring; if I saw a judge give a build high marks, that build would be the subject of my intense scrutiny to see if it "deserved" said ranking. Granted, I've found that the most helpful counter to this is creating my own concrete scoring rubric that I can follow regardless of what scores other judges have given.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    This seems like it has an impact on the optimization community in general more than our individual competitions, i.e. "Darkstalker is a good feat for stealthy builds because a bunch of other optimizers have said it's a good feat for stealthy builds." I'd think that the number of judges in a given round of our competition is too small to have a measurable impact, but I suppose the 5th judge in a round could say "4 esteemed judges have already given a score of X; who am I to disagree?" ...sail the world and the seven seas. Everybody's looking for something...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    You probably don't realize you do these things, and you probably do. That's what all our modern research in psych/neuropsych/behavioural psych/behavioural economics shows.
    Here's my main sticking point with these subtle phenomena; does increased awareness actually cause a decrease in their influence? If I'm more aware that I trust handsome bastards instinctively over homely saints, does that stop me from doing it? Or do I continue on, aware but unable to stop my subconscious mind? Or, on the other hand, do I rage against the machine and intentionally act in opposition of my bias, thus creating a new bias based solely on spiting the prior one?

    TL;DR? It's my opinion that we already have things in place to mitigate these influences to an acceptable level. Can we ever stop being influenced by others? Is this real life? Are we in the Matrix?!
    Last edited by OMG PONIES; 2014-04-09 at 02:29 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
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  6. - Top - End - #156
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by OMG PONIES View Post
    Here's my main sticking point with these subtle phenomena; does increased awareness actually cause a decrease in their influence? If I'm more aware that I trust handsome bastards instinctively over homely saints, does that stop me from doing it? Or do I continue on, aware but unable to stop my subconscious mind? Or, on the other hand, do I rage against the machine and intentionally act in opposition of my bias, thus creating a new bias based solely on spiting the prior one?
    not that it matters all that much, but since "social engineering" is my day job:

    increased awareness of sources of bias actually increases the occurrence of the effect in most cases, because your concentration becomes focused on preventing that bias, you become more aware of all the factors that might bias you towards a particular direction, and are more likely to be affected by them as a result.

    this is actually a large part of the reason the Olympics went to anonymous judging for some events.

    my suggestion earlier in the thread was in part playing devils advocate, and in part an honest attempt to improve the system we have now.
    The difference between the possible and the impossible, is the measure of a man's determination.
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  7. - Top - End - #157
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Sorry -- I don't really mean that I think this is a big deal. To be honest, I think none of this is a big deal. I just find this stuff fascinating, and like Windstorm, work with it a lot. So I notice things.

    @dysprosium: I don't think you did anything wrong. I'm actually generally quite impressed with the cogency of the judging here; it is both far better than I expected and far better than I'd expect to get from the other site I'm on.

    As for the Unrogue and the counterbias; I have no idea why you'd use that as an example, given that Kelia is in last place, and there are some odds that neither build is even mine :P . But perhaps. There also is an underdog effect :P

    @NoAC: I don't think you did anything wrong, either! This is just my meticulous systems analysis personality (one that doesn't just do systems analysis for RPG's). Though I think your google doc suggestion is excellent.

    @OMG Ponies: Sorry I wasn't clear; the first couple articles were linked just to demonstrate that our minds and motivations are more complex and subtle than we generally give them credit (though you're right that anchoring could have some relevance). The Bandwagon effect is the thing that is specifically relevant.

    More specifically
    does increased awareness actually cause a decrease in their influence? If I'm more aware that I trust handsome bastards instinctively over homely saints, does that stop me from doing it? Or do I continue on, aware but unable to stop my subconscious mind? Or, on the other hand, do I rage against the machine and intentionally act in opposition of my bias, thus creating a new bias based solely on spiting the prior one?

    TL;DR? It's my opinion that we already have things in place to mitigate these influences to an acceptable level. Can we ever stop being influenced by others? Is this real life? Are we in the Matrix?!
    This is what my masters degree is :P . Results are ambiguous, and case by case. Negating the Planning Effect with averaging similar projects and "pre-mortems" is highly effective. The Halo effect is harder to negate, and as Windstorm points out, some biases actually become more prominent once you point them out. The best mitigations are ones that remove the problem; like posting all the judges feedback at the same time :P

    @Windstorm: I want to steal your job.

    To be clear: My degree of caring is pretty low, but I find this conversation generally fascinating. I don't think any of you are anything but awesome, and thus far I'm exceptionally pleased by the judging.

  8. - Top - End - #158
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by dysprosium View Post
    When I was in college (early 90s), a reading assignment I had was an essay rather similar to the halo effect web article you posted.

