Patrick Korner: In Praise of Randomness

So here’s the thing. Think back to the last time you played, oh, Dominion. Can you remember any details? What stood out in your mind about the game? If someone were to ask you about that particular game a week later, what would you tell them?

Now, keep that in mind while I ask the next question. Think back to the last time you played, oh, Mage Knight. Or if you haven’t played it yet (and really, what are you waiting for?), you can substitute any other more heavily thematic game. Can you remember any details? What stood out in your mind about the game? If someone were to ask you about that particular game a week later, what would you tell them?

Now, compare your answers for the two games. Any differences? If you’re like me, there sure are. Let’s examine.

What makes a game ‘memorable’? What is it that gets a specific play stuck in your mind? It might be the folks you’re playing with, it might be the location, but if you set the environmental factors aside and concentrate solely on the in-game elements, you’ll probably find that the random, the unexpected, the “where the hell did that come from?” is where your memories are made. On the assumption that memorable games are good games (at the very least they are non-neutral experiences that have presumably enriched your life a little), it would then seem logical that yes, Virginia, randomness is a good thing.

I can hear the complaints starting already. But randomness is the Great Eurogame Satan! Random luck keeps me from planning or strategizing effectively! Random is bad bad bad!

Hogwash (you may also choose to insert another, stronger word here if you wish).

A non-random game can be a very, very good game. And many of my favourite games fall into that class. But with these kinds of games I find it hard to remember any one particular playing. The visceral reaction to things changing unexpectedly is missing, replaced by a slower, steadier drip of gaming morphine. I think of these games as “IV games”, where the needle in your arm keeps pumping endorphins into your body for a long time. Properly designed, these games can keep you getting your ‘fix’ for years.

A more random game, I submit, can also be a very, very good game. And again, many of my favourites fall into this class. However, here the gameplay and the memories associated with it are very different. I can sure as hell remember that time playing Combat Commander when a Sniper event ruined my day. Or when I chose to attack a Mage Tower in Mage Knight only to find its inhabitants uniquely equipped to deal with my fire attacks. Or even when Lone Dude ™ held off an invading army for 6 rolls in Risk. These things stick with me, and the jolt they provide is different from the slow drip. I think of these games as “Injection games”, where the needle in your arm gives you one massive hit, the memories of which stay with you forever. And of course, gaming’s addictive properties keep you seeking that hit over and over again. Once again, properly designed, these games can keep you getting your ‘fix’ for years.

As you might expect, IV games tend to be Eurogames, while Injection games tend to be Ameritrash games. A greater emphasis on thematic elements makes it easier to introduce random effects, since you can often explain away the randomness as being inherent to the real world and/or as being essential to the story the game is trying to tell. This may also be why it seems to be so difficult for designers to truly bridge the gap between the two camps – Hybrid games are stuck trying to deliver their ‘fix’ both ways, which is usually going to result in an awkward mash-up of gaming elements that just don’t quite work, kind of like two medicines that, individually work just fine but tend to have significant side effects when taken together.

So there you have it. A missive defending the lucky, the random, the WTF from a dedicated Eurogamer who’s been trying to sort out why the IV isn’t supplying the fix it used to. Could it be that, while the two styles don’t coexist very well, it’s essential for good gamer health to get exposed to both with regularity? In any case, I’m looking forward to jolting my system a lot more in the coming year while trying to find out.

How about the rest of you?

Frank Branham: There are lots of threads around perfectly good games trying to weed out undesirable random elements. The resulting games are often pale and weedy. The problem is that very predictable games feel nearly solvable. Play them once or twice, work out the general principles, and then you can pretty much be done with them. Deeper abstracts can survive this sort of rigorous analysis, but not so many Eurogames with smaller decision trees.

And at the point where you refer to playing a game with “rigorous analysis”, you are pretty much better off just drinking heavily and chucking some dice.

But even if we venture back into the realm of rigorous analysis, random games can be analyzed. There’s a whole mathematical discipline you might have heard of dedicated to it. If you bring in cards with variable effects, you also have to learn the decks to play effectively. And possibly at least a little bit of card counting or noticing if your favorite card came up. Not to mention the art of backup contingency plans. I’m pretty certain that the whole Euro thing is just for middleweights: I prefer to go for Beer and Sixes or terror-inducing complexity.

Dale Yu: My favorite random card game is Dia de los Muertos. At least it feels random to me cuz I’ve never grokked it. Followed closely by Twilight.  :)

Frank: Mine as well. Possibly even in that order: Twilight might be the better game. I sometimes feel as if I’m almost getting those two, but they still surprise me sometimes.

Dale: But back to the topic at hand – I’m mostly a Eurogamer.  And, I agree that I find comfort in the planning found in those games.  Oftentimes, I’m at my happiest when a game gives me my own little sandbox to play in and make my stuff where the other gamers can’t really get at it.  That being said, I agree with PK that it’s good to get a bit of variety in my gaming diet.  For instance, in a recent gaming weekend, some of the most memorable moments came from Dungeon Fighter and Eclipse – games which are definitely not in my normal comfort zone.  It was a nice change, but I’m definitely looking forward to my next game where I move little wooden cubes around a stylized board of Europe hoping to score victory points through area control or clever resource management.

Jeff Allers:  I’m not so sure that one can equate randomness with “memorable experience.”  I think that any well-designed multi-player game will deliver the unexpected, whether it falls into the so-called categories of Eurogame or Ameritrash.  It’s true that the latter may be more thematic, and that might, indeed, be more memorable (we remember information better when it’s in story form, after all), but random surprises occur in both types of games.  It might be more useful to group games according to the source of their randomness:  does it come from the game itself (event cards or dice rolls) or from the other players (unpredictability because the game does not provide a clear “best option” for a player each turn).

That said, perhaps one of the best examples of a Eurogame with a very large random element–and one that is fairly memorable because of it and the story it tells–is Galaxy Trucker.  In that game, Dale gets his sandbox to play in, but then has to watch helplessly while it gets blown to bits by the game, while his opponents cheer (the Germans would call this “Schadenfreude”).

But I’ve also played plenty of by-the-book Euros that were memorable because of the unexpected moves by my opponents.  The ones I remember most, however, were those that told a story–or fit into the larger story of a game night in some relevant way.

