I’ve recently been playing some Catan online, which is acting as a solid game to play while my character in DF is doing less input-heavy tasks (gathering, crafting, etc), and it reminded me how much certain games factor in luck over others. Because even though Catan is a strategy game with a lot of depth, a heavy dose of randomness and luck plays into every game, which is vastly different than playing something like Chess, or DarkFall for that matter.
Initially luck having such a heavy influence on Catan turned me off from the game, but having played it some more (the major advantage of having the online version is that you can play a lot of games in the same time it would normally take you to play one off-line) I can see that luck and randomness are important factors in keeping the game interesting when you play it repeatedly. In the long run the better players will win more than they lose (think Poker), but in any given game a poor player with luck on his side can beat a pro. If it works when millions of dollars are on the line, it can certainly work for Catan.
And this brings me back to DarkFall, because when you really think about it, DarkFall has almost zero luck/randomness in its combat, which is very unlike MMO combat. The only truly random factor I can think of is spell fizzles, and I guess you could make an argument for insta-decapitations, although that is only a factor AFTER any individual combat (though it heavily factors into group vs group combat). Everything else is based on player and character skill. The damage range for any hit is very limited, there are no random crits, there are no hit/miss dice rolls, there are no “if this happens you can use this” style events, and, most importantly, at the end of any duel you can’t point to some random factor and say “well, if that random event went my way, I would have won”.
But unlike Catan above, the absence of randomness in DarkFall’s combat is a huge plus rather than a negative IMO. Because combat is so heavily player-skill based (character/items/etc are big factors as well, DF is an MMO after all), I think luck/randomness would remove some of its importance. It would feel very out of place if during a duel against a better player, you end up winning because some random event triggered your ultra-rare “I win” ability. That works in a themepark or PvE-based game, but only because the mob you just used that “I win” button against is designed to die, and won’t start sending you hate tells about what a lucky bastard you are.
The removal of luck also allows for deeper strategy and the reliance on your own actions. Again think Chess vs Catan. In Catan you can go into a game with a basic plan/strategy, but once the dice start rolling you have to adjust and go with what you are given, and if it’s not your day, no amount of adjusting is going to allow you to win. In a game of Chess, nothing happens randomly, and who wins or loses ALWAYS comes down to who played better. In a player-skill heavy game like DarkFall, the latter is a much-preferred system, and encourages everyone to constantly improve their ability in-game.