Friday, December 14

How Random Is A Card Game?

One of the factors that is often used to describe a board/card game is randomness. How much will events outside your control such as drawing cards, dice rolls or other random factors affect your chances of winning?

While playtesting Codename: Jorvik, I got to thinking that a good way to determine the level of randomness is to play a game between people of equal skill using the same strategy. Don't have an evil twin? Play against yourself. In games where you score the game, play against yourself a bunch of times, and the look at the scores that result. If they vary a lot, then there is a lot of randomness, if they don't (or you get a lot of draws) then there isn't.

I've also stepped up my recording of my games of Jorvik. At first I was just recording scores, and who started (in an attempt to spot any first player advantage). Now I'm adding a few others to the mix:

  • Which cards are left over? The game may finish with cards not used, recording those might spot cards that get used less often, or weaker cards.
  • How many cards are left over? Is using all your cards a better (or worse) strategy?
  • Strategy used - Does one strategy consistantly win?

Recording these details as I play will allow me to spot (slightly more scientifically than 'a feeling') potential problems with the game, and adjust it accordingly. In particular, I'm expecting to change the distribution of cards a fair bit in response to the info I get.

In other news I sold six of the nine copies I've got in the flat at the moment on the back of the review on Joystiq.com yesterday, which leaves me some to take down to Beyond Monopoly!, my local games club when I pop down tomorrow. Oh, and the local radio station have invited me back on Monday morning to talk about board games (and It's Alive! in particular) in the context of the Christmas board games sales spike.

2 comments:

Mal said...

Been trying to think of a way of saying "great post!" without sounding like a suck-up, but what the heck... great post!

I find it really enlightening when you explain the lengths you go to when testing a game's mechanics like this. It makes sense, of course - it's arguably the most important part of any game - but it's really good to read how you go about it. And it's impressive to see how much it matters to you. Cheers! :)

Jack said...

Thanks, Mal! I've been trying to get more useful information into my posts, less of the usual 'I made some games, I sold some games, I played some games' fare.

Hopefully this theme will continue.

Cheers,

Jack