Patrick: Good points, Jeff, but I did mention in my original text that I was focusing primarily on randomness that exists due to the game’s design, not the unpredictable nature of others. To be honest, that’s often something I find challenging in Euros because it’s so easy in so many games for one person’s unusual (let’s call it suboptimal) play to scuttle someone else’s plans. It’s absolutely true that an unexpected move that significantly changes the game state can be memorable – but I find that Eurogames too often don’t provide gamers with the opportunities to make such moves, instead forcing players into a fairly rigid ‘path of optimal VP production’.

Nathan Beeler: In my book there’s an almost perfectly linear slope to the ratio between acceptable randomness and the weight of a game.  I enjoy the light gambling sensation of pressing my luck in Can’t Stop, or groaning when I manage to land a die on the bottom tier of Tumblin’ Dice only to have it quadruple just the one pip.  And yes, sometimes those experiences can be fun and even memorable.  They don’t usually rate among my favorite gaming moments, which unsurprisingly almost always come from party games.  But I do have a few fish tales about perfectly horrid rolls (my button says “Ask me about Entenrallye”).

In the middle weight games I feel most at home in, I’m happy letting random event cards thumb their noses at my best laid plans, as long as they aren’t overwhelming the choices I’ve made.  I think, as Frank points out, you often need a touch of randomness to keep games from becoming strictly a puzzle.  But in the end, I still want to feel like what I did mattered most in determining the outcome.  However, I get absolutely no thrill from having a long heavy slog of a game ruined by bad dice rolls, which pretty eliminates me from some of the games Patrick is talking about.  Citing the overwhelming forces held off by one guy in Risk is a perfect example of a gaming experience I can happily live the rest of my life without.  I suppose the difference is that never made me laugh, and now it would just make me wish I was playing Die Macher.

Patrick: Oh, it’s totally more fun to be the owner of said Lone Dude than the guy who’s seeing his plans go up in smoke thanks to a 1% (or whatever it is) fluke. But then again, winning is usually more fun than losing, right? In any case, I think we agree more than you think. Randomness tends to not be that welcome in truly deep games, which is why deep yet random games don’t often find a home with me. High Frontier might be the lone exception, but even there you do have a chance to protect yourself from “decommissioning”.

Another thing to remember is that most games that integrate random elements well tend to give you a chance at ‘getting yours back’ later on – you’re not the only person who is being affected by chance! When there is no opportunity for a comeback, or when the game doesn’t even things out properly, well, that’s not a good game. I much prefer a game where yes, you might end up with a bloody nose, but then again so might everyone else…

Nathan: In general I agree with what you’re saying, though in some games I think that might be oversimplifying.  I think it was World Without End that had those kind of random event card that bloodied everyone, but based on the timing they didn’t hurt everyone equally.  In a game like that and of that length and breadth it’s way too much randomness for me.  For something like Vegas Showdown, which is a fair bit lighter and the events are usually less painful, it works to perfection.

Patrick Brennan: The more planning and thought you put into it, the less randomness you want resolving it. Which is why Euros with heavy luck resolution let people down. You’ve carefully planned out your victory point accumulation strategy, you’ve weighed up this vs that, etc, and the only two events that could stuff you up both happen and you can’t recover in time because the game’s so tight (there’s another nod to World Without End). With Euros, you’re invested in the result. With Ameritrash, you’re more invested in the experience rather than the result. As long as a theme-rich game with loads of randomness gives you emotional swings, with a story told, you’re happy. The emotional roller-coaster allows you to forgive any decision-light process largely resolved by luck. Until the last few years, it’s been harder to find good Trash than good Euros, but now that that gap’s been filled, I’ll happily play stuff from either camp … as long as the experience promised is delivered well. Not all Ameritrash provides a satisfying emotional experience, neither do all Euros provide a satisfying intellectual experience. The definition of game goodness changes depending on the experience you’re after; the hunt for that goodness remains eternal.

Erik Arneson: Of course randomness on its own is not what makes a game good or bad, memorable or forgettable. But I do agree that a great game with well-integrated randomness can be among the best of gaming experiences: Drawing just the right tiles in Scrabble. Having the absolutely perfect tile come up when you pick first at a party in Traumfabrik. Getting the exact right dice roll at the exact right moment in Heroscape. And the end of an epoch in Ra. All of these are exciting, fun, and random moments.

Larry Levy:  Just to look at a related issue, I don’t like casino games and I don’t like gambling.  The reason is it’s purely random.  If I win, it doesn’t mean anything, because it’s all luck.  And if I lose, I’m annoyed because I’ve pissed away my money on such a random activity.

That’s pretty much how I feel about games in general.  The luck, the randomness, is rarely memorable.  My most recent thematic games were Colonial and Eclipse.  I remember the mechanical structure of both games, but neither was more memorable than a bunch of other games I’ve played recently.  And other than recalling a demonstration of how a bad roll could diminish the former game, the randomness didn’t make either game notable.

In contrast, I can recall my most recent games of Navegador (a design that’s practically luck-free) quite well.  I remember my strategies and those of my opponents.  I know what worked and what didn’t and how this will affect my future plays of the game.

We each get different things from gaming.  For me, it’s the intellectual stimulation and the challenge of figuring out how to best approach each design.  I’m far more likely to remember a good move (by either myself or an opponent) than I am to recall a lucky or unlucky die roll.  But that’s just me.

The best example of this is Ra.  It’s a game I try to avoid, particularly with more than two players, and the reason is what Erik cited as a feature:  the randomness at the end of an epoch.  I realize lots of players love chanting “Ra, Ra” as the last remaining player pulls out tiles and sees if he gets to keep doing it or if he craps out.  But to me, it spoils the game.  I find that gameplay is dominated by who gets lucky or unlucky during those moments.  So to my way of thinking, what’s the point of careful strategizing when your opponent can clean up at the end of an epoch and you busted on your very first draw?  The reverse situation is no better, because I won due to dumb luck, not because I played well.  I understand the appeal of randomness that Patrick talks about, but I think I’ll just stick to my “soulless”, but oh so interesting Euros.

Joe Huber: I’m just wondering why randomness was in such desperate need of praise as to necessitate this article.  Nearly all of my favorite games – of whatever persuasion – have an element of randomness to them.  I like 18xx, as a series – but my favorites are 2038 (which has a random board for every game) and 1846 (which has randomness in the distribution of privates, vastly impacting the flow of the game).  Some don’t care for the randomness at the end of Louis XIV – where collected shields are revealed and counted, leading to the distribution of bonus shields – but I love that aspect of the game, as it goes a long way towards making the game interesting.

