Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Interview with Damian a.k.a. LLV

Hey Everone!  Today I have an interview with Damian a.k.a. LLV or as some might know him, The Stats man.  You can hear his updates weekly over on The Honest Wargamers live shows if you like to deep dive on how different armies are doing currently based on events across the world.  I wanted to peel back the label of the Age of Sigmar stats he collates to see more about the hobbyist and what drives him in our hobby.  I hope you enjoy, as I have, finding out more about Damian and learning his Warhammer origin story and learning more about his passion for the hobby and game we all love.

What got you interested and started in the Warhammer and the Wargaming Hobby?
Many many years ago in the early 90's I was walking down High street in Leeds and saw a Games Workshop Store and I found myself looking at the cool minis in the window.  It really captured me and after seeing the TV advert for Hero Quest that following Christmas, after months of pestering my family, I received Hero Quest as a gift.  As I got older my mother took me into a Games Workshop to pick out my first real box kit and I choose an avatar of Khaine and the 2nd Edition Eldar Codex.  After that, I was hooked.  I picked up some more Warhammer 40,000 models as time went on as I loved the aesthetic. Then after getting the 40k 2nd edition box set, I spent many hours playing games with a good friend on the floor with whatever we could find as terrain.

I eventually moved into Necromunda after I saw it released at a Gamesday and then got into Mordheim and even Inquisitor as time went on. I don't think there's a GW game that I haven't dipped my toe into at one point or another. I played GW games on and off again with the usual break around my early twenties for school and my time in the military.  I eventually found myself back in the hobby with Warhammer Fantasy when the Ogre Kingdoms came out during 7th edition.  This is when I really began to sink my teeth into the game and found it becoming a passion. Shortly after I moved from England to Canada leaving a lot of my collection behind and restarted Warhammer as 8th edition launched. I collected a few more armies over the years and then the End Times came out.  I very much enjoyed that time, especially the advancement of the lore and listening to the book coverage on Garagehammer!

It was around that time I managed to slip on some ice and break my hand. I was heartbroken as I couldn't build or paint for a very long time as the End Times wrapped up.  Surprisingly, I am mainly a painter and a hobbyist primarily as opposed to a competitive player despite my love of the Stats of the Meta. With the game I loved 'dying' and me not being able to work on models due to my hand, it really stalled my hobby and I decided to put my models and paints away for a bit.  I picked up Magic: The Gathering as Age of Sigmar was released and although I didn't play or paint at that time I still kept up on various podcasts as well as watching the new Warhammer TV streams as the company began its Community Team. While I put the hobby aside due to my hand and didn't immediately return to it I couldn't quite let it go.

Eventually, the juices really began flowing to get back in the hobby fully and go and dive into Age of Sigmar! As a Magic player I was always looking at deck builds and what decks are being played commonly and I saw that the Age of Sigmar didn't have anything like this outside of a few discussions on forums and Twitter. So as a 'new player' I felt somewhat lost. I decided then to collect and organize stats from various events for my own benefit.  Eventually, I saw it as something that would likely also be useful for the larger community and something I could do as a way to give back.

What armies do you play and what are you working on right now?
I am committed to flying over to BOBO event in May and I currently have about 1500pts of Legion of Nagash completed, but I fear traveling with fragile models I have put way too much time and effort into building and painting.  With that in mind, I looked at either Maggotkin of Nurgle or Stormcast Eternals for the event.  After playing with different lists I decided on an Anvil's of Heldenhammer Stormcast force for the event and it is currently on my hobby desk being built.

What is one of your favorite memories so far in this hobby?
Too many to remember from ages past so I will go with the something since my Hobby resurrection. What really hit the nail on the head for me was the first BOBO coverage by The Honest Wargamer last summer.  That is what really lit the fires under me to begin organizing the stats I had been collecting for myself.  I began to see how much the community really cares to help one another and I was energized to give back to the community that was giving so much to me.  It was after that event I reached out to Rob at The Honest Wargamer about giving him the stats I had collected. They were kind enough to host them and since doing that it's been a pleasure getting to talk and work with so many Event Organizers from around the world and share their events and stories through the result. So it's an ongoing memory!