    The gist of that essay (of which I cannot remember its name) was that people cannot make their own decsions or have their own opinion when anyone tells them anything about the thing the people are looking at or thinking about. An example that was used was one person telling someone else that the Mona Lisa is a great painting. Now the person already has an idea in their head that the Mona Lisa is a great painting even without knowing or seeing it.

    Point is there, that I understand the point you are trying to make. I did not make my judgements based upon NoACWarrior's post. There is no way for me to prove that to you (or anyone else) because you cannot prove a negative. The only thing I see between my scores and NoACWarrior's scores are that the two he scored the highest were the two I scored the highest and the two he scored the lowest were the two I scored the lowest.

    Actually looking again at my scores, I have a clear front runner with the next three builds closer together in scores.

    A third judge could post scores that could make the Unrogue move into first place. Would that indicate a counterbias then?
    If the mere presence of public opinions is the issue that is creating a concern about bias, then the non-judges, non-competitors, who weigh in to say "Man, XYZ is a cool build," or "Wow, I never thought to combine Feat 3 with Race BZ; great synergy there!" are also problematic, aren't they? Where do we draw the line out of concerns - voiced but unproven - about bias issues from posted opinions influencing judges?
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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  9. - Top - End - #159
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Well, optimally builds would be PM'ed to judges, then judges PM reviews back to Chair, then chair posts all reviews at once.

    The major downside would be that this thread would be very unintersting for a very long time in the competition.

  10. - Top - End - #160
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    Well, optimally builds would be PM'ed to judges, then judges PM reviews back to Chair, then chair posts all reviews at once.

    The major downside would be that this thread would be very unintersting for a very long time in the competition.
    Here's the thing: It's entirely reasonable to posit that some Playgrounders know each other off-site, possibly even in the so-called real world (I know that I do, and find the odds that I'm alone in this to be astronomically against that notion). We have no indication that contestants don't discuss their builds outside of these threads, and I can assure you, anecdotally, that it has come up in my own experience. All of that extra PMing would therefore have no provable impact on bias, particularly if bystanders are allowed to comment in the thread on the builds and create bias in that fashion.
    Iron Chef in the Playground veteran since Round IV. Play as me!


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  11. - Top - End - #161
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Initial read through and notes - COMPLETE
    Builds fully judged - 50%

    Hopefully I can get this done before the weekend. If I can steal some time to work on it tonight, then it will be incoming much more quickly.
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  12. - Top - End - #162
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    We have no indication that contestants don't discuss their builds outside of these threads, and I can assure you, anecdotally, that it has come up in my own experience. All of that extra PMing would therefore have no provable impact on bias, particularly if bystanders are allowed to comment in the thread on the builds and create bias in that fashion.
    Oooh, good point. I didn't think of that since I'm more engaged with other online communities.

    Yeah, at that point, it might be time to give up mitigating bias, especially if people discuss their builds in other threads/with the judges on their own time prior to submitting. And I do agree bystanders providing pre-judging commentary is equally an issue (mitigate by having chair pm judges builds secretly, judges pm chair back with judgments, then posting builds and judgments). But at that point it's being more complex than it's worth.

  13. - Top - End - #163
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    True. If the judges are introduced via Chairperson by the moniker "Judge 1, Judge 2, and Judge 3", then after enough back and forth there could theoretically still form a bias.

    Scratch the last post, we'll just keep it going. It's a game based around a game played for fun played for bragging rights. Not so serious, really.

    As far as the whole notion of Build Stability goes, I originally fused it with "Use of Secret Ingredient" due to the necessity of some builds to have to "balance" the secret ingredients to make the build more stable and better. After all, you've got TWO secret ingredients that will (in foreseeable circumstances) contradict at times.

    In this run, for example, Shadowdancer is a terrible option to advance sneak attack, especially when not receiving it through Rogue, so balance is key between the two to maximize both potentials. That may require giving up a level or three of Shadowdancer, or 2-4d6 of sneak attack potential. The notion is to reasonably maximize both secret ingredients while staying away from the Forbidden Ingredient. The "Build Stability" category seems to be the best way to make this happen. Perhaps, however, Build Stability in future events needs to have a 1-10 scale while Power and Originality stay 1-5, to put the emphasis there. If Judges in future events want to break that 1-10 scale down into Build Stability and UoSI and make a composite or whatever the case may be, then that'll work alright. Gotta learn as you go, right?

  14. - Top - End - #164
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazudo View Post
    As far as the whole notion of Build Stability goes, I originally fused it with "Use of Secret Ingredient" due to the necessity of some builds to have to "balance" the secret ingredients to make the build more stable and better. After all, you've got TWO secret ingredients that will (in foreseeable circumstances) contradict at times.