Now, having said that, randomness can be bad when it doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the game.  For instance, I’m not a big fan of Andromeda – not because of the randomness of the cosmic ashtray (which I actually like), but because of how that randomness interacts with the randomness of the card draw.  It’s not having too much randomness that bothers me – Nathan mentioned Entenrallye, which has a large degree of randomness, but it fits in with the game.  And, critically, there are still meaningful decisions to be made.  Future die rolls might negate your clever play, but you can at least set yourself up for success.

Looking through my favorite games, my highest ranked game without an element of randomness in the play is likely Le Havre, at #21.  But even Le Havre has randomness in the set-up – which leads to a diversity of play that keeps the game interesting.  My highest ranked game without any randomness is Autoscooter, at #46 – but it’s got enough chaos as to fulfill the desire for randomness.  Which leaves my highest ranked game without anything resembling randomness as Lines of Action, my 76th favorite game.

Mark Jackson: There are four major components in this discussion. (Yes, that’s right… I have managed in my infinite & all-encompassing wisdom to boil down this discussion to a simple four-point outline. Aren’t you glad I’m here?)

I think that the enjoyment of a particular game resides in the intersection of the following four elements

  • level of control (on a scale from “flip a card & do what it says” to “infinite power”)
  • length of the game (on a scale from “5 minute filler” to “rest of your natural life”)
  • random elements (on a scale from “perfect information” to “buckets of dice”)
  • theme (on a scale from “abstract” to “dripping with color text”)

Imagine these four elements as “sliders” on a hypothetical Machine O’Gaming Fun… each person is going to set this machine differently. From the proceeding discussion, it’s easy to assume that Larry would tweak the settings quite a bit differently than, say, Erik. Or me, for that matter.

There are (as others have pointed out) very few games we play & write about here on the Opinionated Gamers that don’t have some element of randomness (even disallowing player interaction). Many of the “soulless Euros” increase their replayability by randomizing some portion of the game (the plantations in Puerto Rico, for example). I don’t think the problem is randomness – I think it’s the degree of randomness that you enjoy in relation to the other elements of a particular game.

But there’s another quirk in this machine analogy… I think that each person may have multiple optimal settings for these sliders. I find that I’m willing to tolerate and/or enjoy games with lots of randomness if the game is either (a) shorter or (b) has a compelling theme or thematic arc.

That explains why Joe (and I!) can enjoy Entenrallye AND 18xx. (Well, Joe can enjoy 18xx. I’ll use Puerto Rico or Agricola [family game].)

Patrick: Excellent summary, Mark. You’re correct that most of the games that get airtime here on the OG have some randomness in them. Which, given that most of us prefer to play good games over bad games, means that yes, randomness is not only good, it’s essential. Joe might hint that this is an obvious statement, but I’m constantly surprised at how often games are promoted as being “luck free” or castigated for being too random. My original thesis tried to distinguish between thematic randomness (and the more emotional response it generates) and design randomness (which is where most Euro games fall), since my own personal tastes these days seem to run more to the former. I suspect that’s largely a reaction to the general dullness of so many recent Euro releases, which did two things: make me look into why good Euros are in fact good, and look beyond the Euro style for other games that are good. If nothing else, this discussion has gone a long way towards my being able to quantify just why I like certain games and why others don’t grab me, which can only help me pick what to play in the future!

Matt Carlson:  For short games (30 min or less), I enjoy strong themes and can tolerate quite a bit of randomness.  For longer titles, I still prefer a decent theme when I can get it, but prefer less randomness.  If necessary, I prefer small “nudges” of randomness (Settlers of Catan dice rolls) to larger, game-changing “event” type cards since one can usually recover from the former but can easily be permanently handicapped by an unfortunately timed “big event card”.

My most memorable gaming moment is probably playing (the fairly non-random) Lord of the Rings co-op game.  Sure, the theme is almost paper-thin but in the last turn of the game the mother of the two kids I was playing with sacrificed herself so to save the other three of us and we pulled off a win…  go mothers!

If it hasn’t been made clear, I think we should stick the randomness discussion to in-game random events and situations.  Any random pre-game setups (Agricola, the Settlers game board, etc…) only supply a varied game play experience but since they essentially occur before the game starts, they can be planned around and aren’t truly random at all.

Erik Arneson: I find it impossible to restrain myself from confessing to a great degree of amusement (perhaps even bewilderment) in the fact that someone (Mr. Huber — a great person to play games with, by the way) who is so organized as to have their favorite games ranked to at least #76 is also quite a fan of randomness in games.

Patrick Brennan:Hey, if you can’t clearly distinguish between #75 and #76 on your all-time list, have them at different rating points using decimal places, and be able to justify the difference via the Machine O’ Gaming Fun sliders, how can you call yourself an opinionated gamer!!!

So what about you? How do you feel about randomness in your games?

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68 Responses to Patrick Korner: In Praise of Randomness

  1. Paul Lister says:

    Fascinating and thought provoking debate. I actually have a fondness for randomness in Euros (World Without End and Urban Sprawl spring to mind), what it does to those games is make the games more about best managing and mitigating the random events (risk) than exact planning – planning is present in both games but success comes from adopting the best ‘portfolio’ approach . Both games receive a huge amount of criticism from perfect planners for the random elements – but I think they miss the point , the randomness makes the game rather than spoils it and it’s something you like or you don’t – moreover your position at the end is almost always determined by skill – how well you have adapted to the game state. I do have a dislike of games that have the illusion of perfect planning but the result can be upset by draws – Shipyard would be my number one bete noire. I’d have to disagree with Larry about Colonial (which i have played a lot) – if you have put your self in a position where the dice roll decides the game you are playing it wrong.

  2. You people are the mind-killers. The fun bludgeoners. I’d have italicized YOU PEOPLE, but the interface doesn’t allow me to.

    Games like Dominion that are without luck in substantial amounts, or games like El Grande where the luck factor is almost completely gone are fine, but not that memorable. Games where you pitch handfuls of dice and slaughter the innocents…now that’s a game. Gaining the +6 Mythical Sword of Testicular Cleaving through a lucky-ass roll is what makes games fun.

    When you were kids (assuming that Euro-lovers didn’t simply “Choose To Exist”) what games did you play? Were you guys Chessers? C’mon. Don’t bullshit me. You guys played games that had dice in them. Sure, you Connected 4 and Battled Ship, but you also Monopolized. Maybe you even had your nerdy friend bring over “Dungeon”. But one way or another, you played the dice games, and you liked them.