So looking at your Age of Sigmar Stats break down can you explain how the stats are broken down and used?
Sure, I look at final placing, faction, and the number of wins from the event as a whole, which is the minimum data I need to put an event into the database.  I put it into two separate sheets, one for "Number of Wins", and one for "Final Placings" that include total event score which can include sportsmanship and painting scores.  I will take that info and drill it down to top 10 lists, top 3 placings, etc... that can be sorted as needed.  These sheets will update the primary graphs and tables that can be seen on TheHonestWargamer.com or posted on Twitter.

The most challenging part of it is pulling the info from the data I receive.  We have a large variety of tools to run events, but they can be very different in how the present information.  I am committed to making sure the data I receive accurately represents what I am given so I never change manipulate any of the data to "fit".  I want to be respectful of the TO's who run the event and make sure the data represents the aim of their event. That's why I show event final standings and wins separately.

How do the stats reflect the idea of Player Skill vs Stats?
Player skill is very hard to truly track so, unfortunately, the stats I put out remove player skill.  While player skill is a big part of ones win/loss records its intangible nature means it can never be truly reflected within the stats.  In the same manner, as someone is rolling well or rolling poorly it can dramatically affect their time at the table, but it isn't something we can truly track without going insane. That's where averages come in. As there becomes a critical mass of data player skill is "normalized" and you can start to see clear patterns relating to factions themselves. Players will always be a component of how well a faction performs but the same is true vice versa. I liken it to a Jockey and a Horse. They're both an important component of who wins in a horse race but the best jockey in the world will likely not win riding a three-legged horse. Keyword being likely. Even a three-legged horse could win if all the other horses fell over. Being a dice game nothing is ever 100%.

What plans and hopes do you have for the project?
I hope to put informed choices in front of people so that a new, current, or returning player can use the information to make an army choice based on their personal goals whether it is to have a powerful army, or are aiming to win with a perceived underdog.  Be it aesthetic, competitiveness, or something else I just hope to help people find an army that helps them reach their hobby goals. Its all about creating informed decisions and having fun along the way. For instance, it seems the entire Australian scene likes to look at the stats as a something to triumph over which I think is fantastic. I think the term is "Hold my Fosters....."!

Any future plans for the project?
Being able to view a Faction Vs Faction breakdown is a big goal we are currently looking at adding in the near future. While player skill is difficult to measure and not all events give me the names are able to give me player names, if we were able to get player names matched to their wins and losses for each event, we could potentially track, via an algorithm, such detail like being able to see what units you do well with and what ones you do not.  Think of it like a music program that suggests what other types of music you would like.  It is a bit ambitious and I am unsure if it is something people would really care to know, but it is a possibility. Basically, as long as people find it useful and keep supporting it by sending in the data the sky is the limit!

Any Final thoughts you wish to share?
I know Stats are not for everyone and some people may choose to not look at them which is perfectly fine to do, but I and many others have found some value in having the data collected.  The overall goal is to help the community with these stats and not harm it and I hope more TO's and events will see the value and be willing to submit the results in order help those in the community who find value in this type of data. Also a few shout outs and thanks:

All the AoS TO's for giving up their time and hosting all these great events.

The Honest Wargamer/ Rob for enjoying the stats as much as I do and hosting them.

"ProfT" for opening my eyes to the possibilities and helping me work on faction vs faction results.

Also, the players who are all a part of the stats and helping the community go from strength to strength!

Where can everyone reach out to you to submit scores, learn more, or ask you questions about what you are doing?
Everything can be seen at The Honest Wargamer website, (www.thehonestwargamer.com), under the stats tab, that gets manually update about a week or so after receiving and events data.  Also, usually every Tuesday at 1 pm GMT/8 am EST, Rob and I break down the latest data on The Honest Wargamers Twitch stream.  If you have an event you would like to submit you can reach out to me on Twitter @LLV_Damian or email it to The Honest Wargamers email.