    In this run, for example, Shadowdancer is a terrible option to advance sneak attack, especially when not receiving it through Rogue, so balance is key between the two to maximize both potentials. That may require giving up a level or three of Shadowdancer, or 2-4d6 of sneak attack potential. The notion is to reasonably maximize both secret ingredients while staying away from the Forbidden Ingredient. The "Build Stability" category seems to be the best way to make this happen. Perhaps, however, Build Stability in future events needs to have a 1-10 scale while Power and Originality stay 1-5, to put the emphasis there. If Judges in future events want to break that 1-10 scale down into Build Stability and UoSI and make a composite or whatever the case may be, then that'll work alright. Gotta learn as you go, right?
    What do you see as the benefit from having Build Stability be one oversized category instead of explicitly dividing it into elegance/UoSI or what have you? Is it just to give the judges more flexibility with what they focus on under the Build Stability umbrella? I'm just curious, please don't take this as criticism of your chairmanning or anything.

  15. - Top - End - #165
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Actually you hit the nail on the head. It's all about giving the judges some leeway. The introduction of two complications from the standard ICOCitP formula would end up causing awkward judging on the premise that there would be multiple UoSI categories. Instead of having UoSI 1, UoSI 2, Failure to Use Secret Ingredient 3, etc., Build Stability collects them under one umbrella. Combined with "elegance" categories, it essentially represents balance within parameters. It says "Given that one used SI 1 and SI 2, but forsook SI 3, how stable is the build and are the SIs balanced within said stable build?"

    It makes some sense to me. Maybe I'm not eloquent enough to vocalize why.

  16. - Top - End - #166
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazudo View Post
    Actually you hit the nail on the head. It's all about giving the judges some leeway. The introduction of two complications from the standard ICOCitP formula would end up causing awkward judging on the premise that there would be multiple UoSI categories. Instead of having UoSI 1, UoSI 2, Failure to Use Secret Ingredient 3, etc., Build Stability collects them under one umbrella. Combined with "elegance" categories, it essentially represents balance within parameters. It says "Given that one used SI 1 and SI 2, but forsook SI 3, how stable is the build and are the SIs balanced within said stable build?"

    It makes some sense to me. Maybe I'm not eloquent enough to vocalize why.
    Or maybe I'm a little slow. Thanks for the explanation; trying to achieve some kind of balance between all the potentially-contradictory factors makes sense.

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    @dysprosium: I don't think you did anything wrong. I'm actually generally quite impressed with the cogency of the judging here; it is both far better than I expected and far better than I'd expect to get from the other site I'm on.

    As for the Unrogue and the counterbias; I have no idea why you'd use that as an example, given that Kelia is in last place, and there are some odds that neither build is even mine :P . But perhaps. There also is an underdog effect :P
    I apologize for coming off as sounding angry. I felt as though there was an implication there. I try my best to be as fair as possible.

    As for picking the Unrogue, I wasn't really thinking anything about it other than it was not the highest scorer.

  18. - Top - End - #168
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    On a scale from 1-10 of sounding angry, you were at like, 1.4, tops. This is just a friendly discussion of the bizarre tricks our minds play on us, and what we can do about them, and whether it's worth the effort. I'm fine with the conclusion "Nope, it's not", especially when it comes to webforum things :P

    On Build Stability/Use of Secret ingredients: I like dividing them, or making that category slightly larger. The last place build has stability (5/5?), but basically no secret ingredient (1d6 sneak + 1 shadowdancer level) (0.5/5?), while the second last place build has basically no stability (0/5?) (8 classes in first 10 levels, fractional BAB), but the highest secret ingredient submission (8d6/10d6 sneak attack, 10 shadowdancer levels) (5/5?). Some differentiation there seems relevant for clarity.

    Making it a 10 point category and instructing judges to consider both might be worth it, or separating them.

  19. - Top - End - #169
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikeren View Post
    On a scale from 1-10 of sounding angry, you were at like, 1.4, tops. This is just a friendly discussion of the bizarre tricks our minds play on us, and what we can do about them, and whether it's worth the effort. I'm fine with the conclusion "Nope, it's not", especially when it comes to webforum things :P
    Yeah, but you only think that because we're all so damned good-looking.
    Last edited by OMG PONIES; 2014-04-10 at 01:11 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    Ponies, the Kim Karsdashian of GITP.
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Ok, all done! Here is my copy/pasted judging criteria from Iron Chef, hastily modified for Junkyard Wars! (which is to say, I crammed the last two category criteria together and called it a day).

    Judging criteria:
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    I'm going with the rather standard 3 point baseline in each category (pulled from my Iron Chef rubric), adjusted up or down based on your dish choices. I'm going to judge dishes with the same sort of eye I would GM for them.