    • Dale Yu says:

      Ahh, pete…

      Good to have you back around :)

      Someday, you’ll have to come over and play nothing but abstracts with me!


      • Pete says:

        It would be an honor and a privalege. I’ve got what isn’t BPPV but acts like it right now something fierce, and eating valiums and/or Antivert like tic-tacs. Went to the ER twice….lotsa fun. Neurology and Gastroenterologists are next!

        Sure glad I am independently wealthy….uh…..well if I was I wouldn’t mind I guess.

        Hit me up. I’ll play Chess all day long with ya, brother. But I’ll bring Swords and Skulls just to relive our summer together. :)

  3. Echoing Paul in that Ra (like many other Knizias) is very much about risk management. That means the skill of the game is in balancing safe, small gains against high-variance moves. If the group regularly lets players get into a last-in situation with multiple Ra spaces and Suns left, they are playing too conservatively. You shouldn’t let someone else get into a high-reward/low-risk situation. As long as the group understands this, last-in plays will generally be with one or two Ra spaces and one Sun: a high-reward/high-risk situation, as it should be. Getting into this volatile position will appeal most to players who are behind in scoring from earlier eras. It’s a form of catch-up mechanism, but one in which poorer players will still lose out on average. This risk-management skill is one that particularly appeals to me, which is part of the reason I find so many Knizia designs to be delightful.

    • Sagrilarus says:

      Where the hell was this voice when you were writing the article? I can’t agree with an embrace of Knizia (who generally shuns luck save for the occasional nuclear-level once-per-game action option) but the high-reward/high-risk feedback is the fundamental concept in most decision-then-luck style games that provide intellectual reward. Your respondents above don’t even seem familiar with the concept

      • Sagrilarus says:

        Oops — sorry about that. For some reason I thought you were the author. My bad.


      • Nope I’m definitely not the author, just an interested reader. But Knizia ‘generally shuns luck’ is the most bizarre statement I’ve read in some time! Knizia is a master of the risk management game. Ra, Winner’s Circle, Medici, the list goes on. In fact I’m struggling to think of a Knizia game that doesn’t include a significant level of randomness. Stephenson’s Rocket is the only one that comes to mind.

      • Paul Lister says:

        Kniizia’s career back ground in financial derivatives and risk management shines through his games in the way he pushes players to decide on the risk profile they are willing to accept – however most of the game (market) beta comes from other players decisions with a smaller and subtle input from the game system (i’m thinking Taj Mahal and Amun Re rather than Ra here)

  4. Echoing Pete, “What happened to you?”

  5. Sagrilarus says:

    I think dumping all categories of “luck” into a single bucket hamstrings the observations in this article. In fact it appears to me that a couple of the voices are not even speaking on the same subject matter as the others — what they speak to isn’t even luck.

    The first split in classification I make on luck is into these two categories:

    1. Luck-then-decision
    2. Decision-then-luck

    The difference in the two is stark. I almost don’t consider them related to each other.

    Luck-then-decision is very modern, and provides a very tepid result. A variable board layout (luck-then-decision) at the beginning of the game doesn’t even rate as “luck” to me. Variable card-draw in Dominion (luck-then-decision) is mildly interesting, and that’s the category I put virtually all deck-builders in — mildly interesting. You’re in a reactive mode to the luck being presented. The luck of the draw presents a very small long-term effect on the game that likely is at best a nuisance to your plans.

    Decision-then-luck is much more old school — traditional war games (including junior members like Risk and a great big pile of pulpy pre-1990 games), dice-rollers like Can’t Stop, etc. Even Bridge to a large extent fits into this category because of the exceptionally tight binding of the players and the large amount of unknown state during bidding and the first half of the trick play. This second category requires “the art of backup contingency plans” (from Branham above) and that’s where real intellectual stimulation appears. You’re mental assessment of the game state has to build to a much broader base, preparing for a wide range of contingencies. It has to produce a tougher, more rigorous solution that only specializes late in the game or when desperate measures are called for. You need to manage risk. That’s where you really stretch yourself. This is heuristic gaming where specific strategy details just aren’t going to be dependable.

    The problem with decision-then-luck is that there’s no feeling of comfort from control, and to a large extent it adheres to the Any-Given-Sunday principle. You have to understand that better tactics and better mastery are going to result in a 65% success rate, and that your intellectual satisfaction is going to have to be derived from playing the same title dozens of times and looking at the bigger picture to assess mastery of the system.

    In the modern era where games get three plays that’s just not an available option.

    • Interesting comment. For a wonderful pure decision-then-luck design, see Municipium by… Reiner Knizia :)

    • huzonfirst says:

      I’ve seen other names given to your two categories: Situation Luck (which equates to your Luck-then-decision) and Resolution Luck (which is roughly equivalent to your Decision-then-luck). The idea is to distinguish between games where you can react to the random events (Situation Luck) and those where you can’t, at least not directly (Resolution Luck).

      It should come as no surprise to you that I vastly prefer games with Situation Luck (or Luck-then-decision, if you prefer). I don’t mind games with a healthy random element if I can take steps to adjust to bad breaks. Many card games are like this and I’m a big fan of them. Let me react to the luck in a game and I’m usually quite happy with the randomness.

      I understand your point about Resolution Luck. And I actually like many games with risk or probability management (many modern dice games, for example). My problem is that it can be very hard to consistently utilize those backup plans and you frequently just have to pitch the dice and hope for the best. In short, in most Resolution Luck games I’ve encountered, I’d rather be lucky than good and games of that kind don’t interest me. There are exceptions, but they take a skilled designer and are merely a fraction of the run-of-the-mill Resolution Luck titles.

      • Sagrilarus says:

        I avoid the “decision luck” and “resolution luck” monikers because they are incredibly vague and hard to differentiate.

        There are exceptions, but they take a skilled designer and are merely a fraction of the run-of-the-mill Resolution Luck titles.

        You’re setting aside the 90% of war games that fit into this category? Higher piece count and higher numbers of rolls (or cards, or whatever) provide significant amounts of control and put “consistently utilizing those backup plans” into the heart of the play. That’s the hardest part of these games. It’s likely both you and your opponent are going to make dozens of small errors simply due to the complexity on the field, none of which is due to a bad turn of luck. The guy that can keep a handle on things a little better can make progress and excel over time.

        Each person plays what they like of course, but I think there’s a lot of gamers that aren’t enjoying modern games because the decision set is so restricted in mainstream titles. I’ll go to open gaming with a chit game (war or otherwise — the key seems to be piece-count and location-count) and most players will walk by with no interest. But there’s a 15% subset that make a bee-line for the table and ask a LOT of questions. In my opinion it’s an underserved market. There’s sales being left behind.


        • huzonfirst says:

          “You’re setting aside the 90% of war games that fit into this category?”

          Yes. There are several reasons why I don’t like wargames and the overwhelming use of Resolution Luck in them (at least in non-CDWs) is one of them. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t consider such games to be fine designs. They simply aren’t for me.

  6. Marcel says:

    Games can become memorable through a crazy random event that occurred, sure. But games can also become memorable because of a player’s chosen strategy. My most memorable game of Ticket to Ride was the one in which I first tried the strategy of ignoring my own destination tickets and just tried to prevent everyone else from completing theirs.
    Most Diplomacy games I have played are memorable, and that is a game with no (mechanical) randomness at all.
    I’m not much of a chess player, but I am sure every avid chess player can point to some memorable games. Again a game with no random elements.

    As to how much randomness I tolerate in games, I’m with most folks here in that it depends greatly on the length and “heaviness” of the game.

  7. See, this is how I see it. The ANTI-LUCKERS, or LUCK DENIERS, as I’m now going to start calling them, are the kinds of folks that can’t tolerate adversity or not know everything before making a decision. These are the types of people that go out to Lowes, price every single type and color of flooring, research each, and come up to a conclusion after much hemming and hawing. Of course, in the interim, the wife is fucked off that the floors haven’t been put in for 6 months.

    These are the accountants, the risk managers, the actuaries, and the physicians. The math teachers. The people that have a hard time managing dynamic situations where anything can and will happen. They prefer the safety of knowing all the variables. These are the people that buy cars based upon their safety ratings, miles per gallon, and value for the dollar.

    On the other hand, you have the types that play Heroscape and King of Tokyo, pushing their luck. The DungeonQuesters who know that, like life, you have no real control and you can only make decisions based upon what you know at the time; imperfect information. You sometimes have to simply punt. These types of folks are the entrepreneurs, the skydivers, the firefighters, and the treasure hunters. These are the doers. The folks who drive candy red Corvettes and won’t allow Allstate or Progressive to attach a device to their car that will save them 20$ a month on car insurance because then they’d know that sometimes the driver likes to do doughnuts in the parking lot of WalMart with “B.Y.O.B.” blaring at 900 Watts with the windows down and the right hand’s left finger extended and raised through the T-Top.

    Just sayin’. You can play the same fucking game over and over again with a different painted on theme, making the same sorts of decisions with perfect information, or you can punt.

    Nothing wrong with an accountant or an actuary. One of my dearest friends is an executive-level actuary that works for a consultant that provides self insurance to Fortune 500 companies. But you know what? He loves Risk. He loves it because he can MANAGE the risk in Risk. Sure, he can have shitty rolls, but you know what? Sometimes 5 employees get cancer at the same time and it screws up the tables he created. That’s life – it’s unpredicable, random, and totally beautiful and wonderful because of it. Embrace the random.


  8. David Chappelle says:

    It’s very exciting to be the last player with sun tiles in Ra, but I don’t think that’s the winning strategy. There’s too many worthless tiles and disasters to make holding out for the full rack profitable. I like to get my lots early while the others are waiting for the home run.

    • Exactly! Though if you can be the last player with sun tiles and the Ra track is only half full, that’s a different matter. That way you have several chances to put a great set of tiles together.

  9. This was a great article/discussion. Thanks for writing it!

    I would add that the impact that randomness of players’ choices has upon other players is determined by game design, so player-randomness should be considered part of the design of the game as much as the presence of dice or random-event cards, and not be excluded from the discussion.

    Jeff said that – ” I think that any well-designed multi-player game will deliver the unexpected” – and Patrick hinted at that in his second blurb: “I find that Eurogames too often don’t provide gamers with the opportunities to make such moves, instead forcing players into a fairly rigid ‘path of optimal VP production’.” I always look to see how well a game designer has worked player interaction and player choice into the experience as part of the overall design.

    • Pete says:

      But that’s interaction, not luck. Interaction, in my opinion, especially when confrontational and direct, is the single most important thing in a game’s fun, just after luck. Maybe even more important.

      Cosmic Encounter is a game that doesn’t have as much luck as a die-rolling game, but the confrontation and skullduggery of it all makes it one of the single best, most memorable games in the history of boardgaming. Truly, if you don’t like Cosmic, you need to go back to barber college because it is the PUREST example of the perfect equation: Interaction + Limited Random = FUN^100

      A great many euro games are exercises in multiplayer solitaire, which is a bit what makes them forgettable. The great Euros, such as Puerto Rico and Agricola, are the ones where the choices you make affect those around you. Even though it’s mostly passive-aggressive, it’s still interaction, and that is the hallmark to making games that would otherwise be “fairly pedestrial solo affairs that happen to take place in a group” into great games.

  10. Andy Stout (dragonstout) says:

    I’m pro-randomness. But:

    I disagree with the fundamental thesis that you need randomness to create a memorable game. [b]Diplomacy[/b] was the first game I thought of. EXTREMELY memorable, but 0 randomness. [b]Intrigue[/b] is the same way. [b]Chess[/b] has memorable games despite no randomness nor anything in common with the other two games. Drama is what creates memorable games, and what creates drama is the unexpected. Randomness is a great way of generating the unexpected, but all of the above games are able to generate the unexpected without randomness: when other players are given the freedom to make unexpected moves that dramatically change the state of the game, then you’ll have memorable games.

  11. Mark Jackson says:

    I’m still bamfoozled that so many folks act like randomness is a binary decision – you can either switch on the Light Switch of Swirlign Chaos or turn it off to luxuriate in the sweet, sweet Darkness of Utter Control.

    Poppycock. (I’ve always wanted to use that word – it makes me feel slightly British.) That kind of argumentation may make for good Internet jousting but it’s a lousy picture of how board & card games actually work… and the folks commenting here have a done a lovely job of illustrating that with their comments about Knizia’s RA.

