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Subject: It was a Struggle to like this game rss

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Ben Kyo
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That does sound more palatable than my example. I'm surprised to hear that you think it would make a difference to your enjoyment of the game though.
 
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Mike West
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bgm1961 wrote:

First and foremost... many new players seem to believe that TS is a Eurogame. It is NOT.

Look, life IS random. That's why I WANT smart randomness in my games. I want my games to mimic life, to an extent. Every outcome in life is random, especially when it comes to conflict and experimentation. So TS is a game which captures that essence.

- Coups were never a guaranteed outcome. So how do you model that in a game? Well first, you have a better chance of success if you conduct a coup with a stronger hand (and I'm talking about real life, which perfectly segues into how the game plays). So if you have a good hand - especially a 3 OPs of a 4 OPs - you will have a better chance of succeeding. And the weaker the target country, again, a better chance of succeeding.

THAT's what this game models. It it implements that chance element with a die roll. Can you think of a better way?

- The Space Race was always hit or miss. NOTHING in our pursuit of making it to the Moon by 1969 was ever guaranteed! Every step was very much a chance. So how do you model THAT? Sure, there are more sophisticated ways than using a die roll, but those methods would create its own mini game which would detract from the purpose of the Space Race mechanic (to dump a bad card from your hand).


Finally... as with most pure strategy games, they're never intended to be played only once. TRUST me... if you play more sessions of TS, all those dice rolls which your opponent got will be yours one game!

In the end, this game really does come down to a matter of who's best at managing the cards they draw. The problem we see in today's boardgaming climate, is such a notion isn't always realized on a first play, and as such, turns many gamers off. I think that needing to be satisfied on a first play is a product of how this hobby has evolved, and not a statement on the players themselves. I think if TS was designed TODAY, it'd have to be an entirely different game.


You misunderstand my issue with Randomness. TRUE randomness is bad, Randomness with memory is good.

Randomness should always be implemented with a memory so that if you are lucky at the start of the game, you are less likely to be lucky later on, rolling a random dice to create a random number which defines success is bad.

Drawing a card from a deck of results, some of which are good and bad is good, as once the good results are taken out, the deck gets worse. Also, rolling a dice which gives you different results, but none are better than each other is also good as it means randomness is added but fundamentally being 'unlucky' is mitigated.

So, all of your examples, with a dice deck you still have Randomness, each player with a deck of 36 cards (1-6x6), and then every time i draw a 1, i know there are less 1's in my deck, i'm initially unlucky, but it mitigates the rest of the game, and for every 1 i draw, in the future i get luckier. There is still randomness, there is still luck (Will i draw a 6 on the really important roll?!) but over the course of the game, i won't draw 1-2 continually and fail everything i try.

Most games thrive on random events, but a truly random succeed/fail is in my opinion, not a good mechanic and can be improved upon.

Of course if you are creating a game for children or a casual audience where by definition you want the ramdom events to give a much weaker a player a chance to win (See Hearthstone), then it makes a lot of sense, but i won't be playing that game.
 
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Mike West
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Benkyo wrote:
That does sound more palatable than my example. I'm surprised to hear that you think it would make a difference to your enjoyment of the game though.

It's like Settlers of Catan for me. The first time i played that game, i had all my towns build on the corners of 8's and 6's and my friend placed his on 9's and one 11.

On rolling the harvest dice, we rolled 11 3 times in a row, he won. That wasn't a fun game, there wasn't skill involved, we may as well have just played roulette. We then found the dice deck for Settlers and it became a much better game. If one of the two 11's hasn't been drawn yet, then the 11 becomes a better location than the 3 for example, more skill, and less luck, but still random.

Similarly, i played Tigris & Euphrates twice in my life, both times, i never drew a red tile, which meant i could never perform an attack (I believe, it was a long time ago), they were both two of the least fun games i have ever played. Everyone replied, 'well, you were just unlucky' Oh that's fine then, how about not put a mechanic in the game where i can just lose through absolutely no fault of my own?

I also hate Risk for the same reason. However, use the cube tower from Shogun, and Risk actually becomes a way better game. Still very simple area control, but the combat is no longer down to blind dice luck, it has memory.

So, why doesn't Risk come with a tower? Because it is aimed at casual gamers who WANT the moment where 2 armies fight off 20 because that player is REALLY LUCKY. That's exactly what i hate, i want skill and strategy to win, and luck and randomness can affect it, just not to the degree a dice roll has.

It seems TS players embrace the dice more than i ever will though .
 
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Ben Kyo
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If you want a demonstration that the outcomes of TS games are not randomised to the extent that a much weaker player has a good chance of winning a game, I'd be happy to help you lose your next 10 games.
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Mike West
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Benkyo wrote:
If you want a demonstration that the outcomes of TS games are not randomised to the extent that a much weaker player has a good chance of winning a game, I'd be happy to help you lose your next 10 games.

Again, you misunderstand. I'm not saying there is no skill in the game. I'm also not saying that experience helps a huge amount (of course it does), I'm saying that if two equally skilled players match up against each other, and one has bad rolls for the whole game, and one has good rolls, then guess what, the unlucky guy will almost certainly lose.

Perhaps we should play a game where you roll a d2 (Or a d2+4 when rolling for space race and Quagmire) and i roll a d2+4 (Or a d2 for space race etc), then i think i'd win.

As i say, in our game, i got 0/6 Space Race, my opponent got 6/7, he rolled 5+ on EVERY coup attempt, i think i succeeded on 2.
 
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Ben Kyo
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I'm not sure what you think I am misunderstanding, but my understanding is that your shallow understanding of the game and assumption that dice are always bad are leading to the inaccurate conclusion that your dice deck would make any real difference. The only real difference it would make is one of perception, unless the game has a large number of "rolls", and then it becomes problematic.

In a game with few rolls, as the US, the disparity in dice rolls you claim to have experienced could happen with the dice deck too.

In ANY non-combinatorial game between two equally skilled players, the luckier player will win. Even in combinatorial games, in the artificial example of two equally skilled players, the issue of who got a better night's sleep comes up, which is "luck".

Sure, sometimes the deck and the dice conspire to make you lose a game of TS. Plenty of people say the deck has more impact than the dice though. Certainly, I find it much harder to win when I'm dealt almost no neutral cards.
 
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Andy Burgess
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My tuppence-worth on this - it’s not that evened out randomness is better than other sorts of randomness, although I understand that it can feel that way. The problem, of course, is that with evened randomness, you can be super-lucky for events that have less significance to you - and worse, if that happens early game, you know you’re screwed for a more significant event later.

What’s really important is that randomness can be mitigated. In other words, you can manage it such that it won’t or shouldn’t affect you when it matters - which is something that I think TS does really well.
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Mike West
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MercifulBiscuit wrote:
My tuppence-worth on this - it’s not that evened out randomness is better than other sorts of randomness, although I understand that it can feel that way. The problem, of course, is that with evened randomness, you can be super-lucky for events that have less significance to you - and worse, if that happens early game, you know you’re screwed for a more significant event later.

What’s really important is that randomness can be mitigated. In other words, you can manage it such that it won’t or shouldn’t affect you when it matters - which is something that I think TS does really well.

Thanks, that all makes sense.

I guess what we came away with and was the reason for my review and to start this conversation, is that TS does so many things SO well, that i'm surprised people aren't a bit disappointed that those random elements of dice and who draws what couldn't have been improved upon since and made a top 5 ranked game, even better?

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Mike, is your Ameritrash badge ironic? Otherwise none of this makes sense to me.
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Mike West
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turbothy wrote:
Mike, is your Ameritrash badge ironic? Otherwise none of this makes sense to me.

I've been around this site for as long as you, let's just say I've forgotten to update my badges as my tastes have changed... Hence why i'm an Xbox 360 fan!

I do like myself a bit of theme, but the game underneath needs to be good.

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Gothnak wrote:
I think you 'simply' revert all 'you want to roll low' rolls to 'you want to roll high' so for example, Space Race, you make it a 'roll 5-6' rather than '1-2' as 'most' of the time, you want to succeed, same with Quagmire etc.

I've personally wondered why they changed the direction of the desired roll values for the Space Race (rolling low instead of high as you normally try to roll for coups, realignments, and wars).

My only guess is that they included that as a guard against loaded dice.

[on randomness and borked games due to bad rolls]

I can be okay with playing a game that ends up unwinnable due to bad probability, but the longer the time investment, the less inclined I am to forgive a game design that allows this to happen. And Twilight Struggle is around the heavier side of my games, with about 2 to 3 hours' investment with an opponent who knows the rules and strategies reasonably well.

I can laugh off a bad draft or bad set of rolls for games like Tiny Epic Galaxies and 7 Wonders, but for something like Twilight Struggle, it's harder for me to laugh it off. It's hard for me to get the game to the table, and it's hard for me to soften the blow among my gaming group when, Mid-War, they roll a stream of crummy QM/BT rolls, or mess up War rolls, etc. even with reasonably competent play.

Yes, yes, I can understand "Git gud" or "Well, *I* (random BGG poster) don't have that problem". But I'm posting the above as somebody who loves the game but sees that these design choices are negatively affecting my gaming group's accessibility to the game.

Some time ago, I posted a few changes I made to card powers in my vandalized modded version of the hard-copy boardgame. Things like changing up the probabilities of escaping QM/BT, and the War Cards now giving you Influence in the country equal to Stability, and Red Scare/Purge no longer being able to target the same victim twice consecutively in a row. I also took a stab at making NATO actually useful, but it may have made it overpowered - it's now a sort of mini-Destal, limited to Western Europe, that triggers 1 Influence relocation at the end of any AR where the USSR breaks US control of a WE nation.

But even with the above, the game's drafting method is, in my opinion, the biggest mechanic I need to modify. Even if you don't get any "smoking gun" cards that completely mess you up with bad rolls, you can more subtly draw constantly low-OP cards that make your ARs very lackluster and lead to a game that just feels futile.
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Yi Sun
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It seems to me that you are posting this because you find the random elements in Twilight Struggle is obviously a bad design after your first game and you find it strange that TS lovers didn't admit this fact.

I am not going to argue about the mechanism itself (since someone has already done). I personally love it and find it rather controllable.

All I want to say is it is ok to dislike a game. When I dislike a game I just dislike it. I will never think that there is something wrong with those who loves it.
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sunyi199179 wrote:
It seems to me that you are posting this because you find the random elements in Twilight Struggle is obviously a bad design after your first game and you find it strange that TS lovers didn't admit this fact.

Just as a follow up, to whom are you replying? Your comment showed up underneath mine, but it's equally possible you might have been replying to the thread starter instead of me.

If you were commenting to me, then I do agree with the essence of your comment - I am finding the swinginess of the dice rolls to be beyond my personal taste, but I don't have any problem with folks who like that. I have started modding my own paper copy of the game to try to reduce this.

One thing I would hasten to clarify is that I first got this game in 2012, and it remains my favorite boardgame of all time, so I'm well beyond the "first few plays" stage of Twilight Struggle.
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YassWaddah wrote:
Just as a follow up, to whom are you replying?

Sorry for the confusion. I was replying to the thread starter.
 
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J Mathews
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Gothnak wrote:
But when i try 6 space races in a row and can't roll a success, and my opponent gets 6/7, that isn't fun, or dealing with a crappy situation. How do i deal with it? 'Don't play any ability that requires a dice roll because i am unlucky today?' I can't mitigate a bad implementation of 'random'.
I think that this is the primary problem here. The coups and space race aren't really 'random' plays. The primary benefit you get from both of those is not reliant on a dice roll. That's just an additional potential benefit. The coup rolls give you needed military ops points that translate directly to VPs every turn. Whatever happens to the control of the country is secondary. If you are staking your strategy on the 50% chance you roll a 4-6, that is a decision you are making. Whether or not you hit that roll is kind of irrelevant.