    You may find a number of commonalities with other judges' criteria here, and that's because I'm a terrible, terrible plagiarist.

    Originality

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    What is it that you've chosen for your dish? Is it surprising, does it do things I haven't seen before? Did you use something completely off-the-wall or unexpected? Did you use a well known trick in a new or different way? All of these things will generally warrant an increase to your score. Well known tricks (I dont' care if you invented it 2 years ago, it's still a 2 year old trick), expected elements, or using a well-known build will generally warrant a decrease in score. Using expected elements in your dish will generally warrant a decrease in score, unless those elements are required by the SI.

    All of that said, the general rule of thumb for scoring well in this category is "do something new or fresh with your approach".

    And now for the plagiarism. I liked mattie_p's "Baseline build" section so much, I'm stealing it. Word for word.

    BASELINE BUILD: A build that steers clear of known cheese and standard build elements, but doesn't necessarily make me sit up and go "wow." Builds that involve new combinations or focus on unexpected elements will score higher here, while builds that utilize known cheese or that are pretty much stock builds will score lower.


    Power

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    When shooting for power, the main focus is on how well you perform your intended role, how versatile you are with your various tricks, how solid your power is from 1-20, and what happens to you if some or all of your tricks are rendered irrelevant.

    Spells are not the only measure of power, and perhaps more importantly, I'll be looking at your dish over its various level breakpoints to determine power. If you can't punch a hole in a wet paper bag from levels 1-19 but gain the power of a 20th level wizard at 20th level, you may get less of an increase than someone who had a solid power curve all the way to 20, assuming you both ended in a similar level of power at 20. As I said earlier, power will be a function of how well you perform your intended role. What tricks are you throwing out, how potent are they, and how do you handle hard counters to your tricks?

    WBL Item dependent power will generally mean a decrease here. Everyone gets better with items, I'm interested in what your dish can do without them. That said, if you want to point out where a specific item would enhance one of your tricks beyond the obvious, feel free to point it out.

    More plagiarism! Word for word save for an extra sentence at the end.

    BASELINE BUILD: A build that can meaningfully contribute to a party in most CR-appropriate encounters. Builds that can't, either because their overall power is too low or because they only function in very specific situations, will score lower here. Builds that are particularly proficient or useful, or that can meaningfully contribute even in over-CR'd encounters, will score higher. Builds that maintain a solid power curve over their 1-20 progression will score higher here.


    Build Stability

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    [Citation Needed] - Seriously, don't make me dig through books or guess at what minute detail you used from some obscure source. At the very least, please indicate what came from where. I'm generally familiar with the Completes, Core/SRD, and the Spell Compendium. Beyond that, it would be nice to have an indicator that "Black Blood of the Earth" is a feat from the Complete Guide to Big Trouble in Little China. Especially if this competition churns out 20+ entrants.

    Like other judges, I'm not a huge fan of smashing multiple setting specific material together, UNLESS we are talking about something in the Planescape setting. Basically, if it's an obvious power grab that slaps the setting material in the face, you'll probably get points in power, but lose points here.

    Did you qualify for everything you took? Does everything flow together well? Did you avoid random dips? Does your fluff justify anything that needs to be justified? These will all generally get you an increase.

    Alignment shift shenanigans may result in a decrease here.

    Using the ingredients as early as possible is generally looked favorably upon. When you make use of the ingredients may result in a score modification.

    Your presentation is important here. Is everything clean and easy to read? Did you keep your fluff skirt length (this is not a prose contest)?

    I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating. I'm judging these entries with the same eyes I'd use if I were GMing. So heavy cheese and questionable tricks may score points in originality and power, but those same tactics may cost you here. Since it has been mentioned multiple times in this thread, I'll go on the record as being one of those people who believe that when you don't meet the prerequisites of X, you no longer benefit from X. Feats, prestige classes, etc. And don't try to get smug and ask me what happens to Dragon Disciples with the capstone, I'll do the same thing I'd do at my table - tell you they still work fine and throw a book at your head.

    That said, I'm not opposed to your dish being awesome, just to questionable interpretations of the rules. Pure RAW leaves a hilariously unplayable game, so breaking your character with RAW will cost you here (and remember that power can only go to a maximum of 5). As time goes on, I'll try to list out in my future criteria any things that come up in which I'll side against, but given the enormous amount of options out there, I'll only be able to add to this list as I come across them.

    Plagiarism Parrot says that this baseline build paragraph is awesome! Raaawwwk!

