Chart: all playable characters in Super Smash Bros.

I’ve never seen anything exactly like this, so I decided to make one. Follow the path of your favorite characters through four games and four systems.

In retrospect, a circular design might have been easier to stomach. Or a vertical design. I’m not a designer. Regardless. Here you are. Click to embiggen.



Miami 31, Nebraska 41

First, I want to express how happy I am that Nebraska beat Miami. I would have rather lost to McNeese (on principle) than lose to Miami.

Second, I knew that Ameer Abdullah was really good, but this game could be a season-defining performance. His total dominance and inability to be tackled were legendary, and carried the Huskers to victory.

Third, there was a Miami fan sitting at the very front of my part of the student section, and while he wasn’t exactly being quiet, he still put up with a hell of a lot of abuse from a couple drunk guys a few rows behind me. I gave him a “good game” as I was leaving and I think he appreciated it.

Fourth, a brief story: after Miami took the field and the game was almost ready to start, two banners popped up in the South student section: one saying “WELCOME” and another with the Miami U logo.

This was interesting. I don’t know if we’ve ever welcomed anyone quite so graciously — we clap for their starters but that’s about it.

Then the U disappeared, and I’ll let this picture show what popped up in its place:

Welcome to your worst nightmare


Sparq camp!

I got to go through a Sparq camp! I’ve had to explain this to a few people, so I’ll break it down:

The NFL does this thing called the NFL scouting combine, and it’s a week-long event where invited players (aka the cream of the incoming draft class) get invited to test their strength, speed, and agility in measurable ways. It’s something that NFL teams, and the public, use to rank athletes, and while it’s not the final say in who’s good, it certainly helps competition.

Nike does this thing called a Sparq camp, which is similar but much smaller and for high schoolers (and 7th / 8th graders), and it consists of four events: a 40-yard dash, a run-left, run-right, run-left agility test, a kneeling medicine ball throw, and a vertical jump. It’s partially to track your improvement, partially to show to colleges, and partially to rank yourself across all high school athletes, which Nike does with some form of ranking.

Hudl, who partners with Nike to get Sparq data on up their website for athletes who have completed these camps, decided to coordinate one of these camps in-house, just for a little friendly competition. So I jumped for it!

I don’t remember my stats exactly. My 40-yard dash was around 5.2 seconds, I think. My agility score was worse, closer to 6 (and in my defense, I didn’t have cleats). I don’t even remember the ball toss. It was miserable. But I managed to get 27 inches on the vertical leap, which is just slightly below the apparent average of 27.3 inches measured from all of last year’s camps. In fact, it’s only half an inch lower than Clay Matthews’ score when he went through the camp [same link above]. That’s sort of cool.

I’m really curious how I did relative to the other Hudlies. Not first, I know that, but I’m curious where I am. If being a goalie did nothing else for me in life, at least it let me jump okay.

Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24

What an… interesting game, with a great finish. Couple notes:

The band played Everything is Awesome, the song from the Lego Movie, during the 3rd quarter. That was neat.

Westerkamp had another crazy one-handed catch, and he laid himself out for a third but that one got called back on a penalty. I think Westercatch is a real nickname now. As long as he never returns punts.

My dad texted me, “AMEER FOR PRESIDENT!!” directly after the end of the game, and it made me laugh a lot.

Finally, a super-serious analysis / post-game short video of condolence from, click here.

Dissecting Pocket Battles

pocket-battlesSo Pocket Battles is this nifty little board game that’s contained within a small box. It’s a two-player strategy game: you set up your armies individually, deploy them on the battlefield, and pit them against each other by moving them around and rolling dice. It’s fairly quick and pretty fun, and there are 4 boxes (with 2 armies apiece) which makes for a lot of mix-and-match battles.

Something that I really like doing with board games, and dice games in particular, is trying to crack them. What are the odds of xyz happening, what’s the average performance? I’ve done this previously with Six Cubes and to a point with Risk (and I’ve done a little not-talked-about work with Parcheesi and Yahtzee, which I’ll have to talk about someday). Pocket Battles is a game full of variables and odds, and it was a challenge to come up with something I could work into something I could use.

In the future I’d like to put the algorithm I used on GitHub, because GitHub is a neat place and I hope that someone else on the internet can use my code, as I stole and rearranged it from the internet. For now I just want to briefly talk about what the algorithm can do, and a couple questions I had.

How good can a charging unit get based on attack dice alone? The only special trait the algorithm really takes into account is +x Wounds, which apply extra wounds only if you land a hit, which doesn’t affect hitchance obviously but makes your bottom line damage look a lot better. So what’s the tradeoff between +wounds and just +targets?

Let’s consider the Orcs, who can make a Unit [Bugbear + Standard Bearer + 2 Gnolls] with 4/4/5/6 targets, 4 dice on a charge, and +2 wounds; if you switch out one troop [Gnolls for Orcs], you get 3/4/4/5/6 targets but only +1 wound. How do these units compare? We’d like to look at the probability that we’ll do ANY damage — consistency is always good — and we’d like to look at our most likely outcome as well as our last wound target before we fall below 50% likelihood, so we can try and guess whether our unit will kill an enemy unit.

