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General Discussion / Re: Maths thread.
« on: March 06, 2017, 01:46:21 am »
It's measuring the equilibrium constant of a chemical reaction with varying initial concentrations of reactants.  I don't know anything about how the concentration would affect it (I know it actually is constant, but this experiment is supposed to be a test of that).  This isn't necessary to do (it's just for a college class), but I thought I could maybe try to be a bit more rigorous in my defense of the hypothesis.
I'd say scott_pilgrim's suggestion is good enough for you. You do have nice pairs of values, the initial concentrations and the actual value, so the question boils down to showing that there is no relationship between the two. By making an assumption that there could be a linear relationship and then showing that the relationship that best fits the data is one with (pretty much) zero slope is what most people would do. Just remember to combine that with a clear plot that shows there are no obvious higher-order relationships -- I guess that kind of a plot is what they are actually looking for as the solution.

General Discussion / Re: Maths thread.
« on: March 05, 2017, 02:15:51 pm »
I've never taken statistics before, but I feel like the answer to this should be pretty simple.  Say I've done an experiment to determine if a certain value is constant, and I have a bunch of data.  How do I determine the p value for the assumption that it is constant?  Googling just gives me a bunch of other scenarios.
You're probably not giving enough information here. If everything you have is a set of exchangeable measurements of the value, there's no way of separating measurement noise from changes in the actual value. You need some information about the data points along the aspects you suspect the value might vary (temporal, spatial, or whatever). Whether the answer is simple or not then depends on what kind of dynamics you are looking at as possible alternatives.

it seems like in this world, luck elements are the only way designers have managed to prevent games from getting old after extensive play. 
Adding variance also allows players of a larger range of skill levels to play together and feel like they have a chance to win which usually makes it more fun for everyone.
I was about to write the same reply before seeing yours. The main target audience for typical eurogames does not play any individual title for more than perhaps 5-10 times (*), and hence the issue of extensive play is probably not very high on the priority list of most designers. The somewhat high luck factor is indeed more because it is an easy and accepted way of evening out the crowd while the game is still new, whereas for extreme longevity the design space of low-luck games might actually have more to offer. In fact, the eurogames often played competitively have little (TtA, Agricola) or practically no (Terra Mystica, Puerto Rico) random elements besides initial setup. Dominion, clearly designed for repeated play, sits somewhere in between those and classical card games that are intended for extreme repeated play while still having high luck factor.

I've also played Dominion for money in the sense that I did pay a small entrance fee to a national championships and won somewhat larger monetary price after winning the title (like seven years ago -- no chance of doing that today), but I wouldn't say money played any role here.

(*) Some stats on this would be nice to see. I bet the mean is clearly higher than median, and the latter might be as low as 3-4 for typical games.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: When did you start playing Dominion
« on: April 15, 2016, 04:22:44 pm »
I was first about to write "I think I tried Dominion rather soon after it was released", but then decided to check the logs in BGG. That changed the answer to "right after it was released".

My first game of Dominion was on October 23rd, 2008. Essen 2008 ended the same day and I wasn't there, so I had to be playing a copy that had arrived to Finland earlier the same day when one of the local hardcore gamers returned from their annual Essen trip. That must have been one of the first games of the published version on Finnish soil.

During November I ended up playing Dominion during four different dates, so it was clearly an instant hit.

General Discussion / Re: Clash Royale
« on: April 05, 2016, 09:13:40 am »
Are you in a guild yet, RR?
As a side-note: You really, really, need to be in a guild. Donating cards is what gives majority of the experience needed to go up levels, and in general donating is pure win-win -situation that generates both experience and money out of thin air for the clan members.

So, if anyone is just starting to play you need to join some clan as soon as it is possible, and you should always both request cards as soon as you can and give out cards when others ask for them, almost unconditionally. The one giving out the cards probably benefits even more than the one requesting them.

General Discussion / Re: Clash Royale
« on: March 20, 2016, 02:23:40 pm »
I've been playing the game for a couple of months now (they had a soft-launch in Finland, quite naturally as the company is Finnish).

