Pinball World Championships – PAPA 20

Every year the Pinball World Championships are hosted by the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association.  The 20th edition of the event, PAPA 20, was in April 2017 and held just outside Pittsburgh, PA.

There were a number of competitions held during the course of the event.  Players were slotted into four Main divisions based on their incoming World Ranking, and additional contests here held focused on Seniors, Women, Juniors, and daily contests dedicated to older “Classics” machines.

Each division has a series of machines that the players attempt to qualify on.  Players purchase entries for the machines and try to post their best score.  Their scores are ranked against everyone else playing that machine and they earn qualifying points.  The highest qualifiers in each division move on to Match Play format where an eventual winner in crowned in each division!

I’ve created an interactive application in Tableau which is linked below.  Explore the data, and enjoy!!/vizhome/PinballWorldChampionships/Welcome

Monopoly Properties on an Actual Map

Monopoly’s a great game, isn’t it?  Did you know that the properties in the US version of the game are named after actual streets in Atlantic City, NJ?

We had a thought: What would it look like if you drew lines on the ACTUAL streets on Atlantic City?  Well, here you go:

We made this using the ‘Custom Maps’ feature of Google Maps, and the embedded map is below:

View Monopoly Streets in a larger map

Some interesting notes:

  • Click on a road to see the road name.
  • The sub-groups of properties are all physically close with one another.
  • St. Charles Place no longer exists and is now a parking lot.
  • Illinois Avenue was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • The yellow properties of Ventnor Avenue and Marvin Gardens are actually just south of Atlantic City in Ventnor, NJ.  Scroll southwest on the map to see them.
  • Marvin Gardens is actually a set of homes set within a rectangle of streets, and is actually called “Marven Gardens”.  The name was a typo in the original version of the game, and has remained that way in subsequent versions of the game.
  • I made Mediterranean and Baltic a dark purple, which was how it was on my copy of the game. The color was changed to brown in later versions of the game.

Settlers of Catan – Good and Poor Intersections

We created a guide to highlight good and poor areas of resource production to better help you pick intersections to build your settlements in Settlers of Catan.

We assume that you set up Catan as per the game instructions, and that you arrange the tokens in alphabetical order starting with the “A” token at the top of the board and work your way inward in a clockwise pattern, skipping the desert. Looking at your board, determine where the desert hex is and refer to that chart below to see your board’s map.

An Intersection Score is determined by adding up the expected number of resources you will receive from all of the hexes for a given token based on all the possible combinations from the roll of two dice. For example, an “8” is expected to be rolled 5 times for every 36 rolls, while a “12” is only expected 1 time for every 36 rolls. So, an intersection with a “5”, an “8”, and a “11” would expect to produce 4, 5, and 2 resources for 36 rolls, giving it a total score of 11.

Different Good and Poor scales are applied to the Intersections depending on how many hexes touch it. 3-Hex Intersections are statistically going to produce more resources than 1-Hex Intersections, so different ranges are used and can be seen in the chart below.

This guide is only meant to highlight the statistical probabilities of resource production at any given intersection. We understand that gameplay and the placement of resources is of course more complex given things like the types of resources on the board, the harbors you are looking to obtain, and the use of the robber.

What’s interesting is how there are definitely “good” and “poor” areas that exist on the board where there are concentrations of higher probability numbers.  We couldn’t display this on any typical graph, but instead we use a modified geospatial layout of Catan to convey the information.  We could have used a heat map with strong gradations of color, but by defining definite ranges with strong opposing colors, you can see basic ranges and get an idea of where to build.

Click through to after the jump to see the graphs for each of the configurations.

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Which Word Should I Play?

You are playing Scrabble. Or maybe, because we live in the future, you are playing Words With Friends on a supercomputer that fits in your palm. You have the following tiles: CMOHVER. A quick glance sees that you can play COVER for 10 points. Oh wait, you can also play MOVER (10 points) or even HOVER (11 points). Assuming there are no delightful puns or perhaps a clever response to the word your opponent just played, all three of these plays are basically the same. So which should you play? Does it even make a difference? And if it does make a difference, could a graph possibly help you here?

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Most Valuable Cities in “Ticket To Ride”

Update 2016-08-14: This article was translated to Japanese by the team at Big Cats Game Blog.

Ticket To Ride is a great board game where the premise is that you’re a railroad baron at the start of the 20th Century. Along the way you collect “Destination Tickets” and you need to need to connect up two specific cities to score extra points.

Not all cities are created equal, however.  Some cities are represented on “Destination Tickets” more frequently, and some cities only have a few pathways into and out of the city.

We calculated the Most Valuable Cities in Ticket To Ride through a simple formula.  Add up the number of points that you get with a given city, and divide it by the number of paths connecting up that city.

For example, New York City has 57 points associated with it, but there are four paths into the city in a 2 or 3 player game, and seven paths in a 4 or 5 player game.  Compare that to Miami, which is worth 50 points but only has three paths regardless of how many people are playing.  This make Miami and much more “valuable” city to connect up with.

Essentially, the more “valuable” a city, the sooner you need to establish a train line into it.  If not, you run the risk of being cut off from any current points you have in your hand, and any future bonus points from already having a connection there.

We’ve crunched the numbers for the US Map and for all four versions of the game (Original, 1910, Big Cities, and Mega Game) and produced a PDF for your reference to use while you’re playing.

“Ticket To Ride” Most Valuable Cities downloadable PDF

And since we’re a site all about graphs, we offer some key information in graph form.

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