    BASELINE BUILD: A build that you can pick up and walk over to almost any table, and it won't raise any eyebrows. Builds that are DM-dependent or questionable rules-wise will score lower here, as will builds that are clunky and messy. Builds that are a thing of beauty will score higher here - ones that make even the stuffiest DM sit up and say, hey, that's awesome, I'd love to have you in our group.

    First and foremost, if you don't qualify for the ingredients, you get a 1 here (1 is the minimum score in a category, right?). Make sure your dish qualifies for the ingredients.

    For the most part, the way to score high here is to make sure your dish really embodies the ingredients. Have you used all parts of the ingredients to good effect? Did you really use the ingredient's abilities, or just "get" them? As an example, Talon of Tiamat gains an immunity to a chosen element at a certain level. Had that been one of the ingredients, did you find a way to use that other than, "I took immunity to fire because it's the most common element."? Finding a way to showcase all parts of the ingredients in an interesting manner will be the path to scoring highly here. Make the ingredients the focus of your dish, and enhance it. If you overpower the ingredients with abilities or features from other elements, I'm going to ask the question, "Why did you use the ingredients, instead of more of that?" That question will cost you points.

    Be sure to read the fluff for the ingredients, because that will be guiding my judgment when I look at these entries. Does your dish feel like the ingredients?

    Plagiarizers gonna plagiarize.

    BASELINE BUILD: A build that manages to use the secret ingredient without crying out to me, "HEY, this is only here because of a stupid contest, OK!" Builds that utilize all of the SI's abilities to good effect, and who really sell the idea that only the SI would have worked here, will score higher. Builds that don't really get any use out of the class features or pre-reqs, or that would really obviously just do better with another option, will score lower.



    Human is high on the list of expected races for me, but I am otherwise going to curb my usual inclination to put a small list of classes that I would expect to see (given that this is Junkyard's maiden voyage, I want to be a little nice), so pretty much anything goes and won't take a big hit to originality. Darkstalker is practically required, so I won't be marking down originality for including it.

    Keep in mind that my comments aren't meant to be mean, just critical. Also, I'm more used to Iron Chef, so keep in that in mind when you see my odd food-related comments. Any references to the SI are referring to the two ingredients in this competition.

    Ayesha - 10
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    Originality: 4.25
    Yay! Marrulurk! I've wanted to use one of these little guys for a while now and just haven't had a chance to do so. A scout who is cut off from her fellows and is forced to survive in a microcosm that has persisted for years in a sunken underground pyramid? Hah, what a way to include shadows in a desert themed environment! Scorpion Heritor is neat and flavorful, and caught me by surprise. The inclusion of Able Sniper and Woodland Archer are interesting and you really do use them well. The inclusion of Fighter levels was really bland, and left an unsatisfying taste. I get that you took it for the feats, but still.

    Power: 3
    Ayesha is a sniper. While she is a good sniper, she has a few issues. Let's look at the good stuff first. She is a world-class sneak, her racial bonus to Hide and Move Silent in conjunction with her size, naturally awesome Dex, Darkstalker feat and Hide in Plain Sight ability means she can hide with the best of them. She's got good sneak attack damage with 6d6 and Craven. She has some decent utility with Scorpion Form, Shadow Jump and Shadow Illusion, albeit limited. Her UMD score really lets her shine in the versatility department, as long as she's got the items to make use of it. Poison Use is a solid ability to eek out some extra offensive capability. Her ability to avoid fights is legendary, but I'm not certain how powerful that is. Her shadow companion, while fragile, is still an excellent way to augment her scouting ability (which is mostly non-existant until far too late in her career to be reliably useful). At level 20, Ayesha can fairly reliably detect when someone is sneaking up on her (assuming they are touching the ground), but her inability to capitalize on that information means that this is, at best, a novel ability rather than a powerful one. Scorpion's Resolve gives her Will save a nice boost. Scorpion's Instinct is a nice little boost to get for free. Defensive Roll, Uncanny Dodge and Evasion are solid defensive abilities, and the Marrulurk chassis provides a few minor defensive bumps. Lastly, her natural ability score advantage is considerable.

    So, let's look at some things that she doesn't do well. The dustbin of wasted abilities is nearly overflowing with Death Attack, Nauseating Breath, Darkvision redundancy, Rapid Shot (you can't use it with the sniping action), shadow jump, etc. She has no way of reliably dealing with foes who are immune to precision damage. Equivalent level sneaks (and even vastly lower level ones) can keep hidden from her (she has no ranks in Spot!). Her ability to detect them sneaking up on her isn't terribly relevant if they can't find her, but she can't really engage them either if she can't find them. That said, if someone does sneak up on her, she still suffers the miss chance, and she already has uncanny dodge as a defensive measure, so the feat really doesn't do much more than pinpoint the square they are in. Flying foes look like they would give her some trouble. Ayesha will struggle to remain relevant in the damage game at higher levels when utilizing her trick, because she only gets to take a single shot every round. Missing out on Improved Evasion hurts.