I really like the game, but I cannot compare it to others in the same genre since I haven't really been playing other modern mobile games that much. The game is in general well balanced and the developers monitor the game closely. Small tweaks are released every few weeks to fix cards that are either too powerful/weak or simply being used too much/little, and these are communicated in advance with clear motivations and they have never made any strategy obsolute in one change. The developers are in general skilled and they have, for example, the main developer of Eclipse in the company but I haven't asked whether he is working on this game or not. In other words, I believe the game is designed so that boardgamers should like it.

The natural issue with this sort of games is the role of real-world money. It is perfectly possible to play without paying them anything and be fairly competitive (I can comfortably play at the highest arena and I haven't spent anything on the game), but reaching the top of the global leaderboard is most likely out of the question. The playing ground for the absolute top is levelled by tournament rules that gap the cards to reasonable levels (levels that you can be reached in perhaps 3-5 months of active playing; the company claims 2-3 months but that is not true for the epic cards) once you are high enough in the ranking, but unfortunately it is becoming near impossible to reach that ranking without paying something -- and once you start paying you would need to go to hundreds (if not thousands) of euros to actually have a big impact. Apparently some (mostly Asian) players have been paying thousands or even tens of thousands for decks with max-level cards; reaching those levels by playing would take probably tens of years assuming the servers existed that long... Yep, Supercell really knows how to make money with this kind of games.

So, I do recommend the game but suggest accepting up front that you will not be competing for the absolute top ranks unless willing to consider paying ridiculous amounts of money. The start is a bit faster if you give them a few euros/dollars and spend them wisely (buy some cards directly every day, not chests), which I think is fine, but after that there is not point in wasting money.

Other Games / Re: Splotter Games
« on: February 02, 2016, 02:23:40 am »
Compared to most other Euros Splotter games are pretty unforgiving, i.e. a mistake on turn 1 will hurt you throughout the entire game.
Yep, that's a good summary.

Unless you have ample of time to play an 18xx they are probably the best titles out there if you want a heavy Euro in a reasonable play time and as long as you can live with the fact that they are fairly expensive and suck art- and production-wise.
I wouldn't even count on Splotter games being shorter than 18xx. Sure they take less time than the monster 18xx variants (18C2C), but both the old standard games (1830, 1848, 18GA, 18VA, ....) and the newer somewhat more designed variants are playable 2.5-3 hours, and hence compete for the same slots as many of the Splotter titles.

Just yesterday we played 1830 in a bit less than three hours, including setup and cleaning up, and games like 1862 should also fit in the same slot despite having tons of companies. The development of 18xx games had definitely improved during the past few years, and some of the core improvements are there to speed things up.

Other Games / Re: Splotter Games
« on: January 23, 2016, 02:17:16 pm »
They are rather out-of-the-box games (heck, they even have a serious multi-hour game about sea trading that involves players tracing a route with erasable pen, blindfolded and based on instructions given by other players who might not even share the same goal) but typically well balanced.
;D What is that game?
The game is VOC! Founding the Dutch East Indies Trading Company, from 2002.

Half of it feels just like a generic euro-game. You pick up contracts and need to fetch the necessary ingredients from various cities all around the world. The weird part is how the sailing happens. Each ship has a captain and a waiting cue for future captains, allocated in worker-placement fashion. When the ship is full it sails, which means the captain starts drawing a line on a separate map sheet, trying to avoid hitting ground outside the target cities. And yes, that's done blindfolded while other players with pieces in the waiting line tell him/her what to do. The maps are rather tricky so a lot of ships fail (try going from Formosa to Banda...). Luckily it is not even obvious the captain wants to listen for the others (he/she might not benefit from reaching the same goal, or perhaps the captain does not want to reach any of the cities), so often you can just intentionally ram the ship to as difficult place as possible -- the next in line becomes captain and starts from there.

I've only played it once, after midnight in some con, and have no intention of repeating the experience. :) We probably played way more destructively than the developer intended, very rarely trusting for others to actually help the drawing process and hence ended up too often drawing blindfolded without any guidance, either to reach some city or maximally difficult position.

