I’ve been pondering on this a bit and I thought I’d dump my thoughts here and see what other people made of them. For calibration: I’m not enthused by any real-world sport, so I don’t know a lot about how it’s done beyond what I read in references. (I want to be doing the thing, not cheering for someone else who’s doing the thing.)
Consider a series of races, where points are awarded for first, second, etc., place, then added up over the series to produce a final score.
How should those points be awarded?
One obvious example is Formula 1:
which appear to be something like an exponential decay of points: someone who places first in one race and third in another (25+15=40 points) will do better than the driver who places second twice (18+18=36). Assuming this is deliberate, it should have the effect of making the driver try for the highest place possible each time, trying to overtake the leader rather than running a “safe” race.
Another system is to have a steady decay of points, like the Flamme Rouge Tour scoring of 3/2/1 for 1st/2nd/3rd. What incentives does that produce?
Formula 1 has a fairly consistent number of runners through the season. What if that number varies? Should one still award the full points for coming first in a race with fewer runners? (After all, it’s less of a challenge to come first in a field of three than in a field of six.) What if I’m having multiple “first round” race series, perhaps with different numbers of drivers in them, and picking the highest scorer from each first round series to go on to the final?
Naturally the only proper way to handle ties is to split the points, rounding down.
As an alternative, you could bin the scoring system altogether and use cumulative time (e.g. Tour de France)
For the triathlon world rankings, each event has an ‘ideal time’ that a top ranked athlete would achieve. This is amended by race conditions on the day to give an ‘adjusted ideal time’. If an athlete completes the event at the adjusted ideal time, they get 100 points. Additional points are given for each 0.15% by which they beat the time; conversely, they lose a point for each 0.15% they are slower than the ideal time. Athletes are then ranked on the aggregate of their four best performances.
I know that this might seem a bit pedantic but bear with me. In the Tour de France its only the race for the Yellow Jersey also know as the General Classification (GC) that is measured by cumulative time. There are however a number of secondary competitions such as the Green Jersey that’s effectively for sprinting and the Polka dot Jersey for the King of the Mountains which are both points based races. There’s also a minor prize for the most aggressive rider on a stage (the prix de la combativité) which is based on the opinion of the Race commissaries. It gets you a small prize and a different colour number to wear on you shirt.
All these competitions happen concurrently during the Tour so you will have different teams with very different objectives all on the road together getting in each others way. However this doesn’t mean that you have to choose a competition and stick to it. The greatest rider of all time, Eddy Merckx, once found himself wearing Yellow, Green and Polka dot all at the same time. He’s also won the Super Combativity prize for the most aggressive rider over a whole tour four time!
My point is that a race doesn’t have to have a single points system and can be actually more interesting when it doesn’t.
For our Formula De season we use the Formula 1 points with the addition of +/- 1 point per position lost/gained from the starting grid. We have 10 cars per race (if a player is missing, someone else runs their car for them) so a car which starts last on the grid and finishes first scores 25+9 = 34 points, and someone who starts on pole and finishes last scores 1 - 9 = 8 points. Drivers with the most points are most likely to be higher up the starting grid…
Ooh, that’s a thought. I’ve been playing a lot of Rallyman GT on BoardGameArena recently, and that tends to have random starting orders, so a score modification for places gained/lost would be a good way of compensating people who get stuck at the back every race.