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Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:07:55

Qi 
Level 55
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I'm going to look at some ladder games between top players. My theory: In games between top 1v1 players, "luck" determines more games than skill.

"luck" = luck of picks, cumulative luck, first/last order luck, guessing luck

luck of picks = all things being equal, one player gets the better end of the picks when both make the same pick(s) in the same order

cumulative luck = attack/defense luck throughout the game

first order luck = all things being equal, one player gets the first/last move in a 50-50 situation

guessing luck = there is no intelligence, a player has no idea where the enemy is but makes a lucky guess
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:27:21


À la recherche du temps perdu 
Level 35
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I agree only with first order luck.
Other cathegories are bullshit 1 and 4, or mainly irrilevant 2.

Anyway I partially agree with you since some top players' games are only decided by luck. Of course my statement is not appliable to szezi's games. In those games if he wins, it's only for his superior skills; if he loses, it's only for luck. I don't know why but if you will analyze those games you will agree with me:O
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:27:24

Qi 
Level 55
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Game 1: Niko vs Sze http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3504533

Key moments in game:

- cumulative luck (turn 3): Sze missed 1 of 2 3v2s and didn't get W Africa's bonus, Niko is one turn ahead in growth
- cumulative luck (turns 2, 4-5): in 4 4v2 attacks, Niko had 3 standing armies remaining, enabling him to (a) take W US with 3 less armies and be able to deploy 3 more in Scand and (b) expand into and take Canada quicker and with less troops deployed
- guessing luck (turn 10): Sze guesses Niko has Ant (and Aust?), he is wrong (and taking down that wasteland makes a big difference in Niko's army advantage: from 34-30 turn 9 to 56-29 turn 10)...this could be considered a bad move (guess for Ant and give up Russia/Scand?), though the "luck" up to this point was decidedly in Niko's favor, possibly forcing Sze to make something happen.

Game is essentially over now. Who had better "luck" when it mattered (the earlier the "luck," the more its influence on the game)? Who won?
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:33:13


À la recherche du temps perdu 
Level 35
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Oh wait I have misunderstood what you meant with cumulative luck, in that case cumulative luck passes from the cathegory "irrilevant" to the cathegory "bullshit".
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:41:47

Qi 
Level 55
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Games to look at: start from #1, most recent.

Game 2: Sze vs Oliebol http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3549676

pick luck: 3-4 picks are the same. Sze got the 3, which is strategically better than the 4
attack luck (turn 3): Oli hits Tibet 3v2 and misses. Sze is taking E China and now knows Oli is coming, advantage Sze (however, Sze's pick of CA enabled him to flow better and take that bonus smoother and with less armies deployed than Oli in Ant -- if Oli had CA he could have hit Tibet 4v2, so his bad luck was caused by a weaker 5 pick)
until the end: Sze makes better moves (blockade, better delays, etc.)

Result: Sze has better "luck" and played better. Easy win.
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 19:48:59

Qi 
Level 55
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Zibik vs Sze http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3485495

- pick advantages (skill): Sze gets intel of Zibik in Scand with 3 pick, while Zibik takes India with his 3 pick (slow to get bonus) <-- key to game
- skill: Sze delays and ensures he enters Scand no matter what (given Zibik's limited moves)
- attack luck (turn 9): zibik is far behind, so he tries to take W Africa on the cheap with 3 3v2 attacks, 1 misses

Game over. Skill won.
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 20:05:31

Qi 
Level 55
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Tim vs Oli http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3550688

nothing notable until turns 4 and 5:
- turn 4: Oli could have delayed to at least match Timi's delays, he doesn't and Oli kills the neutral in China (a minor point that would have saved Oli 1 army and cost Timi 1-2 armies on the neutral, giving Oli more standing armies -- net gain of 3-4 -- to attack with next move) <-- hard to guess
- turn 4 (cumulative luck): Timi makes 2 4v2 attacks in Indo, both result in 3 standing armies (ideal result, quite lucky)
- turn 5 (cumulative luck): thanks to Timi's luck turn 4, he can try to take Indo on the cheap with 2 3v2s (which work)
- result of turns 4-5: with normal luck, Timi is not able to get Indo on turn 5 and Oli busts Indo or at least forces Timi to deploy close to 100% in Philippines...instead Timi keeps Indo and gets a 17-12 income advantage.

