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Subject: Randomness vs calculation & memory rss

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Erik Frederiksen
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Hi everyone.

I'm putting the last touches on my first board game before sending it to a company in USA to see if they might want to publish it.
Yes, you may cross your fingers for me.... well for YOU, since you then get to play it!
If this works out, I will definitely create more games.

Anyway my game is a sci fi game with lots of random events and dice rolls. I have a feeling board gamers are divided into two groups. People who love that and like the fact that you can play the same game over and over but the experience and outcome is never the same.
The other group then disliking random stuff and fickle dice deciding how well they do.
I have a friend who has close to a photographic memory, he likes games where he can remember all the events and then be almost certain to win. That kind of game (in my opinion) is only fun if all the players have the same knowledge and same experience with it.

Is the theory with two groups true or is it not quite as black and white?
As you might have guessed I like being able to sit down with 2 pro gamers who have played a certain game 20 times before but still being able to win since the game changes every time.
In a game like Axis and Allies you have dice but even so a beginner will never ever beat a guy who has played 20 times since he knows exactly where to strike, what to build, when to build it etc.

So what are your thoughts? Are board gamers divided into two groups? What kind of player are you?

By the way, 11 (quite different) people have now tried my game and 10 have been utterly postitive so far. So my hopes are high.

Be on the look out for a game called New Earth.... unless that title is taken already.
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Matthew Galer
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I think it is not black and white but many shades of gray.

Personally I like some games where there is no randomness - precisely because it rewards careful play and experience in playing the game. Memory doesnt necessarily help in these games (see 18XX or Chicago Express).

Then again I also like games like Samurai Swords that involve lots of die rolls (but still reward good planning).

what I dont like are games where the random elements overshadow good play. Better play then the other players should result in winning a game the majority of the time (like > 75%).
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Sean Boyll
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I don't believe it is that black and white.

Take just the use of dice for instance. There are many that don't like games where the dice are deterministic. Games like Axis & Allies or Descent: Journeys in the Dark use dice in this way. The dice are used to determine an outcome of a player,s choice. Yet those same people are fine in game where the dice are rolled and then choices are made on them as a resource. You can see this in games like Troyes, Seasons and King of Tokyo

The randomness in cards can have a similar effect. Even those players that love to memorize every possible card or action can be okay with games with random cards. Randomly selected endgame conditions or points on cards are a good example. This is a random use where it actually plays off of those that like to remember as it allows them to use their memory of cards and the actions played to deduce who has what cards.

Don't get too tied to the name and theme of your game. Unless very well realized with the mechanic, it is what usually gets changed by the pubs.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I understand what you're asking, despite the fact that the thread title makes no sense. Randomess, calculation and and memory are three independent elements. Many games with randomness have a high degree of calculation, some have all three elements, some have calculation without memory, etc.

What you're really talking about is random vs. non-random, and the answer is that some gamers like only one, some like only the other, and some like both. That is not going to change.
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Laura Creighton
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You apparantly believe that all games that do not have randomness play pretty much the same. This is not true. There are many games where what makes things different is only the interaction between the players. See Navegador where this is done most simply and startlingly. Or Chess, if you are into more abstract games.

I think that randomness is a fine thing, if part of the whole skill of the game is 'how to manage random elements' and it is done well. If, instead, the reason you put it in is to make sure that this is not a game of skill, and that a novice can as easily win as an expert -- well then, I hope this is a children's game, because otherwise I am not interested in the game at all. And even if it is a game for children, I have very little interest.

If the game is a puzzle, and once you have solved it the fun of the game is over, then there are many people who think that randomising aspects of the puzzle makes for more replayability. As long as it is not exactly the same, they are find with this. I am not one of these people. Once I have solved the puzzle, once, then either the puzzle must be fun enough to solve in its own way, that I can do it again and again (with or without random elements) or the solving of it once was all the game had going for it (according to me) and randomising bits of the puzzle solving will not do a thing for me. I have solved it once and that was all of it, for me. Ditto about expansions -- mostly they do not make games replayable for me. Either it was replayable without the expansion, or still isn't with. But many people work entirely differently about this.

But for my money, the games that have low randomness but still never play out the same way, are the best.
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Erik Frederiksen
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Thanks for the replies, people.

And thanks for the links, always nice.

Yeah I get what you're saying about a game being random but calculation and planning still being a big part of playing it, I guess that's what I like to. It can't ALL be left to chance, then we might as well play a game of dice.

Laura, I didn't mean kids game but I can see how I wrote poorly... of course a guy with 10 games worth of experience should have a bigger chance of winning, even with random elements. What I meant was, the game shouldn't JUST be decided on who has played it more and has memorized most things in the game. That's what I don't like anyway.

Well, we'll see if it get's to be called New Earth, if they decide to go for it.

Meanwhile I have some links to attend to...


