Tuesday, July 23, 2013

AWDS: The Problem with Force Ranks

My god, it's been awhile since I touched the original subject of this blog. Now that we're back to it, I'd like to talk about why I've never attempted to properly arrange Force Ranks into tiers like I did with Tags.

Problem #1: Impracticality
There are 43 Force Ranks that can be arranged into combinations of up to 4 forces. Assuming only combinations of four Forces, that's 123,410 combinations per CO. If you add in all possible combinations of 1, 2, 3, and 4 Forces, that number climbs up to 136,697. Multiply this number by 27 (the number of COs in AWDS), and that's a sum total of 3,690,819 possible Force Rank combinations. To make things even more fun, let's throw Tags into the mix. (I freely admit that my knowledge of mathematics is a little shaky concerning this next part, so if anyone would care to check my math in the comments that would be great.) Any Tag is going to have double the number of possible combinations, so that's now 273,394 Force Rank combinations per Tag. Multiplied by 351 Tags, that's 95,961,294 combinations. Though it's a tiny fraction of this number, let's add the single-CO combinations back into this, for our final sum total: 99,652,113 Force Rank combinations. If you really want to be a completionist, tack on another 378 for the unmodified Tags and COs: 99,652,491 playable combinations in this one little DS cartridge.

Another argument of impracticality is this: many of the combinations you would need to test are completely useless outside of the War Room, in certain maps, in certain match-ups, on certain map settings, or without a tag partner. Now granted, the logical answer to this is that you could just skip those combos, but in spite of the millions this would slash off the list it still leaves you with tens of millions to test; and frankly, I'd be hesitant to try anything going into the thousands, much less this. Even disregarding that and just testing these scenario-specific forces within their scenario (High and Dry during permanent rain, for example), all the variables you have to introduce to test the bloody things would create extra work, since unless you re-test at least a good portion of the other combos under those conditions you're going to have a hard time ranking these forces properly. In a list already consisting an appreciable fraction of a billion, that's extra work that you really want to avoid!

If you're truly bored, you can download these lists to see every single Force Rank combo that can be applied to a CO. Mind you, trying to read them may give you a headache: there are no line breaks in any of these files as they were generated by a machine.

Problem #2: Unnecessary
Despite not being ranked, it's not hard to make an educated guess about how good a particular Force Rank is. Forces are nearly all based upon a corresponding CO ability, and we already know how those are ranked. This how, for example, I know which Forces to use as handicaps in my AWDS Match-Ups series. While a completionist might say that you should test every possible set of stats anyway, there is no practical reason (particularly with Custom Wars: Tactics on its way) why anyone with some amount of sanity would agonize over this.

tl;dr version
If you want a detailed ranking of every Force Rank combination including Tags and COs, do it yourself; and may you have the best of luck in that endeavor. I don't have the kind of time to fuck around with a video game to that degree.

Unless you pay me.