Game over. "Luck" wins.
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 20:20:47

Qi 
Level 55
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Art vs Timi http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3553273

pick luck: Art and Timi have the same 1st pick, Artham gets it (skill: and Timi's 2-4 picks aren't as good as Art's 2-3)
cumulative luck (turn 4): 3 3v2 attacks drop in Greenland and Art's income goes from 8 to 17 in one turn (W Russia also falls with a 4v2 and 2 2v2s)
cumulative luck (turn 5): Timi tries 3 3v2s to take E Africa, one fails (net effect of these 3v2 attacks turns 4-5: Art +5, Timi -4)

Game over. By the time the skillful fighting happens turn 6, Art already has insurmountable advantages in standing armies and an income advantage of 17-12. "Luck" gave Art these advantages. Early skill in picking gave him minor positional advantages. And Timi's India pick was misused, to ensure turn 6 would be as dire as it was.
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 20:56:50

Qi 
Level 55
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Timi vs unknown http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3471141

- pick luck: same 4 pick in Scand. unknown gets Scand, Timi gains intel advantage (2 known picks of unknown's vs 1 known pick of Timi's) and has it countered in Ukraine
- turns 2-3: Timi jumps the gun in Scand (bad guessing luck) and misses 1 of 2 3v2s to take E China, advantage unknown, who is able to take W Africa with full deployment two turns in a row, all with 4v2s...thankfully for Timi, unknown doesn't press the advantage and by attacking to see SA, unknown's initial advantage is lost due to (a) lack of aggression (though unknown didn't have the intel to be sure about making an aggressive move) and (b) Timi's intel on SA
- turn 6 (guessing luck): Timi successfully blockades SA on the cheap when unknown could have gone for the jugular (by neutralizing CA or even taking SA and then neutralizing CA)
- turns 4-8 (cumulative luck in CA/SA): bad luck for unknown turn 4 (4v5 loses 1 more than normal), unknown gets 1-2 back with good luck 17v17 the next turn, 2 4v2s result in 3 standing armies each, which enables Timi more flexibility in his deployment to defend CA and contest Scand (the difference between a possible 22v14 and 22v15 is 33% vs 2% success)
- turn 10 (guessing luck): unknown guesses Timi doesn't have a priority card and instead of delaying and attacking where Timi will go, unknown attacks where Timi was
turn 10 (skill): blockade of 42 is overkill, not letting Timi waste armies on killing off half of unknown's stack in SA leads to a shift in army strength from turn 9 (from 37-32 advantage to 38-42 disadvantage)
- turn 11 (defense luck): Timi gets nice defense luck that saves 1-2 armies from dying on unknown's 28v23 attack. This enables Timi to hit Scand 5v3 instead of 4v3 or 3v3. Thus, instead of unknown gaining parity in income and have more armies in Scand/Russia, Timi ends the game.

Game over. More luck when it mattered for Timi. Overall skill: slight advantage to Timi (unknown's blockade and low risk early/in SA when Timi blockaded it). Deciding factor: "luck."
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 21:11:12

Qi 
Level 55
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Melan, feel free to continue looking at the recent games for players ranked #3 through HHH to analyze games between top ladder players (those once ranked #1 or #2). I believe the results will be the same as the games I just looked at. My guess...

