I've touched on performance variance in my randomness article and gave Prismata as an example of a game that has a lot of it with no randomness, but didn't give much advice on how to replicate it. I've gained some insight. Prismata achieves its performance variance by having a few decisions (the first few turns) meet a few criteria:

Combined, these factors mean that a weaker player has a significant chance of playing a better opening than a stronger player, and that if they do, they have a high chance of winning the game.

If you can have a few decisions in your game copy these traits, you can replicate Prismata's performance variance.

It's worth saying that in general, this combination of traits is likely to entail a frustrating faux feedback loop as one early mistake can trump a match full of better decisions. Prismata has a solution for that too which should hopefully be copied at the same time: it's not obvious who's winning. I explain this in the feedback loop article.



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