CARL SKUTSCH
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Let us imagine a wargame of some sort. You have a battle. Your units are attacking a key position. There are two sets of rules that you could be playing with:

In Rule Set A, you roll a six-sided die to determine whether or not you will win. If you roll a 1 or a 2 you win, otherwise you lose*. In other words, you have a 33.33% chance of winning.

In Rule Set B, you pick a card from an already shuffled deck of six cards (shuffled before the game started). There are 2 red kill cards, which will mean you win, and 4 black miss cards. In other words, you have a 33.33% chance of winning.

Do we all agree that your chance of winning or losing is the same in both cases? Or is it? In the first case, you might roll any number, whether you win or lose is entirely random. In the second case, the cards are already shuffled; the card on top is going to stay on top and it's already red or black, even before you pick it. In other words, your fate is predestined, already chosen.

Do you think these two situations are essentially the same (in terms of what the odds are)? Would you prefer one to the other? How about a poll?
(And let's assume the die is perfectly balanced and is shaken up vigorously in a regulation backgammon die cup, while the cards have been carefully shuffled by an honest poker dealer for at least 23 riffles before our game started.)

Poll
1. Are the odds when using a die or cards the same?
Yes, the odds are the same.
No, you're better off with the die.
No, you're better off with the cards.
The odds are not the same, but I can't say whether cards or die are better.
2. Never mind the odds, which would you prefer to use when fighting this battle?
The die.
The deck of cards.
I don't care.
      142 answers
Poll created by skutsch



*If you care, losing means that the elves of Gondolin hold the pass and your orcish hordes go whimpering back to the helldepths from whence they were spawned.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Subject to all the constraints given, of course there's no difference.

In practice cards can get marked, and are often poorly shuffled, so dice usually win. Of course dice have their issues too (badly made, poorly rolled) but the card issues turn up more easily.
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Russ Williams
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I'm sort of sad that you didn't give additional options like:

* Draw from a shuffled deck of 12 cards, with values 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6

* Roll a d6 and you succeed on a 5 or a 6

* Roll a d12, and you succeed on 1-4

* Draw a random cube from a sack: in the sack are 2 white cubes and 1 red cube, and the red cube means you succeed

etc, which are all obviously mathematically equivalent, yet some people will insist that they aren't.
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Duncan Russell
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I don't want to get into a philosophical debate because I'm not equipped for it. But....

Yes, the top card is predetermined and it's sitting there waiting to be revealed. But the dice is also predetermined. You know in advance you have to roll a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Card or dice is the same odds and both have predermined outcomes.

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Dave Capozzi
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In terms of odds, the outcome from a shuffled deck of cards is no more predetermined than a die that has already been rolled. It's the act of shuffling or rolling that creates the random outcome. So the only difference is the timing of the act. The shuffling in your example is done ahead of time, while the rolling would be done only when an outcome is needed. The sense of predestination from the deck of cards is a false one, yet it exists. That could change the experience someone would have with the game.

Someone might feel they are in more control of the outcome if they were to roll a die when an event calls for it. This would seem a silly way to think if you are concerned only with the odds. But who plays games just to beat the odds?

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Dave Platt
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There may be a difference over the span of a game, unless the cards are shuffled every draw, but for one event? No difference in my opinion.
I personally would prefer dice, for no other reason than I like rolling dice for such things.
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Russ Williams
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dcapozzi1 wrote:
Someone might feel they are in more control of the outcome if they were to roll a die when an event calls for it. This would seem a silly way to think if you are concerned only with the odds. But who plays games just to beat the odds?

To me, trying to beat the odds sound more appealing (and more honest) than trying to influence the die when I roll it.
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Dave Capozzi
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russ wrote:
dcapozzi1 wrote:
Someone might feel they are in more control of the outcome if they were to roll a die when an event calls for it. This would seem a silly way to think if you are concerned only with the odds. But who plays games just to beat the odds?

To me, trying to beat the odds sound more appealing (and more honest) than trying to influence the die when I roll it.