Luck (L) vs Skill (S) as basis of victory for more or less equally skill players:

Majority of games (50%-65%): L
Some games (10%-15%): all S
Some games (20%-30%): L and S both contribute, unclear which is most important
Some games (5%-15%): winner has L and S advantage
Some games (5%-15%): winner has S advantage and L disadvantage

If you disagree, though, show the data. I'm saying the above based on about 1000+ games against top players in 1v1s. And I showed a handful of random games to support my ideas. Where is the basis of your "bullshit?" A misunderstanding of definitions (which are deliberately unclear/simple because the games below help define them)? A limited understanding of why games are won or lost?
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 21:19:51

Qi 
Level 55
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To further define luck: "luck" that happens away from where the action is doesn't really matter. When and where the "luck" happens is essential to any discussion of how "luck" influences a game's outcome. Also, if you think my "accumulative luck" is the same as the statistics for members that are called accumulative luck, you are mistaken. I simply call it that because it needs a name. "Attack/defense luck at key moments" could also be its name. The statistics tool's accumulative luck can be misleading: all attacks/defenses are equally measured, regardless of strategic importance, location and number (eg, is good luck on a 4v2 or 2v1 attack equivalent to having good luck on a 20v13 or 6v4 attack? according to the stats it is; in terms of effect on the outcome of the game, they can't be compared).
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 21:53:32

[WM] Artham 
Level 37
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As for my game with Timi - in my humble opinion the key was that Timi as you said misused the India pick. Furthermore, he failed to play an order delay on turn 6. Had he done that, he would regain at least income balance. I still would have had more standing armies though, but that not necesairly would have to be decisive.

As for picks - I was thinking about that actually quite a lot here, mainly becouse we both had the exact same picks, but in diffrent order. I also assumed the scenario, where I didn't get the first pick and in my opinion that would have worked equaly well, so in general I think my picks were simply superior to Timi's and that combined with Timi's mistake (in my opinion) in SEA was the decisive factor in the game.

best regards.

PS. I did of course have quite a bit luck with capturing Greenland, but I don't consider it to be decisive.
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 22:09:37

[WM] Artham 
Level 37
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Sorry for double-posting, but I've just thought of a thing concerning this topic.

How about instead of just pointing out the games, where luck was an important (if not decisive) factor, we try to simulate what moves (great skill) could offset that luck. In other words, how could an omnipotent WL player could have won them?
Luck or Skill?: 1/19/2013 22:35:17


[WG] Warlightvet 
Level 16
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in conclusion, gui/myhand/szew and all those are consistently lucky most of the time, while really SKILLED players like me get unlucky too much
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 00:02:45


À la recherche du temps perdu 
Level 35
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Between 2 top poker players luck decides who is the winner.
I need proofs to say that this statement is bullshit?
All those 3 cathegories of "luck" could enter in a cathegory of skill: 1=being able to pick (when I pick I always consider as a possibilty the situation in wich my opponent does my same picks, f.e.). 2=luck management. 4= being able to make a good attack.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 00:09:38

[WM] Artham 
Level 37
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I wouldn't exactly agree that a game between two top poker players is decided by luck, but it is irrelevant as poker is nothing like stratigic 1 v 1 settings. I elaborated on this matter in another topic, so no point reapetin myself.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 00:40:27


[WG] Warlightvet 
Level 16
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if the opponent takes the same picks and the picks give one player an advantage then luck is clearly an important factor, since both players were equally skilled at the start, there's no argument about that
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 00:43:26

[WM] Artham 
Level 37
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And how often does that happen? Same picks meaning also same order of picks obviously.

Id say no more then once in 100 games. That's hardly a statistically signifcant amount. You can't make a generalisation based on something that's less propoable then error margain.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 01:35:14


Kenny • apex 
Level 59
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Warlight, what Artham and Trollussa are saying is that you need to craft a strategy that works in worst-case scenario as well.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 03:09:12


Timinator • apex 
Level 64
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- turn 11 (defense luck): Timi gets nice defense luck that saves 1-2 armies from dying on unknown's 28v23 attack. This enables Timi to hit Scand 5v3 instead of 4v3 or 3v3. Thus, instead of unknown gaining parity in income and have more armies in Scand/Russia, Timi ends the game.


28 kill in average 28*0,6=16,8 and unknown killed 17, nothing irregular. Good defense-Luck only matters about the troops the attacker loses, not about the troops that survive (that would be negative attackers luck!)



