Further to my reply to MikeC_81 above, I just want to say something more about the issue of "elite players" being disproportionately on the receiving end of negative play. The term "elite players" is a bit problematic because up to now it is arguable if there are any such players in the FOG2DL. It was certainly the case in FOG1DL that there were 5 or 6 players in the A divisions who were a grade above everybody else and dominated most seasons, but that situation does not really pertain in the FOG2DL . . . not yet anyway.
If we look at the top 10 of the Player Ratings after Season 1 of the FOG2DL . . .
So if there is a nascent "elite" group then you might expect to find it substantially among these players. So how have they fared in Season 2 of the FOG2DL? klayeckles is involved in a relegation battle and was knocked out of the Themed Event at the group stage; ruskicanuk is mid-table; I had a stinker in my one division and I'm retiring from competitive play because running the tournament/doing scenarios is enough for me; Sennacherib, Lysimachos and schmolywar all did not enter; Cunningcairn has had a much more mixed bag of results this season; rbodleyscott is in a relegation battle in one of his divisions; and Dortmund is still looking for his first point with 5 days left in the tournament. So none of the top 10 are showing signs of progression while the most upwardly mobile players right now include the likes of hidde, pantherboy, Ludendorf, Nosy_Rat, DzonVejn and MikeC_81. It remains to be seen whether they can go on and dominate the FOG2DL in the way the elite group really did back in the FOG1DL days.
One area where I might be able to address this issue of "elite players" being faced with ultra-defensive play is to do with army allocation in sections like Classical Antiquity, Late Antiquity And Early Middle Ages (new in Season 3) where players are asked to make three choices and then are given one of them. In Season 1 and 2 I have tried to maximise the number of first choices for players without almost any regard to the ratings of players in a division. So, if you are a top-rated player and have put Carthaginians or Romans as your first choice army then you have been given it wherever possible. What I could start doing from Season 3 is to allocate the armies starting with the lowest rated player in a division first. This would mean that if you are, say, in the top 5 of the player ratings, then you would not be getting one of top tier armies such as the Carthaginians or the Romans very often.
I can use MikeC_81's army tier list in conjunction with the player ratings for these army allocations. See these threads . . .
What I might also need to say is that players should choose 4 armies at the outset (instead of 3) and that players no longer should indicate a preference. You pick 4 armies you are prepared to use and you will get one of them. I will have to test this to see whether the selection of a fourth army is absolutely necessary. I think it might be because the system that I am proposing here will have less flexibility than the one that I am using currently (me just choosing armies for everyone).
I think that this very mild form of handicapping (because that is what it is) could reduce the number of matches where a player feels he is outclassed by both his opponent and by his opponent's army and therefore resorts to negative play. My feeling is if a player in mid-table or below feel they have got a slightly better army than a top player, and they have not been stitched up by the terrain generator, then they are much more likely to have a go at winning a game rather than sitting in terrain.
Would this, along with a new marginal victory rule and the new 2-turn restart rule, help to reduce the problem of negative play?