Perverse Randomization

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.

: Zubon

8 thoughts on “Perverse Randomization”

  1. I have played Elements very little but I have the same experience in terms of “weird” event occurence such as 2/30 chances not appearing in the the first 25 cards (a 17.8% probability event) happening quite often

  2. Ah yes, the perspective of probability. As gamers we tend to remember the anomalous runs of “bad” luck then the runs of “good” runs. We see so many series of random events that over time we will see the more “unlikely” series crop up and then blame the RNG if it was the unfavorable series.

    Of then there are the tales when roll the 00 when you party needs some miracle to save the day. (cue horse sound)

  3. Reading further, guns seem to have become at least as common as melee weapons, and Noriko did not do the worst. A shamisen?

  4. Once again, back-to-back games where 6/30 did not happen in 15 tries. Some nights are very frustrating.

  5. If you’re saying that given enough time, everything that can happen will happen, then it follows that given enough time, someone will live forever.


    1. But if we’re saying that “living forever” is not something that can happen, no problem.

      Also, I’m pretty sure that you cannot form an actual infinite through successive addition, so anyone who is going to live literally forever is continuing to do so as we speak.

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