    So, how do you stack up to the typical party Skirmisher (the role Ayesha would presumably fill in a party)? Well, you've got sneaking, UMD and sneak attack, but that's about it. She's not a skill monkey, or a face, or really anything other than really sneaky. You've made a one-trick pony, and have left everything else behind.

    Build Stability: 2.75
    The build is well sourced, and qualifies for everything. It was also easy to read and was well organized. You have one mistake I noticed, Marrulurks have Rapid Shot (which requires a full attack) as a bonus feat, not Manyshot. The build flows reasonably well, but has a pretty solid hiccup for your Fighter dip. This really throws things off for me. I know you did it for the feats, but it just feels very out of place in an otherwise wonderfully flavorful build. I've got to ask, why did you choose to not go with more Shadowdancer levels instead of Scorpion Heritor levels? You don't wind up using most of the abilities you get from Scorpion Heritor (or Shadowdancer for that matter), and appear to have done it solely to garner more sneak attack dice. You did well getting a good number of sneak attack dice, and even made some effort to improve it (Craven and sniping), but you did so at the expense of the other ingredient, the Shadowdancer. You only wind up using Hide in Plain Sight, Evasion, and Uncanny Dodge from Shadowdancer. Shadowdancer feels like an afterthought in this build. You might have been better off with a 4/10 split rather than 8/6 split for Scorpion Heritor/Shadowdancer levels. You would have missed out on 2d6 sneak attack dice in exchange for the versatility offered by extra Shadowdancer levels. You also make no use of Dodge, Mobility, and Combat Reflexes (which are Shadowdancer prerequisites), you just set those three feats on fire. You wind up trying to mash together the two ingredients, and neither ingredient does very well as a result.

    Overall, I really liked the theme of this build, and it could see play at any table where I was the DM.


    The Unrogue - 10.75
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    Originality: 3.75
    Good gravy that's a lot of classes. I had to look Justicar of Taiia up, so it was definitely unexpected. You also managed to pull a few neat tricks to hit more sneak attack that I thought folks would be able to swing! Staggering Strike is a good way to enhance sneak attacks. I liked seeing the Thug Sneak Attack Fighter variant. Human is the only bland thing about this build. Well that, and you built a rogue without building a rogue!

    Power: 4
    First and foremost, you've got 10d6 of sneak attack! And you make good use of it through multiple attacks, Staggering Strike, and a couple of maneuvers that let you pull it off without help from a party member. It's a pity that Justicar of Taiia and Assassin have their own spell lists, otherwise you could add Grave Strike and Golem Strike to your bag of tricks. You are a good sneak, infiltrator, pseudo-face, and half of a good scout. You've got a few useful arcane spells from Assassin, and you've got maneuvers that are useful in-combat and out of combat. Defensively you've got all the benefits that Shadowdancer provides, and your fantastic reflex save makes sure that Evasion gets good use. You've got some nice mobility with Shadow Jaunt. Your Shadow companion from Shadowdancer is full strength, but you don't seem to use it for much of anything (maybe a flanking partner?).

    So, let's look at the bad. Strapping your BAB on a chassis that two-weapon fights with mediocre strength is a recipe for constant missing. You do take some steps to correct this with your maneuvers (which let you flank more frequently, or deny dex by being invisible), but it's still a shaky proposition. Your Justicar of Taiia spells are pretty much all useless. Flying foes are going to give you trouble, and you have no way of dealing with things that are immune to your sneak attack dice.

    You've got a jump in power early on, and a fairly minimal increase in offensive ability after that. Shadowdancer is nicely used to round out your versatility. Against the party Skirmisher/Scout, you do well offensively, and ok out of combat.

    Build Stability: 3
    Dat base attack bonus. You use an alternate system for calculating it, and that's bad. But it comes with sneak attack sprinkles, which is good. But you get redipulous, and that's bad. The worst part about this is that you could just take Shadowdancer levels earlier and get Justicar of Taiia and Ronin later when you meet the BAB, which would save you the slight ding for using an alternate system for BAB calculation. You squeeze a non-canon specific monotheistic deity into the Forgotten Realms settings, which will likely grate on some DMs. You pretty much negate the Shadow Jump feature of Shadowdancer by taking Shadow Jaunt. The layout of your entry was crazy hard to read, and while you sourced some of your stuff, it was kind of hard to find. You don't make any effort to really use much of the Shadowdancer ingredient (you set the three entry feats on fire), but despite that, you managed to make a build with 10d6 sneak attack and 10 levels of Shadowdancer.

