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Pandemic» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is it possible to have "unsolvable games"? (poll) rss

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aeegik norstvv
Belgium
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Following the correct* rules, is it possible to have a game that simply cannot be won?
In practice this would mean that the decks are in a very unfortunate order.

* The roles are random, so assume that you've drawn the worst ones.
* Cards are closed.

Poll: Is it possible to generate an impossible-to-win game?
1. Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), with 2 players
Yes
No
2. Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), with 3 players
Yes
No
3. Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), with 4 players
Yes
No
      69 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov


(same question for expansion here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1634756/it-possible-hav...)
 
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Matt Williams
United Kingdom
Penkridge
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Re: Is it ossible to have "Impossible-to-win-games"?
I imagine that even on the lower difficulty settings and with the best role cards if you start the game and every card you draw for the initial infections is from the same region of the board and then you draw an epidemic card on the first turn you would be pretty much guaranteed to lose.

However if you are asking whether just by looking at the role cards and the difficulty setting of the game you could determine that it would be impossible then I don't think so. I believe that it should be possible to win at any difficulty with any role cards given the right card draw during the game.
 
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aeegik norstvv
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Re: Is it possible to have "unsolvable games"?
(oops, the brackets of these polls could be better worded. Assume the following: 20% means "approximately 20%")

Poll: What is the likelyhood of this happening?
1. on the Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), 2 players?
100% (unsolvable games always occur)
90%
80%
70%
60%
50% (one in two games are unsolvable)
40%
30%
20%
10%
0% (unsolvable games are theoretically impossible)
2. on the Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), 3 players?
100% (unsolvable games always occur)
90%
80%
70%
60%
50% (one in two games are unsolvable)
40%
30%
20%
10%
0% (unsolvable games are theoretically impossible)
3. on the Hardest setting (6 pandemic cards), 4 players?
100% (unsolvable games always occur)
90%
80%
70%
60%
50% (one in two games are unsolvable)
40%
30%
20%
10%
0% (unsolvable games are theoretically impossible)
      20 answers
Poll created by Geert Vinaskov
 
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Michael Z
Australia
Rockhampton
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Re: Is it possible to have "unsolvable games"?
I'm sure there is math somewhere that can solve whether this is solveable or not.
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aeegik norstvv
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Re: Is it possible to have "unsolvable games"?
rassilonsghost wrote:
However if you are asking whether just by looking at the role cards and the difficulty setting of the game you could determine that it would be impossible then I don't think so. I believe that it should be possible to win at any difficulty with any role cards given the right card draw during the game.
You're right, I could have been clearer. It's the former, and I've edited my original post to reflect so.
 
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Conan Meriadoc
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Due to the random initial board, there's always a possibility of having a situation like this:

- Three connected cities of the same color starting with 3 cubes
- First player doesn't have the right cards to reach that zone in one turn
- First turn epidemic in an adjacent city. You now have 4 adjacent, same-color 3-cube cities. Shuffle cards.
- Infection phase : Draw two cards, each of them is a 3-cube city. Each of them causes 4 outbreaks. You lose.

It requires an extremely unlikely sequence of events, but is theoretically possible *regardless of the difficulty chosen*.



Now, the actual percentage of games that are unsolvable given fixed parameters (difficulty setting, characters, etc.) would probably be more interesting to know, but the calculations are out of my range =)





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aeegik norstvv
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Dystopian wrote:
Now, the actual percentage of games that are unsolvable given fixed parameters (difficulty setting, characters, etc.) would probably be more interesting to know, but the calculations are out of my range =)

Just guess.
 
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John
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Re: Is it possible to have "unsolvable games"?
rassilonsghost wrote:
every card you draw for the initial infections is from the same region of the board and then you draw an epidemic card on the first turn you would be pretty much guaranteed to lose.


It's possible to start with 18 cubes of one colour on the board. Lets say these were black (as I think that's the furthest from the start or at least far enough from the start. We'll also assume that whoever goes first has cards for inaccessible cities like Johannasburg & Santiago and no one has any useful event cards. At the end of the first turn an epidemic is drawn and the bottom card is also black adding 3 more cubes for a total of 21. It's plausible that you could have to add 4 more black cubes when drawing from the infection deck and lost at the end of turn 1. It's also possible that you could have 8 outbreaks in a single turn in a scenario like that. None of this requires specific roles or a specific difficulty but obviously is very unlikely (without someone stacking the deck). Even if you didn't lose on the first turn it I'd guess that any possible ordering of the cards after the "Intensify" step would be unwinnable.

I suspect with 6 epidemic cards there are unwinnable games that aren't obviously unwinnable from the start, but proving percentage of games are actually unwinnable would be difficult.
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John
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zayzayem wrote:
I'm sure there is math somewhere that can solve whether this is solveable or not.


There are a lot of possible games - if we ignore the variation in the "intensify step then we have:

number of possible combinations of characters x number of arrangements infection deck x number of arrangements of player deck

This is obviously a very big number (yes it's a rough approximation too). And then you need to work out whether it's actually possible to solve each of the games, which could well be more difficult than solving Go. I think the only practical approach would be to take a random sample of games and try to prove whether they could be solved or not - perhaps getting a computer to generate 100 games and writing an AI to try to win them (or get people to play them through), any that can't be won after a few plays could be analysed to see if they were actually impossible.
 
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John
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What if a game was only winnable if someone made a move that seemed totally illogical? For instance if the only way to win was to place the Quarantine Specialist on the city that was on the bottom of the deck because an Epidemic will be draw at the end of her turn, but it's impossible to know that and the move would make no sense otherwise? Is that game winnable?
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Dystopian wrote:
Due to the random initial board, there's always a possibility of having a situation like this:

- Three connected cities of the same color starting with 3 cubes
- First player doesn't have the right cards to reach that zone in one turn
- First turn epidemic in an adjacent city. You now have 4 adjacent, same-color 3-cube cities. Shuffle cards.
- Infection phase : Draw two cards, each of them is a 3-cube city. Each of them causes 4 outbreaks. You lose.

It requires an extremely unlikely sequence of events, but is theoretically possible *regardless of the difficulty chosen*.

I've had nearly this scenario happen, though we lost from running out of cubes, not outbreaks. I think 6 outbreaks happened in northwest Europe at the end of our first turn.
 
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The first time I played I got 5 outbreaks in the first 3 turns
 
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