RockPaperScissors or Non-Transitivity

Problem: We want diceless conflict resolution, or we want to create a choice.

Solution: Sometimes games will use RPS directly as a diceless way of conflict resolution, but the principle behind the game has many other uses.

Some games incarnate RPS directly: unit A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A. But the really important detail is that for every strategy, there is another equally good strategy that foils it.

From The_Case_For_Game_Design_Patterns?.

Known as non-transitivity in game theory.

JP LeBreton sez:

I'm pretty sick of designers holding up Paper Rock Scissors as some kind of paragon of design wisdom (particularly in realtime strategy games, where nobody seems to have a clue what they're doing if they're not copying Starcraft). It's technically a perfectly "balanced" game, but what's the point if (all else being equal) all the strategic choices have an equal chance of succeeding? Strategy becomes a non-choice, which is crap.
The real game behind PRS is the meta-game of out-guessing your opponent, and while there's obviously some skill to that, it's still a game of highly *imperfect information*. Which means that, like you said, superstition and luck still play a huge role. No thanks.

Jamie sez:

RPS is the minimum you must do to have a choice. Some people are satisfied with the minimum. Rollins / Morris have some methods for how you can take non-transitivity and make it interesting.



RockPaperScissors could be considered a relative of OrthogonalElements.

CategoryPattern? | CategoryNeedsWork?