    You manage to qualify for everything (assuming you either use the variant BAB calculation, or shuffle Justicar of Taiia and Ronin levels to later in the build). You get a lot of sneak attack dice, but don't find a way to use it against all enemies, which really would have picked up some of the slack from letting many of the Shadowdancer abilities just sort of sit there.

    Overall, this build has some mechanically powerful stuff, and some neat tricks, but all that blood those dips are going to make more than one DM question whether or not to allow it at their table.


    Kelia the Souldancer - 8.75
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    Originality: 3.5
    A soul-powered streetfighter turned sniper who spits death? That's pretty nifty. I do likes me some Incarnum, but I fear you may have missed the point for this competition. Cobra Strike Monk was an interesting way to pick up two of the required entry feats for Shadowdancer, and Thug Sneak Attack Fighter is a solid source for sneak attack. Human was expected.

    Power: 3.75
    You are a good scout and sneak, and you spit horrible acid at your foes. You've got some great versatility with your souldmelds and a reasonable UMD score (assuming you have the items to take advantage of it). Dissolving Spittle gives you a solid option against foes that are immune to sneak attack. Craven and Indigo Strike pump up what little sneak attack you have. Binding Dissolving Spittle to your throat chakra really gives you a damage boost.

    Your main trick, sniping, is hard for you to maintain. Against anything with a reasonable spot skill, you will be reduced to just using Dissolving Spittle without sneak attack after your first shot. Fellmist Robe can help with this a little, but it's disappointing to see this called out as the main tactic, but see no real support for it aside from a maxed hide skill. You do sniping worse than the other build here that does it, but your damage is higher and more reliable. Unfortunately, your BAB pretty much requires you to rely on your one trick to be effective in combat, which is unfortunate.

    How do you stack up to a party Skirmisher? Pretty well, actually. You've got reliable ranged damage (albeit limited to 30 feet), good sneaking ability, and good scouting ability. You will have difficulty with flying foes (unless they are nice and stay within 30 feet).

    Build Stability: 1.5
    This is a tasty Incarnate build, but it isn't what we ordered. We ordered Shadowdancer with Sneak Attack. The two ingredients for this challenge are not integral, or even very useful, to this build. WHY ARE THEY HERE? You make some effort to improve your tiny sneak attack damage, but have no reliable way of delivering it. You may as well have not bothered to even include Shadowdancer, as you don't provide any real use for it (and you set the entry feats on fire). It's an Incarnate Dissolving Spittle build with +1d6 of sneak attack and a level of Shadowdancer tacked on "just because". The build is layed out well enough, but nothing is sourced. You qualify for everything you take.

    Overall, this build feels like it's in the wrong competition.


    Blaine Night the Six-Fingered - 11.5
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    Originality: 3.5
    I thought for sure we'd see more shadowpouncers, but it looks like you are the only one! Telflammar Shadowlord is natural awesomesauce. Binding Andromalius was a fun way to pick up sneak attack, and I believe it qualifies based on the chairman's ruling. Human was expected, but I'm surprised to see no Darkstalker. That feat seems almost mandatory to anyone who is going to be sneaking. Gnomish Quickrazors and Iaijutsu Focus are well known cheese. A trapfinding ranger was neat. The fighter levels were bland.

    Power: 4.25
    Well, you do well here. You are a two-weapon fighter with the ability to make several full attacks in a round (at a decent BAB). You've got low sneak attack dice, but you augment it with Craven, and if you can catch your foe flat-footed, you can drop quite a bit of extra damage from Iaijutsu and quickrazors. You are a good sneak, good scout (especially with Shadowsight and See Invisibility at will!), and can even fulfill the trapfinding duties of a rogue! Shadow Blur, Improved Uncanny Dodge, and Evasion all help you in the defense department. You have some great utility with your spells from Shadowlord, Shadow Walk, and you've got pretty much everything from Shadowdancer.

    You've got a couple of issues though. Your sneaking suffers a bit without Darkstalker. Your Improved Two-weapon fighting is item dependent (you are relying on an item to grant you the Dex you need to qualify for the feat). Iaijutsu focus is situational, as you have no way of reliably making your foes flat-footed. And you are going to be suffering a -1 to attack rolls, saving throws, and checks most of the time you are bound to Andromalius, unless you succeed on your binding check (which requires you to roll a 16+) or refrain from theft and looting dead bodies. You don't have a reliable way of dealing sneak attack damage (aside from a couple castings of Improved Invisibility), but multiple full attacks in a round goes a long way to dealing with foes who are immune to sneak attack.

