There has been an ongoing conversation about making the game easier for newcomers. Quite a lot of folk, understandably, think that the average starting point is too high. If you are an absolute beginner to AoE2 and jump into playing online ranked games, you will at least lose over a dozen games before you win your first match. There have been folks who lost over 20 games before winning a single match. Naturally, this will put off most people from playing online ranked games.

One commonly proposed solution to this is to lower starting Elo of newcomers. So, instead of starting at 1000, let people start at, say, an Elo of 500. To be a little more precise, what you do is to *guess the average elo of all new players* and then set the starting Elo to that.

**You should not do this.**

I will give a very rough explanation here, which should be straightforward and easy to understand. There are a few video links at the bottom for the folks who are more curious.

Elo works with a pool of points which are transferred across players. When someone wins a game, they take points from their opponent and when they lose, they give up points. The exact amount of points will depend upon the elo disparity, but what one player loses, the other player gains.

So, letâ€™s say that we have a game with just 3 players. Weâ€™ll call them Adam, Bob and Chris. All of them start at 1000 Elo. Regardless of how many games they play, the total Elo point we have in the pool is just 3000. This means, if Adam has an incredible win streak of like 100 games and gets an Elo of 2500, only 500 point are left for the remaining two. So, their scores can be 200 and 300, or 150 and 350, or something like that.

Now, letâ€™s say you lower the starting Elo because Adam is too dominant. You add a new player, Dan. He only gets 500 Elo at the start. You see the problem here? The total pool is now just, 3500. This means that if everyone suddenly became equally skilled, the Elo for everyone is 875. Lowering the starting Elo has pulled down the average Elo.

*However, things will get worse*. After adding a lot more players, the average Elo will now be close to 500. Now, you start running into the same problem again. New players added will now encounter average players, just as they did when the starting Elo was 1000. You have not only not solved the problem, youâ€™ve made it worse. Because by the same approach, you now need to lower the starting Elo to, say, 100. Or 0. Or -100. You can just give everyone 500 Elo for free to balance this out, but then you are back to the starting point again.

There is also another problem with this. Since Elo is being pulled down, lower Elo player will start getting matched up with higher Elo players more often. This will reduce the average win rate of low elo players from around 50% now to, say, 40%. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s a good idea.

**So, how do you fix this?**

I will just explain this with the basic Elo system, proposed by Arpad Elo way back in the 60s. Microsoft has since developed and refined their own Elo system. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

There are two formulas in the original system. First one is used to calculate the success probability of the players when two players of known Elos match. What is of interest to us, however, is the second formula. This formula dictates how many points are transferred between players upon a win/loss.

Letâ€™s say that two players of Elos 1000 and 1002 have a match, and the 1002 Elo player wins. How many points should they get from the other player? 10? 15? 50?

What happens if a player with Elo 1000 matches against a player with Elo 2400? In this matchup, the success chance for the 1000 Elo player is less than 0.0001%. So, if the 2400 Elo player wins, they should only get like, 1 point. However, if the 1000 Elo player wins, thatâ€™s a huge upset. They should get a LOT more points.

This was originally encapsulated in something known as k-factor. Various models have since used one or more than one variable(s) to model this idea. This is what needs to change. So, letâ€™s say that a new player will lose around 30 points for each match lost/won for the first 20 games. That would ease the transition a lot more. What if they lose 100 points? You canâ€™t do this because the opponent will have to gain those 100 points, and thatâ€™ll mess up the system.

So, yeah. You cannot mess with the starting Elo. Thatâ€™ll only lead to absolute chaos. There are ways to get around this, but that can be extremely complicated, and often not worth it. Also, Microsoft has its own proprietary Elo rating system which might have other limitations/behaviours.

If you see someone say this in the comments, just link this thread. Letâ€™s root out this misconception once and for all.