PS I can't see how to aquire geekmoney to get a picture on my profile in here. I need to buy something through this site or how does it work?
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Laura Creighton
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about GeekGold http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/321739/for-new-users-how-to-...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/321739/for-new-users-how-to-...
http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/GeekGold

We may be talking past each other here. What I think you are saying is that you wantgames to have a random element, so that people cannot study the game, learn all the cards, learn what is the winning strategy based on that, and play that strategy. Since they never can learn what cards they are going to get, they cannot get too strong an advantage by studying the game more. Is this correct?

If so, I think that there are other ways to make sure that somebody doesn't have too strong an advantage other than making it impossible for him to plan a detailed strategy. In Ora et Labora there are no random elements. But the thing that keeps the game from always going to the same person is that what you should be doing is mostly a function of what other people are doing, and have done. So I am questioning your need to have randomness in order to prevent the game becoming a solved puzzle for the skilled people. Does this make sense?
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Erik Frederiksen
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Yeah makes perfect sense. Thanks.

But random elements can also be a lot of fun, besides preventing someone from knowing the game too well.

My game for instance, is space themed, and a lot of things can happen in space. Every player draws an event card every turn which can affect the game and meteor storms roam the sector too.

I guess you have to like this kind of set up. The guy with a plan usually wins and you can do a lot of different things so it's really your imagination setting the limit for your tactics.

What I'm saying is, blind luck doesn't decide who wins but obviously as soon as random events and dice are a part of a game, there will always be days of bad luck or 2 skilled players where one rolls a lot of 1's and the other rolls 6's all the time (I'm usually the guy rolling all the 1's)

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I. J. Thompson
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I like random.

Not 'Chutes and Ladders' random, but a game where I have to adapt to the crazy curves that fate throws at me. Sometimes you skate on by, sometimes you get your butt handed to you, and sometimes you just manage to pull yourself over the finish line ahead of the other guy. I guess it helps that I don't really care if I win or lose, I just want to have an exciting time and some laughs. I couldn't imagine getting either from a game like Chess, but of course this is just my opinion.
 
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John Fox
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I think that the overall opinion here is the one most people share. Randomness that helps hold the tension of the game but doesn't detract from the skill level of the player or sound strategies is the best way to use random elements. Randomness thrown in to keep people from "gaming" (see what I did there?) the system doesn't help your game at all and can be not only distracting but ultimately dissapointing.
One of the things I try to do is control the random elements. Tack on stat numbers to die rolls to help augment them. Allow drawing of multiple cards and choose one, buying extra rolls, etc.
There is a lot of fun in that moment of "if he rolls lower than a 6 the game is over!" for the entire table I think. Nail biting tension is great, but hopefully its sound strategy that brought the table to that point and not a series of random die rolls that nullified the decision making aspects of the game.
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CD Harris
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I expect I am like the majority of BGGers in that like a game's randomness to be at the low end of the spectrum. Brass is an excellent example. The cards you draw are random and have a heavy effect on which strategy you play, but there's a viable strategy for pretty much any hand. You just have to adapt to the resources you're given (which fits the theme well, I think) and not get locked on a particular strategy you always want to play regardless of what you get.

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is another example. The order in which the cards come out is random, but the mechanics allow you to get what you really need (at cost) to pursue whatever strategies you're pursuing. And, as above, there are multiple viable strategies so you can adapt to what comes out.

As mentioned upthread, games like Troyes that use random elements in a way that guides your actions rather than determining what the result is are also great ways to incorporate randomness without making the outcome of the game hinge on randomness.

What all of them have in common is that experience and good play will almost always overcome randomness. Having otherwise good play undermined too often by random elements (Risk, I'm looking at you) absolutely kills a game for me. So a game where the playing field is even close to level between an experienced player and a newbie because of the way it uses random elements will almost assuredly not interest me.
 
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Erik Frederiksen
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Thanks guys, nice to have a lot of answers here.

ha ha I played Risk ONCE, and had 10 soldiers against 1, if I won the combat, I won the game due to my secret mission: destroy purple player. Once of Risk's many flaws then became apparent: They fought one by one and I had no advantage being 10 against 1 and she kept rolling higher and beat all 10 guys.... wow that was a fun game.

The rules were VEEEERY simple but a cute girl asked to play so of course we did.... that one time.

Anyway, I can't wait for you guys to try my game and see in what end of the scale the randomness is judged to be in.

Well... let's get it published first. I'm starting to get my hopes up after 11 people have tried it and more or less loved it but nothing's certain. Especially not in "financial crisis times".

I think there could be a bit LESS randomness in this game for everyone to really think it's perfect but it's hard to tell for me since I made it.

Event cards, placement of resources on the map, destination of meteor storm from turn to turn, dice rolls, technology cards.... it seems a lot of things can be affected by luck, I haven't had anyone say it's completely random though.

Most people are happy about the short down time, the flow of the game is quick and you can even mess a little with the others in their own turns, so it's definitely not twilight imperium, where you take your turn, and then go the movies and come back to realize it's almost your turn again.

Thanks for the geekmoney link, I guess I have to auction away some dollars.

PS Have any of you triede LotR the card game, the one where you cooperate with another person to beat the game/missions?
 
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