Difference between revisions of "Fixed Distributions"

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Latest revision as of 05:40, 5 September 2022

That a random distribution is guaranteed to have produced a given distribution at certain specific points in the sequence of randomness produced.

Many games use randomness to produce uncertainty and variation between game instances but this may sometimes cause too much variation or make the outcome depend purely on luck. To counter this but still preserve some level of randomness games can make use of Fixed Distributions of the random values that come into play. Fixed Distributions ensure that after a cycle consisting of a certain number of random values these values will match to a certain distribution, but at any given point (except maybe the last in the cycle) players will not be able to know what the next value is.


The standard deck of cards provides Fixed Distributions that allow players of Poker, Texas Hold'em, and Contract Bridge to calculate the odds for actions in the games. Games such as Magic: The Gathering and Dominion, where players build their decks before or during game instances go a step further and let them create the distributions as well. Pandemic starts with a equal chance of all cities having disease outbreak but manipulate this after each epidemic so that all the already affected cities are guaranteed to be drawn again before new cities can be affected.

Tiles with various properties are used in Carcassonne as a way to build the game world. Making good choices in the game requires a consideration of what tiles still remain and this in turn requires that one knows their distribution.

The basic version of Settlers of Catan uses dice to determine where resources are produced. However, for those that feel this makes the game to luck-based the Event Cards expansion (also part of the Traders & Barbarians expansion) provide a deck of card that can be instead to guarantee nearly Fixed Distributions. The distributions are not completely fixed by having a New Year card among the bottom five cards which forces a reshuffle when drawn - this to avoid making the game too predictable.

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game lets players choose which characters to play but puts restrictions on how these can be chosen. Through this a balance between political leaders, military leaders, and pilots are created although support characters may occur in any numbers.

Using the pattern

Drawing Stacks is probably the most common way of creating Fixed Distributions, and if these are created how players make use of Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership it makes the players in charge of those distributions. A less common way is putting restrictions on Player-Decided Distributions, e.g. the forced spread of character types in Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game.

Fixed Distributions can be affected if players have access to those which results that have already been produced or not. Games promote Memorizing if players have Imperfect Information regarding this.


Fixed Distributions are a way to modulate how random Randomness is in a game. Since they allow players to use information about what a random process has produced earlier to better predict future outcomes of that process, Fixed Distributions supports Predictable Consequences and allow them to feel Anticipation. This can change how they calculate Risk/Reward situations and Misfortune Mitigation, but success in this activities reduce the possibility of feeling Luck. For games where the distributions are not Public Information, knowing them represents Strategic Knowledge.


Can Instantiate

Anticipation, Misfortune Mitigation, Predictable Consequences, Strategic Knowledge

with Imperfect Information


Can Modulate

Randomness, Risk/Reward

Can Be Instantiated By

Drawing Stacks, Player-Decided Distributions

Can Be Modulated By

Imperfect Information

Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership if Drawing Stacks are present

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.