Understanding kill:death ratios
internetexplorer Join Date: 2011-10-13 Member: 127255Posts: 1,369Members
edited March 2012 in NS2 General Discussion
Instead of crying when people mention themI see people arguing about kill-death ratios (KDRs) in a few different threads, and I want to clear up some misconceptions. I'm going to paraphrase a post I made here.
What the heck is a KDR?
Simply put, a KDR is the ratio of someone's kills to their deaths. Look at the scoreboard - Bob has 5 kills and 4 deaths. He has a 5:4 ratio, or a mean 1.25 kills per death. Sue has 3 kills and 17 deaths - she has a 0.18 KDR.
What games have KDRs?
Any game that has kills and deaths, or more generally any game that has losses and gains. In FPS games, KDR is a standard measure.
In RTS games like Starcraft II, you might look at something like 'cost of units lost'
What should the KDR mean to me?
You should treat the KDR as a measure of how effective a player is being. Consider a pure deathmatch game, where the goal is to get more kills than the opponent in 5 minutes. If your KDR is greater than 1 (more kills than deaths) you are winning. If it is less than or equal to 1, you are not winning.
Of course, we're posting on the NS2 forums and NS2 is not that simple hypothetical game. It's a strategy game with resources and power nodes and all sorts of stuff! So the KDR doesn't matter, right? Wrong!
How does KDR analysis apply to Natural Selection 2?
To understand this, you have to take on a large-scale view of this game.
First, what do players do?
- Fight things
- Build things
- Move around the map
- Sense things
- Relay information to teammates
- Purchase things with resources
All of these are important to being effective in this game. If all you do is fight things, but you never relay information or move to key areas of the map, you aren't being as effective as you could be. If all you do is die, you're not doing much. You can die "for" something - to find out that a hive is building, or to bite down an observatory. Those can be considered 'effective' deaths, but the KDR has nothing to do with those. Or does it? If you bite down an observatory and then die, the player who killed you prevented further damage - the KDR increase he felt was matched by yours decreasing, and it is tied to him helping his team in the large scale.
KDR applies to everything players do (including commanders).
Let's explain why!
- Fighting things - If you kill enemies and they don't kill you, they are dead and you are alive. They are in the spawn queue. Their IPs/eggs are occupied.
- Building things - when an area is rid of enemy presence, you can safely build in it. The same is true for your opponents who want to kill you and build on your corpse.
- Moving around the map - living players can move around the map and dead players cannot. When people die in combat, the ratio of "team A movement : team B movement" changes a bit more
- Sensing things - Living players can see and hear things, but dead players cannot. This ties in with moving around the map. The team that is getting more kills is getting a clearer picture of the game state, by moving around the map and scouting it.
- Relay information to teammates - this ties into the last two ideas as well. When you kill enemy players, you limit their usefulness to their teammates who could be miles away, simply because they cannot coordinate or share information (the dead players cannot see what is happening where they died)
- Purchasing things - when you kill someone who bought a lifeform/upgrade/armor, they need to spend more money to buy it again (because they respawn as a skulk or rifle marine). You damage the enemy team more if you kill 'key' targets who are worth more resources
- Dying - when you die, you lessen the amount of information, map control and flexibility your team has available for a period of time
So, that's how each of the factors works in the small scale. What about in the large?
- When lots of players die in the field, their commander has very little information available until they respawn and return to their positions.
- When players repeatedly die with bought guns/armor/lifeforms, their available PRes (personal resources) decreases faster than it grows. If the trend of ineffectiveness continues, the dying players are reduced to a state where they cannot buy guns/lifeforms.
- When lots of players die on a team, that team loses the ability to react to new information safely. For instance, if 5 of your marines die at 'the main front', and one guy finds a new hive building at the same time, you're down 5 players that could be running to that hive. The aliens get more time to build up defenses.
B-b-but NS2 has mechanics to circumvent this!
Yes. When you need all your players to spawn in a hurry, you use a beacon. When you want your players to be more effective in combat, you use medpacks/nanoshields/umbra/cloak. Guess what, though? Every time you use one of those things you're spending a resource. This brings us to the most important reason for pursuing kills in this game: forcing the enemy team to spend resources. If they spend resources and defeat you in combat with minimal losses, you may have made a mistake. If they spend resources and you defeat them in combat, you have made extra gains (beyond the scoreboard, map control etc). Either way, they spent something. If you were being complacent and standing beside a building with nothing attacking you, the enemy team wasn't spending anything on you.
What is a good/bad KDR? What analysis can I do with this?
Here are some ideas about it that you can apply to your gameplay:
- KDR > 1 means you're killing more than you're being killed. This is good.
- KDR <= 1 means you're killing as much as or less than you are being killed. You may not be performing effectively in combat. You may be helping in other ways (welding, building, healing) but your player is not deeply affecting the core of the game.
- If you are playing a role that de-emphasizes combat (builder gorge, welder/guard marine, phase gate ninja etc) KDR still tells us how effective you are. If you are dying over and over, you are not free to weld/build anywhere you need to. You don't need to get kills to be an effective welder, but you do need to be alive. When you're not in combat, you want your KDR to remain stable.
- If you are playing a combat-heavy role, your KDR is very important, but it does not tell the whole story. If you kill every alien on the map, but they have all the resource nodes, what was the point in killing them? You should try to kill buildings and take back map control every time you get a kill.
- Glance at all the kill:death numbers on the scoreboard. Are the 2 teams' ratios close? You are probably playing a close game. Are the 2 teams' ratios very different? You are probably playing a game that is about to end. This leads to the most important part of all...
- KDR is about trends - when the overall KDR effectiveness of a team increases, that team is free to gain a variety of advantages. When overall KDR decreases, that team is more vulnerable.
- Ideally, you want the KDR of everyone on your team to be >1. This doesn't mean you try to hog all the kills - you have to split tasks effectively with teammates so that they don't die and make you vulnerable. While you're moving around the map building things and figuring out your strategy, make sure lots of enemies die and your teammates live. Don't hang your teammates out to dry, and don't hold up a white flag in front of a skulk's teeth.
I don't want to write any more, but I think anyone who read all those words should get the idea. Time for a conclusion!
KDR is important to understanding this game. It applies to all players, regardless of the role they are playing, and it applies to more than combat. It is not simply a tool for bragging rights - it's an easy quick way to see how a game is progressing, and how effective the players/teams are being. It is not the only measure of effectiveness, but it is a very important one.
Just because this game has 'strategy' concepts and support roles doesn't mean that you should be okay with dying a lot.
Just because it has FPS elements doesn't mean that you should play like Rambo and ignore your team.
Please don't make excuses for a low KDR - it's great if you are filling a support role, but you could do it much more effectively if you died less. This is always true.
Please don't diminish the accomplishments of players with high KDRs - they are paving the way for your team's victory, even if they're not talking to you much or building things.
Hopefully you can use KDRs as a measure of your effectiveness to help yourself improve, or to identify moments of weakness where you can attack your opponents and win games. If not, your eyes definitely got a good workout reading this. Thanks!