Same with the Space Race. The primary benefit of the Space Race is getting rid of a card that you don't want to play or that has an event that would be problematic for you. So if you roll 6 times in a row and don't move anywhere, you have still banked 6 turns of not having to deal with a bad card in your hand. So my solution for missing 6 rolls and seeing my opponent get 6 rolls is to try and make up the 5 or 6 VPs elsewhere. Hopefully my opponent has been spacing my events and I've been mitigating his so the next time through the deck there is a higher proportion of my events and I can make back whatever VPs I lost to the Space Race. I can't remember the last time I Spaced 6 cards in a game though. It happens, but mitigating and discarding your opponent's cards is so much better for you that the Space Race is a side issue. And maybe you get Nazi Scientists or One Small Step and catch up a bit.

While there are wars (Mil Ops regardless of dice roll) and realignment rolls (random, but mitigatable and cheaper than other dice rolls) as well, the randomness seems to be priced accordingly. This is in contrast to MtG where if you are mana screwed/flooded, you really have no other options. TS is all about giving the players choices and allowing them to deal with the consequences. It's only rarely that the dice actually determine the winner, bad or good dice luck.
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linh1987
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Gothnak wrote:
But when i try 6 space races in a row and can't roll a success, and my opponent gets 6/7, that isn't fun, or dealing with a crappy situation. How do i deal with it? 'Don't play any ability that requires a dice roll because i am unlucky today?' I can't mitigate a bad implementation of 'random'.

I would even dare to say that it's preferrable to MISS a space race instead of HITTING one. By missing you stay at lower space race "spaces", which allow a lot more flexibility in what to space race then those higher ones.
 
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Ben Kyo
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linh1987 wrote:
Gothnak wrote:
But when i try 6 space races in a row and can't roll a success, and my opponent gets 6/7, that isn't fun, or dealing with a crappy situation. How do i deal with it? 'Don't play any ability that requires a dice roll because i am unlucky today?' I can't mitigate a bad implementation of 'random'.

I would even dare to say that it's preferrable to MISS a space race instead of HITTING one. By missing you stay at lower space race "spaces", which allow a lot more flexibility in what to space race then those higher ones.
Nah, the space race is a race to the discard one card power. The VPs are significant too. The Chinese players taught us that.
 
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Alex Drazen
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I think that this is the primary problem here. The coups and space race aren't really 'random' plays. The primary benefit you get from both of those is not reliant on a dice roll. That's just an additional potential benefit. The coup rolls give you needed military ops points that translate directly to VPs every turn. Whatever happens to the control of the country is secondary. If you are staking your strategy on the 50% chance you roll a 4-6, that is a decision you are making. Whether or not you hit that roll is kind of irrelevant.

Personally, I'm not big on lots of randomness in a game either, and I don't find Twilight Struggle's use of dice to be bad. Why? Well, most of the time, you are choosing to take a chance with the dice - as long as you are the one who played the event card. You may get unlucky on a war card from your opponent, but you can also place IP to mitigate that chance.

Plus ... coups and wars and things are risky. They can go either way and can be quite unpredictable. There is a thematic reason for the uncontrolled randomness. Plus it gives a losing opponent a chance to catch up, no matter how desperate!

Twilight Struggle's actual randomness problem, as someone else said, is the Ops level of cards. If your hand is chock full of 1's, 2's, and Scoring Cards, your opponent likely has a fistful of 3's and 4's and you are in for a world of hurt. Usually it balances out over a game, but it's fair to say that sometimes it doesn't.

