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By gzt (Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 02:55:12 PM EST) gzt, football, catan, stuff, things, boat books, luck (all tags)
We played Cities and Knights yesterday after church with a group of 4. That worked pretty well. A+ would do again. A lot of 8's got rolled, which was kind of annoying. Like, once there were 3 in a row. Good expansion, worth having, will get it sometime. We postulated that it might be cool with Seafarers, but now I'm not sure.


But this got me thinking about chance. I'm not one of those whiny people who thinks chance has no place in a game and therefore doesn't like Settlers of Catan at all. There's chance in life and the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. However, I do think that, if a game depends on chance, you need to either have a quick game that you play many rounds of (like card games, where you often play to X in a match and play a bumper of matches, making perhaps 30 hands in all and having multiple matches takes the edge off outlying hands) or have so many dice rolls that you have a chance to even things out.

To discuss more about luck averaging in a game you play many rounds of. In piquet, you typically play a partie of six hands and a bumper of 6 parties. The median hand has the dealer beating the non-dealer 28-14, but sometimes you have somebody getting scores like 70-5 or 140-0. The 70 is surmountable, but the 140 is not. The other hand usually won't come back from that and those hands are 95% luck (though, to be sure, it is skill that converts a good hand to a great hand that repiques (+60 bonus) or capots (+40 bonus)). So one lucky hand will sink a partie, but it's just one partie and there are 4 more. The odds against a pique for a named player's hand are 36 to 5 against, so that makes 2 per player per bumper. So luck can throw a wrench in things, but you have enough hands to even things out and there are natural boundaries that prevent one hand's extreme luck from spilling over too much. If you manage to get one extreme hand and one very good hand, that would be enough to throw off the score if all 30 hands were thrown together, but this way, it only throws off 2 parties out of 5. Granted, you're quite likely to pick up 1 out of 3 parties remaining to win overall. It somehow feels more fair this way. The opponent at least has a chance to steadily outplay you in those three remaining parties.

Or take games like euchre or Schnapsen. A very good hand will score you multiple points (4 or 3, respectively) and the game gets to 10 or 7 respectively very quickly, but the game is very fast and you can play multiple games in half an hour. There's enough skill that a skilled opponent will win more often than not (especially in Schnapsen, that game is brutal), but it's still a card game with luck of the draw.

Anyway. I think Settlers of Catan and its variants do have a fault in that there are not enough events for luck to work well and the game is too long to make that level of luck acceptable. Still a great game, just mildly frustrating at times. I also don't like games that completely do away with luck. If I wanted to play chess, I'd play chess. In fact, I do play chess. It's pretty great. There isn't any point to playing a long, complicated game without any luck that isn't chess. Sure, there are other options (go), and they have a point to them, but I know chess and will play chess.

My parents have some cool old games. They have Ace of Aces. We never played it when we were kids, but we thought the books were really cool. We liked planes?

It's hard to sell people on the Boat Books. Their greatness is hard to capture. I can sense the skepticism of some people. Historical novel? Napoleonic wars? Boats? Sounds low-brow.

I am wholeheartedly convinced that the "war on Christmas" is a good thing. It should be expanded to cover the entire "holiday" season. Unfortunately, it won't be won until people stop celebrating "holidays" or "the season" in general and by purchasing vast quantities of stuff. Seriously, if people would stop "celebrating", life would be a lot easier. Then I could have a much easier time celebrating the actual holiday, Christmas, in a religious manner and not have to wade through a lot of nonsense. I think many sorts of Protestant (among English-speaking ones, any with a Puritan heritage) should be opposed to the celebration of Christmas and should join in the "war on Christmas". How absurd is it that people boycott a retailer for not mentioning your religious holiday? The very question indicates how ludicrous the whole thing is. One should almost prefer it to using a religious holiday to sell stuff.

Watch Au hasard Balthasar last night with some guy. Good times.

Missing training to watch the football game with some droogs tonight. It's the last chance before next Monday to train. Whatevs. It's okay to take a couple weeks off every once in a while, I knew I wasn't going to make my year-end goals, so might as well.

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chance | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Aces of Aces is cool by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:12:36 PM EST
I bought the deluxe Rotary Edition off ebay, we bring it out from time to time.


Ace of Aces by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 03:38:32 PM EST
I loved Aces of Aces...it was all over my high school.  Unfortunately, I figured out a way to game the first set (I think the Rotary Edition?) which took a lot of the fun out of it.  (Basically, if "187" was a option, you couldn't lose.  You always ended up exactly where the other guy was.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
"sounds low-brow"? by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 04:44:32 PM EST
WTF?

well, people like Literature. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:04:05 PM EST
With a capital L. They like Austen, but not romance novels. They like War and Peace, but not war novels or historical fiction. Well, some like romance novels, war novels, and historical fiction. I'm trying to make it known that this isn't like Twilight or Lovely Bones, it's good Literature that is above the ostensible genres of "war novel" or "historical fiction".

[ Parent ]
Incorrect by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:28:14 PM EST
Poseurs and witless fools like Literature with a capital L. They're not reading for pleasure, or education, or even to pass the time; they're reading for the benefits of being able to say they're reading Something Important. Which is not to say Jane Austen didn't write excellent novels; but the value of the novel isn't that Jane Austen wrote it. The value of Jane Austen is that she wrote incredible works of literature (small l).

You're hanging out with the wrong crowd. A small minded, petty, obnoxious crowd.

[ Parent ]
oh, not at all. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:35:22 PM EST
I strongly disagree on all accounts.

[ Parent ]
to win settlers by garlic (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 04:51:11 PM EST
you'll need from 40 to 110 rolls of the die to get enough resources for a victory. 40's really fast, and 110 is really slow, but they're feasible. The fast case is arguably irritating, but in the slow case the game's gone so long at that point that you'll have wanted it over by then anyway. And a Gaussian pattern is certainly appearing in the slow case, and could in the fast case if the odds are with you.

Arguing that you like random, but only if it's predictably random is a little nonsensical I think.


eh by gzt (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 05:42:35 PM EST
I think my stance makes sense. I'm not saying I want predictable randomness (all of this randomness is predictable because we have known options with known odds). I'm saying that, if you're going to have a game which heavily depends on luck, it should either be short enough to play a few rounds or have enough luck that you're firmly Gaussian. I'd like enough dice rolls for the 2 to be expected to come up 4 to 5 times. That would be a ponderously long Catan game.

In a card game, at least you get "paid" for the "luck" with information.

[ Parent ]
chance | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback