Sisyphus: The Board Game (Digital Edition)

I’m off work sick today: it’s just a cold, but it’s had a damn good go at wrecking my lungs and I feel pretty lousy. You know how when you’ve got too much of a brain-fog to trust yourself with production systems but you still want to write code (or is that just me?), so this morning I threw together a really, really stupid project which you can play online here.

Screenshot showing Sisyphus carrying a rock up a long numbered gameboard; he's on square 993 out of 1000, but (according to the rules printed below the board) he needs to land on 1000 exactly and never roll a double-1 or else he returns to the start.
It’s a board game. Well, the digital edition of one. Also, it’s not very good.

It’s inspired by a toot by Mason”Tailsteak” Williams (whom I’ve mentioned before once or twice). At first I thought I’d try to calculate the odds of winning at his proposed game, or how many times one might expect to play before winning, but I haven’t the brainpower for that in my snot-addled brain. So instead I threw together a terrible, terrible digital implementation.

Go play it if, like me, you’ve got nothing smarter that your brain can be doing today.


  1. Ruth Ruth says:

    I won!

    I cheated.

  2. Netty 🐀 Netty 🐀 says:

    @tailsteak This sounds infuriating. Like the single, most drawn out way to wind up thoroughly engaged.

    Ima play it later…

  3. Netty 🐀 Netty 🐀 says:

    This sounds infuriating. Like the single, most drawn out way to wind up thoroughly engaged.

    Ima play it later…

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  4. My game designer brain keeps wanting to add new rules to make it more engaging, give the player(s) more control, etc, but then I remember that’s not the point.

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  5. By crappy napkin math, it would take an average of 143 rolls to make it to 1000. Just to roll two dice 143 times without hitting a snake-eyes is a 1.78% chance. I am too lazy to compute how many of those runs you would need to land exactly on 1000, but you’ll be at it a while…

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  6. Netty 🐀 Netty 🐀 says:

    I just noticed that you and I both misspelled “enraged” as engaged.

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  7. Dude we already did this in Bonkers

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  8. A few people have taken a run at the math, @digitrev actually ran 7000 simulations:…
    Assuming you could take one turn per second, an average playthrough is about 3.5 days.

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  9. Roll three consecutive 7s or it’s back to the torment nexus

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  10. Netty 🐀 Netty 🐀 says:

    Riley took that to school and torment nexused her classmates.

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  11. The goal is not to win, it’s to make others suffer just as much as you are

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  12. The only addition I can think of would be a reminder of the option for the player to at any time accept defeat and stop rolling it. You know, to emphasize that they’re doing this to themselves.

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  13. Netty 🐀 Netty 🐀 says:

    How DARE you bring kindness into this den of suffering.

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  14. I also ran simulations (in Perl).

    10,000 games
    Best score: 160 rolls
    Worse score: 1,029,702 rolls
    Mean score: 112,115
    Std Dev: 112,982

    Not sure why my mean & std dev are 10x higher than @digitrev’s, though my worst is also 10x higher. More games = more chances for bad games.

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  15. Exactly what I was thinking, more ways to make it more futile.

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  16. Just for fun, ran 50,000

    Best: 156
    Worst: 1,402,431
    Mean: 113,605
    Stdev: 113,190

    Definitely a long tail on the distribution — I don’t know enough stats to know if this is the best analysis.

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  17. digitrev digitrev says:

    I probably should have looked at quartiles, since the distribution has a lower limit but not an upper limit, and even a few bad runs can drive the sample mean up crazy high

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  18. Yeah… I did a quick histogram, the game lengths drop off quickly over 100,000, but can still go very high.

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  19. I mean, in theory, a game could last forever.

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  20. True. Though if it does, I recommend you have your dice checked…

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  21. Ishtar Ishtar says:

    Only thing i would like to add is a highest score, nothing like the taunt of hope for having reached higher only to be brought low once again.

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    1. Spencer Spencer says:

      I love the dice animation! Even if it’s length means I have no chance of ever completing. I wonder if anyone will ever complete this without hacking.

      It’s been a while since I dusted off my statistics textbook, so I thought I’d do a proper analysis. The final results:

      – The median number of turns before winning is 8995
      – The expected number of turns before winning is even higher, 12930.2.
      – The probability of winning if you keep at it long enough is 100%! (Statistical model does not include actuarial tables.)

      I include lots of plots and explaination in a jupyter notebook which can be run on [colab][1] or downloaded from [github][2]

      Thanks for the implementation!


  22. Ishtar Ishtar says:

    @tailsteak Only thing i would like to add is a highest score, nothing like the taunt of hope for having…

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