Agricola Season 1 Wrap-Up
by Randy Buehler
Season 1 of the Agricola league was a smashing success, with the Meeple League’s largest turn-out for an online event so far and some great matches up and down the ladder. 77 players signed up to play, which meant 11 leagues spread across four divisions. I was the biggest winner, but by the narrowest of margins as I defeated Sceadeau d’Tela for the Division 1-A crown *on tiebreakers* (3 match wins to 2). Congratulations are also due to Bernt Nodland and Steven LeWinter, who won the two leagues in Division 2 and thus earned spots in the top division for season 2. (Steve’s win was particularly close with only 3 league points separating 1st from 4th in his league.) You can see all the standings HERE.
Season 2 is about to start, and the field has expanded to 96 competitors. That means there will be 7 leagues in division 4 and 14 leagues in total. Good luck to everyone as they try to win promotion, and have fun playing.
With season 1 in the books, I thought it would be interesting to see how accurate the initial seeds were. As you may recall, I did the initial player sort first by looking at BPA laurels and then at Elo ratings on boiteajeux. There has been some debate (bordering on trash talk) about how accurate Elo ratings are, and I saved a copy of everyone’s rating before the season began. I then looked at the absolute value of how far each player’s finish position was from the position that would be predicted by Elo or laurels. (In other words, if you had the 5th highest Elo in your league but finished 1st then you were 4 spots away from where you were predicted to be.)
Laurels did a significantly better job of predicting division 1 than Elo did (8 spots off in total versus 18), but in Division 2-A it was the other way around (20 spots off versus just 4). Meanwhile Division 2-B was close to a wash (12 off for laurels versus 10 off for Elo). If you add up all 3 leagues that included at least some players with laurels, Elo comes out looking a little better at 32 to 40 (or an average of 1.5 spots off per player versus 1.9). Meanwhile in Division 3 there were some major upsets, including division wins from each of the two lowest rated competitors, but Elo was a quite reasonable predictor if you ignore those two players (1.7 spots off per player, or 1.1 spots off per player if you ignore the two outliers).
One surprising fact about season 1 is that only one player managed to collect exactly a first, a second, a third, and also a 4th place finish. Ed Fear is apparently the Epitome of Average. Meanwhile the triple winners club included only 3 people and exactly one person managed to win all four of their games: William F, aka wsefranc, from league 4-D.
There were, unfortunately, some players who played too slowly in season 1. The vast majority of games were done by the end of March and I think that two-month timeline is what folks should see as acceptable (we started in the last few days of January). The truly unfortunate part of having a slow player is that they impact four different games. My only real recourse to deal with this problem is to tell those players they aren’t allowed to play in future Meeple League events, and while most of the slowpokes from season 1 did not choose to sign up again, I did decline one registration attempt for season 2. For the handful of matches which haven’t finished, I treated them as 4-way ties when determining promotion and relegation and I will add the real points to the lifetime standings page once they finally do complete.
All of which brings us to season 2, which has quite a few interesting storylines to follow. A few more well-known WBC ringers have entered the league now (Jon Senn, Eric Wrobel, Josh Cooper, Rob Kircher), but they will have to fight their way up from the bottom. Turambar will be the champion of the pro-Elo crowd as he joins Division 1 and is the only player there without a WBC pedigree. Rob Murray and Petri Savola barely missed getting themselves promoted to division 1 and will be trying to finish the job. Meanwhile Daniel Eppolito will have something to prove as he was a consensus pick to finish in the top 2 of division 1 according to the fantasy league participants, but instead got himself relegated to division 2. In my own case, Agricola has not historically been one of my best game but I have invested a lot of time in the last 18 months or so trying to bring my game up to a world class level. I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I will do my best to claim back-to-back titles.
I’m confident there are many other interesting stories around the players I’m not yet familiar with, but that’s the beauty of a league like this. As the seasons go by we’ll get to see who rises and who falls. Good luck to everyone, and have fun in season 2!