You are trying to beat the odds either way. Rolling one particular number out of six involves the same odds as selecting one particular card out of six. I would argue, however, that you might be experiencing a different feeling when rolling that die versus selected the top card of a pre-shuffled deck. I agree that this might be illogical, but it's often the experience one gets from a game that is important, not the statistical likelihood of a victory. Illogical feelings can be fun.

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Russ Williams
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dcapozzi1 wrote:
russ wrote:
dcapozzi1 wrote:
Someone might feel they are in more control of the outcome if they were to roll a die when an event calls for it. This would seem a silly way to think if you are concerned only with the odds. But who plays games just to beat the odds?

To me, trying to beat the odds sound more appealing (and more honest) than trying to influence the die when I roll it.


You are trying to beat the odds either way. Rolling one particular number out of six involves the same odds as selecting one particular card out of six. I would argue, however, that you might be experiencing a different feeling when rolling that die versus selected the top card of a pre-shuffled deck. I agree that this might be illogical, but it's often the experience one gets from a game that is important, not the statistical likelihood of a victory. Illogical feelings can be fun.

Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant, but if someone feels that they they influence or "control the outcome" of a die roll, and therefore they prefer rolling dice instead of drawing cards, then (perhaps without consciously thinking about it) they are basically enjoying the feeling that they are cheating (since the result of a die roll in a typical game is obviously intended to be random, rather than chosen or controlled by the player).

(And of course if they really can control the outcome of the die roll, then they really are cheating. They are not "trying to beat the odds" because the event is no longer random, if they control it.)
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The big difference for me is the fact for each and every turn the cards have to be properly shuffled to keep the probabilities the same, the dice randomises itself with every roll.
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Someone above touched on this but I wanted to give my two cents on it.

The only reason there's a different feeling in the way the OP has presented the case is because they are comparing the results at two different times.

Shuffling the cards and not yet having looked at the top is exactly the same as rolling the die and not looking at the result yet.

In BOTH cases your fate has been determined at this point and there's nothing you can do even though you haven't seen the result.

The act of rolling is NOT the same as the act of looking at the card.
The act of rolling = the act of shuffling. (Your fate is now determined.)
Then, you look at the result.

TLDR: Die rolling and card drawing are exactly functionally equal when you compare the acts properly.


All that said, I prefer to roll a die. =o)
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The obvious difference here is that each die roll is in an independent event--the prior die rolls do not affect this one. When using cards, the deck would have to be shuffled every time to make every draw independent. (Which is obviously inconvenient.)

Normally as cards are drawn from the deck, they are eliminated from the deck, so the probabilities change after each draw, depending on which cards were drawn before. Each card draw is a dependent event.

The advantage of cards is the probabilities can be much more variable. Take a game like Up Front there are no less than 21 different numbers printed on every card used for event resolution:
- The Upper Right hand corner has a Random Number from essentially -6 to +6 in a rough bell curve.
- There are 10 numbers at the bottom of each card. Column 1 only has 1's; Column 2, has 1 or 2; Column 3, 1 to 3, etc. up to column 10, which has 1 to 10 (represented as 0). In each column the distribution of each number is as even as possible. Given there are 162 cards only columns 5, 7, 8 & 10 have extra card for 1 or 2 numbers. These numbers are most often to choose a position inside a group (like which man's weapon malfunctions). They are called Random Position numbers.
- Also the color of the Random position is used to resolve situations. Column 1 had ~85% of its numbers are red, column 10 has ~15% red--with percentage dropping from column to column. These are mostly used in infiltration attempts: You check the column based on the number of men in the group you are trying infiltrate, and shift columns for various condition which would make it easier of harder to infiltrate.

In Up Front, since the random numbers are printed on the cards that are drawn into player's hands, enough cards get burned that the probabilities won't slavishly repeat themselves each time through the deck. It also makes card counting almost impossible. Combat Commander uses a similar approach.

The advantage of a die is all events (i.e. rolls) are independent. The disadvantage is each die has provide equal probabilities for each roll. (Though using multiple dice can produce more variable probability curves.)