Nevertheless, if you do see a copy somewhere then it might be worth trying as a novelty item. It could certainly be fun in the right company and mood.

Other Games / Re: Splotter Games
« on: January 21, 2016, 02:14:59 pm »
I've never heard of that company or any of those games, but I can tell you that any game that's over $100, and takes 2-4 hours to play, is an automatic pass for me.
One thing worth noting is that these are not the usual games in that category. Majority of the $100+ games that take too long to play are over-produced theme-dominated ameritrash games, often with excess plastic figurines because of  reaching too many kickstarter goals. Automatic pass is the right default for those, unless you happen to fall into the target audience (in which case you just buy all that you can afford and that have the right theme).

Splotter, however, is an indie Dutch company (well, two guys that have regular jobs as well) that has been producing weird games with small prints for soon 20 years. They explicitly seek to produce games that are complicated and should not have solvable optimal strategies, despite typically being fairly deterministic and not even involving negotiation. They are rather out-of-the-box games (heck, they even have a serious multi-hour game about sea trading that involves players tracing a route with erasable pen, blindfolded and based on instructions given by other players who might not even share the same goal) but typically well balanced.

In brief, these are something one just has to try, but I would indeed recommend trying out with someone else's copy instead of buying one right away. Some people hate them, for some the next Splotter game is always the biggest event of the year. It doesn't quite matter whether one tries Roads & Boats, Food Chain Magnate or Antiquity; playing one of them should tell whether one likes the rest as well.

Other Games / Re: Splotter Games
« on: January 21, 2016, 07:03:19 am »
They are expensive, but highly acclaimed.  Anybody have thoughts on these titles?
I guess the best term for describing Splotter games is "unique". They tend to be a bit different from the rest. Unfortunatley I haven't played Zimbabwe, but can comment on the other two.

Indonesia is excellent, one of my favorite games ever. It feels some resembalance with the 18xx-series, the heavy-weight economical train games, and is quite cut-throat economical game that unfolds in different ways depending on how the group plays. Despite the weight, it can be played quite quickly (2 hours or so, with quick players) as long as people don't go for the strategies that make the game longer.

Food chain magnate is also a pure economical game where everything revolves around getting wealthier, often by trying to get some sort of a monopole position. It is extremely open-ended, to the degree that one can easily get stuck at the verge of bankruptcy and it is even possible for the whole game to stop progressing (toward the end condition of players reaching sufficient wealth) for several turns if the players play badly. To me it was already too open-ended (and did not even feel like a game all the time), but most of my friends like it a lot.

I don't think the dominiony -feeling for FCM is really there. The hand management and employer tree definitely play a role, but at the core the game is still about making money by selling stuff in front of others.

Other Games / Re: Games from this year's bgg.con
« on: November 25, 2015, 03:49:39 pm »
[I can see the difference; it means that you must play higher than the previous play, as opposed to following a specific suit like you would in a trick-taking game. That and a trick isn't just one go-around of plays.
The latter is the real difference. Following the suit is not part of the definition by any means, and indeed some trick-taking games do not force that.

But in the end you do still take a set of cards that can be called a "trick".
Tichu indeed results in players picking up something you could call tricks, but quite a few of the climbing games ignore the played cards altogether, often not even counting who was the last one to play cards in that set. One rather common goal is simply to be the first one without any cards left.

Other Games / Re: Games from this year's bgg.con
« on: November 24, 2015, 04:17:13 pm »
  • Tichu - I want to play this more; a unique twist on trick-taking games.
A lot of trick-taking enthusiasts would complain here. Tichu belongs to a separate genre of games, namely climbing games. There are plenty of those (especially in China; probably they had similar role there as trick-taking games did in medieval Europe), so in case you mean the base mechanic then I fail to see the unique twist here.

That said, Tichu is one of the all-time greats I would recommend everyone to play.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Members of f.ds
« on: October 28, 2015, 04:41:44 pm »
Wild stab in the dark is 150-250, after looking at the membership list for a few minutes.
That would be an estimate for the number of members who post (semi-)actively, right?

