In this system, think of taking the opponent's like down to 0 as winning a "round" in a fighting game. So when press Quickmatch and find an opponent, you play best of 3 "rounds." You can't switch your character between rounds. After someone wins a "game" (meaning they won best of 3 rounds), you can get a rematch. If you rematch, the loser can switch his character, but the winner cannot, as is customary in fighting games. Rematching can be good to do for your own personal improvement, as it will let you get deeper into the nuances of playing against a particular opponent. If they are exploiting some bad habit of yours, you might never really figure that out if you don't play a longer set. Up to you though!
The main reason our system was 1 round before instead of 2-out-of-3 was just time. If it takes 15 minutes to play Yomi, you'd have to set aside 45 minutes to play a best of 3, which is unreasonably long for the default way to play the game. Looking at the data, an average "round" lasts between 8 and 9 minutes though. This is shorter than we expected. If you figure that half the time a best of 3 will go to 3 rounds and half the time it will end in two rounds, the average for a best of 3 set is 22.5 minutes or less, which is acceptable for us to try. The benefit of more rounds is that you have more time to get a read on the opponent and exploit their weaknesses, so it's a better test of skill.
We're resetting the leaderboards now, because of this change. From now on, leaderboards will be showing people's perforamnce in best-of-3 situations, rather than best-of-1. Congratulations to garcia1000 for taking the top spot on the first season's leaderboard. Garcia's hobby is making statements that sound plausible, but that are actually false. Also he plays Lum and is a poker master in real life. (Those two things are plausible and actually true.)
Stats from Season 1
Here are the stats for ranked games (with mirror matches exclude) by character:
Midori 2238 / 4238 52.81% Geiger 2358 / 4492 52.49% DeGrey 2731 / 5257 51.95% Lum 2202 / 4310 51.09% Rook 2367 / 4689 50.48% Grave 2516 / 4987 50.45% Argagarg2592 / 5172 50.12% Jaina 2503 / 5107 49.01% Valerie 2486 / 5231 47.52% Setsuki 2924 / 6436 45.43%
Yomi's balance has held up remarkably well, so we're very happy about it. It remains closer balanced than any known fighting game. What's interesting about these stats is that Midori is often ranked last in tier lists while Grave is often ranked first. Grave doesn't even crack the top half of the chart here though, and Midori is #1. That said, all these percentages are very close anyway.
Now let's look at those stats ranked by popularity instead of by win-rate:
Setsuki 2924 / 6436 45.43% DeGrey 2731 / 5257 51.95% Valerie 2486 / 5231 47.52% Argagarg2592 / 5172 50.12% Jaina 2503 / 5107 49.01% Grave 2516 / 4987 50.45% Rook 2367 / 4689 50.48% Geiger 2358 / 4492 52.49% Lum 2202 / 4310 51.09% Midori 2238 / 4238 52.81%
Midori is dead last in popularity even though he was first in win-rate. Lum is second to last here, and he is complicated to play well. Setsuki is considered easy to play and is the most popular character. This is ironic because Setsuki's original purpose was to appeal to Magic: the Gathering player who could understand her weirdness more readily. Because she can draw a lot of cards if her hand is empty, it means that doing strange things to just throw your cards away is actually good, even if it's counter-intuitive. It turns out that Setsuki is a favorite amongst new players though, even ones who aren't from MTG. It turns out that people just really love drawing a lot of cards.
Another note here is that players who are not really familiar with asymmetric games such as fighting games often say "but if one character is the best, why doesn't everyone play only that character??" Of course this never happens, as evidenced by: all fighting games, ever. There are a lot of reasons to prefer one character over another. Maybe you think someone is just cool. Maybe you enjoy the game mechanics of that character more. Often what happens is that your own personal skills allow you to be better at "mechanic A" that some character can do than "mechanic B" that the supposed best character does. Your personal win-rate can be higher by choosing the character you're more suited to play, rather than what some tier list claims. And again, these percentages show that ALL characters are capable of winning just fine, so you can play whoever you want. The spread is surprisingly even across all characters.
When you click the quickmatch button, you're ranked with someone as close in skill to you as possible. The matchmaking system uses an Elo-like system (as is common in Chess). Note that it does NOT use the feature of Microsoft's TrueSkill that makes a win later count for much less than a win now. I think this stems from a fundamental disagreement I have with that system. If you win 10 games in a row a year from now against very strong opponents, you deserve to move in the rankings by the exact same amount as if you won 10 games against strong opponents today. You don't have to worry about the system "judging" that it thinks you're terrible and handicapping your gains to conform to its beliefs. Winning is winning and you deserve your points.
It's entirely possible that you are pretty good with one character but terrible with another character. Our matchmaking takes that into account. You choose your character before the matchmaking step, so if you are used to rocking everyone with DeGrey, you'll be ranked pretty high with him and face good opponents. If you suck at Geiger though, you can pick Geiger, click Quickmatch, and face other sucky people like you. Another way of putting this is that you can lose all day with Geiger without even affecting your DeGrey ranking.
You can also still play "custom games" that are outside of the matchmaking system. Here, you can play anyone you want, with settings of your choice, including a "best of 1" game. You can practice here without worrying about ranking (not that you should worry anyway!)
When you first start playing Yomi at fantasystrike.com, you'll have a rank of "Student 1." Here's a list of the ranks you'll go through:
Student 1 (Flower)
Student 2 (Grasshopper)
Student 3 (Mouse)
Student 4 (Dove)
Student 5 (Bunny)
Student 6 (Ferret)
Student 7 (Penguin)
Student 8 (Gazelle)
Student 9 (Dolphin)
Student 10 (Monkey)
As you win games, you rank up through the student ranks. Losing does NOT subtract anything. This makes the newbie experience a bit more friendly in that you can only get positive feedback, really. During this student phase, you can play any character you want (or multiple characters) and it all contributes to your account's overall Yomi student ranking. The matchmaking system is still in effect here, so if you win a lot you'll be playing better people and if you lose a lot you'll be playing worse people.
After you pass Student 10 (Monkey), you graduate to the Master Ranks. Here they are:
Master 1 (Disciple)
Master 2 (Journeyman)
Master 3 (Adept)
Master 4 (Veteran)
Master 5 (Expert)
Master 6 (Virtuoso)
Master 7 (Hero)
Master 8 (Champion)
Master 9 (Paragon)
Master 10 (Legend)
These ranks work differently than the student ranks. First, they are separated by character. For example, you could play Rook and Valerie during the student phase, and you'd reach Master 1 with ALL your characters. If you continued to play only Rook and Valerie, your Rook and Valerie will reach higher Master levels but your other characters will remain at Master 1 level.
Next, these ranks are not as forgiving as the student ranks. Losing really does make you lose points here. That said, you will still probably progress at least a bit through these ranks, even if you're a bad player. Imagine that in reality, you're in the 40th percentile of players, meaning that you're only better than 40% of the people, and most players are better than you. The ranking system is tuned so that your Master Level will eventually be about Master Level 4, after you play enough games. You'll still have the experience of progressing, but the ladder is a skill-based measure in the end, and it converges to Elo score. So just to be clear, that means the top players are there because of their Elo ranking (their ability to win) and not simply because they played more.
We will probably reset the ladder each season, and keep records of winners of previous seasons. We will also probably hide names in the leaderboard that are inactive for too long. If you're top, you should actually play instead of retiring on a high number.
Player-run tournaments are highly encouraged, and you can get involved with them on my forums or on boardgamegeek.com. Hopefully you can also start a local tournament scene in your area. Feel free to practice online to learn the top strats first, then crush your friends locally.