Babel, luck, and skill.
- Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 21:06:40 -0000
From: "Alison Hansel" <maarnett@...>
Subject: Re: Luck vs. Skill
--- In Unity_Games@y..., Andy Latto <andy.latto@p...> wrote:
> So I started keeping record of my Babel play. I've since played
> 30 games of Babel (did I mention that I like this game?), and I've
> won 24 of them. So either I was very lucky, or there really is
> a lot of skill in Babel.
Not that I want to get into a battle over the rules of logic, but
you're leaving out one premise - namely that you have skill at playing
Babel. This premise is not necessarily a given, for one other possible
conclusion from your data is that you are just destined to win at Babel
I guess I don't understand the distinction between the possibility
I acknowledged that "I was very lucky" and the alternate possibility
you mention that I am "just destined to win".
It also seems odd to characterize the statement that I have
skill at Babel as a "premise". I think that Jonathon is a very skillful
chess player. I don't think this is a premise; it's a conclusion
I draw from how consistently he wins when playing against other
skillful chess players.
(Just like I apparently am always destined to lose miserably at
everone's new fave, Capitol!).
Multiplayer games raise a bunch of other issues, because in addition to
luck and skill, there are other factors that affect who wins, related
to group dynamics. For example, if you are perceived as good at
a game, that can be enough to cause you to win less often at some games,
because everyone else can gang up on you. But in 2-player games, I guess
I take it as axiomatic (part of the definition of "luck" and "skill",
I guess) that skill is what enables some players to win more often than
others, and to do so more often than if the outcome of the game
was determined purely by chance.
Date: 16 Mar 2001 16:30:37 -0500
From: Matthew Gray <matthew@...>
Subject: Re: Re: Luck vs. Skill
So, is "Hex" (or Chess, or Go, or any other combinatoric game), with
first-player choice determined by a coin toss a game predominantly of
"luck" or "skill"? Among less skillful players, it's mostly skill,
and among the very skillful, it's mostly luck.
While I like Babel a lot, I do have the feeling that it suffers from
this problem as much or more than most games: As the players get
better at it, it becomes more of a luck based game. I think it will
take a while to get that good at it, but less of a while than many
A good point, but after 30 games, I'm still finding that I'm learning
more about the game, and there are still a lot of positions
where the right play is completely unclear to me. I feel like
I've gotten pretty good at the game, but I would not be surprised
at all to meet someone who can beat me at Babel 3 times out of 4.
Part of the reason for my posting all this is in the hopes
of finding someone who could trounce me at the game, since I
think I would really enjoy the experience!
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 21:27:36 -0000
Subject: Re: Luck vs. Skill
the point he was making is that he *does* have skill at playing
babel, thus implying that skill can be a major factor in the game
outcome. i'm not going to say that 30 is a large enough sample size
for this to be a definitive conclusion (although i do believe that
babel requires skill to play well) because he could just be playing
against 3 year old children all the time.
True. In fact, I think I've mostly played against pretty good game players.
One of the games were against a 10-year old, but this was a pretty
bright 10 year old who has beaten me at Titan (A game I enjoy even
more than Babel, and where my record is as bad as my record at Babel
On the other hand, since I've been teaching Babel to anyone who will
hold still, a lot of the games I have played have been against people
who have just learned the game. If you ignore the first two games I
have played against each player, my record is 7 wins and 3
losses. Still a good record, but not nearly enough data to say that it
was anything more than just luck.
I hope that none of this is coming off as "Whoo-hoo! I sure am a great
Babel player!" What I'm really trying to say is:
1. Who wins Babel isn't just determined by who gets the lucky temple
card draws, at least in the games I've played.
2. I like this game, and would like to play it lots more. So
if you like this game, or want to give it a try, let's play!