When Random Clusters Attack

Author and economics professor Gary Smith devotes a chapter in his book “Standard Deviations” to random clusters in data and how they are often misinterpreted as meaningful findings. Often the same thing happens in games: Random moves by players can sometimes be mistaken as strategy. “But surely all patterns observed in player behavior must have a purpose,” you say.

Can You Predict Which Games Will Get the Spiel des Jahres Seal of Approval?

Last month I looked at characteristics of games that have won the Spiel des Jahres. There were some interesting patterns but because of various qualitative methods used to judge the games, there wasn’t much insight in how a game wins. Every year, the Spiel des Jahres selects a handful of games for its Empfehlungliste Spiel des Jahres (or recommendation list) and from there, nominees for the overall award. Could an algorithm detect patterns that could successfully predict these recommended games?

How Game Theory Can Help You Conquer 13th-Century Italy

Condottiere, published by Fantasy Flight Games, is a card/board game for 2-6 players that relies heavily on bluffing and negotiation in order to conquer city-states in 13th-century Italy. It also — in some ways — resembles a Colonel Blotto game, in which players must distribute resources over various battlefields in order to achieve victory.