[all percentages are rounded off, for those keeping score at home.]

The first unit, which has two Gnolls, has a 94% chance of dealing any damage at all (and the minimum is 3, so that’s where the scale starts). The most likely outcome is 4 damage, with a 25% occurrence (though 5 damage has a 24% occurrence, so you have nearly a 50% chance of dealing 4 or 5 damage), and we will deal at LEAST 5 damage 52% of the time.

Those are some sweet numbers. Let’s swap out a Gnoll for an Orc, which gives us another die target but removes a +1 wound, and try again.

This new unit, with an Orc, has a 99% chance of dealing any damage at all, the minimum being 2 here. The most likely outcome is 4 damage, with a 28% chance, followed by 5 damage, with a 25% chance, so more than 50% of all outcomes will deal 4 or 5 damage. We have a 72% chance of dealing at least 4 damage (before falling off to dealing at least 5 at 44%). What does this mean?

It means that the Orc unit is more consistent at dealing wounds at all, but the double-Gnoll unit deals more wounds when it hits. The difference between 99% and 94% doesn’t feel large, but that difference only gets larger the fewer dice you have — if, for example, you receive a wound and your Standard Bearer goes down (losing you one die), the double Gnoll unit now only hits 88% of the time vs. the Orc unit hitting 96% of the time.

Does the Confederacy have any advantages over the Union in long-range weapons? As the first box I played with, I got a lot of experience with it, and it’s interesting how unfair it can feel. The Napoleon Gun, a Union rifle, can shoot almost anywhere on the battlefield and can be paired with a Captain for 3 dice against targets of 4/5/6. Its counterpart, the Confederate Withworth, costs 1 more and has 5/6/6 targets (though still 3 dice when paired with a Lieutenant).

Seems like the Union gun would be much more consistent, and you’d be right: it deals at least 1 damage 88% of the time and at least 2 damage 50% of the time, where the Withworth only lands at least 1 hit 70% of the time and at least 2 48% of the time, both less than the Napoleon Gun. It’s not until you to 3 and beyond that the Withworth picks up, but it’s only a 20% chance of dealing 3 or more wounds. The important stat here is the first one — you generally can’t afford to have your backline miss.

The Confederates have another backline rifle, though: the Parrot Rifle, which has no Wide Arc trait but regains 4/5/6 targets and has +1 wound. What’s its stats? You roll one less die (we’re assuming paired with the Lieutenant again), so that’s a first strike, but does this ruin it? Odds of landing a hit (at least 2 damage) are 75%. This is neat and all, but remember the Napoleon Gun basically splits this percentage between its 1 and 2 wound hits (88% and 50%; this is not an exact data point) and retains Wide Arc, which the Parrot Rifle could really use.

What if the Confederates get the first shot with the Ordnance Rifle (plus Lieutenant)? This has 4/5/6/6 targets, but no long-range trait, and thus is unlikely to see a lot of serious action, but we’re bold and theoretical here. Still at a 75% hit rate, same as the Parrot Rifle. Indeed, the Ordnance Rifle is less effective than the Napoleon Gun as both 1 and 2-wound points, and is only slightly higher once you hit 3 wounds (14% vs. 13%). And it’s on the front lines, getting destroyed.

What about Union’s other guns? They’re both 5/6 targeting, 4-dice-rolling frontline units (and thus vulnerable), but what if they go first? Odds of them landing at least 1 wound are 80%, and their 2-wound-or-more stat is only a percentage point lower at 41% than the Ordnance’s 42%. Oh, and did I mention that they don’t even need the Captain to do this. Truthfully, the Union’s artillery outstrips the Confederacy in almost every way, unless you’re particularly lucky with your rolls.

So what about this algorithm? I’m hoping to scan the cards here soon and get some simple GUI yoinked up, so I (or you) don’t have to type numbers in manually anymore. The only trait I want to add special support for is the Orcs’ Blood Lust trait, which is interesting. Basically, this should be a tool to guide your army-building, based on percentages, though you can usually remember that, in general, targets add reliability, +wounds add high-end damage, and extra dice do a bit of both. Check back later for the algorithm itself, if I clean it up, and more pictures and talking.

First draft of college football map

This does have a specific long-term purpose, and no I’m not telling you what it is. Suffice to say it’s entirely too enormous for me to probably complete.

Regardless. This map shows all 73 NCAA D-1A (the FBS) schools in an automatically-qualifying conference as of 2013 (check Wikipedia’s page for more information), with some semi-arbitrary paths between schools of the same conference. The Big Ten is red, the Pac-12 is green, the ACC is blue, the AAC is yellow, the Big 12 is orange, and the SEC is purple. (And Notre Dame is black, but screw them.)

I switched Rutgers and Maryland just because I know off the top of my head that they’re switching to the Big Ten come the 2014 season (thought the basis is a year old). I didn’t check any other schools.

Hopefully I’ll talk more about this in a while.