Guidelines for Strategy Game Design

A functional and lightweight game design manual by Level 99's D. Brad Talton Jr,
on how to create tense, dynamic, decision-driven games.

§ 3.5 - Chance coexists with planning.

§ 3.5 - Chance coexists with planning.

§ 3.5 - Chance coexists with planning.

Randomness is not innately wrong, nor is it to be avoided.

Players love to roll the dice and see what happens. A great game of chance is a roller-coaster ride that keeps players onboard until the very end.

At its core, randomness is simply unknown information. The cards in the opponent’s hand, the move they will make next turn, the secret goal they have selected—these unknown factors are effectively identical to randomness from a player perspective.

At some point, the die is rolled or the card is revealed, and the unknown information becomes known. The mechanism by which information is hidden, be it a rules mechanic like a face-down card played by your opponent, or a physical mechanic like a die, is immaterial from a strategic standpoint.

The trouble for the designer arises when random outcomes interfere with the ability of the players to form or execute strategies.

To account for random outcomes, players need to understand two things—the full range and weight of potential outcomes, and the time when random information will be resolved.

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