I just finished my 150th recorded play of Star Realms against the Hard AI opponent on iOS. I started recording the results of the games, because I was interested in gauging the level of luck in the game.
It seemed fairly high, that is. I doubted if anybody is even able to get 60% win percentage against the Hard AI – there’s so much random in the game.
Another hypothesis quickly formed: the game is strongly biased against the starting player, who only gets three cards in the initial hand.
After 150 plays, I think I have enough plays to draw some conclusions here. The most obvious conclusion? This is an excellent game.
Starting player bias
The bias against starting player might or might not be there, but at least it’s not strong.
In a single game, it can be strong, but then again, the first player may get something great on the first round, while the second player gets only an Explorer or something else that’s not so great.
Currently at 150 plays, the second player has won 78 games and the starting player 72 games. If you flipped a fair coin 150 times, a result at least this unbalanced would come up about six times in ten. So, well within the usual random variation.
Me vs Hard AI
It seems quite clear I play better than the Hard AI. Initially the matches seemed quite balanced, but perhaps I’ve learnt something, because now I win more than I lose.
At the moment, I’ve won 89 games, while the AI has 61 wins. In a random coin flip series, a result at least this unbalanced would appear only once every 74 times. The more convincing explanation is that I’m better.
As a second player, my win percentage is slightly over 60%; as a starting player it’s 58% and overall it’s 59%. Can it be better? Yes, I think so, but not much. I don’t think I can get to 70% and 65% seems pushing it. There’s just so much randomness in the game that sometimes winning just isn’t possible, no matter how well you play.
(One thing I’ve found quite biased as well is the starting player selection: I’ve started 67 times and played second 83 times. I’d expect this to be random. Odd!)