The OP talked about people who visit the forums regularly, and I would guess a lot of people do so even though they never post anything. Estimating the number of those users is rather hard, but they definitely exist, potentially in fairly large numbers. I could well belong to that group as well; I might go weeks or months without posting but I still visit the forums several times a week.

Goko Dominion Online / Re: Open Beta Ending Soon, RIP Goko on 10/15
« on: October 19, 2015, 06:01:22 am »
Anyone else still having the new client make your computer run hot?  My crappy laptop still sounds like it's about to take off when I play Dominion...
It's still terribly bad for me, on a 2012 MacBook Air. Yesterday I accidentally left the client running on background while writing an email, only to notice that after a couple of minutes the fan was at max speed. The funny thing is I wasn't even playing a game but instead the only thing I had done since starting the client was opening the Campaign selection map and the game was idling there.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Thanks for helping me win!
« on: October 07, 2015, 08:26:24 am »
You should try convincing them adding more expansions next year. I know it is a cost issue.
Cost should be a minor issue for any official tournament, unless there are ridiculously many players. The Finnish tournaments, organized by the local publisher/distributor/store, have always used the latest expansion and then 1-2 of the older ones. They provide the games by using existing demo copies, copies brought in by participants, and by opening new copies if needed. Some of those they retain for demoing and future tournaments, but if too many copies are opened for the tournament then they simply sell the excess ones for a small discount (either at the tournament or afterwards at their store). Whatever they lose in opening those copies is negligible and probably dwarfed already by the prizes or by the personnel costs for hosting the tournament. The tournaments are always 2-player Swiss tournaments, and at least the latest edition I went to had each pair playing best-of-three using the same kingdom (shared for all pairs) to further reduce random variation.

I can, however, hazard a guess on the real reason for hosting a base-only tournament. For companies that are not "within the community", hosting a tournament is primarily a promotion event. They want to attract a lot of people, including very casual players who do not yet own the expansions, not just the experts. They want to be able to sell more of the expansions, so requiring participants to know them in advance would be counter-productive. It also sounds more convincing when they can say they hosted a 200-player tournament, instead of a 12-player tournament where a few semi-professionals played against each other, even though the quality of play would naturally be much higher in the latter and the winner would be more worthy of the title.

In other words, Dominion is simply not at the level of an official competitive sport. You can either host a competitive tournament for good-will towards the expert community, or a bigger one for largely marketing. Mixing these two is difficult.

General Discussion / Re: Maths thread.
« on: October 01, 2015, 03:48:23 pm »
I was musing this morning on how the Secretary Problem might be modified to handle "who should I main" in MOBAs.
What you wrote sounds a lot like the multi-armed bandit problem, though the fact that you do not care about the winning rate while exploring makes the solution a bit easier.

There's been a lot of research on this in the machine learning community (and probably in some other fields too) during the past decade or so, in part because it solves online advertising. For practical applications with finite number of candidates and somehow reasonable distribution of the values any of the old standard solutions (Thompson sampling, upper-confidence bounds, etc) should work well, but for interesting theoretical properties you would probably need to do some reading.

Goko Dominion Online / Re: Payment models
« on: June 18, 2015, 03:39:04 am »
From my perspective, the best value, recognizing that money isn't the only thing worth having, would have been for there never to have been any online versions.
Do you mean literally no online version for the public (that is, excluding playtesting), or no commercial online version?

The comment regarding the interaction with the community sucking can be interpreted in rather different ways depending on the answer. This community (which I hope you see as net positive thing despite some faults) would largely not exist without some online version, whereas I fully understand that the interaction regarding the commercial versions largely evolves around negative things that the small profit indeed could not compensate for.

A couple of months later and many games, introduce Prosperity. Just skip Alchemy for now. (clip) I would save DA and Alchemy for much later.
I mostly agree with your way of teaching, but at this point I started wondering what the target audience is. I can't comprehend why you would want to hold on interesting parts of the game for months, "many games" and "for much later" for teaching purposes. If someone is not going to grasp the concepts well enough to digest all expansions in roughly 5 games, I wonder whether Dominion (with expansions) is the right game for them. A lot of people will only ever play any single game roughly 1-5 times anyway, so either they will need to grasp the rules by that time or they never will.