About my game against Artham, i agree about my mistake in picks, i realised it when i saw what i received, but that was too late
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 04:30:35

Qi 
Level 55
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melan, if it's all about skill and calculation why are you pouty in circumstances that are obviously based on luck? If it is all based on reason you should remain calm and cool at all times and recognize and appreciate superior skill when beaten. but you often pout as if the result of a turn/game were unexpected due to the influence of luck. why?

in my games I see things for what they are. if skill beats me i might say good game. if luck beats me i might say nice luck. if i beat myself with poor play i might not say much of anything.

Timi, if that's true about defense luck then unknown was just chasing shadows.

warflow, you read only half of ideas and respond in kind. I think luck determines the winner of the majority of games played by MORE OR LESS EQUALLY SKILLED PLAYERS (in the context of ladder 1v1s). the idea is that if both players make equally good picks/moves all game, luck usually deterrmines who gets the advantages and thus wins.

melan's skill categories: picks: are there always worst case scenario options? what if the opponent is your equal and gets lucky enough in picks to cut you off from your worst case scenario? and instead of a worst case scenario you just get worse picks? attack-defense luck and management: if the enemy hits you with a 4v3 or 5v4 or 9v6 to win a key territory to gain a decisive advantage and you did all you could to stop it, is your loss due to luck management or just bad luck? if you flip 100 coins simultaneously how do you manage the flips to accurately predict if there are more heads or tails? and if you can't, why even spend the time flipping coins if skill is not involved?
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 05:01:33


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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From the top: Sze Vs Niko turn 3 sze missed his bonus. This cost him "a turn of growth" ie 4 income. Which he gets back over the next few turns by having a 4bonus to nikos 3bonus. He chose during picks to make his frst bonus a 4 where niko chose to make his a 3. Niko then pays for that later, with expansion into the horrible US bonuses. By turn 9 everything has settled down again and once again sze is too cool for his reinf card and eliminated some more neutrals. In this game sze loses because he does stupid stuff like attacking finland, moscow and south africa and not using his card on turn 5 and 9. What mistakes did niko make?
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 05:22:15

Qi 
Level 55
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But what if bad luck led Sze to make risky moves to catch up? And Niko's lack of bad luck did not force him into any risky moves? Bad luck not only influences the turn/move in question, but can have a cumulative effect on the game, how the player with bad luck views his chances, and how he adjusts his moves in the future to compensate for earlier bad luck or to deal with the disadvantageous situation left behind by the luck.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 05:23:16


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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Game 2 http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3549676

I am surprised that you think that was a good blockade what did it achieve? Sze spending even the 3 income to stop tibet was pretty nooby, when myanmar is just as good short term. Ollies problem was first pick and bad 5th pick, because he spent the first 2 turns scared that ant had been counterpicked. CA was a ton better. Deploying and not attacking in scand was bad for ollie, and then the only luck of the game sze got by guessing scand instead of hong kong.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 05:25:02


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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He wasn't behind. Sze was absolutely fine until he made risky (bad) moves. Surely the lesson is not to make risky (bad) moves even if you think youre losing?
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 05:33:48


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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Game 3 http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3485495

Wish I could read the chat in this game. Skill indeed.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 06:24:06


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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game 4 http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3550688

luck indeed, timis moves turn 4 werent great; worse than ollies and won.

game 5 http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3553273

Artham won because his picks were a load better. Timi was worried about europe or russia so didnt 34 around scand, but europe/russia are bad and if he had had the "skill" to see that his picks would have looked more like arthams. Getting gland with 3v2s is 50/50 and either way its a difference of 5 armies which he then plows into central russia for no immediate gain. Do you think it impacted the game significantly? The net effect is not +5 and -4 it is one or the other. Art picked better and then didnt screw up so he won.

game 6 http://warlight.net/MultiPlayer?GameID=3471141

Meh to so many of those points. Ukraine vs scand you think ukraine has an advantage? really? Timi jumps the gun in ukraine because he has nowhere else to go and if he doesnt get finland he is screwed. This is the problem when 2/3 of your picks are counters. Turn 6 guessing luck indeed. After that its gg and the luck is irrelevant. Do you not think player with the most skill won?

