Most non-luck-free games use either open-ended randomizers (like dice, or spinners) or closed-ended randomizers (cards, chit pulls, etc).

But there is an alternative, which is simultaneous revelation of chosen selections (rock-paper-scissors). One example of games that use this type of randomizer are games with written orders, like Diplomacy - which is so completely driven by the diplomatic factor that most people regard it as being luck-free.

Are there any games that use rock-paper-scissors type mechanics as an explicit randomizer?

  • I don't know that the Diplomacy example is a good one, since people aren't choosing random things, they're choosing specific actions that have a specific effect. The simultaneous reveal is just a method of concealing information, but I wouldn't consider this a randomizer.
    – bwarner
    Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 17:19
  • 3
    I think this comparison between Diplomacy and RPS is very interesting. There must be some situations in Diplomacy which are equivalent to RPS, and many others which are like a much more complex version of RPS with more players. The discussions in Diplomacy are similar to the game banter in RPS. (+1)
    – tttppp
    Commented Nov 5, 2010 at 8:27
  • @tttppp Yep, it's definitely true that a few diplomacy situations do come down to RPS. They usually involve debates between offering a support for your own move versus trying to cut support for an opponent's move, or supporting to hold versus supporting to attack your attacker.
    – bwarner
    Commented Nov 6, 2010 at 21:54

9 Answers 9


Race for the Galaxy has this kind of randomness in the action selection phase, although it has a lot of luck of the draw in it as well. A typical early game example is the explore, settle, trade relationship in the early game. Often, you want to explore if other players trade, settle if they explore, and trade if they settle.

On the other hand, I disagree that this is not inherently lucky. If we play Rock Paper Scissors, and I play uniformly at random, the only way that you are going to beat me is luck. Even if we introduce a little bit of information into the game, if I am making a decision that has any randomness in it, and I certainly should be if the game can be reduced to a mixed strategy, then the game still has some luck involved.

  • The question is, are you truly capable of playing completely at random, without any tells you aren't even unconsciously revealing! (If the answer is yes, one suggests you take up competitive poker.. :) )
    – Affe
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:05

Robo Rally uses action cards — move 3, turn 90° right, move 1 — placed in predetermined slots; the cards laid down by other players may change how those cards translate into game actions.


Sid Meier's Civilization, the board game based on the video game based on the board game, used this method for combat. You have three types of pieces, and you each reveal one of them simultaneously, and then use a rock paper scissors method to decide who wins.

(This is from the very first edition of the game, and I haven't played it in years, so I could be remembering this incorrectly.)


If I understand your question correctly, Duck Duck Go could be an example.

You play as rubber ducks in a bath tub, and you have a hand of three cards with different movement patterns on them. Each player picks a card from their hand, and once all cards have been selected, everyone reveals their card simultaneously.

The catch is that each card also has a number in the upper-left corner, with the cards resolved in lowest-number order.


Yomi from Sirlin Games is designed with this specific purpose in mind. Where the whole game is supposed to be about RPS with unclear-unequal decisions. It basically is a card game version of Street Fighter. Its an expensive game but there is a free trial available on the web. You can find the rules on their wiki


Age of Renaissance

This boardgame starts each turn with a bidding mechanic that I believe meets your criteria for simultaneous revelation of hidden choices. Each player makes a bid which has two main effects.

  • Turn order (lowest to highest). (Generally going earlier is desirable)
  • Number of influence tokens to place (Generally placing more is desirable)

This leads to an interesting choice for everyone as they need to determine which is more important to them each turn, and then to pick the proper bid in relation to the other player's bids.

To give a simple example. If the three revealed bids are 12, 13, and 30. Two of the players will likely be happy (the 12 and the 30) while the person who bid 13 could have bid 29 and still gone second.

I've simplified things a bit here and there are of course exceptions. The game is very enjoyable and takes 3-5 hours to play.



In 2003, Abstract Games Magazine and About.com's board games section held a game design contest for simultaneous movement games. I helped one of the judges play test, and Nibelungenlied was my favourite. How could you not love a game where the two players represent the forces of tragic destiny and natural order? It placed third in the contest. You can find several of the entries on the contest page.

You could also look at board game geek's rock-paper-scissors mechanic and their simultaneous action selection mechanic.


Another games that might fit your description is Category 5 / 6 Nimmt!. Every player is dealt a number of cards which are numbered from 1 to 104. All players select a card to play and then simultaneously reveal it. They must then add their card to one of 4 or 5 rows on the table in ascending order. Any player who has to add the 6th card or cannot place his card in any of the rows must take one of the rows (which will count against him) and start a new one with his card.

There are numerous games in that family...


I once wrote a gadget to google wave for Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

Of course this is just the same as rock paper scissors but with more options.

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