Friday, May 03, 2013

Better Lucky Than Good?

Something I've been running into a lot lately while playing Blood Bowl, both on Cyanide and on FumBBL, is people getting really bitter at the dice. They'll fail at something they think should have succeeded, or I'll succeed at something they think should have failed. But instead of remembering this is a game with small numbers of dice, or buckling down and trying to push through, they'll start complaining about how lucky I am. In some of these cases the dice were actually pretty skewed in my favour (we run a program on Cyanide at least that lets us parse the log after a game to see what was actually rolled over the game) but in many cases things just worked out in a reasonable manner.

I never know how to respond. Nevermind the fact that I can't really tell if I'm lucky or not on the fly, and that I'll have a natural tendency to defend myself from an incoming attack regardless of validity... If I could establish that the dice have come out in my favour what should I do? Apologize for getting lucky? Throw the ball on the ground to make it fair? If I knew the dice were 'fair' what should I do? Argue back about it? Ignore the complaints and hope they stop? What about if the actual situation is that they're getting lucky but just playing terribly? Should I point that out? I don't know how I should react even if I knew what the situation really is so it's really hard to know what to do when I don't know where we stand!

I've tried pushing back by pointing out good rolls they've had, or bad rolls I've had. I've tried completely ignoring the comments. I've tried being snooty and throwing their comments back in their face. (Which resulted in a chat session on FumBBL that escalated pretty badly. He spent 45 minutes insulting me, I spent 45 minutes responding to every line with 'Diced!'.) I've tried trying to diffuse the situation with self-deprecation. "Better Lucky Than Good!" None of it seems to make my opponent stop whining, and I always end up having less fun as a result.

I understand getting frustrated when you think the dice are going against you. I understand getting frustrated when you make a mistake and it costs you. I don't understand what complaining about the dice to me is going to accomplish. I don't understand how I'm supposed to respond.

Maybe I need to find a way to change the way I view the complaints. To me, when my opponent complains about the dice and how lucky I am to be winning I interpret that as them saying that with fair dice they'd be beating me. That once we take luck out of the equation they'd be beating me because they're better than I am. And maybe they are. I'm not yet good enough at the game to be able to say for sure one way or the other.

I do feel like I've been doing a pretty good job, especially with my Skaven team, of putting my opponent into bad situations. People keep making multiple one-die blocks and extra dodges against me. I give my opponent the rope to hang themselves with turnover prone actions, my opponents take the chances, and sometimes they fail. And then Skaven are so fast that I'm in a much better position to take advantage of a turnover than most teams are. On the flip side, I think I've gotten better at planning out my actions to make sure that when I do make a turnover (and I do make plenty of them, despite being 'lucky') they aren't as dangerous. These probably combine to make it feel to my opponents like I'm getting lucky (when their dice fail they get seriously punished) and making it less likely they feel like I'm getting unlucky (when my dice fail it isn't so bad).

Or maybe I need to start taking glee in getting called lucky? I'm going to feel sad when I feel I'm unlucky so letting myself feel bad when I get lucky is just making every state a bad one. Though I am also working on feeling less bad when I feel unlucky, too!


Matt said...

People are looking for validation. As a guy who has gotten frustrating with poor luck, I know how they feel.

I have a few approaches:

If they have suffered a run of poor luck, I empathize. "You're right, you are getting unlucky".

If they're being a twit, I sometimes point out times when they were lucky or I was unlucky. But I don't engage past one or two comments, and I'm always polite.

Sometimes, if they're being a real twit, I disarm them by being honestly friendly and asking why they would be so rude to someone they don't know. Have I personally done something to offend them? So far, every person I've tried this approach on has apologized. But you have to be sincere.

It's not really about you. It's about them being frustrated and you're the obvious target to take it out on. I don't take it personally and rarely escalate these days - it's just not worth it.

(and sometimes I don't respond, depends on my mood)

Brent Oster said...

I know I recently moaned about my luck against you with my dwarf team. Sorry if that was annoying. It's just that the timing and immediacy of the rolls made it feel like I lost the game on turn 2.

One of the things is that I (and probably others in the BBL leagues we're playing in) know that you're one of the strongest if not the strongest bloodbowl player there. This means I consciously decided several times to "press my luck" because I feel I need the dice to go my way at least a little bit in order to have a chance to win. You should take that as a compliment. :D

In general though, I feel it's best to take a "smile, nod, and agree that it was an unfortunate dice roll" approach. There are some people though that no approach is going to work with. Like the guy I played who accused me of cheating every time I did anything that worked out and then started spamming. Sometimes people are just jerks on the intertubes.

- Brent

Anonymous said...

For randoms it is easier to blame the dice than to believe they were outplayed. I know that the part of the game that frustrates me is when it feels like luck beats me instead of skill (1/216 to land a hit on the guy that ended up killing him). And to be fair sometimes it is hard to step back and see yourself being forced to roll more dice by good counter play

If you don't want an extended engagement something non-commital like "dice are part of the game" might do it.


Sky Roy said...

My theory is that when people complain about luck there isn't anything useful you can do aside from try to placate them. You aren't interested in some big campaign of improving their attitude so you just say "Yep, that sucked for you. Dice can be cruel." If they won't shut up you don't engage the random thing again, just say "I have a lot more fun playing when the commentary is positive. I don't find that complaining really makes anyone feel better." If they still won't shut up, don't play with them again. Don't try to fix them or argue numbers, just let them know that their behaviour is making the game less fun.

Sthenno said...

I've been watching some chess streams lately (you don't see a lot of complaining about luck there). I'm terrible at chess so a couple of times a game the players will make moves that are 100% baffling to me.

As a result I find games with three minute clocks very watchable and games with two hour clocks unfathomable. If the result of a baffling move happens 30 second later then I can understand it in retrospect. If the result happens 20 minutes later then I'm lost.

I would bet heavily that one reason your opponents are so frustrated by their luck is because you are outplaying them brutally. You, as you say, have a plan to maximize your chances of making a roll. You have a plan for what to do if you fail a roll. You have a plan for what you'll do to capitalize on them failing a roll. It's not just that they roll badly it's that when they roll badly things go badly. They feel boxed in like they need good rolls and when they don't get them they feel helpless. They are focused on that roll and not on whether that roll would have any real impact on the outcome of the game (there are a lot more rolls to come).

But also there are plenty of people out there who just love to complain. They feel bad so they say things to make other people feel bad too - just like a crying baby upsets its parents to force them into action. Watching a magic game recently, an opponent of the streamer commented that he must have taken a lot of cocks up the ass to get so lucky. While we may stop to ponder what that person thinks the causal relationship is between being on the receiving end of anal sex and having luck at magic, it should be obvious that they are just an asshole.