Monday, January 10, 2011

The meaninglessness of the 'K/D ratio'

Kids these days.

They come out of the battle simulator and all they look at is their kills to see who 'won.' But then they also look at their efficacy. You should hear the conversations around the water cooler after a simulation run:

"Oh, I had a plus seventeen kay-dee ratio; I rock: I really helped out the team. How did you do?"

I'll tell you how I did, and I'll tell you how you did.

Look, the 'K/D ratio' or 'kills to deaths' first of all isn't a ratio, and second of all to you, meat, is meaningless. Sure to some Colonel in strategic planning or some Brigadier at Headquarters, the K/D ratio of our troops to theirs can help them develop a winning strategy or to set the table at a particular place given what the heat maps say. The K/D ratio is meaningful to someone outside the battle to determine whether to save your ass, ... or to sacrifice it.

Here's what the K/D ratio means to you: if the 'denominator' is a number greater than zero, then it's game over for you, forever. And, sure, you got 'plus seventeen.' Yay. Good for you. When did your first death occur? Because after that, none of your kills count.

Me, that last simulation? I had a 'K/D ratio' of plus nine. Big whoop. I also had zero deaths, so I walked away from that simulation, just like you wouldn't have, if that firefight were real. Why? Because I didn't charge into a well-defended enemy entrenchment. Because I didn't let my emotions and my desire for valor rule my tactics. Because I didn't rush out into the middle of an exposed area to poach-kill, exposing myself to crossfire from smarter enemies who held back in areas of good cover. Because I employed good marine tactics, not allowing myself to be flanked by staying in one position after revealing my position.

Because I didn't indulge in flamboyance, 'teabagging' some poor dead schmuck I just murdered over whom I had the upper hand anyway with the element of surprise, or superior firepower, or better skill at headshots, or just plain dumb luck. And, when I saw the enemy 'teabag' a fallen teammate, I didn't lose sight of the game, and rush in, all furious to avenge a comrade, but I held back and let the enemy come to me and fall under the spell of their emotions, and fall under my short, controlled bursts from my MA5C assault rifle.

We are marines, and our motto is not 'Ready, fire, aim!' as the squids like to joke.

Those 'refined' Navy types are all for making us the butt of their jokes, ridiculing our dedication and our assumed lack of intelligence, until we have to pull their butts out of the fire, and then what is the tone of their voice?

"Marines to the front!" is their panicked cry.

And I do go to the front, but I rush in with my eyes open, armed to the teeth, ready to die, but also with this quote on my lips as I go in:

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

George S. Patton

This post is dedicated to the combat vet damy461 who gives you this lecture, meat, not because he's going out his way to be mean to you, but because he loves you and he wants to save your ass.

P.S. This article front-paged at (with a lively discussion thread favoring the opposite perspective).