## Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

General feedback and discussion of the game.

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F50
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

If multiplying everything by 2 doesn't make a difference to balance, and is a solely positive change, why stop there? Why not multiply everything by a thousand? Then, there will be almost no luck at all. Combat results will be almost deterministic. Luck will be abolished.
You are correct that the implication of my initial argument is false. That statement was ill said. When I tried to defend it, I did so technically (the statement itself is true), and did not stop and realize this. I am sorry. It is true that there would be no other result than reducing luck, but that in itself has consequences that effect balance. Basically all it is really saying is that only game balance will be effected and nothing else. I did not attempt to deny that it would have an effect on balance in that post, though I do think it will be minimal.
Dave wrote:F50 et al: "doubling everything" would be a big, fundamental change to the game. One of the key aspects of Wesnoth and tactical planning is luck management, and damage planning. A 6-4 attack is very different to a 8-3 attack which is very difficult to a 12-2 attack...A 6-8 attack really isn't much different to a 8-6 attack, which is only a little different to a 12-4 attack: they all have very distributed results, and there are limited situations where difference between them matters.
I disagree. The proportion in number of strikes is now 8/6 as opposed 4/3 (equivalent fractions). An easier way to see that there is little change in difference is to halve the damage as both numbers are divisible by two (in which case that is equivalent to multiplying hp by two) thus resulting in 3-8 vs 4-6 (and then a 6-4 attack for the third example). which do look very different from each other.

However, it seems to me like one needs to really try it out to solve an argument about balance changes. I haven't actually touched WML myself, but if you can provide a list of files (linux) that need to be modified, some info on what numbers to change, and where and how to upload the changes, I should be able to use some sed-fu to make an era for you.
CarpeGuitarrem
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

The reason why it would be such a fundamental change is because in the current scenario, more rides on each strike. Instead of having two strikes with a 50% chance to hit, each with a damage of 9, you have one strike with a 50% chance to hit, with a damage of 18.

The first breaks down as such...
0 damage: 25%
9 damage: 50%
18 damage: 25%

The second breaks down as such...
0 damage: 50%
18 damage: 50%

See, it's more polarizing. For another example, check out how a grunt fights as opposed to a regular fighter.
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F50
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

CarpeGuitarrem wrote:The first breaks down as such...
0 damage: 25%
9 damage: 50%
18 damage: 25%

The second breaks down as such...
0 damage: 50%
18 damage: 50%

See, it's more polarizing. For another example, check out how a grunt fights as opposed to a regular fighter.
Which is more polarizing? Do you view polarizing as a bad or good thing? What is the definition of polarizing? Personally I like the above example because you are likely to get near (or in this case, exactly) EV, while there is still a 50% chance of something going seriously wrong/right.
anakayub
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

Polarizing (as in all-or-none (0/18) as compared to more numerous outcomes like 0/9/9/18) is neither good nor bad; it's just a part of the factional strategy/balance, and how you adapt to it. A good example is how poachers and thunderers differ in damage dealt against ghosts.
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JW
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

The AI is better in campaign mode because it is given predetermined goals. In MP it is useless. I have to stress that I was an MP player primarily, hence my colorization of the AI.
bert1
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

I think two luck issues are separable.

1. Does luck ever swing a game so that the person who should have won, didn't?

The concensus among the MP dev team seems to be 'rarely, if ever'. This is a hard question to answer conclusively as there is no objective test. We can't just look at EV, for example. All we can do is ask an expert for his judgement, which might be unsatisfactory for some people.

2. Assuming luck does swing games more or less often, does it matter?

Unlike the previous question, this is not a matter of fact and fine judgement but a matter of taste. Lots of perfectly good games are influenced by luck. Wesnoth is just one of them. The question here is, should Wesnoth be one of them? Well, that's just up to whoever develops the game. It's their choice.
Luck is only a problem when you play to compete.
I've wondered a few times (before this thread) if Wesnoth would have to change its luck system if a) it ever became an Olympic sport and/or b) there was a world-championship with \$1m prize money.

Games involving luck are generally not Olympic sports (I don't think... am I wrong?). If Wesnoth were an Olympic sport, there would inevitably be appeals that matches were unfair due to the RNG. Fairness is crucial to Olympic values. You could have a panel of experts to judge this. And provided this panel judged a good 90% of games to be fair, and matches were the best of 5 or 7, that would make Wesnoth a pretty fair game, wouldn't it? Perhaps even fair enough for the Olympics? But there would be a lot of controversy, and people disagreeing with the expert panel.

I think there would be less of a problem with a competition and prizemoney. I'll compare Wesnoth with Poker. Poker is probably too influenced by luck to be an Olympic sport. But there are poker tournaments. And in these tournaments, some of the best players will just have a bad night with no good cards, and they will drop out of the competition. This is unfair. And it is perfectly OK. No one complains about luck in competitive poker, even with prizemoney at stake.

