Often users feel like the dice algorithm is “broken”. This is not the case. In a game of Catan with only 50-70 rolls, you can't expect a perfect bell curve. -
We will provide you with info regarding probabilities, randomness, and the human perception of those. CU has no “catch-up” mechanism/ “blue shell” effects in its code. This means every user has the same chances to win a game. No user can buy any advantages to make it easier to win a game.
Let’s start at the very basics
CATAN in its core revolves around dice being thrown and cards getting drawn from a shuffled card stack. This means the game has a lot of random components Catanians have to deal with.
We find this video really helpful which explains a concept on the different types of randomness and how it can affect how we feel about a game.
But when we translate it for CATAN: If you make a good move by placing on hexes with high probabilities but they do not get thrown during your game…. this makes you feel cheated. On the other hand, you feel like a genius when placing on lower probability hexes and win by a lot due to your numbers getting rolled.
CATAN was deliberately designed that way to increase the interaction between all Catanians. Trade, banter at the table as well as the general conversation that revolves around being lucky, unlucky, the “hot” number, and so on.
When it comes to playing at a table with your friends and family you will trust what happens when the dice get rolled because you feel like you are all in it together. You comfort each other or build alliances against the lucky one. When you are playing on your Phone/PC naturally there is a lack of social contact and being unlucky feels worse. It’s more unlikely that a random Catanian will comfort you and the feeling of getting cheated out of a perfect strategy gets intensified.
The dice and how we perceive them
Over the past couple of years, we have shown and posted different articles about probabilities and what they actually mean if you play a game of CATAN with around 50-70 rolls per game.
One of our favourite ones is this: https://cs.stanford.edu/people/nick/settlers/DiceOddsSettlers.html
Throwing no 5 or 9? That can´t be real! But as the article states, it actually is. When assuming 50 rolls it’s about every 166.6th game.
If we translate this to the number of games being played daily here on Catan Universe we have easily more than a thousand games where this should happen.
Another example can be found here with more visualisations: http://stungeye.com/archive/by_date/2013/12/17
Streaks of numbers: A certain number getting rolled multiple times in a row. But there only is a chance of 16.667% of rolling a 7. How can it be it comes up multiple times in a row? There must be something wrong. Right? No, not really. All throws are independent of each other and therefore always the same probabilities apply.
Perceiving the probabilities to increase after certain events or small sample sizes being representative of a larger population is known as the Monte Carlo fallacy (gambler´s fallacy) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler%27s_fallacy%7C