I am going to say unknown should have known timi was in CA, because where else would he be? If he is in russia its gg anyway because unknown has safety and nice expansion. unknown should have hit venezuela with as much as he could afford.

I am surprised not see any games decided by guessing luck in picks, where there is a rock paper scissors scenario. Are there games where someone picks worse and plays worse but wins due to luck?
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 06:31:09

Qi 
Level 55
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Sze wasn't behind? Armies and Income,

turns 1-9 (beginning to when Niko gets Canada & Sze gets N Africa):

Armies 12-12..15-14..19-14..25-20..30-28..40-31..36-23..44-36..43-30..
Income 5-5......5-5......8-5......8-9......8-9..13-13..13-13..13-13..18-16..

turns 10-11 (game over):

Armies 41-24..56-29
Income 18-16..18-16

What I see: Niko used his good attack luck in CA and the US to maintain parity in Scand and grow more effectively in the US and Canada. Once Niko got Canada he used his income with a fury turn 10. Sze was surprised by losing so many troops and realized the end was near unless he took some risks. Turn 11 he tries to jump Ant thinking the income came from Aust/Ant. If Sze had that slight advantage in his attack luck while growing in Africa, would Sze have been surprised by Niko's fury turn 10? Would Niko have decided to deploy 100% and attack like he did turn 10 if he didn't have such attack luck while growing? Early luck influences later options. Early luck determines later strategic choices. Niko made no mistakes. But didn't the early luck give him more strategic choices, which led to his skillful assault and battery turn 10? And didn't that lead Sze to make the major mistake of hitting a wasteland? If Niko had normal luck in all his attacks in CA, US and Canada, he would have needed to deploy at least 4 more in those areas to take the bonuses at the same speed. 4 less deployed in Scand changes a great deal in how aggressive Niko would've been. And what if Niko couldn't risk having 4 less in Scand and ended up taking Canada one turn later? Then Sze's moves turn 10 would've been safe and not destructive.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 06:37:39

Qi 
Level 55
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Game 6: Based on the moves made, luck decided the game earlier than the moves would have dictated. Equal luck at the key moments and unknown would have kept his bonuses and the game would have been at parity longer. Based on what could have been: unknown could have made better moves to ensure that skill overcomes luck. I was simply analyzing based on what they did, not what they could have done.

Are there games where someone picks worse and plays worse but wins due to luck?

Of course there are. I was just looking at ladder games from #1 and #2. I didn't hunt games. I just clicked on their names and looked at the best 3 games of their most recent games on their list.

I think a larger examination of all such games would be interesting, so there'd be less theory and more fact.
Luck or Skill?: 1/20/2013 07:51:22


professor dead piggy 
Level 59
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Sze was behind a tiny amount (because he messed about turn 5) but if he had deployed all including his card in scand Niko would have bounced off 34v31. Nikos army and income advantage are so small that he would likely lose more than he killed. Sze could have made a 4v2 after all his other orders and been up a card piece =D. Nikos early luck was minor but youre right it gave him more strategic choices, and as far as i am concerned he made little use of them. He gave all the advantage back by using 4v2s slowly to take 2 inefficient bonuses, he has so many idle armies every single turn of expansion, if he had been hitting sze repeatedly in scand then I would say he was making the most of his luck, but all his luck gets him is a few more armies stood still achieving nothing until the stacks get so high theyre irrelevant. Sze ends up with plenty of leftovers too. Afaik Nikos early deployment really doesnt fit with an ant/aus combo.

Game 6 the guessing luck relating to the blockade was the most definitive of that game. Do you think it was luck? I think Timi wins a lot of games by correctly predicting the other player.

I think a larger examination of all such games would be interesting, so there'd be less theory and more fact.


Yay! Me too. Its nice reading someone elses annotations on a game.
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