It's time to touch the subject "probability in board games" ... so therefore I'll try to take you through some of the different aspects of dealing with probability in your board game.
I won't be going over any equations or hard core math solving... that's not really my field - but I'll try to show you some ways of gaining control of the probabilities in board games.
If you want to create a fair and interesting game - you'll have to tame the probability :)
There are many kinds of probability mechanics to put in a game...
- Dice rolling
- Card turning
- Wheel spinning
- Drawing tokens from bags
The theme: Usually has a big impact on your choices. Ex. drawing tokens from a bag can refer to the randomness of "digging for jewels" or wheel spinning referring to weather changes / wind blowing.
The practical aspect: How fast do you need the players to get a result (dice vs. wheel spinning)? How many times will the probability be in play? Is the result shared between players?
You could include "production cost" ... but that's really no fun - and cost influences all levels and all parts of the game.. so that's usually something you put on top of the entire plan.
I don't think there are that many ways to go about calculating random events happening in your game. This is where you have to bring out your calculator and spreadsheet!
Some of the questions you might have to struggle with...
- How many sides should the die have?
- Would you roll more than 1 die at a time?
- How many cards are in the deck that the players will be drawing from?
- Are there any other factors that can affect the game?
- Can players affect their own or other's chances?
- Can situations affect the chance in different ways?
One thing you also have to take into consideration is - how much does 1 random action fill in the game? How dependant will players be on getting the right numbers, tokens etc.?
A thing Warhammer does very nicely - is evening out the odds between the players. Because die rolls in this game is so important and there are so many factors involved - you're usually rolling between 10 and 20 dice at a time - which means that over time you "should" get an even amount of 1s, 2s, 3s and so on.
In my world of board games not all the probability concerns are about the physical stuff going on in a game. I also think you can put in a players perspective of his/her chances... and how that person might percept his/her chances of winning in the long run.
I've done a few war games with many different factors, technologies and weapons involved. And it's interesting to see how people react to each other's choices... how they counter each other's choices.
When you're observing people play your game - try to look for patterns / trends... how do players adapt during game and what are they chances of them doing something with significant effect on the game. Take notes and make sure that you get a overview of the situation.
If you run into a scenario where the player's reactions happen to be the exact same every time - you might want to consider giving them some more choices that may suit different play styles.
Casual / Mainstream / Hardcore
Before I end this... I want to remind you of how dealing with randomness and chances in your game - may affect your potential buyers.
You don't see many casual gamers wanting to throw 10 dice at a time ;)
......... Happy gaming to you all out there! :)