  12. patrickkorner says:

    Well, at least the article got a reaction. :)

    Maybe one of you FATties can explain to me how I become a fun murderer by saying I like randomness in games? I hate to just throw words around but some folks don’t appear to have actually read the article before commenting. I guess the Internet wins again. ;)


  13. Pete says:

    You’re not a fun murderer. If you knew me, you’d know that SuperflyCircus is latin for “Hyperbolic [redacted]”. And it wasn’t directed at you, it was directed at those who believe that randomness in a game is bad.

    I really think SAG hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways: Luck then Choice is not the same as Choice then Luck.

    Heroscape is a great example of the latter – you choose what to do, and the choice you made has to involve mitigating the bad roll you may experience. The former is more found in the Euros where you get dealt a hand of random cards and are forced to then deal with the luck you already had.

    The fun games are the latter, for the most part. I don’t really think you can play a game of El Grande and get shitty over luck because the “move 5 caballeros back to the provinces” card didn’t come up when you really could’ve used it. The idea that you’d strategize based on the hope that the card MIGHT appear is ridiculous. So, there is luck in the game, but does it affect the game much? No.

    • Paul Lister says:

      language please

      • Pete says:

        Usted no es un asesino divertido. Si me conocieras, sabrías que SuperflyCircus en latín significa “Coño hiperbólica”. Y no fue dirigido a usted, que estaba dirigida a aquellos que creen que el azar en un juego es malo.

        Realmente creo que el SAG ha puesto el dedo en la llaga en muchas formas: La suerte entonces la opción no es la misma elección, entonces la suerte.

        Heroscape es un gran ejemplo de esta última – a elegir qué hacer, y la elección que hizo tiene que involucrar a la mitigación de los mal rollo que pueda experimentar. El primero es más en los euros que te reparten una mano de cartas al azar y se ven obligados a tratar a continuación, con la suerte que ya tenía.

        Los juegos de la diversión son los últimos, en su mayor parte. Realmente no creo que se pueda jugar a un juego de El Grande y obtener más de mierda suerte porque el “movimiento 5 caballeros de vuelta a las provincias” de la tarjeta no estaba a la altura cuando en realidad podría haber utilizado. La idea que te gustaría desarrollar estrategias basadas en la esperanza de que la tarjeta puede parecer ridículo. Por lo tanto, no hay suerte en el juego, pero no afecta al juego mucho? No.

      • Mark Jackson says:

        Agreed – while I’m all for “free & open discussion”, you make yourself difficult to take seriously with those word choices.

  14. peer says:

    I dont mind luck per se (and I doubt anyone does), but only badly implemented randomness. The question is: What does the game want and does it deliver? If its a strategygame, strategy should bring the win, not luck. If its a gambling game, good play on statistics and luck should. So its a matter of design.

    And when its about memories: We tend to memorize story very well (what Jeff said) and extrem events (and very funny incidents, but thats either matagaming or partygames). And extrem gaming events are often caused by luck. I dont recall the 2 ninjas in japan that fought of 15 armies from China because it was random, but because it was the only time it ever happend. I remmeber the time I won Heimlich & Co without moving another colour then my own just as livid, because it was an extreme case, that most likely will never happen again. In Eurogames there usually isnt much story to remmeber and extreme stratgies normally dont work or cant even be implemented, which makes these games less memorable.

    (I cant help but add: Which is not a bad thing – the main reason I play games is to have fun, not to remember stuff.)

    • Pete says:

      But look at almost every battle ever won or lost in the history of man – Lady Luck played a role. A war is won with strategy, but battles are waged by individuals, whose fate may or may not be to enact that strategy. Strategy games should not subdue the reality that luck plays in life by eliminating it, TRUE strategic thinking involves taking risks that may or may not pan out due to unforseen events, and just plain bad luck can be one of them.

      Mitigating the possibility of bad luck through wise strategies and sound tactics is an art form that should be represented and embraced, not shunned.

      Games that deny this fact generally do not end up being very replayable. As Frank said, once you’ve figured out the solution, the “optimal”, then it’s done. A truly great game can be played over and over with different outcomes if the players make the exact same choices, and it’s hard to achieve that if there’s no Choice -> Luck scenario. Sure, you can vary start positions to spice it up, but at the end of the day, the “optimal” will not change, hence once you’ve “solved the riddle”, the game is dead.

      People still play Risk, 50 years+ later. Axis and Allies and Avalon Hill games are still played, avidly, after being out of print for over 30 years. . Very few games other than abstracts can boast that.


      • peer says:

        Yeah, and in real life people are bored quite often. That doesnt mean, Id want boredom part of my game ;-)

        But to clarify: I dont say a luck element is always bad in a strategy game. Negotiating the luck is part of the strategy. But if in the End everything comes down to luck, I dont need starategy to win which is (Imho) wrong in a strategy game. The dosage makes the good game.

        • Dale Yu says:

          Peer says “I dont say a luck element is always bad in a strategy game. Negotiating the luck is part of the strategy. But if in the End everything comes down to luck, I dont need starategy to win which is (Imho) wrong in a strategy game. The dosage makes the good game.”

          Well said. I think that you do a good job in your designs balancing out the role of luck. And I definitely feel that the amount of luck that I like to see in a game varies greatly based on the amount of strategy needed (and sometimes the length of the game)

    • jeffinberlin says:

      That’s a good point, Peer. How memorable does a game actually have to be? I mean, is it really important to remember when and how we tasted victory and defeat? Isn’t that like those sad ex-athletes who continue to live in the past?

      Much better to remember simply having fun with friends, playing games that everyone in the group likes.

  15. Pete says:

    Wow, wide of you guys to let a guy like me post on your place here. Didn’t realize that one word, “[redacted]”, discredits the hundred following it. Awesome. Sure glad to discuss things at a place where using one word that isn’t “appropriate” can discredit someone’s ideas.

    And FYI: It doesn’t require a perfectly tuned vocabulary to be viable as a writer or purveyor of ideas, boys. I guess in your universe, writers like Mark Twain, Philip Dick, and Joe Lansdale are just flashes in the pan who would never be taken seriously…I mean, using the vernacular of the time, be it offensive or not at the time, is tantamount to being an imbecile, eh? What you mean is “I’m all for free and open discussion as long as you agree with me and use language that doesn’t damage my puritanical sense of civil discourse”, right? Got it. Will keep that in mind for future…wait…forget it.

    Really, though, I should’ve stopped to consider that being taken seriously here is akin to being taken seriously at a mime convention; almost nothing is ever really said, the same old act is generally repeated ad infinitum, and most of the inhabitants are generally despised and ridiculed. The only reason I popped into this discussion is that it’s the only one that has merited real interest in anyone for months. Heck, I even FB “liked” it. And that means something, right?

