This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The [R-markdown source code](`r str_c("https://raw.githubusercontent.com/hoehleatsu/hoehleatsu.github.io/master/_source/",current_input())`) of this blog is available under a [GNU General Public License (GPL v3)](https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html) license from GitHub. ## Introduction [**Super Six**](https://de-m-wikipedia-org.translate.goog/wiki/Super_Six_(Spiel)?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=de&_x_tr_pto=wapp) is a dice game which can be played at all ages. It consists of a container where the lid has 5 pits (labelled 1-5) and one hole (labelled 6). Furthermore, each player gets a predetermined number of sticks and a dice (see Fig.1). If a stick is put into pit 6 (the hole) it falls into container and stays there.

```{r show_one_history, echo=FALSE} h %>% kbl(align = 'c') %>% kable_styling("striped", font_size = 14, position="center") %>% add_header_above(c("Gameplay"=4, "Pit Status"=6, "Player Status"=3, "Game Status"=1)) ```

Note that in the above game the player to start is randomly selected. The players then each take turns in the pre-determined order. The order of the rows in the table corresponds to the sequence of actions in the game. The column `turn` is a counter indicating how many times the player has thrown the dice during his/her round. The columns `hole.1`-`hole.5` are binary indicators whether the respective pit is currently filled with a stick (FALSE=0, TRUE=1). Finally, a column counts for each player the current number of remaining sticks (initially equal to 4). The last column, `decision` contains information about the player's action and its consequences. Here, "stop turn" is a forced decision in round 1, because each player can only throw the dice once in round 1. Furthermore, "lost turn" indicates the situation that the pit indicated by the dice throw was already occupied and "continue turn" means that the player based on his/her strategy decided to throw again. Finally, "game over" means that one player reduced their number of sticks to zero and the game thus ends. The winner of the shown game shown is `r h %>% slice_tail(n=1) %>% pull(player)`. ## Analysis We can use the above simulation function to analyse different strategies for games with 4 initial sticks. Consider the four additional strategies: ```{r define_strategies} go50 <- tibble( filled_holes=0:5, continue_prob=1*(filled_holes<=3)) go67 <- tibble( filled_holes=0:5, continue_prob=1*(filled_holes<=4)) random <- tibble( filled_holes=0:5, continue_prob=0.5) random2 <- tibble(filled_holes=0:5, continue_prob=c(1,1,1,1,0.5,0.25)) ``` Let's assume that Agneta is playing the `always` strategy and that Bertil, Cecilia, Dagmar and Emil each are playing one of the four other strategies. ```{r define_players} player_list <- list(Agneta= always, Birger= go50, Carin= go67, Dagmar= random, Emil= random2) player_names <- names(player_list) ``` We now consider all possible matches of these players. This can be games ranging from just 2 of the players to all 5 of them. ```{r make_combinations} n_players <- 2L:length(player_names) matches <- map(n_players, function(m) { utils::combn(player_names, m=m, simplify=FALSE) }) %>% setNames(n_players) n_combos <- map(matches, length) n_combos %>% unlist() ``` To ensure that the we consider an equal amount of games for every number of players, we simulate `n_games` games for each number of players (2-5). The games to play are then distributed equal among the different pairings with that number of players. For this reason, `n_games` has to be divisible by 5 and 10. ```{r all_games, cache=TRUE} n_games <- 10000 # Parallelize analysis using the future-verse plan(multisession, workers = 4) # Play the games all_games <- future_map2(matches, n_combos, function(names, combos) { map(names, ~ { the_players_strategy <- player_list[.x] # Divide the n_games equal among the possible combinations n_games_each_combo <- n_games / combos map(seq_len(n_games_each_combo), ~ simulate_super6(players_strategy=the_players_strategy, sticks=4) ) }) %>% setNames(map(names, ~ str_c(.x, collapse="-"))) }, .options=furrr_options(seed=TRUE)) ``` This provides a nested list structure, where the top-most level contains the number of players of the game, the 2nd level contains the name of the participating players and the 3rd level the recordings of every game played of the respective player combination (organised as a tibble). The recordings/history of each game is organised as a data frame with columns closely related to the above game description. As an example, a total of ```{r n_games_Agneta_Birger_Carin} all_games[["3"]][["Agneta-Birger-Carin"]] %>% length() ``` games (=`r n_games`/`r n_combos[["3"]]`) are played between the players Agneta, Birger and Carin. We now use this nested list structure of simulated games to answer our questions of interest. The traversing of the list is done by purrr. As an example we determine the total number of games as follows: ```{r no_games_simulated} (n_total_games <- map(all_games, ~ map(.x, length)) %>% unlist() %>% sum()) ``` ### Beginner is Winner? We now investigate the probability to win the starting player. Let `h` denote the tibble describing the history of a game (such as shown above). We will write a function, which given the history of a game returns the player name who won the game. ```{r function_winner} winner <- function(h) { h %>% slice_tail(n=1) %>% pull(player) } ## Test the function on the above shown trajectory winner(h) ``` We can use the function to determine the probability that the player starting the game also becomes the winner of the game. To take into account a possible dependence on the number of players we shall stratify our analysis by the number of players in the game. ```{r make_games_summary, cache=TRUE} games_summary <- map2_df(all_games, n_players, function(games, players) { map_df(games, ~map_df(.x, ~ tibble(n_players=as.numeric(players), beginner=.x %>% slice_head(n=1) %>% pull(player), winner=.x %>% slice_tail(n=1) %>% pull(player)))) }) tab <- games_summary %>% group_by(n_players) %>% summarise(p_initial_winner=mean(beginner==winner)) %>% mutate(p_random = 1/n_players, favor_factor = p_initial_winner / p_random) ``` ```{r, echo=FALSE} tab %>% kbl(align = 'c', position = "center") ``` ```{r plot_favor_factor, echo=FALSE} ggplot(tab, aes(x=n_players, y=favor_factor)) + geom_line() + geom_point() + geom_hline(yintercept=1, lty=2) + xlab("Number of players in the game") + ylab("Relative probability of winning as start player") + ylim(c(0.5,NA)) + theme_minimal() ``` The empirical probability that the initial player wins is always higher than the probability $1/n$ that one of the $n$ players in the game wins at random. The larger the number of players the bigger the relative advantage of beginning seems. Note that our analysis averages over the all strategies so it also contains start players using an otherwise sub-optimal playing strategy. This might bias the analysis slightly, but a small sensitivity analysis letting all 5 players play the `always` strategy, showed that results did not change substantially. ### Best strategy We can now compute for each player (i.e. strategy) the number of wins out of the `r n_total_games` games: ```{r find_best_strategy, cache=TRUE} (league_table <- map(all_games, ~ map(.x, ~ map(.x, winner))) %>% unlist() %>% as_tibble() %>% rename(player = value) %>% group_by(player) %>% summarise(wins=n()) %>% arrange(desc(wins))) ``` This shows that the `always` strategy appears to do best among those strategies investigated. It is no surprise that the worst strategy is the purely random strategy `random`. ## Discussion We analysed aspects of how to win a game (or more) of Super Six. Important factors for winning in a multi-player mixed strategy landscape are 1. To start the game 2. To keep throwing the dice A little surprising is that the best strategy (among those investigated) is to keep throwing the dice regardless of the number of free pits. The optimal strategy may in part depend on how the other players play, but our conclusions appear sufficiently robust, because the simulation study investigated a mixed strategy player field with two to five players. A limitation of our analysis is that we only considered games where each player initially holds 4 sticks. It is worth pointing out that the best strategy we found is not optimal. As an example, @jehn2021 analytically finds the optimal strategy for the $n=2$ player situation. It depends on the number of sticks left in the game and the number of sticks each player has. In most cases the strategy stops if more than 3 pits are occupied -- see Appendix 1 for details. This dependence on the other player's hand is likely to carry forward to the $n>2$ player situation. However, analytic results for $n>2$ will be extremely difficult to obtain, but it makes intuitive sense to be more aggressive when there are more players, because there are more contestants for the win. Did the game developers realize that the start player has such a high probability of winning the game? It seems advisable to accompany game development by simulations and mathematical calculations at the design stage. In practice, one should randomize the start player to enhance fairness. **Final note**: This will be the last post of *Theory Meets Practice* Blog in its current form. As of Jan 2023 I am working as full professor in Statistics and Data Science at the [University of Greifswald](https://math-inf.uni-greifswald.de/en/michael-hoehle/), Germany. For both technical and time reasons a new setup is thus needed. ## Appendix 1 The work of @jehn2021 shows the derivation of the optimal strategies encoded in [A345383](https://oeis.org/A345383) for a game with 2 players and a situation where $i$ pits occupied, the first player (our player of interest) has $j$ sticks in hand and the second player has $k$ sticks. This state is denoted as $i/j/k$. For example $2/1/1$ denotes the situation where there are 2 pits occupied in the lid and each player has one stick. A small helper function gives all states where