Carc Central Community > Online Games and Competitions

Online games not really random?


I play Carcassonne online regularly. I find I have long winning streaks, then long losing streaks.

My Elo rating therefore goes in large cycles, far wider than would be the case statistically from a random game. I have heard whispers that the draw of cards is not genuinely random.

Any views or knowledge on this? Have the developers incorporated an algorithm that sends people on losing and winning streaks? Do they feel players would get bored of their Elo settles around a certain level?



Hi Pleebus,

Which platform do you use? I rarely play online games against random opponents on iOS (iPhone/iPad) but I had some free time 2 days ago and played a few games in a row... my first opponent had a Elo of 1580 and I won easily, second game was against a player with Elo of 1600+, third vs 1700 something and I kept winning... I had to interrupt the 4th game vs an opponent 1800+ because my family came back home and my son was crying... but the game was really tight... I lost by forfeiting the game, but you see the pattern: the quality of my opponents got better and better, thus increasing my chances of losing... I don't think it has something to do with the randomness of the tiles. Though it seems that there is an algorithm that tries to select an opponent that would be challenging for you. It also works like that in tournaments: you win the first game, then you will play against someone that also won his/her first game and so on, like a pyramid until you read the top and you are declared the winner.

Welcome to the forums Pleebus.

Further to what Jéré said, I think you're talking about two different things here...

Firstly is the tile drawing within the games. I've played via Facebook, Android, iOS, Board Game Arena, JCloisterZone and others and there's never been any question in my mind about the randomness of the draw. Exozet (iOS publishers) famously shared details of some of the algorithms they use to ensure that the tile drawing is truly random within their app in response to someone asking how to turn off the tile bias that they felt existed towards players who needed certain tiles. So you're certainly not the only one who feels it isn't as random as it could be!

Secondly is the Elo cycles which Jéré talked about. Elo rating might be an accurate measure of player skill but this alone can't predict the outcome of a game as the randomness of the tile draw is still a significant factor. And while your actual rating might fluctuate somewhat, generally it will settle somewhere based on the skill level of equally-rated opponents. I don't play on the iOS app very much but I believe my quickplay Elo is around the 1600 mark based off of around 50 games (it might be a lot more accurate if this was closer to 500 or 5000 games!). If I generally tend to lose to players of around 1650- but win against players of around 1550+ then this will be about right, but it doesn't mean it won't float up or down from time to time. The higher above my "true level" I get the stronger my opponents become and the more likely I am to lose and have my Elo reduced. And the same is true if I take a hit and start being matched against players with much lower ratings.

Hope this is of some help/ interest to you!

--- Quote from: Jéré on April 17, 2018, 01:23:55 AM ---I had to interrupt the 4th game vs an opponent 1800+ because my family came back home and my son was crying...

--- End quote ---

Hope this was no more than a cuddle with his Dad could fix btw! :)

Maj. Frost:
Randomness is a crucial factor for any gaming site and I cannot imagine any of such site would risk accusations for they games being not random. If such things would came out to the general public this would be the end for such site. They often use special expensive hardware that can produce random numbers much more random than average PC can produce.

That said I would expect that reason for your winning/loosing streaks are more of a psychological reason. It's what poker players call being in tilt/out of tilt. Your winning streak is when you are in peak of your "inteligence". There may be many factors for that (good weather, good health, some success at work etc.). Winning additionally boost your morale and help further winnings. Then at some point you loose, your morale breaks (and it is raining, your kid is sick, your favorite football team looses the game etc). So in the end, when you start loosing it is better to take a break and take a walk outside or do whatever pleases you than keep playing hoping that "this time I will win for sure".

On the other hand while on winning streak it is easy to get over confident as the wins go by and start playing too optimistic and risky.


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