    At least Dale and Luke get it, though. Playing Sword and Skull, Battleship Gal’s, and some quirky racing game about VW Beetles with them was a riot. Good people (and guess what, I heard the F-Word and S-Words used by them….so I guess Dale and Luke aren’t really actually worth reading now, right?)

    Great way to derail, though. Good job, chap(or Brit, or Limey, for all the care I can muster). Keep up the self-congratulatory banter, I’m sure someone will read it and feel intellectually stimulated.

    Good luck!

    • garygarison says:

      “The folks who drive candy red Corvettes and won’t allow Allstate or Progressive to attach a device to their car that will save them 20$ a month on car insurance because then they’d know that sometimes the driver likes to do doughnuts in the parking lot of WalMart with “B.Y.O.B.” blaring at 900 Watts with the windows down and the right hand’s left finger extended and raised through the T-Top ”
      These are also the folks who get juiced up scratching off a paycheck’s worth of instant lotto tickets while downing round after round of rum and Cokes at the corner tavern. And candy red Corvettes? The only people I see driving those are bald retired white guys who used to be actuaries and accountants.

    • Paul Lister says:

      I just found some of the words you used offensive and inappropriate in a forum discussion about boardgames, and the last paragraph above seems designed to be a little bit more so.

    • Paul Lister says:

      Thinking about it its not just your potty mouth that’s offensive – If you want to be taken seriously then drop the puerile and pretentious writing style. Twain. Dick (Chaucer , Shakespeare as well) might be worth reading and use the vernacular – you are not, you seem to be just another troll who hides behind the safe blanket of the internet.

  16. Gil d'Orey says:


    great discussion :-)

    As a game designer, my opinion in relation to use or not to use Randomness in game, is like using salt when cooking. If you use too much, it’s too aggressive and spoils the flavour of the game. If you don’t use salt , you don’t feel the flavour. The use of randomness in a game must be well balanced. That’s why I really prefer Backgammon instead of Chess or Dice games.

    But when creating a game, it all depends on what kind of game you really want to deliver. And in this matter, the “Machine O’Gaming Fun” from Mark Jackson it’s a great help to think about concepts, mechanical strategies, etc, etc


    Gil d’Orey

    • Pete says:

      “That’s why I really prefer Backgammon instead of Chess or Dice games.”

      GREAT way to put it. That sums up my entire line of thought on the subject. Too much, you get Quarriors. Too little, you get Star Trek: Encounters (urp…threw up in my mouth a little). Just like cooking. Perfect, Gil.

  17. David Brain says:

    Years ago a friend of mine called this the “anecdote factor”. The division of games was between those in which something absurd or extraordinary happened, and those in which play proceeded as per most other sessions. This wasn’t necessarily a division between randomness and order; there are anecdotal games of Chess (“I sacrificed my Queen and Rook ftw”) amidst the countless regular ones.
    Adding an element of randomness is likely to increase the anecdote factor considerably, since it will contribute quite highly to the likelihood of an extraordinary event happening. But I am not sure that it is necessarily the unique factor involved.

    • garygarison says:

      It’s not so much the “anecdote factor” as the “crazy shit” factor. Gamers who wallow in randomness want to set up crazy ass situations and see crazy shit happen. If things explode, Hollywood style, all the better. For the most part, these are also the gamers who are not so much interested in playing with skill as playing for a big payday.

  18. Pete says:

    Someone got off their meds! Gary, watch the language, too. There’s no way you’ll be taken seriously when you say “the S word” here. (Rolling eyes like that chick from The Exorcist)

    It’s not the “crazy things” factor for most. It’s the fact that it takes more skill to create a perfectly crafted strategy in an imperfect environment than it does to create a strategy when all the information is known.

    Don’t believe it? Try this on:

    Scenario 1: You see tanks coming from 2 hexes in front of you. Two from the 9 o’ clock, two from the 3 o’clock. The tanks on the upper left hex are stronger. You know you’ll kill them, and you know you’ll kill the others if you attacked them. So, you make the optimum play because you know that killing the stronger will potentially reduce your damage received by the weaker tanks next turn.

    Scenario 2: You know that there’s 2 squads of tanks, one of which are Panzers, the others of which are Tigers. You’re not precisely sure where they are due to a line of hedgerows. You rotate to the left, hoping to see something…it’s the Tigers! But you know the Panzers are out there, and you don’t want to get blindsided…do you retreat and hope for a kill from a longer distance, or do you fire at closer range, which would increase the odds of success?

    Which takes more critical thinking skill? In the first example, you know everything. Your tanks WILL kill either, there is no element of surprise, and there are no risks to expose yourself to. You know must kill the stronger tanks to reduce your damage next turn that the weaker tanks will most definitely inflict. In the second, you don’t know where the enemy is, you don’t know if you’ll even kill them if you do strike, and you don’t know if you can evade them if you attempt to escape by exiting back beyond the hedgerows.

    The second game is one that stories will be told about. The first….not so much. It’s an optimization engine. It’s the same reason Race for the Galaxy is a great, but short-lived game where Ascending Empires is an astoundingly fun game that will be replayed many, many times.

    • garygarison says:

      A more pointed example. Which type of poker to you subscribe to? The kind where one goes of to Vegas and goes all-in at every glimmer of an opportunity, because “I’m here to have fun”, and a big win will be a great story back home? Or the kind where one plays slowly and methodically, confident that in the long run, this style will make money by eating up the little fishes there to have fun?

      • patrickkorner says:

        Um, Poker kind of proves my point…

        The object of the game is to win, right? Going all-in every chance you get is going to get lucky once in a while, but mostly it’ll leave you calling for more chips. As a strategy, it’s pretty flawed.

        But now let’s say you have a situation where you can either go all-in or fold. If you fold you will lose 100% of the time. If you shove there is a non-zero chance you will win. Juggling the probabilities of when you’re ahead, when you’re behind but with good chances of catching up, when you’re behind but the other guy isn’t strong enough to call, etc. etc. etc. – that’s all strategic thinking being made in an essentially random environment (in the sense that you have no control of which cards come next).

        Playing strategically does not have to come at the expense of allowing random outcomes to influence the game. Playing strategically in a random system means you have to tolerate larger swings of luck back and forth, but if you play long enough you will win if your strategy is solid.