a continue vs. stop choice needs to be made. It is assumed that if there are no sticks in the lid, we always continue: ```{r jehn_situations} #' Find all situations where a continue vs. stop choice is to be made #' for player 1. #' #' See Jehn (2021), https://arxiv.org/pdf/2109.10700.pdf, for details. #' #' @param n Total number of sticks currently (i+j+k) #' @return A vector of strings describing the situations in i/j/k notation #' where i is the number of occupied pits in the lid, j is the number of #' sticks player 1 has and k is the number of sticks player 2 has. Note #' i+j+k = n #' situations <- function(n) { res <- NULL # Sticks in the Lid for (i in min(n,5):1) { # Sticks Player 1 for (j in n:1) { # Sticks Player 2 k <- n - i - j # Don't consider impossible situations or situations without a choice if (k>0 & !(i==0 & j==k)) { res <- append(res, str_c(c(i,j,k), collapse="/")) } } } return(res) } # All situations when there are 7 sticks left in the game situations(n=7) ``` The optimal strategy is encoded in binary and converted to base 10 in the sequence [A345383](https://oeis.org/A345383). We write a small R extractor to display the optimal strategy in more readable form: ```{r jehn_functions} ## Handle the large integers using the GMP library suppressPackageStartupMessages(library(gmp)) #' Encodes [A345383](https://oeis.org/A345383) #' #' @param n Number of sticks #' @returns a(n) from A345383 #' a <- function(n) { a <- as.bigz(c(0, 0, 1, 7, 63, 1023, 32760, 1048544, 33554304, 1073741312, 34359736320, 1099511619584, 35184370221056, 1125899873681408, 36028796752101376)) if (n>=1 & n<=15) return(a[n]) else return(NA) } #' Convert a strategy encoded as a 0/1 string to a vector of Booleans #' @param s The strategy as a string of 0 and 1's #' @return As a vector #' @examples #' int_strategy_to_vec("0011") int_strategy_to_vec <- function(s) { str_split_1(as.character(s, b=2), pattern="") %>% as.integer() } #' Show the optimal stragegy for all situations with n sticks optimal_strategy <- function(n) { # Make a tibble representing the optimal strategy tibble(situation= situations(n), continue = rev(int_strategy_to_vec(a(n)))) } optimal_strategy(n=7) %>% print(n=Inf) ``` We observe that for situations with 7 sticks we continue to play as long as only 1-3 pits are filled. If 4 or 5 pits are filled, we don't continue. However, in other settings with different number of sticks left, the optimal strategy can be different. As an example, if there 6 sticks left, the optimal strategy is ```{r, echo=FALSE} optimal_strategy(n=6) ``` which -opposite to the 7 sticks left situation- continues in the 4 pits filled situation, if each player has only one stick left (4/1/1). Finally, we implement a function, which implements Jehn's optimal strategy in a way, which can be used by the simulation function `simulate_super6()`: ```{r} #' Jehn's optimal strategy for two players #' #' @param player_idx Index of the player in the state_players variable (see simulate_super6 function) #' @param filled_holes Number of pits filled #' @param state_players Vector of length equal to the number of players containing the number of sticks each player has left #' @return A numeric corresponding to the probability to continue #' jehn <- function(player_idx, filled_holes, state_players) { # Some summaries sticks_left <- filled_holes + sum(state_players) my_sticks <- state_players[player_idx] other_sticks <- state_players[-player_idx] #Strategy for basic cases if (filled_holes <= 2) return(1) if (filled_holes == 5) return(0) #Complicated part of the strategy s_best <- optimal_strategy(n=sticks_left) state <- str_c(filled_holes, my_sticks, other_sticks, sep="/") action <- s_best %>% filter(situation == state) %>% pull(continue) # Check if output fails (this should not happen). if (length(action) == 0) { browser()} if (!is.numeric(action)) { browser()} # Done return(action) } ``` This allows us to test, if there is a winning advantage, despite both players playing the optimal strategy (see [source code](`r str_c("https://raw.githubusercontent.com/hoehleatsu/hoehleatsu.github.io/master/_source/",current_input())`) for details). ```{r jehn_sim2_optimal, echo=FALSE, cache=TRUE} n_sims <- 1e4 sticks <- 4 two_players <- list(A=always, B=jehn) games <- map(seq_len(n_sims), ~ simulate_super6(players_strategy=two_players, sticks=sticks), #.progress=TRUE, #.options=furrr_options(seed=TRUE) ) games_summary <- map(games, ~ tibble( beginner=.x %>% slice_head(n=1) %>% pull(player), winner=.x %>% slice_tail(n=1) %>% pull(player), ), #.progress = TRUE ) %>% bind_rows() ``` ```{r jehn_p_win_beginner, echo=FALSE} games_summary %>% summarise(p_win_beginner = mean(beginner == winner)) ``` The answer is thus: Yes! In `r scales::percent(as.numeric(games_summary %>% summarise(p_win_beginner = mean(beginner == winner))))` of the games the starting player wins. Thus, the winning advantage of the beginner in the $n=2$ scenario remains even when both players use the `jehn` optimal winning strategy. ```{r plansequential, echo=FALSE} plan(sequential) ``` ## Literature