By: Dargo Mon Jan 09 2023

The Coldness Bounty


About three months ago, this newsletter’s editors (Dargo4#2798 and Erin [@ ErrantlyErin]) announced they would pay 50 CAD in Blaseball Cares gift cards to whatever team of people figured out what the Coldness player attribute did. Here’s the exact message I sent off to the SIBR Discord:

You may ask: why Coldness? Simply put, we had been wondering what Coldness did as far back as in the Discipline Era. Initial analysis could reveal what the most important player attributes did (“players with high ruthlessness throw a lot of strikes” is fairly easy to figure out with enough data and some mathematics), and across the Discipline and Expansion Eras, we ended up having a pretty decent idea of what most attributes did. But Coldness? SIBR member Kjc (@kjc9) had a wild theory:

While interesting, this theory ended up not being backed by much data, and being overall fairly hard to prove. That was a year and a half ago. Fifteen months passed, and while our knowledge of literally everything else in the sim increased thanks to our RNG research, we still had no lead on Coldness. So Erin and I put out a bounty.

RNG research progressed linearly, from Season 12 onwards. SIBR members painstakingly paired each RNG roll to a game outcome, gradually adding in more mechanics as the game became more and more complicated with the unfolding of the Expansion Era. We were just getting started with Season 18, when we found out that Blaseball would start again on the 9th of January. After the announcement of Fall Ball, I had specified the bounty’s exact end date:

And now, that was rapidly approaching. With only weeks left to go, no one had any real leads. But we had hope.

In S19, there was a pretty big change to the game’s strike/roll formula. In simpler terms, pitchers were throwing more balls and less strikes. We were able to tell at the time, and it was confirmed by further research. We thought that the way TGB had made pitchers throw more balls had been by making other pitching attributes - like say, coldness - relevant to the strike/roll formula. Since this change happened because pitchers’ Ruthlessness had gotten too high and they never threw outside of the strike zone, making other attributes matter more would be the most elegant change, and actually make the star rating displayed on the website a much better description of player skill. Before S19, and to an extent even after, it was not uncommon for 1 star pitchers to greatly overperform their star rating (ex. Betsy Trombone), since Ruthlessness mattered much more than other stats for actual performance, but it was severely underrated by the star rating algorithm.

This theory was correct. But we wouldn’t figure that out until after the Bounty was claimed. Because, it turns out, coldness does many things.

I had asked TGB, in a Reddit AMA, what Coldness did, and got that very befuddling answer. Six things, and after analyzing six seasons, we didn’t even know one. Well, if Joel counts “it affects pitcher star rating” as one thing that coldness does, then we only knew one. But star rating formulas had been known since the very first seasons, so it was nothing new, and certainly not enough to collect the bounty.

I joined the Hades Tigers at the tail end of Season 3. I’ve been with the team ever since, was a team rep for a while, and most importantly I helped organize the team’s election strategy. I and others held polls, set up spreadsheets, and discussed where we should put the team’s votes in order to achieve our objectives. One of the things that made me the most happy about this work was the frankly ridiculous excitement we had for winning Fire Blood. The team went hard for it, and it’s to this day our biggest single season vote getter as a percentage of our total votes, by a considerable lead. So it was very serendipitous to me, personally, that what ended up claiming the Bounty was the discovery that Coldness made Fire Blood less likely to trigger.

It was a very Blaseball solution to the problem. The Colder you are, the less you can rely on your Fiery blood. A quick refresher: the Hades Tigers winning the Fired Up blessing in Season 16 meant they gained the Fiery team modifier, which meant all their pitchers had a chance to throw a “double pitch” instead of a regular one. This meant that a single strike could be turned into two. It’s not the strongest of blessings, but it was quite resonant for us - our team’s biggest strength has always been a rotation full of high strikeout pitchers - and we are the Hades Tigers. Hell is supposed to be hot.  

On the 11th of December, with four weeks to go, SIBR member Kidror (@Kidror19) discovered, by analyzing the game’s RNG rolls, that starting with Season 18, higher coldness correlated with less Fire Blood activations. 

Further research confirmed this. Kidror said they were building off the work of SIBR members Astrid (@AReblase), Beiju (beiju#9630), and glumbaron. Those four people claimed the bounty, paid by the editors of this very journal you’re reading.

So there you have it. That’s one of the many things Coldness does. Meanwhile, we’re reasonably confident SIBR has figured out one more, but we aren’t going to tell you about that yet…