But that's part of the game's charm. Last year I won a completely lost game by getting the USSR player stuck in a situation where they had KAL-007, Tear Down This Wall, and Duck and Cover on their hand in turn 8. They did have UN Intervention and the China Card and could almost get out of it, but I somehow managed to hit UN Intervention with Terrorism, and steal the China Card.


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J Mathews
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alexdrazen wrote:
Twilight Struggle's actual randomness problem, as someone else said, is the Ops level of cards. If your hand is chock full of 1's, 2's, and Scoring Cards, your opponent likely has a fistful of 3's and 4's and you are in for a world of hurt. Usually it balances out over a game, but it's fair to say that sometimes it doesn't.
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alexdrazen wrote:
Twilight Struggle's actual randomness problem, as someone else said, is the Ops level of cards. If your hand is chock full of 1's, 2's, and Scoring Cards, your opponent likely has a fistful of 3's and 4's and you are in for a world of hurt. Usually it balances out over a game, but it's fair to say that sometimes it doesn't.

Any ideas about a drafting set up after each reshuffle, where the players get to draw based on OP value?

One thought for me is to split the cards into two piles by OP value: one pile for 1-2 OPs, and one pile for 3-4 (all facedown). You could have a deal that's roughly 50-50 between the decks, or you could allow the players to choose which pile to draw from (perhaps with some built in incentive for a player who takes the less-favored pile).

Hmmm... Maybe this is fodder for another thread though.
 
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Ben Kyo
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Try a game where your opponent gets all the neutral OPs. I think you'll find that just as one-sided, if not moreso, than an OPs imbalance.

This discussion should definitely be in a variants thread though.
 
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Andrew J
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Gothnak wrote:
Basically 'Roll a double or miss a turn' from everyone's number 1 game, Monopoly?

Not sure this is the best comparison, given that outside of the very rare example of having less than $50 in your bank and no get-out-of-jail-free cards in hand, you would never be obligated to lose a turn in Monopoly on a failed roll.

Outside of the first few trips around the board, it is actually preferable in Monopoly to be put in jail and NOT get out, saving yourself three turns (assuming you can avoid a double roll) of paying rent while you continue to collect and bleed opponents dry.

Anyway, not really the main subject of this thread, so back to Twilight Struggle...

In some 600+ games, I've found it pretty rare for Quagmire or Bear Trap to be debilitating. First, your opponent has to be dealt the card (because outside of having to manage a number of other DEFCON-suicide issues, one can usually ditch the opponent's card given its high ops value), and even then it is more a valuable card for limited situations (Bear Trap headline play or AR7 play by the US to steal the Soviet AR1 coup, or a headlined Quagmire by the Soviets to get two back-to-back turns, or a AR7 Quagmire play by Soviets to take the US AR7 play away). Otherwise you have to waste a turn to play the event and the chance of your opponent wasting two turns trapped are fairly low--meaning you burn three ops and waste a turn and likely that your opponent burns three ops (likely one of your events) and wastes just one turn also. Now, on the 33% chance they get stuck for one turn, MAYBE you can invest ops to try to flip a battle ground or something, but typically it isn't worth burning the three ops yourself for that 33% chance. Sometimes I'll play Quagmire for the event as the Soviets just to get rid of NORAD if I was forced to activate it earlier and the US controls Canada, because the NORAD ability is really annoying to the Soviets.

Now, it is true that if you can couple Quagmire/Bear Trap with Red Scare/Purge you can set up a potentially killing blow, but even that's hard to pull off (you have to waste two turns to play the two events, and it gets harder to set it up if you play RSP in headline and your opponent knows Quagmire/BearTrap is out there, because they will save a 3-ops card for the possibility they will need it).

Anyway, that's not to say it's not really annoying when you have one of those games where you have 2 turns or maybe even 3 stuck in Quagmire/Bear Trap, it's just not the usual case. Having a lot of games under your belt helps with that sense of perspective, but if there are lots of reasons why you don't really enjoy the game then obviously you won't get to the play count where these cards no longer bother you. No bother--people like different stuff.

