The 2012 season was a big year for AFL Dream Team but it was a frustrating one. The playing field has changed in AFL and the way we are playing DT has changed as well. While 2011 was a unique season with multi-bye rounds and a weekly bye due to 17 teams in the competition, this year was arguably much tougher thanks to a trio of multi-bye rounds through Rounds 11-13. Even with being able to use 3 trades a week over those rounds, coaches copped numerous donuts. The AFL have announced that the fixture for 2013 will remain the same as this year. This means that we’ll have the byes again in the same format.
I’m of the opinion that something has to change.
I am a hardcore DT coach… but I’m not a stupid one. The selling point of AFL Dream Team is simplicity and that there are thousands of coaches that play the game for leagues. The problem is that the byes seemed to have lost some players.
On the right is the traffic increase we had on our site this year. We were basically looking at a 50% increase on 2011 figures (the January 73% increase would have been in part to the early release of the Team Picker for people who purchased the Assistant Coach).
The bye weeks ran through June and while there was still an increase, there was a fair drop off of traffic. This is a usual thing around this time we’ve noticed in our 6 years of running DT Talk as a lot of coaches have used trades at around this time… but the percentage goes off the traffic at the same time last year. It did pick up slightly in July but then dropped off in August getting back close to the same traffic as 2011.
So a long story short, our traffic dropped off due to the byes. I don’t have access to the actual DT site figures, but I am tipping there would be a correlation.
How do we fix this?
I would say that about 5-10% of coaches take the game seriously (and this is being conservative). This isn’t a definitive number, but somewhere between the top 15,000-30,000 teams are the ones who would frequent sites like ours, have strategy in how they play the game, know what they are going when it comes to the byes, etc. That leaves a lot of coaches who you would call your ‘casual’ players.
We need to keep people engaged in the game for the duration of the season.
Before I ramble on any more, some things that people need to know before they offer up their solutions/opinions:
- “Why don’t we just start playing league games from Round 1?” – all well and good, but the maths doesn’t work. We have two ‘non-league’ rounds and play through the three byes. If we were to play the first two round, then we’d have to choose one bye round to play. How would we choose which round? Once we do, teams will be similar based around that. The game won’t go on hold around that time as there would be more of a drop off. Combining rounds is an answer for some, but coding, manipulation, etc would put a line through that.
- “What about smaller leagues?” – not a bad idea, but DT prides itself on being close to the real game, so I think leagues of 18 will stay – therefore this won’t be a desired solution.
- “How about a rolling lockout?” – no, no, noooo… this is not a solution. I’m sorry – I live and breathe DT, but even I won’t be able to stick to my computer, iphone, etc to be on top of late outs for 9 games a weekend over 23 weeks. It can’t be biggest nerd wins.
- “What about the supposed 2-2 substitute structure?” – I’m not even entertaining this fact… it won’t happen as far as I’m concerned.
There’s probably a heap of other stuff that people have thrown around in discussions about changing the game… but we have to keep it in mind that the game isn’t really broken. It just needs a few tweaks. Simple solutions are the key. Something that will be a winner for the hardcore DTers as well as the Average Joe that logs in on Friday arvos to check their team to take on their mates.
BYE ROUND SOLUTIONS
Without knowing all of the ins and outs of Virtual Sports, but understanding what could be likely scenarios without going crazy, here are some options for how the game is played in 2013.
1. Keep the game the same
Maybe we just had a mega unlucky year, especially during the byes. Everyone is on the same playing field and as a coach who loves a challenge, I didn’t mind how it worked… but being realistic, I am in a small % of coaches who enjoyed this. While part of the charm of DT is to enjoy the highs and lows, the lows were very deep for some and therefore we lost players.
2. Increase the bench like in 2011
If we increase our squads to 33 – adding a bench position in the defender, midfield and forward positions – will allow us greater flexibility to cover players through bye rounds. This will still require some luck and adequate trading as you’ll still need to work hard to field 22 players. The positive is that this will be much easier to cover bye-donuts, but the negative is that I feel the extra three bench players is a bit of overkill for the second half of the season and changes the game a bit there. The number of trades should just stay the same here… but a small increase to help with engagement would be fine by me.
3. Play a smaller team during bye rounds
This was my preferred solution for this year and as Tbetta has mentioned it in his Bullets this year, would make a lot of sense. In short, instead of playing 22 players over the byes, we play 18 players – one less per position (6 defenders, 5 midfielders, 1 ruck, 6 forwards). This would mean that less than two thirds of our squad was playing and getting us closer to being able to field a full team. The ‘zeroes’ is what irked coaches the most about the MBRs so this would help coaches all round. The negative here is that teams/scores may become similar over these weeks, but it would only be for 3 rounds of 23 and wouldn’t effect the rest of the season like extra bench players would. Keeping the 24 trades – still with the ability to use 3 trades over byes – is the way to go with this structure in my opinion.
4. Take best 18 scores during byes
This is an extension of the above suggestion. The best 18 scores would be taken regardless of position. This should keep unique team structures a big part of the game and not dictated by the byes more than the above method. While this set up would annoy coaches who like the challenge, it keeps everyone on the same playing field and would get us through the byes with limited carnage.
Ok… so they are 4 of the simple and likely ways the game will be played in 2013. If you have other ideas, post them in the comments, but remember that simplicity will be the key.
A NEW WAY OF TRADING?
Maybe we look at the game in another way… keeping it the same but having two trades per week, use them or lose them. Keep our squad of 30 but we can have two trades per week. I would suggest that would be increased to 3 per week of the MBRs to make sure we can get close to having a full team on the park.
I would love this as it would keep people playing for longer… the trick will be in making the magic number work properly so it’s not ‘too easy’ (I hate using ‘easy’ as I’m not driving a Toyota around from DT). Maybe prices increase from Round 1?
AN OPEN FORUM
Here is a chance for you to have your say on the state of the game and how you would like to see things change in 2013. It could be as simple as some functionality within the game… some suggestions for features such as the Assistant Coach, the iPhone/Android apps, etc.
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