        -Who has spent countless hours separating the fishes from their money

  19. garygarison says:

    And so you should know that that style of play is less likely to produce great big gasoline explosion stories. It’s a way of playing that exploits very slim margins. In a word — a word shared by most professional poker players — it’s mostly hours and hours of boredom. Cherry red Corvette driving, bird flipping, good time Charlie wants none of that. He’s a man of action! Do! All in!

  20. Pete says:

    The poker analogy is a bad one again as it is a “Luck Then Choice” game. It’s a skill game, but the skill is in knowing the odds and being able to read the other players. Depending on the game’s type, be it “Hold’em” with some knowledge or “No Peek” where it’s 100% luck, the entire argument is based upon the version played.

    If you think that Ameritrashers like to play American-style games for “the big payday” then you’ve never been to the WBC. Games that are a perfect mix of strategy, luck, and limited information will always be more fun than an abstraction. You can only play the same game until you’ve mastered it or figured out the “trick”. Then it becomes a rote testament to proving how smart you are to others in the room.

    But, it’s all about taste. If you want to play Power Grid all day long, God bless you. I can’t imagine it, but whatevers.

  21. Ryan B. says:

    All right! I see you boys are having quite the AT vs. Euro debate. Love all the posts so I don’t have to be the #2 poster of comments this year on the OG.
    But I will add this: For me, the issue isn’t about defining “randomness” or “luck” to make a game more memorable. It is introducing the right mitigating scenarios which turn a game from being a “solvable puzzle exercise” into a more classic, historical definition. Introducing dynamic variables, which are not predictable, keep the gameplay fresh and new. The object goes from “who can best solve the puzzle to win” to something more akin to “who can best manage various unexpected obstacles to place themselves in a great position to win.”

    Certainly, introducing the factors of “luck” and “randomness/chaos” are the mechanical means to incorporating that end. However, too much of either also can spoil a game. The key is to find an effective balance which incorporates both luck and strategy. I have always thought a good balance is a game that is 75%-90% pure strategy… mitigated by 10%-25% variable outcomes which must be effectively managed.

    My litmus test for balance- Play the game well and you should be in a strong position to win… but its still not 100% guaranteed. I AM under the belief that anyone who plays a game *poorly*, however, should always lose the game.
    A MORE PRESSING ISSUE: The trend for the last few years is the introduction of more and more complicated rules to accomplish so-called balance while offering more in-game “choices”.

    We seemingly have lost the joys of “easy to learn” games that offer both solid depth, variability and interactivity… and getting games instead that are befuddling, overly complicated messes.
    Why do we not have more Ticket to Ride type games out there? Some OG writer want to take this on?

    Ryan B.
    “A fun game starts with fun people”

    • huzonfirst says:

      Ryan, while I like many “solvable puzzle” games, I probably prefer “dynamic puzzle” games. The constant challenges really keep you engaged and I love the tactical issues that arise each turn. Figuring out how to best play a hand of cards in Louis XIV; determining a bidding strategy based on the latest set of cards to bid in Phoenicia; making best use of the row of cards available for drafting in Through the Ages; or deciding on how to negotiate after getting your new set of businesses in each turn of Chinatown–these are the kinds of turn-to-turn gaming decisions I love.

  22. jeffinberlin says:

    Ryan wrote, “Play the game well and you should be in a strong position to win… but its still not 100% guaranteed. I AM under the belief that anyone who plays a game *poorly*, however, should always lose the game.” I wholeheartedly agree.

    As for your second point, I think it’s not necessarily a trend. It seems that there are more complex, optimization-type games being released these days, but that’s also because there are just a whole lot more games being released these days. There are plenty of gateway-type games entering the market every year. Designing a good one, however, is probably more difficult than the more complex offerings. Yes, the latter take longer to test and balance every element, but the former require short, intuitive rules while keeping some depth. Not at all easy to pull off.

  23. jeffinberlin says:

    Oh…and the simpler a game design has to be, the more difficult it is to find something original!

  24. Pete says:

    There has, indeed, been a concerted effort to “chrome” games that would be better off without. Earth Reborn didn’t need to have “Torture Rules” to make it better, for instance. I think that thematic games tend to be the biggest contributors to the “chrome for chrome’s sake” phenomenon because designers of late seem to miss the fact that a game’s theme can be laid out through art and strategic choices rather than dumping hundreds of “theme” cards with gallons-per-deck of flavor text.

    It’s sloppy design, IMO. If you have to chrome something to make it playable, you should go back to barber college.

  25. Ryan B. says:

    To Jeff and Pete,

    Both of your latter points are extremely well-stated. Agree completely.

    Its interesting article from Patrick. And I agree with most of it… but admit its kinda weird to see more and more people espousing viewpoints that I have seemingly held in the distinct minority through the years. If I start hearing a call for more mainstream game themes, I’m running for the hills. (LOL)

    As a sidebar on That topic: We seem to run through these publisher stages where we nothing on a theme and then a ton of stuff. The exception being medieval themes which since the 1990’s always seem to be in vogue. First, it was “pirates”, and later “zombie/horror” and then more recently “space”. I am predicting we really start to see more from “westerns”. I know a few of them that have hit the market but it really hasn’t taken off… yet. It does offer some hope for some good gateway games.


    PS Jeff- I always thought our definitions of a gateway game were pretty similar. But where you see an “abundance” of titles, I see a “dearth”. Was wanting to know what “gateway games” coming out you were referring to?

  26. huzonfirst says:

    Ryan, I suspect the reason you see a dearth of gateway games is that most of the new ones I’m familiar with aren’t thematic and I know that’s a strong requirement for you. One example is Kingdom Builder, which has the potential to be an excellent gateway game. But its theme is pretty much pasted on–in fact, it’s practically an abstract. There’s also limited player interaction. Ticket to Ride, it’s not. But I can see it serving as a gateway for a lot of people.

    There’s also the interesting set of games that Schmidt Spiele has released that they call their Easy Play line. A lot of my friends are very enthusiastic about these games. Again, there’s not much in the way of theme, but they’re fast, have short rulesets, and are fine family games. They could easily be the gateway for more complex titles for non-gamers.

  27. peer says:

    Yesterday we played Sukkata, a simple dicegame which is about 90% luckdependable. While a nice filler, I dout I remember much of this game in the future. So I think your examples are misleading. The incidents are not memorable because they were random, but because they were thematic. No wonder it turnms to a Euro vs. AT debatte :-)

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