I would kind of understand keeping interesting content waiting for future wow occasions, especially if having Dominion as the only form of entertainment on a desert island, but not for teaching purposes. While the latest expansions are a bit complex, anyone who has played Dominion a couple of times (or a lot of board games in general), will have no trouble starting to play with any expansion right away.

General Discussion / Re: Eurovision Song Contest
« on: March 20, 2015, 04:50:49 pm »
I guess you could count Finland as a novelty. I just didn't because I'm trying to forget that song exists. It's also not in English so the only way people will... "get it" is if they do something huge onstage.
It's all but guaranteed they will not do anything special. They've been playing for quite a while, always with the same (lack of) show. Some Sid Vicious -style show people would remember simply would not fit to their style of punk, which is much more a Ramones-style purist thing. Deviating from that would defeat much of the point.

It's a pity the song they have in the contest is quite a bit worse than most of their other songs. With an average song like that they will be judged primarily as a minority performance, which does not make them (or the genre) justice. A proper punk performance would be long overdue in the contest and PKN would be fresh candidate to represent the style, but for some reason they ended up picking a song that is simply not good enough.

It's a bit like the case of Lordi. The show naturally helped them a lot, but the reason they had an actual impact on the contest in general is that they happened to take part with a song that was amongst their best ones. It always feels a waste when a good artist shows up with a song below their typical quality and lacks impact just because of that.

Goko Dominion Online / Re: Bot "Pro" Games Effect Leaderboard
« on: March 05, 2015, 02:13:38 am »
Almost 1400 people dropped off the leaderboard either because they played only bots or played so poorly against people they were below level zero...that's huge.
I would guess the main reason is the former, that majority of those really played (almost) only against bots. That's indeed a huge effect as such, but an interesting question is how many of those were ever checking the leaderboard. I think there are three possible scenarios:
(1) Majority of them never looked at Isotropish, so having those 1400 people removed from the list does not matter at all -- they won't notice
(2) Many of them did use that as their primary source of ranking information, and they will now be irrirated of being no longer ranked
(3) Many of them did use that as their primary source of ranking information, and now that they see bot games are no longer included they will switch to playing against humans instead

Switching to the non-bot leaderboard is a problem only if (2) holds, since then some subgroup of players will not anymore get a service they were enjoying. I (3) holds then it actually has a positive impact for the community as a whole.

I would be surprised if (2) holds.

Goko Dominion Online / Re: Bot "Pro" Games Effect Leaderboard
« on: March 05, 2015, 02:07:38 am »
I think the biggest disconnect happened when Goko changed the front page play bots button to be Pro instead of Casual. Before, the bot ratings were determined based on those people who were willing to enter the multiplayer lobby, create a pro game, add a bot opponent, then start a game. Now, they're determined by anyone who tries out Goko for the first time, so there's a much larger pool of newbs that the bots farm pro rating from.
This sounds intuitively reasonable. However, an interesting observation is that the bot ratings are roughly the same today as they were before the change. Right now the bots are between levels 10 and 16. On August 2013, well before Play Bots switched to Pro ratings, I wrote a post stating they were between 9 and 16. Based on occasional checks every now and then, I can confirm they have remained roughly at those levels as long as the Isotropish leaderboard has existed. To conclude, the bot ratings do not look any more inflated today than they were in the past, even though they in all likelihood do play more against very bad opponents.

As someone for whom removal of bot matches from Isotropish matters more (I am not eligible for the non-bot version at all), I would vote in favor of the non-bot version since it seems to be somewhat more accurate. I still think it is crucially important Goko itself ranks matches against bots in Pro mode since having high enough rating is important when switching to play against humans, but Isotropish can well ignore the bots since those ratings are not typically used for matchmaking. Now the only effect is that if I start again playing against humans, the first 50-100 opponents I play against will get their ratings adapted somewhat unfairly as the system things they are playing against a Lvl 0 player instead of Lvl 30. This could naturally happen otherwise too if I was a truly new player and the effect is small anyways, so this is not a big deal.