The advantage of card draws is the probabilities can be tailored by the designer.
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Robert Bracey
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This misses the point. This is an independent anticipatory probability. Dice produce these quickly and easily (it takes less effort to roll once than shuffle and draw) but this is not in practice how cards are usually employed. Usually cards are drawn from the same deck which is reshuffled only under specific circumstances, so the probability is dependent (also typically in games you take an action to respond to the card so it is also reactive).
There will be different emotional responses to the two options, but these are the result of prior experience with games that use them in different ways (independent anticipatory probabilities which are normal in wargames have since the late 90s been universally seen as 'too random' compared to dependent reactive ones, which is why so few euro-games use dice). They say nothing interesting about this case.
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If the odds are the same, then no difference. Also both are random and both are predestined.

But I prefer rolling dice. Cards are much more fiddly. Cards take longer to shuffle well than the time to mix a die in your hands and toss it. Dice are easier to pick up than cards. Cards are easier to damage, so you have to be more careful when handling them. Cards are easier to cheat with once they have small marks on them.

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marc lecours
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A neat thought experiment...

Would you prefer:
1. Rolling a die after you have decided to do something, to see if it succeeds.

or

2. Someone rolled a die with a cup and the die has been under the cup for a few minutes without anyone knowing what was rolled. Then after you decide to do something in the game, the cup is lifted to see if the chosen action succeeds.

This choice (between rolling before or after the decision) deals more directly with the feeling of randomness vs predestination without getting into the physical advantages of dice vs. cards.

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Roberto Lanza
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While the probability are the same 33% -- the randomness or uncertainty of each system is different. There far more variability with a dice roll than with shuffled cards. You can have a bad shuffle just like you can have a bad roll but IMHO, it is easier to mitigate bad rolls (use a dice tower) than bad shuffles.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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If this is a one off event it would make no difference to me as they are both doing the same thing. In reality though, I'm assuming the combat mechanism is going to be used more than once per game. In that scenario the rolling of a die has less overhead than having to shuffle six cards, so I'd much prefer to use a die to accomplish the result.

Also as others have said just six cards used like this would become problematic with wear and tear over time, wear I'd be less concerned with wear and tear on a die.

I'd also worry about getting a truly random shuffle done with only six cards.

The philosophical issues around the cards being pre-determined doesn't bother me, besides you could easily overcome it by simply shuffling the cards at the time the result is called for, instead of being pre-shuffled if anyone did take objection.

PS> clearly I also agree the odds are the same.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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I agree, of course, that the odds are the same. (I'm glad to see that almost everyone agrees, at least so far.) I still chose a die for the 2nd question because a) rolling a die is fun and b) it gives one the illusion of control.

However...

I find the philosophical question still interesting. With the cards, the result is already determined, with the die, it is not. Yet the odds are the same. I've played many a poker hand and thought on this. I put a large amount of money in to call a bet because even though I'm losing at that moment I know that the odds of me winning are sufficient to justify a call. Except that I also know that card has already been determined. It is sitting there, one below the top (because in poker you always "burn" and then deal a card). My fate is already decided. Of course I always play the odds, because I'm neither stupid nor superstitious (I think it unlucky to be superstitious), but still, I find the fatalistic nature of the exercise intriguing.

I'm curious why a few folks say that the roll of the die is also predetermined...
Quote:
In BOTH cases your fate has been determined at this point and there's nothing you can do even though you haven't seen the result.
Are y'all arguing that there is no freedom, that everything in life is predetermined, predestined? (This would, of course, include free will, but that's another discussion.)

Btw, I think Marc Lecours variation on my thought experiment, using two dice, is even better than mine. (Except the benefit of mine is that I wanted to tempt a few folks who have odd beliefs about cards or dice to vote in a different direction.)
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Assuming all things being equal, then it boils down to a couple other factors before I would decide.

But I'll say right now I would generally favor cards if the game is made with theme in mind.

For instance, would I rather look at a chart for a die result, or would I rather draw a card for that same result, while that card also has art, flavor text and a description of the effect that helps me suspend disbelief?

Cards win, hands down.

But if the effect it irrelevant, as in the case of space hulk ambush markers that use multiple markers when a die would be more succinct, then a die wins out since there is no thematic benefit from the additional components used to determine the result.

