One night last week, I was in very poor spirits while playing Elements because of losing two games in a row after a 2/15 chance failed to come up in 30 tries. (Even worse than that 1.4% chance, really, because it was two 15-set trials of sampling without replacement with a 4/30 chance. The odds were around 4/15 by the end of each.) The night before I hit the computer’s perfect counter-deck to mine three times in a row, and I’m still vaguely bitter about that game where a 1/3 chance happened 8/13 times. The next night a 6/30 chance did not appear in two 15-turn games. In games that are completely random like craps or roulette, you just roll with streaks, but it is frustrating in a deck-building game like Elements or Dominion where managing probability is the whole point. Every plan breaks at a certain degree of perverse unlikelihood.
The next day I was reading Battle Royale, which is a different sort of game. If you do not know the premise of the novel/movie/manga, imagine Lord of the Flies, but the students are put on the island intentionally, armed, and told to fight it out until there is only one survivor. They are armed at random, based on which pack they pick up as they leave the briefing. Knives seem common, in varying lengths, but I just met the guys who lucked into a machine pistol and a sawed-off shotgun. And then there is Noriko, who got a boomerang.
The universe holds more perversity than you can survive. You think you have planned for every possibility, and then a meteor hits your house. All of life is an example of gambler’s ruin. You cannot live forever because, given an infinite amount of time, not only will everything go wrong that can go wrong, but also it will all go wrong at the same time. And, just in case you can survive that a few times, since we are talking about forever, it will happen an infinite number of times.
Which puts that card game issue in perspective.