Goko Dominion Online / Re: Bot "Pro" Games Effect Leaderboard
« on: March 02, 2015, 03:31:26 am »
Is that really a large issue though? I mean, if your skill really is above most rating caps, you should be able to quickly jump up in ratings by playing normal players anyways. And it is only likely to affect very new players, a lot of whom aren't skilled enough to start with to jump into games with rating caps.
The people who are clearly above most rating caps are not the ones for whom this matters. Instead, it matters for those who are probably just a bit above them but have no chance of regularly playing against humans to prove it. More generally, this is a question that should not be primarily looked at from the perspective of the absolute top players, but from the perspective of the average-quality players who are probably the ones more likely to play against the bots in significant numbers. Think about people who cap at level 20 or so in isotropish, who actually represent probably the largest mass of experienced Dominion players.

While a level ~45 player could indeed climb up to high enough rating in a few matches, it takes quite a while for a level 20-30 player who consistently plays at that level. I remember trying with another account while Isotropic was still around, and it took me roughly 50 matches to reach within 5 levels of my actual strength (25 vs 30 or so). That's quite a lot of matches for less active players, often meaning several weeks of time. Right now I almost exclusive play against bots since I cannot play matches without occasional excessive delays. Since this maintains a reasonable (though indeed a bit over-inflated, in my case probably by roughly 5 levels) rating, I can occasionally play against a human opponent and get immediately matched with roughly the right people. If it didn't, the threshold of switching to the human-opponent mode would be so high that I would never bother -- would anyway join if I hosted a game with a rating threshold of 5000+ if my rating is 1000?

General Discussion / Re: Maths thread.
« on: February 18, 2015, 01:40:56 am »
I'm guessing that the rational people know the others are rational?  Them not knowing could change quite a bit...
Besides rationality, I guess you need to assume a specific utility function for them. In particular, they have to value life over death so much that needing to spend several, potentially close to a hundred, days on an island where everyone else is perfectly rational does not warrant an early guess with some non-zero probability of dying. Perhaps not being able to talk with them helps to endure it.

Other Games / Re: Can someone recommend me some board games?
« on: January 28, 2015, 02:11:07 am »
For my group, we called those "Austin wins" games. But then Austin moved to California, so now I win sometimes.
Now the interesting question is: Do Austin and Ben win also if you play Dominion?

I mean, you probably win because of having played Dominion thousands of times, but did they initially win? My personal experience is that the local Austins and Bens win irrespective of the game (well, excluding dexterity games etc), which would imply it is not so much about the type of the game but about those guys just being better players in general. After having played some 500+ different games, I still struggle to find games those guys would not win notably more often than others. It's not about practice as such as I know also a lot of other people who have played thousands of hours in general, but I guess the good players just approach games somehow differently. Not even more seriously, but the right kind of thinking probably just happens automatically for them. It might be the same group that accidentally counts cards in card games, without paying conscious effort.

Other Games / Re: Exploding Kittens
« on: January 22, 2015, 05:49:26 am »
The people who buy these terrible things are not people that would otherwise buy the things that you think are good.
The existence of Monopoly isn't what keeps an awesome but obscure indie boardgame from being a smash hit.
If Monopoly didn't exist, those people would not instead be buying Terra Mystica, they would be buying Game of Life.
While all of these are certainly true, bad but popular products do have an indirect effect for the rest of the field. This happens especially in the long term.

Stores have limited space and budget for games, publishers have limited capacity, and there are only so many venture capitalists to fund publishers. How the different parties cope with these limitations is heavily influenced by which kind of products become hits and which do not, even when talking about parties that in principle operate for different target audiences.  Evaluating the overall effect of all these aspects is completely beyond feasible, but some potential impacts influencing isolated cases are very clear. Imagine a designer offering a game for a publisher who, after seeing this, now thinks that their best hope of making big money is to combine "fun" game with a theme specific to some fan community? In the best case the game still gets published by someone else but later (which already was a negative effect), in the worst case the designer gives up completely or ends up modifying their game to better fit the market. Someone suffers here, and in an extreme case we might indeed lose a game that could have become important for some target audience.

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