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Dominion is definitely NOT a game of luck. I'd wager it's at least 90% strategy. But at the higher levels I'm sure the luck comes out as players get better at finding the best strategies available to them. In Bridge tournaments, pairs have to play the same hand and see who does better at it. Obviously in Dominion tournaments you'd have everyone play the same kingdom sets, but how do you compensate for bad shuffles? If there's a Mountebank/Witch/Treasury or any other awesome opening cost-5 card and no good opening cost-4 cards, any player who starts 5-2 is going to have a substantially better odds of winning already. Likewise if you have a lot of villages and terminal actions, but virtually never get them together, you're also at a substantial disadvantage.

How do Dominion tournaments compensate for this? Is it possible to play Dominion in a form where it's 98+% strategy and <2% luck, or is luck of the draw just an essential part of the game? How often does luck determine the winner of a game of Dominion?

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Luck is inherent in most gaming/sporting endeavors to one extent or another. In some ways, it seems its traditional for the losers to blame "bad luck". If you follow any sporting team, I'm sure there is one particular moment you remember when your team was "robbed" of a deserving win or title. –  Pat Ludwig Aug 30 '11 at 19:24
    
@Pat yes, there's always some luck present, but the level definitely varies. In Go or Chess there will almost always be less luck, whereas in Dominion and Poker there's usually more. The games with more luck have a higher chance of a match's outcome misrepresenting the players' skill. –  Gordon Gustafson Aug 30 '11 at 19:54
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think Dominion is alone in being a game with a significant amount of luck. Magic the Gathering has a massive amount of variance, but the pros rise to the top time and again, because they are experts at keeping the role that luck plays in their game down to the very minimum. Even with that being the case, I'd say that if you win 75% of your Magic matches at a pro level, your skill level is pretty godlike. If you can consistently win even 60% of the time, you're doing more than fine.

As such, I don't think that it's a sensible question "how can we keep luck in Dominion to being a <2% factor". There's always going to be games of Dominion where you repeatedly draw exactly what you don't need and your opponent draws exactly what he does. But if you don't let those games faze you, and just concentrate on outplaying your opponents, your win percentage should creep up comfortably above 50% as you become an expert at the finer point of the game. And that's all it takes to be a great Dominion player. Not 100% win rates against "lesser opponents" and the total elimination of luck, just the ability to maximise your game, whatever the game throws at you, and even though sometimes it won't be enough.

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Okay, so the the tournaments just rely on luck averaging out over time. In chess a world champion might win 97% of their games, whereas in Dominion a world champion might win 75% of their games. You just have to play more to get an accurate measure of the players' true skill. :D –  Gordon Gustafson Aug 30 '11 at 19:57
    
A lot of games have luck -- the poster was asking how tournament organizers reduce it. –  warbaker Sep 20 '11 at 20:01
    
The poster was asking how to reduce it almost to nothing, which I think is silly. Tournament organisers reduce it by running tournaments - in which by definition you play a lot of games, so that the luck averages out. –  thesunneversets Sep 20 '11 at 23:16
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The standard tournament rule for Dominion is allowing players to pick their initial hand (so they can choose whether they want a 5/2 or a 4/3 split). That reduces a lot of the luck if there's a particularly good 5/2 combo out there.

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The WBC compensates for first player advantage by playing 2 game rounds, and reversing turn order by round.

It doesn't really do anything about luck though. I think the only reasonable way to mitigate luck is to play a lot of games.

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