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'Drawing' a random location on a grid... in secret

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/07/2010

Hi all,

I'm in the early stages of trying to design a game that uses a grid-based board. I'm currently trying to find a way for players to 'draw' a random location on that board, without the other players knowing where it is.

My initial thought was that, for it to be known only to the player in question, it would have to be a card drawn from a shuffled deck. And that the card would have a grid location on it. However, my theme requires that the location should be *highly* random. Drawing from a known deck would lose some of the randomness, as the remaining locations would reduce over the course of play. Or, if each grid square had multiple cards in the deck, even a modestly-sized board would end up needing a huge number of cards, thereby increasing manufacturing costs.

Another thought for added randomness was die rolls, one for each dimension on the grid. While that would satisfy the requirement for true randomness, it would also make the 'draw' visible to other players, which is something I don't want. And rolling behind a screen just leads to opportunities to cheat.

Does anyone know of other ways of satisfying my requirements that wouldn't require a huge number of game components?



P.S. if any of my terminology is wrong, it's because:
a. this is the first time I've tried to design anything
b. I rarely play games as it is!

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
Is there an advantage to picking where you start?

I was going to ask how big your board was and suggest a bag of numbered tiles from 1 to N (where N is the size of your board), but I realized that arguably, a more important question is: Is there an advantage to just letting the players pick where they start? If there is, that implies that there's a fair bit of "game position" luck in starting position. That's not a big deal for me, but it's important to recognize that as part of the game design.

If there's no advantage to letting players pick their "random" location, you can save a lot on components by just letting players pick. In this vein, you could have each player write three locations on a scrap of paper at the start of the game and toss 'em all in a hat. When you need a location, draw one from the hat, then write a new one down and toss it in the hat to replace the one you took. This would work well to simulate a semi-sentient intentionality to the game universe's selection of "random" locations.

Back to the numbered tiles: Say your board is 9x9. A bag of tiles with the numbers 1 through 9 repeated (say) 3 times is enough to give you 13 unique (X,Y) locations on the board – even more if you replace tiles during play. Intended use: Draw a tile. Put it behind your screen in your "X" slot. Draw another tile. Put it in your secret "Y" slot. That's the (X,Y) coordinate of your secret location. When you need a new location, toss your old tiles back in the hat and draw new ones.

By the way, is it important that no player's random location is the same as another player's random location? If so, that makes things a lot more complex.

Another "by the way": Your initial card deck idea works just fine if you replace every card drawn back into the deck and shuffle the deck after each replacement. All cards have an equal chance of being drawn on every draw. It's not that bad even if you just replace your card once you're done with it. (In fact, that's a great solution if you don't want players to have identical locations.)

Best of luck on your game!

Joined: 11/07/2010
Wow, lots of things to think

Wow, lots of things to think about! Thanks for answering. :)

To answer a few of your questions... firstly, I still don't know what size the grid will be. In fact, "I don't know yet" could answer most of your questions. I'm still just coming up with mechanic ideas that I think might be interesting to investigate and which will fit the theme nicely.

Not sure if that's the right way to go about things, but I'm very wary of trying to *force* game elements into the theme. I'd rather just go for a perfect match first and then find out whether it works as a game. And I'm favouring simplicity too, so I like your suggestion to just replace the location cards after use. That might be enough. In fact, I might not need every grid location covered by the cards, as I'm also considering a degree of board randomisation in the game setup.

Anyway, I'll take your suggestions back to my drawing board, as it were. Thanks for your input. :)


Ska_baron's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
Say your grid was like a

Say your grid was like a Battleship board (10x10) that's numbered across the top and lettered down the side. You could just have one bag of letters and one bag of numbers and have each player draw a tile out of each bag.

If you wanted them to know something about where their opponents were, they could keep the tiles and then know if they drew E5, that no one else could be in the 5 column or the E row (since they have it still). Or if you had them put back the tiles so others could draw you would run into the problem of folks drawing very close positions or even possibly the exact same one.

irdesigns510's picture
Joined: 06/24/2009
you can do this with hexes too

you can do the "battleship" idea with hexes too:

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