I realized that my previous post did not fully clarify the scale in question; let me assure everyone that the scale is intended to measure only the impact of random chance upon gameplay, it is not a value judgment.
Someone might look at that scale and immediately infer game snobbery (“Oh, so Pat thinks Chess is the end-all of games, huh?”) That’s not accurate. In fact, precisely the opposite.
When I was somewhere between 10 and 12 years old, I remember deciding that Chess was an uninteresting game to play. This was, admittedly, naivete on my part, since my reasoning was based upon a set of false assumptions. Those assumptions went something like this: “Each piece has established rules for movement. There’s only 64 squares on the board. Therefore, there’s a limited number of possible outcomes for moves and countermoves. Once you know them all, there’s only a limited number of moves you can make before the winner of the game is decided. So the winner is the person who can memorize more moves and countermoves. Bo-ring!” One of the problems with being a smartass kid is that you often times reach conclusions before you have all of the evidence intact for buttressing up your assumptions (pop quiz: where was my logic broken, there?)
Turns out, the mathematics behind Chess are a bit more complex. From the standpoint of training your mind, Chess is a worthy endeavor, since the total number of possible scenarios outweighs that which one can keep in one’s head. Even chess Grandmasters are limited in the number of possible scenarios they can reasonably compute as outcomes to their possible moves on any turn. Heck, even the brute force method used by Deep Blue and other Chess-playing computers has limitations.
That said, while I was wrong as to why Chess was “boring”, I was right in one aspect… you can program a computer to beat a human. Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1989 (which reinforced my smart-assitude to no end), and it’s only gotten worse. Given the set of fixed options, today’s computers are going to beat the snot out of a human player, even someone who spends a lifetime studying Chess. The reason for this is that brute force approach: the computer can plot out possible combinatorics faster than a person can, more accurately, and retain the outcome for comparison. Over and over again. Chess is too complicated to program out the endgame from the first move, but there’s a limit to how many comparisons a human can calculate internally, and the graphs intersected twenty years ago. The computers will continue to win.
In the meta sense, then, I was even right about Chess being boring at least as far as the way my brain works… brute force approaches lack style and poetry. If the brute force approach is the optimal approach, then the game is, at heart, lacking in style and poetry. Sure, in an individual match between players you might see style having an impact, but that’s because humans can’t optimally use the optimal approach! In the main what works best for Chess is straight computation. Ugh, if I liked that, I would have been an applied mathematician or (horrors!) an engineer.
See what I did there, Hammer?
I like games with an element of chance. Not too much (unless you’re playing with a four-year-old, “War” is about as boring as a game can possibly be), but enough to force style and poetry back into being an element of the game. Having a great strategy in Acquire or Risk is important; being able to recover your position at least somewhat after a run of bad luck is equally important, if not more so. Winning while beating your opponent is an important aspect of gameplay for any game… but winning while beating your opponent *and* Murphy is better, and oh so much more delicious.