Skill vs. Luck
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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I do not have as much game experience as most of the "geeks" on this site. But I am not new to games. I was reading though the recent list "Luck has nothing to do with it..." and I guess I have a different opinion of luck.

In this list I hope to show a different view of the issue. I intend on showing games that players may have "lucky" results, but still involve skill. And I want to raise questions in "no luck" games of what really defines "luck?"

I will be using games that I know and have played, which is somewhat limited compared to a lot of you, but I can't talk about what I don't know. It may be a shorter list, but I'm sure there are other games I don't know that fall in the same area.

(Hopefully this will go well. Maybe I'm jumping too far with this as a first list, but I'm jumping regardless...Let's get started.)
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1. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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How much is luck and how much is skill? Is calculated risk considered luck or skill? Anyone who take the time to really learn poker knows that any hand can win or lose. They also know that they will not always win. Is the luck of the cards the only thing that seperates between winning and losing? While players are still betting you don't know what you're up against. Sometimes you have the "nuts" and can't lose no matter what, and sometimes your opponent may have that single card left in the deck that can beat you. Did your opponent get lucky by getting that single card? Or did he skillfully hide that detail from you?
 
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2. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1184]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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Here's a game with a lot of dice. How much of this game is luck? The board is set up the same for every game(when played by the rule book). Everybody has the same knowledge available pertaining to the power of the different units. Is it luck that decides this game? Or is it skill by which you calculate the risk when you choose your attacking units? Just because you have more units, or have an advantage does not mean that you can't lose. If you take into account the matter of how the combat system works, you are deciding to take the risk. You are deciding what units you will defend a teritory with. Is luck is defined by the successful results falling on the statistically "less likely" side?
 
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3. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:415] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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Luck in Chess? That depends on your definition. Is luck only decided by random cards and die rolls? Or are you lucky when an opponent makes a blunder that you take advantage of? Again the question is, "What is luck?"
 
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4. Board Game: Ikusa [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:690]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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Very similar to Axis & Allies, but the main difference being a random set up. Which has the heaviest weight, the luck of having many territories in close proximity to each other at the beginning deal? Or the skill you use to evaluate your situation and take the actions needed to make the best of what you have? Again, a player needs to understand the different units, the potential value of turn order(which can change every turn), and realize that die rolls are part of the game. Skill can really shine in the face of unpredictablity.

Can't a game with randomness be considered a skill game? I think the reason people consider so many games to be "luck" games is because they've lost a game when they statistically had the best chance and the results fall on the statistically improbable side. Does skill make little difference?
 
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5. Board Game: Spades [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1320]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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The only luck here is from the deal. How you play the hand based on what you are dealt is where the skill is, in my opinion. Hearts, bridge, euchre, and other trick taking games also belong here.
 
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6. Board Game: The Game of Life [Average Rating:4.19 Overall Rank:15331]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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This game, even though you get to choose go to college or not, and whether you want insurance and stock; has such a miniscule amount of choices that you are truly only along for the ride. No matter how much you know about this game, you cannot under your own power(cheating not included) be a consistent winner because of your "skill."

There are games with no elements outside of the control of it's players, and there are games like this with practically no elements under their control. There are a lot of games that mix the random with players choices. The balance of which depends on your taste. Calm down when the lucky rolls come and try and be satisfied that you made the best decision for the situation. I know it is not as great as winning, but you had the skill right?
 
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7. Board Game: Stratego [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:2277]
Mike Schmidt
United States
Maquoketa
Iowa
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Complete player control. No "luck?" This game is about hiding what your pieces are. The skill is finding the way to identify your opponents pieces and find your way to victory. Is it luck when you capture a piece on the first attempt? How about the second attempt? Was it skillful how you learned the identity of his piece with the first attempt so that you could capture it on the second? Depends on how you play, I guess.
 
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8. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Crazy Bob
Philippines
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I agree with most of what's been said here (I have played lots of A&A for example -- after I while, I almost always won).

I'm curious about this one. A less skilled player can win this game against any other given player apparently, but what's the ratio here? Will the better player win 70% of the time? 51%? How does this game feel?
 
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9. Board Game: De Bellis Antiquitatis [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1828]
 
Sean Swart
United States
Moscow
Ohio
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My idea of a game with Chaos management. A skilled player wins 90% of the time in this game. The key is not overextending yourself. Before I charge in, I tell myself, I will roll a 1, thus figureing out the worse case scenario, and then making sure the odds are in my favor. Also tieing up enemy troops in one area, while gain superiority in another.
 
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10. Board Game: De Bellis Multitudinis [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:4210]
 
James Hamilton
United Kingdom
Stockport
Cheshire
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In the tournament DBM world there is a saying "It's a game of skill..." normally used after a game goes pear shaped on a 2000-1 chance.

Skilled players normally beat weaker players but every game is a risk and even the best player in the world can lose to a minow.

 
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11. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:562]
James Hamilton
United Kingdom
Stockport
Cheshire
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It is not what you roll, it is how you use it.

Skilled players generally do better than unskilled ones
 
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12. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:14511]
Seth Yates
United States
Tempe
Arizona
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Sure, there's some skill of strategy, but the starting positions are random, and your battles always rest with the dice.
 
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