    You appear to have gone the Skirmisher/Trapfinder role, but you can also double as a reasonably durable frontliner if necessary. So how do you stack up? You've got damage handled, are an excellent scout, a good sneak, and a trapfinder. You've got fantastic utility and a solid level of power.

    Build Stability: 3.75
    You really pack in and enhance Shadowdancer here. You use almost all parts of that buffalo, with the exception of Improved Evasion (which you don't get), and Darkvision (which is redundant with and worse than Shadowsight). Unlike everyone else, you actually used some of the entry feats (albeit only to qualify for Shadowlord). You've got sneak attack that you enhance a bit with Craven, but even then it's more of an afterthought to this build than anything else. The build actually flows ok, and everything is sourced. It was easy to read and follow, and I your variant sections had some solid insights. You qualify for everything except for Improved Two-weapon fighting, and I did not include consideration of that feat in your power score (or rather, the points I'd give for using it would be negated by the points I'd take away for being item dependent). I liked the use of Binding to pick up sneak attack, but it does have an issue which I pointed out in power.

    I think you may have missed something in regards to your reading of the Shadow Jump ability from Telflammar Shadowlord. It states that if you already have Shadow Jump (such as from Shadowdancer), the Shadowlord Shadow Jump ability confers no additional benefit. Without that text, you might be correct in your RAW interpretation. It's not hugely relevant, as you still have enough Shadow Jump to drop pounces in 4 encounters per day.

    Overall, I really liked this build. I'd be happy to see it at my table.


    So there you have it. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth commence!
    Last edited by Deadline; 2014-04-10 at 05:20 PM. Reason: sperlling
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  21. - Top - End - #171
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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Hooray, more judging! Thanks for the comments! Though I think you should replace all your food references with...engineering references? I've never actually seen Junkyard Wars.

    Also, what would your list of expected classes have been? I mean, I'm fine with not getting marked down for 'em, but I'd be interested to know what you came in expecting.

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Quote Originally Posted by sakuuya View Post
    Also, what would your list of expected classes have been? I mean, I'm fine with not getting marked down for 'em, but I'd be interested to know what you came in expecting.
    Spellthief was really the only one on my list. I wouldn't have docked anyone points for using it, but as it seemed to me to be the go-to source for base class sneak attack aside from the rogue, I wouldn't have considered it anything special with regards to Originality.
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    For me I felt spellthief was a common way to get some levels of sneak attack, but at the same rate, there were many PrCs and base classes you could do a simple dip into (1 level) to get the +1d6, with spell thief offering you very little sneak dice for the level. In the end I didn't see many expected classes other than in unrouge - which got points because of the wonkiness of the base class choices.

    The issues I found while trying to build from spelltheif was that their abilities are just meh if they multiclass, thats what made me decide to not enter.

    As was from my afterword, I fully expected at least one or two charger builds with ronnin, a nova build with some type of contingency action, or some kind of lockdown. However, its funny that none of the builds used some of my expected roles, with the builds better utilizing hide than my abandoned build could.

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    I'm wondering how many more judges we expect?

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    Somewhere between 0 and 2, I think. OMG_Ponies said he might, and Gwachitallemall signed up way back on the first page. No idea whether either of them are actually planning to go through with it, but I want them both to, just so we can have more judges than contestants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoACWarrior View Post
    As was from my afterword, I fully expected at least one or two charger builds with ronnin, a nova build with some type of contingency action, or some kind of lockdown. However, its funny that none of the builds used some of my expected roles, with the builds better utilizing hide than my abandoned build could.
    This is why I love all of these build competitions. There are so many little gems that we can find from the entries. I know over the past year I have been involved with the Playground I have learned a lot and learned to look at things a different way than I had been used to. And I've met some cool people along the way!

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    You'll recall, Dysprosium, I actually gave a speech saying the same thing when I broke into the foray a few months ago and promptly had a huge glob of life fall on me from the passing blue bird of happiness overhead.

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    Double posting and all, boo on me.

    Do we have any other prospective judges for the moment? Not that that'll close the polls any faster if not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kazudo View Post
    Double posting and all, boo on me.

    Do we have any other prospective judges for the moment? Not that that'll close the polls any faster if not.
    I may still get in some scores here; the lower number of entries and extra few days before the deadline make it more feasible here than in the standard ICO.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    Ponies, the Kim Karsdashian of GITP.
    This is what happens when they let me DM:
    Beyond the Horizon IC / OOC
    A Time to Die: Alpha IC / Bravo IC / OOC

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    Default Re: Junkyard Wars in the Playground I

    I actually really, really like the notion of a slimmer number of entrants and a larger number of judges. The thing that would be most afraid of is that given a significantly differing ratio of judging and builds (benefiting judging) with all builds being ideally different, the average of scores for the builds would approach the same number.

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