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The Gift is here to explore the issue of luck. Is luck an indomitable force that can't be conquered, or is it something small that can be ignored?
Is Luck Real, or is it just an Illusion?Have you ever cursed the Warcraft gods for seemingly forgetting that you exist throughout the course of a game? Don’t worry, it’s not just you. Some days we find the leprechaun smiling at us at the end of the rainbow and others we get a flat tire after getting pulled over for speeding. Luck affects us every day in almost all aspects of life. Your test grade may depend on how the teacher was feeling that day. You may have missed every single traffic light on your way home from work. Your friends may have surprised you by walking in your room while you were covertly watching “The Hills”. When luck does go our way, we feel like everything is going right and the world is at our fingertips that day. But how big a factor is luck is this game we love?
Let’s take an example of a game that undoubtedly takes some amount of luck to be successful in the short term: poker. Many of you probably play poker and I’m sure the rest of you have at least heard of it or played it at some occasion. In the short term, the results in poker can be partially attributed to luck and the rest to your skill level. Even in a dream scenario where you are a twenty to one favorite, there is still a small chance that you can lose the hand. You could even lose in this situation two or three times in a row. As you play the game more and more and these situations continue to come up, the more and more you will continue to gain in this situation. After a long period of time, it is hugely unlikely that you have lost money from this situation, which any even half decent poker player understands. The people that get angry when they get unlucky and say things like, “I will never play again, people always get lucky against me”, do not really understand the game fundamentally. Most good pokers players simply laugh and ignore people who say such things. The luck factor in poker is not all that dissimilar to the luck involved in Warcraft. The obvious flaw with my argument is that any card game is exactly fair to all parties involved. The deck of cards is impartial, and poker is inherently balanced. Warcraft is at least partially imbalanced in a few small ways, and not everyone plays the same race. Since most of the time everyone playing in a game does not begin with the exact same units, the argument I’m trying to make is not perfect. Regardless of this, the same general rules can be applied and still hold true. Over a long period of time, luck will even out between two players and the better player will win more often.
What causes luck is debatable in most circumstances. There is a simple way to determine if luck was a factor in the outcome of your game. If the situation arose because of a player’s actions, it is not luck. If it’s something out of a player’s control, it may be considered luck. Creep Jacks and hidden Expansions shouldn’t be considered luck. Think about it; if an opponent gets a “lucky” Expansion up because you didn’t Scout, it’s because you allowed it to happen. Your lack of preparation allowed them to gain an advantage over you. Creep Jacking is another reason why you may often feel costed you the game. Anyone who has watched any amount of replays realizes how far good players go to avoid being Creep Jacked. Most of the players who complain of losing because of them did not even take a small amount of the precautions needed to avoid the nasty situation.
Most people consider Item Drops, Spawn Locations, and moves like Critical Strike and Evasion to be pure luck. These only make the game different. Critical Strike simply adds 15% more Damage to the Blademaster per level. It may be unfortunate as far as when the Crtical Strikes take place, but both players know it’s possible to Crit five times in a row to kill a Hero. You may lose a single game for this reason, but you will not lose a majority of your games for this reason. Often allowing the Hero to level faster than you was your problem in the first place anyway. Spawn Locations and the chance of a Health Fountain over a Mana Fountain only change what type of game the players are playing. Maybe you’re an 80% player on cross map Lost Temple, but only a 30% player on close spawn Lost Temple. This indicates that your Spawn Location was only unlucky in the sense that you have not worked on your close spawn Lost Temple game enough. I’ve even seen Yane try to gain an advantage in a close spawn Turtle Rock game by Scouting with an Acolyte and a Ghoul to try and cancel an early Moon Well of his Night Elf opponent. As it turned out, the Night Elf opponent wasn’t next to him, so would you consider this bad luck for Yane? As far as item drops go, people completely disregard the advantages of some of the other item drops. It wasn’t until somewhat recently when the professional players started using the Wand of Mana Stealing, and then all of a sudden players stopped auto-selling the item and started using it. It doesn’t need to be said that some items are better for some heroes than others, but it’s not like the Creep dropped nothing. The item can still be sold, or perhaps the player will even figure out a way to use it to their advantage. Some items are obviously better than others, but again skill can easily make up for getting slightly unlucky. There’s a chance some maps are not really favored towards one race, but perhaps nobody has come up with a strategy with their race to take advantage of the map. If you are not prepared to play on every available map, then luck had nothing to with the outcome of your game.
A lot of your opponent's luck is created through insufficient scouting. The better player should know what their opponent is doing throughout the entire game. Assumptions can lead to disaster. Scouting is an investment that is often overlooked. Obviously sending two Scouts out in each direction gives you information sooner, but do you really want to sacrifice the early resources for information on your opponent? It’s your choice, and there are probably advantages to both.
Players complain about their Scroll of Town Portal not going off when they double click it at the last second. Unless you’re getting variable latency issues (random delay between commands), then the player should know how much time they have in order to Teleport. Complaining that it didn’t go off didn’t change the fact that you could have tped when your hero was at half health. This is the biggest reason why people hate playing against Undead so much; the burst damage of hero nuke. Now if we were to set the game speed to ultra slow, you could actually emulate what Moon does in a LAN tournament and dodge spells every time. It’s the player’s job to gain every advantage possible. Stopping an opponent from Teleporting when they are winning the fight simply creates a battle of reaction time. Can you TP before the Death Coil hits?
Sure, a single incident can change the outcome of a game, but a single game doesn't matter in the long run. There are cases such as in a major tournament or a league match where luck was a factor in a very important game, but there is nothing you can do about that. In that sense luck could be a big factor in that it was very important to you, but such is life. In most cases that incident was preventable, however unforeseeable it is now. As you progress as a player, preventing bad luck should become standard in all your games. All that matters is that you’re consistently a winning player. If you keep losing to the same thing and keep blaming it on bad luck, then something is wrong. As the age old saying goes, “you create your own luck”.
If you didn’t like this article, then I guess you may actually be unlucky. Or perhaps The Gift is.