# How to select random alphabet letter?

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call
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I'm working on a card game that would require players to choose letters at random.

So far I have only come up with choosing one of 26 shuffled cards, or a spinner wheel marked with 26 pie wedges. Using dice seems to be out, but I was wondering if anyone has encountered a suitable mechanic?

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: How to select random alphabet letter?

call wrote:
I'm working on a card game that would require players to choose letters at random.

So far I have only come up with choosing one of 26 shuffled cards, or a spinner wheel marked with 26 pie wedges. Using dice seems to be out, but I was wondering if anyone has encountered a suitable mechanic?

How about a combined system? Everyone draws a card which has, say, 4 letters, each in a unique color. One person rolls a colored die and everyone has to use the corresponding letter.

A system like this can also help you weight certain letter combinations. If your game is based on spelling -- like Scrabble or Word Thief -- you'll need to skew your distribution to keep it playable.

I can imagine holding a hand of 7 or so cards and hoping the die comes up yellow so I can spell 'widgets', but if blue comes up I have 'iitylgh'.

Mark

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: How to select random alphabet letter?

Kreitler wrote:
call wrote:
I'm working on a card game that would require players to choose letters at random.

So far I have only come up with choosing one of 26 shuffled cards, or a spinner wheel marked with 26 pie wedges. Using dice seems to be out, but I was wondering if anyone has encountered a suitable mechanic?

How about a combined system? Everyone draws a card which has, say, 4 letters, each in a unique color. One person rolls a colored die and everyone has to use the corresponding letter.

A system like this can also help you weight certain letter combinations. If your game is based on spelling -- like Scrabble or Word Thief -- you'll need to skew your distribution to keep it playable.

I can imagine holding a hand of 7 or so cards and hoping the die comes up yellow so I can spell 'widgets', but if blue comes up I have 'iitylgh'.

Mark

edit
You could also place the letters into a rectangular grid and roll "row and column" dice (this assumes you just need one letter per round and you're not holding onto them from round to round). You would have to fudge the table a bit. If you can afford to lose 1 letter, you could make a 5x5 grid. If you need all 26, you could go with a 4x8 grid with 6 "roll again" squares (or maybe 4 "roll again" and 2 "wild" squares, or whatever).

call
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

To answer the question, the letter would be changing each turn...

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

call wrote:
To answer the question, the letter would be changing each turn...

Can more than one player get the same letter each turn? A spinner would allow this, but drawing from a deck of cards would not (unless the cards are immediately returned to the deck and reshuffled).

K.

call
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

I'll clarify a bit...it's a word creation game. Each round the letter is selected, and players take turns making their words. When everyone has gone, the letter is selected at random for the next round.

My issue with cards is that they would have to be reshuffled each turn to allow the same amount of randomness. Otherwise, that "t" is going on the bottom of the pile for the rest of the game.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

Cards are probably the most cost efficient method.

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

zaiga wrote:
Cards are probably the most cost efficient method.

Yep, or drawing letter tiles from a bag.

K.

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

Take 2 normal 6-sided dice.

Keep one labelled 1 2 3 4 5 6.

Label the other one 0 6 12 18 24 30.

You now have a 1-36 random number generator with even odds for every result.

Assign a number from 1-26 to every letter of the alphabet. This leaves you with the numbers 25-36 left over. Assign them to the letters: E T A O I N S R H L, which are the 10 most common in English.

Make a chart which shows the players which numbers = which letters.

Clean up your chart so that it's a bit more player-friendly (e.g move the "doubles" together), and you're ready to go. It'll look like this:

Now you've got a simple, cost-effective system ( 2 dice and a simple chart) for determining random letter generation which even allows more common letters to come up more frequently. What do you think?

~Josh

call
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

OK, OutsideLime, there is NO WAY I could have thought of that idea myself!

Xaqery
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Joined: 07/26/2008
How to select random alphabet letter?

Now I understand why outsidelime is a lousy Tikal player. He spends all his energy thinking up cool stuff like this.

Alternativly while reading his post I was thinking that 1 to 26 would equal A to Z and 27 to 36 could equal 0 to 9 for some need.

- Dwight

TrekNoid
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Joined: 10/02/2009
Re: How to select random alphabet letter?

call wrote:
I'm working on a card game that would require players to choose letters at random.

So far I have only come up with choosing one of 26 shuffled cards, or a spinner wheel marked with 26 pie wedges. Using dice seems to be out, but I was wondering if anyone has encountered a suitable mechanic?