I have noticed a number of players online who largely 'give up' on games where they've had a few bad rolls, but I tell you, there is real satisfaction (for me anyway) in finding a way to win even when the dice are against you--focus on other regions where you can even the score, try to set up a DEFCON trap for your opponent, etc. Having a really bad Early War, barely hanging on, and turning the tide in the Late War to eke out a victory in Final Scoring feels more satisfying to me than a game where I steamroll an opponent from the outset. In those games, even if I ultimately lose, I get a lot of satisfaction out of 'delaying the inevitable' into the 8th or 9th turn. For tournament scoring, that typically helps (where points are awarded based on the turn in which the game finishes). I'll grant that not everyone likes that kind of 'struggle.'
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sushidog wrote:
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Random Dice Rolls - My goodness, for such a highly ranked game, how do all of you put up with the huge number of dice rolls that affect almost everything you do!

With a huge number of rolls, luck evens out. The only time luck really wrecks things is if there's only a few rolls.

It does even out... over a large number of trials.

The OP did not get to experience that number of trials and, by the sounds of things, never will in this game, which is a shame.
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Ken Shin
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KingVitaman wrote:
sushidog wrote:
Quote:
Random Dice Rolls - My goodness, for such a highly ranked game, how do all of you put up with the huge number of dice rolls that affect almost everything you do!

With a huge number of rolls, luck evens out. The only time luck really wrecks things is if there's only a few rolls.

It does even out... over a large number of trials.

The OP did not get to experience that number of trials and, by the sounds of things, never will in this game, which is a shame.
Wasn’t there a thread on here about the dice being somewhat weighted? This isn’t a criticism of the game but possible a components quality issue.
 
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dvader123 wrote:
KingVitaman wrote:
sushidog wrote:
Quote:
Random Dice Rolls - My goodness, for such a highly ranked game, how do all of you put up with the huge number of dice rolls that affect almost everything you do!

With a huge number of rolls, luck evens out. The only time luck really wrecks things is if there's only a few rolls.

It does even out... over a large number of trials.

The OP did not get to experience that number of trials and, by the sounds of things, never will in this game, which is a shame.
Wasn’t there a thread on here about the dice being somewhat weighted? This isn’t a criticism of the game but possible a components quality issue.

I don't know. I mean, the game doesn't come with casino-grade dice (but then again, most board games don't), so because the holes are drilled the side with a "1" is heavier than the side with a "6," which would tend to lead to distributions of rolls that do not appear perfectly weighted (and, if that is a reason that opponents want to use for why their opponents 'always succeed' on a coup, which favors higher rolls, and they 'always fail' on the space race, which favors lower rolls, then I suppose they've got it).

[Explanatory edit: Opposite sides of a standard die sum to 7, so the pairings are 1 and 6, 2 and 5, 3 and 4. The sides with fewer pips (where pips are drilled) are heavier, meaning the die tends to settle with that side down (think loaded dice, but less extreme). So, one would expect that, from a tumbler, numbers 4, 5, and 6 would come up more frequently (skewing to the higher end) because their corresponding heavier numbers end up down on the table. This is why casino dice re-fill the drilled pips with material of the same weight and density, just differently colored, so that no side of the dice is even slightly heavier than any other side.]

If people are that concerned, it is easy enough to procure perfectly weighted casino dice--just make sure you get backgammon dice and not craps dice. Using craps dice will result in all sorts of dings and dents all over your board.

[Explanatory edit: Backgammon dice have rounded corners. Craps dice have notoriously pointy corners. Those pointy corners hitting your board does stuff you won't like.]

All that to say I'm not sure there is really a 'component quality issue' with the game other than it comes with standard, not casino grade, dice--which really isn't an issue given that virtually every board game featuring dice that isn't played in Las Vegas or Atlantic City with a pit boss and all accompanying security measures doesn't have casino-grade dice, either.
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