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Archived Ladder Mechanics

These are the mechanics we played with when the ladder was active. This page is preserved for memory's sake, but most of these systems are no longer operational.

Ladder Structure

This is a single tier ladder. Any pilot can play any other pilot. If you beat someone, you take their rank.

Valid and Required Games

This is a Descent ladder. Games may be played in D1, D2, or D3. Mods are valid unless the rules explicitly say otherwise. No other 6DoF games qualify.

D1 is required, the others are optional. Everyone is expected to meet challenges in commonly played D1 levels, schedules permitting. The other games may be played by mutual consent.

Match Structure

Matches are to 20, win by 2.

If there are shots in the air at the end of a match, you still have to dodge them. If they get you, the kill counts in the final score. A match is over when everything that was moving has come to a stop -- smart blobs have timed out, the winner is safely away from the reactor, that sort of thing. Do not respawn while waiting for the dust to settle.

Matches are played on insane difficulty, without spawn invulns, colored dynamic lighting off, and start immediately when the pilots spawn in game. These settings may always be changed by mutual consent, but changing the game difficulty is not recommended and may distort your skill rating.

If you want a match to count both for DCL and as a Rangers scored game, you need to explicitly state either "DCL Rules" or "Ranger Rules".

Skill Ratings

Pilots are rated by skill as Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Ratings are handled by an algorithm that compares kill/death efficiencies. If the ladder thinks you can consistently get 13 kills on the top player in a skill class, you will qualify for that rating. Whether you are winning or losing a match, you should try to keep your efficiency as high as you can.

When you consistently get results better than your current rating, the ladder will offer you the opportunity to take a test to be promoted. If you accept, you will play five matches against pilots from the next higher class. If you do well enough, you will be promoted. On the other hand, if you consistently get result worse than would be expected of someone in your skill class, the ladder will offer you a demotion. You can either accept it, or take (and pass) the promotion test again to stay in your class.

Wins, losses, and streaks are tracked separately for each skill class. Each pilot will have a win/loss record against Gold, Silver, and Bronze pilots. A streak against Silver pilots will not be broken by a loss to a Gold or Bronze pilot.

New pilots joining the ladder are Unrated (red). To receive a rating, you must play at least five matches, and you must play against at least three different opponents.

Any matches played against unrated pilots do not affect your record or awards.

Rating class size is determined dynamically by pilot skill spread. If all pilots are close in skill, it is possible that the Silver or Bronze classes may not have any pilots in them.


Any ranked pilot has the right to issue a formal challenge to any other ranked pilot. There are no restrictions on who you can challenge or why. If you are here, you are a competitor, you will be tested and you will test others!

When you receive a challenge, you will be notified via email and on the web site. You have two weeks to play a match to answer the challenge. A challenge can request that you defend your home level or a trophy. Otherwise, the conditions are negotiated as normal. If you cannot come to an agreement, use a random core level.

Challenges are serious, so there are limits how often they can be issued. You can only issue a challenge once every 15 days, and you can only receive one challenge every 15 days. And you cannot reissue a challenge to a pilot until 30 days have passed since you last challenged them.

Please take the challenge system seriously, and treat your opponents with honor! You are expected to make a reasonable effort to schedule and play the match as soon as is practical.

If you receive a challenge and are too busy with life to be able to meet it, it is considered honorable to retire right away. If you do this, you won't be able to unretire for 15 days. On the other hand, completely ignoring a challenge is considered very dishonorable. If you do it more than once, you may want to consider whether you posess the degree of put up or shut up necessary to be a part of a highly competitive ladder. We may give you a long suspension to contemplate that . . .


This ladder runs on four month seasons, which change at the beginning of January, May, and September.

When a new seasons starts, all records, awards, and rankings are archived in the History area. You keep your current rank, rating, and any active trophies. Everything else starts over.

Inactive players and trophies are retired at the end of each season. Profiles may be moved to the History area, but are never deleted for inactivity.


There are three types of awards: Medals, Ribbons, and Trophies.

Medals are competitive awards, recognizing high skill and achievement as a pilot.

Ribbons are participation awards, recognizing pilots who play a broad range of opponents and levels.

Trophies are king-of-the-hill competitions in a subgame. Defeating the current holder of a trophy in that game will take it away from them.

A full description of regular awards can be found on the awards page. In addition, custom awards will be created seasonally to recognize particularly notable achievements. Pilots are encouraged to nominate each other for custom awards and recognize active subgames.


You may challenge another pilot to a rivalry. If they accept, you become rivals for the season. Rivalry standings are displayed publicly alongside the main ladder standings, so choose wisely.

The Nemesis

If there is another player you play a lot of close matches with, the ladder may automatically select them as your nemesis. If you do not have a rival, your record against your nemesis will be reflected in the standings.

Practice Matches

Matches may be played as Practice Matches by mutual consent. These matches appear on your match history, but do not affect ranking, rating, statistics, or awards. These are intended for use by rusty pilots, pilots trying out an unfamiliar game, or pilots who simply want a low-key match.