There is a game called 'Scattergories' that has a large 20-sided die with the most common 20 letters on it.

Each round you roll the die, and all the players have to think of words in different categories that must begin with that letter.

For play-testing, it's probably a decent mechanic.

Then again, if you *must* have 26 letters... there's always 26-sided dice!

http://www.forteachersonly.com/static/products/2081C.php?pv=1&item=2081C

Trek

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
How to select random alphabet letter?

Another way would be to make a circular board with a letter in each square. For each turn roll 3d6 and move your pawn around the circle which indicate the selected letter. This way, you know that some letter cannot be spawned until the next turn, because you can't roll less than 3 and more than 18, which can make some sort of strategy thinking. If you want some letter to be selected more often make, some letter have 2 squares. Spreading the vowels and identical letters is also a good idea.

mdpotter
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

1) 1 cloth bag
2) Set of 26 tiles - 1 for each letter
3) Place tiles in bag
4) Shake bag
5) Reach in and take 1 tile out
6) Put tile in center of table to so everyone knows the letter.

Possibilities
- add more tiles of the most popular letters.
- don't put back used letters unless triggered by a game event.
- pull out more than one tile in response to game event.

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

Quote:
Now I understand why outsidelime is a lousy Tikal player. He spends all his energy thinking up cool stuff like this.

Hey!

I'm a half-decent Tikal player, thank you very much.

And thanks... that 1-36 even-odds system is pretty cool, huh? Just came to me one day. You can keep increasing it by adding more dice, too. With 3 dice labelled
1 2 3 4 5 6
0 6 12 18 24 30
0 36 72 108 144 180
you get a 1-216 even-odds generator. Not that I have come up with a real use for such a thing... but the concept is pretty neat.

~Josh

JPOG
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

Not nearly as probability-handsome as the previous solution, but you could always roll 5D6 and subtract 4 from the total to get the number of the letter of the alphabet (or use the chart below).

5D6
.. 5 - A
.. 6 - B
.. 7 - C
.. 8 - D
.. 9 - E
. 10 - F
. 11 - G
. 12 - H
. 13 - I
. 14 - J
. 15 - K
. 16 - L
. 17 - M
. 18 - N
. 19 - O
. 20 - P
. 21 - Q
. 22 - R
. 23 - S
. 24 - T
. 25 - U
. 26 - V
. 27 - W
. 28 - X
. 29 - Y
. 30 - Z

It would be quick and simple but unless your game uses dice for something else, 5D6 might be a bit out of place.

Alternately you could roll:

1D6
1-2 = 2D6-1 (1-11 = A-K)
3-4 = 11 + 1D6 (12-17 = L-Q)
5-6 = 16 + 2D6 (18-28 = R-Z, Reroll 27+?)

slam
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Joined: 07/28/2008
How to select random alphabet letter?

If the cards themselves have letters on them, why not flip the first card after all the hand cards are dealt and have that be the starting letter? Like how trump suits are chosen in many card games.

Or have a special letter be printed on the card's face for that purpose, like the bullet holes in "Wyatt Earp".

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How to select random alphabet letter?

JPOG wrote:
Not nearly as probability-handsome as the previous solution, but you could always roll 5D6 and subtract 4 from the total to get the number of the letter of the alphabet (or use the chart below).

5D6
.. 5 - A
.. 6 - B
.. 7 - C
.. 8 - D
.. 9 - E
. 10 - F
. 11 - G
. 12 - H
. 13 - I
. 14 - J
. 15 - K
. 16 - L
. 17 - M
. 18 - N
. 19 - O
. 20 - P
. 21 - Q
. 22 - R
. 23 - S
. 24 - T
. 25 - U
. 26 - V
. 27 - W
. 28 - X
. 29 - Y
. 30 - Z

It would be quick and simple but unless your game uses dice for something else, 5D6 might be a bit out of place.

This system can't really work. With 5d6 there are 7776 possible outcomes, and only one of them will result in a sum of 5. (1-1-1-1-1) That's a 1-in-7776 chance that the letter "A" will come up in your game. Probably not your desired frequency ;) You could rearrange the letters so that the least-desirable letters are on the outsides of the scale (ie - put Q in the 5 slot and Z in the 30 slot, and so on) but I think you'd want even the lowest-frequency letters to come up more often than this would allow.

~Josh