Saturday, July 2, 2022

How to Play Ranked Card Games

NOTICE: This post was originally posted on Medium, but has later been moved to the official World Of Card Games blog to consolidate all posts.

Did you know you can get ranked for many of the card games at World of Card Games? I thought everyone knew this… but maybe I’m wrong.

Recently, I got an email. Someone said it was taking them a long time to get a ranked game going. They suggested that I write a blog post about ranked games. Surely, more people would play ranked games if they knew about them.

I thought to myself, “but, the site has a big message at the top of the screen that says you can play ranked games at World of Card Games! Everyone sees that, and knows the drill. Don’t they??”

There’s a link at the top of the page to a post about ranked games

Well, just in case some people are not aware, I’m going to explain what ranked games are, how to get to them, and how it all got started.

Ranked games give you a score — an “Elo rating” — that is visible to others. This system was originally developed for chess, but has been applied to many other games, including card games.

When you play your first ranked game, your Elo rating defaults to 1500. It gets higher the more ranked games you win. If you lose a ranked game, your rating goes down. For some people, it adds a little bit of competition and excitement to the game. If a person has an Elo rating, you can see it by clicking on the person’s avatar.

World of Card Games did not originally have any rankings. The total number of your wins and losses was recorded, together with a few other statistics, and that was pretty much it. These stats were only visible to you.

There seemed to be a demand for something a little more official. People would email me, saying that the site really needed a ranking system. I guess some people wanted to prove that they were better than your run-of-the-mill card player!

That was okay with me. However, I also chatted with some people who told me that they were vehemently opposed to rankings! This surprised me. Some people just didn’t want any extra competitive element in their games. They wanted the games to stay friendly and casual.

That feedback is why the default option for the site is unranked. And it’s also the reason that it can take longer for ranked games to start, especially at times of the day when it’s less busy. I wish that there was something I could do about this. However, I think it’s most important for everyone to play the way that they prefer, even if it means games take a little longer to start.

Anyway, after a little research, I developed an Elo ratings system, and in October of 2015, people could start to play ranked Hearts! The formula was modified over time based on feedback from players. You can read the details of the Elo ratings system for team games like Spades and Double Deck Pinochle here, or for Hearts here. Over time, the option to play ranked games was added to Spades, Euchre, Double Deck Pinochle, and Twenty-Nine.

Aside from the rating system, there are some rules that apply solely to ranked games.

First, only registered players can play at ranked tables. Guest numbers change over time, so recording an Elo rating for a Guest doesn’t make sense. And because Guest numbers can change, it’s difficult for others to recognize them. I encourage people to register at the site, so that people can then play with people they recognize and like. I hope that giving registered players the ability to play ranked is a good incentive for people to register.

Second, you cannot play a ranked game until you’ve completed 10 games at the site. This is done to make sure that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the site before you try to play against others competitively.

Third, you won’t get ranked unless you specifically choose to be. You do this by taking a seat at a ranked table. Ranked tables show up as purple in the list of tables.

A ranked table appears in purple in the list of tables

You can also play a ranked game by clicking on the Menu button for your game, and clicking the link to “Play Ranked”. Here’s a screenshot showing the Menu button.

The Menu button

Another way to access ranked games is by visiting the home page for your game, where you’ll see a link for ranked tables. There are separate home pages for Hearts, Spades, Double Deck Pinochle, Euchre, and Twenty-Nine. Those are all the games that can be ranked at World of Card Games.

Since ranked games are competitive, there are some penalties if you do something wrong. Specifically, if you quit a ranked game, and don’t return to it within three minutes, you will get banned from ranked play for two hours and you forfeit the game. This penalty is applied to deter quitters, since that behavior upsets a lot of people!

There’s one more thing to note. If you’re one of those people who really does not want to be ranked, and you want to make sure that you never get seated at a ranked table accidentally, then there’s a setting you can apply. From the home screen, click your name in the upper right corner. A panel opens with various settings. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll come to the “Rank me” area. If you uncheck any of those boxes, you will not be seated at any ranked tables in the future. If you change your mind, you can check these boxes again, but it will be seven days before you will be allowed to play ranked again.

“Rank me” settings are found by clicking your name in the upper right corner

Well, I think this is all you need to know about ranked games! Feel free to contact me or comment if you have any questions.