So it is dependent on a case by case basis.
 
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marc lecours
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skutsch wrote:


I'm curious why a few folks say that the roll of the die is also predetermined...
Quote:
In BOTH cases your fate has been determined at this point and there's nothing you can do even though you haven't seen the result.
Are y'all arguing that there is no freedom, that everything in life is predetermined, predestined? (This would, of course, include free will, but that's another discussion.)



Yes. I believe that everything is completely predetermined or postdetermined (which comes out to the same).

Of course,I have no choice but to believe in complete determinism just as some people have no choice but to not believe in it.

And yes...I am taking quantum mechanics into account but I am a hidden variables kind of guy (there is one type of hidden variable that was never looked into).
 
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Russ Williams
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rubberchicken wrote:
A neat thought experiment...

Would you prefer:
1. Rolling a die after you have decided to do something, to see if it succeeds.

or

2. Someone rolled a die with a cup and the die has been under the cup for a few minutes without anyone knowing what was rolled. Then after you decide to do something in the game, the cup is lifted to see if the chosen action succeeds.

This choice (between rolling before or after the decision) deals more directly with the feeling of randomness vs predestination without getting into the physical advantages of dice vs. cards.

I honestly couldn't care less. We could look up each of our die rolls in a game on successive pages of a 50-year-old printed published book of random numbers, as far as I'm concerned.

Random is random.

Similarly, I don't care who rolls the dice or shuffles cards during play (as long as they are not incompetent or cheating, and as long as they are not mistreating or damaging game materials), but some people feel very strongly that they want to roll "their" rolls.

In some old similar forum thread about psychology/superstition and randomness, I vaguely recall that someone even asserted something like that everyone wants to roll their own dice and would feel somehow bad if someone else made "their" rolls. (It prompted me to play a several-hours-long wargame with a friend, and the friend made every die roll in the game, just to confirm that I was not superstitious or bothered about who rolls "my" rolls.)

PS: (edited to fix minor typos)
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CARL SKUTSCH
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russ wrote:
rubberchicken wrote:
A neat thought experiment...

Would you prefer:
1. Rolling a die after you have decided to do something, to see if it succeeds.

or

2. Someone rolled a die with a cup and the die has been under the cup for a few minutes without anyone knowing what was rolled. Then after you decide to do something in the game, the cup is lifted to see if the chosen action succeeds.

This choice (between rolling before or after the decision) deals more directly with the feeling of randomness vs predestination without getting into the physical advantages of dice vs. cards.

I honestly couldn't care less. We could look up each of our die rolls in a game on successive pages of a 50-year-old printed published book of random numbers, as far as I'm concerned.

Random is random.

Similarly, I don't care who rolls the dice or shuffles cards during play (as long as they are not incompetent or cheating, and as long as they are not mistreating or damaging game materials), but some people feel very strongly that they want to roll "their" rolls.

In some old similar forum thread about psychology/superstition and randomness, I vaguely recall that someone even asserted something like that everyone wants to roll their own dice and would feel somehow bad if someone else made their rolls. (It prompted me to play a several-hours-long wargame with a friend and the friend made every die roll in the game, just to confirm that was not superstitious about who rolls "my" rolls.) :)

You had no choice but to let your friend roll. Free will is an illusion.
 
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CARL SKUTSCH
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Do you believe in free will?
Poll
Do you believe that humans have free will?
Yes, we have free will.
No, everything we do is determined. We have no choice.
      32 answers
Poll created by skutsch


An old poll, showing how many of us think there is such a thing as "luck"...
Poll: Luck in games
Do believe that some people are just lucky or unlucky in games?
No, illogical, there is no such thing as "luck" in a predictive sense.
Maybe, I'm not sure, it's a mysterious world out there and I've seen some funny things.
Yes, I believe. Some people just seem to have that knack (or are somehow cursed by the dice gods).
      678 answers
Poll created by skutsch
 
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Luck comes in two flavours

1) Bad luck - when randomness works against you
2)Good luck - when randomness works against you but for your opponent(s)

The rest is skill
 
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Michael McKibbin
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Can I just use a spinner instead?
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