Why the difference between wesnoth and poker? Is it simply pre-rational associations? Poker is a game of cards. It is gambling. Both these have deep psychological associations with luck, and therefore luck in poker is acceptable.

Wesnoth is a strategy war game, more similar to chess. It should be about cunning, planning, keeping your head, patience, etc, which are not usually associated with luck, unless you talk to Noy.

If we think of Wesnoth as a gambling game (which it is), as well as a strategy game, does that make the luck element more acceptable?
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hiro hito
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

bert1 wrote:If we think of Wesnoth as a gambling game (which it is), as well as a strategy game, does that make the luck element more acceptable?
I would ask :" doesn't that make the huge gap of luck between 2 players (or teams) more acceptable?

and i would say :"no".

Why?

because in the fight system of wesnoth we know all moves from the opponent. The game is almost perfectly balancing, the only unknow factor ( between 2 skill players/teams) is luck.

The game is funny when luck is balancing between both side or with some gap of +/-5% (maybe 10%) and all along the match....

I never find funny or strategic brainstormy to have a gap of luck around +/-20% or more...
When this gap appears for more than 2 turns the game is over for the unlucker...
All long turns to make strategic moves are ruined by this 2 turns of unluck.
I sometimes play game with -20% or -30% of luck all along the match and i win.... (like many others...)
but that was only against less good players...
The best matches i did it was when luck was balancing (with no big gap of luck or when it appears it was composate the turn after) with same skill players (or better than me...).

The only way to accept a huge gap of luck is to find a way to hide our own moves and make surprising attack/strategy.
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Wintermute
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

bert1 wrote:If we think of Wesnoth as a gambling game (which it is), as well as a strategy game, does that make the luck element more acceptable?
It certainly does for me. It seems very clear that that as Dave points out in the original post a lot of the strategy in Wesnoth is shaped by a player's analytical ability to assess risk, and the possible outcomes of an action when there are several unknowns. I think that the basic idea of this thread is that Wesnoth is a game of calculated risk, and that is how it is likely to stay.

Which, of course, does not prevent a certain amount of griping about luck...
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CarpeGuitarrem
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

anakayub wrote:Polarizing (as in all-or-none (0/18) as compared to more numerous outcomes like 0/9/9/18) is neither good nor bad; it's just a part of the factional strategy/balance, and how you adapt to it. A good example is how poachers and thunderers differ in damage dealt against ghosts.
Right, and I also think that in this case, polarization needs to be kept where it exists. Just like you stated, that example. If the number of strikes was multiplied, the damage dealt would come closer to being equivalent. Where it is currently, there is a differentiation between polarized and non-polarized units, in terms of damage.
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Fosprey
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

I want to make it clear, because it seems that a lot of people don't.
Removing randomness in wesnoth would completly destroy the game.
Randomness is a good tactic to acomplish what dave wanted to build up.
A game with simple rules.
Removing randomness would need a major game overhaul to keep the game interesting, and i fear it won't be simple anymore.
zookeeper
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

I split the less-luck rant section to off-topic. Please, not in this thread.
F50
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

I had hoped that my assertion that this was not a suggestion for base wesnoth yet would calm the storm. I was wrong. Seriously, what's with all the deterministic-o-phobes? I wish I could understand the psychology behind that.

I would like to create an era to test this. Can someone provide a list of files (linux) that need to be modified, some info on what numbers to change, and where and how to upload the era so other people can get it?
Chris NS
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

You'll presumably need to edit the source code and recompile to do this.

I suggest asking in the coder's corner forum. The people who are most likely to help you might not be following this thread.
Dave
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

FS0: I'm not sure what it is you're trying to accomplish exactly. How do you want to change the attack calculations?
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Yogibear
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### Re: Luck in Wesnoth: Rationale

I think the impact of luck is being generally overestimated.

I remember a game against a player who was way worse than me. I cut him to pieces until he had two units left. I attacked his leader from all six castle hexes and by a really bad strike of luck, i missed and he leveled. Then i tried to kill his second unit with my wounded leader and another unit, had bad luck again and watched that unit kill my leader with getting all strikes in.

Many people would have said i lost that game to luck, especially as it was obvious my skills were a lot better.

But guess what? I didn't lose to luck, i lost because of stupidity. The stupidity not to retreat a wounded leader. I lost because i made a bad mistake. Luck played its role there, but it was not the true cause. Getting back my leader i would have recruited a full castle, killed that survivor and his leader as well (even a level three lich can't stand a horde of enemies forever).

I think situations like that happen very often. Most of them are more subtle, of course. I consider myself to be a decent player, but there is hardly a game where i play without more or less serious mistakes. Luck may support such mistakes to have a different impact, but i suspect way too often it is used as an excuse not to face your own shortcomings.

And yes, there have been games that i lost (or won) purely because of luck. Very few. If i had to estimate i'd say less than 5%.
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