# Is there skill in rolling a spinner?

Several board games, particularly those made for young children, use a spinner instead of a die to control movement. A spinner is harder to lose, less likely to choke a younger sibling, and easier to manufacture with odd probabilities.

There are tricks to manipulate the probability of outcomes on dice without resorting to loaded dice. For example, "Tricks to Rolling Dice" by Jessica Fletcher mentions a "bowling" trick in which the player avoids two numbers on opposite sides of a fair d6, such as 1 and 6, by carefully rolling the die down the equator to pass over only the other four numbers. Are there analogous tricks to manipulating a spinner?

Part of the motivation is a comment by PotatoEngineer to an answer by Task to "Is Fluxx a game of skill or luck?". It states that while luck dominates each individual hand of poker, iterated poker depends far more on skill, calling out Hasbro's Hi Ho Cherry-O as "the sole exception" that remains purely luck. HHCO is a put-and-take game analogous to teetotum or dreidel. Yet like HHCO, Hasbro's Chutes and Ladders and Care Bears: Warm Feelings use a spinner, and neither game offers any player agency other than through the spinner. Another part is finding a way to keep C&L interesting as children grow into appreciating agency, though that might be a question by itself.

A spinner will move along one of two paths every time you spin it (clockwise or anti-clockwise). There is no variation in the spin which could occur with dice, such as bounce, roll, etc. It's always travelling consistently along one path. This means that the distance it travels is always dependent upon how much force was used to spin it. Therefore, if you get used to a particular spinner, you can adjust your flick power to make the spinner travel further or shorter depending on need. Hasbro's Game of Life has a twist spinner instead of a flick spinner, but it's the same concept. Growing up, my brother and I were able to figure out how to spin the spinner with enough force to fairly reliably get the number we wanted. Every spinner will be a little bit different between copies of the game, so you may need to calibrate when playing at a friend's house.

• Further to this, some spinners will have high and low friction points around their path (I used to fairly regularly play The Game of Life with a spinner that liked to stop on 6-7-8 and almost never on the opposite side of the wheel), and it can make a difference in some games (again, like TGOL with alternative paths) if you know your spinner has such a preference. Jan 31, 2020 at 12:59
• @ZeissIkon Yeah, my friend had a copy that had been stepped on by their dog. That warped it enough to have a non-level path, where it dipped down on a number, and slowed down a bit on its way back up. Really there is no consistent uniform strategy for all spinners, and it's mostly a matter of practicing with the one you have so that you can learn its quirks. Jan 31, 2020 at 13:02