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Sertii
07-01-2011, 01:20 PM
Hello there, i recently finnished reading ToM, and i was wondering, how did Olver manage to win at Snakes and foxes? Did he cheat or has this something to do with Mat & co escaping? Or is it something really obvious or insignificant?


first post and hello :)

frenchie
07-01-2011, 01:34 PM
I suspect that he won the moment Mat and company stepped out of the Tower of Ghenjei, and it was a direct result of Mat literally winning versus the Snakes and Foxes.

The Unreasoner
07-01-2011, 04:11 PM
I actually wondered the same thing, put forward a few plausible theories, but terez said there was really not enough data.

Terez
07-01-2011, 05:02 PM
Did I? It's true, and we'll probably never know for sure - we're left to wonder whether Olver miscounted or unconsciously moved a piece wrong, or something. But the implication is that it has to do with Mat, especially considering that Mat never rolls the dice when they play. He's always been scared of what might happen if he did.

GonzoTheGreat
07-01-2011, 05:05 PM
Based on the description we're given, the game can be won if you are just lucky enough. Which, of course, should mean that other people had now and then also won it, unless the Pattern was massively cheating in order to prevent that.

You throw with a number of dice, and if none of them shows a snake or a fox, then then the snakes and foxes do not move. So all that is needed to win is never to throw either of those (or at least, not often enough to let them catch you). Unlikely, perhaps, but definitely not impossible as all Randlanders apart from Olver seem to believe.
Maybe Olver is gonna be famous for inventing Game Theory and Probability Theory.

Toss the dice
07-01-2011, 06:11 PM
Did I? It's true, and we'll probably never know for sure - we're left to wonder whether Olver miscounted or unconsciously moved a piece wrong, or something. But the implication is that it has to do with Mat, especially considering that Mat never rolls the dice when they play. He's always been scared of what might happen if he did.

Mat rolling the dice for the entire duration of a game of Snakes and Foxes would probably result in the Wheel coming to a screeching halt and the universe imploding. :) The whole two opposite certainties thing.

On a serious note, I'm not quite sure how to take it either. I assumed Olver won at the exact moment Mat "won" against the real thing, or left the Tower. Of course, the game has no real ties to the Snakes and Foxes themselves as it's just a game. Maybe Mat's ta'veren nature caused it - whether Olver simply miscounted or you actually CAN win at Snakes and Foxes but it's just extremely rare, just short of impossible.

I vote Mat's ta'veren nature. I suspect we'll never find out whether Olver miscounted or not, though. Nice addition to the story regardless.

Terez
07-01-2011, 09:14 PM
Based on the description we're given, the game can be won if you are just lucky enough. Which, of course, should mean that other people had now and then also won it, unless the Pattern was massively cheating in order to prevent that.

You throw with a number of dice, and if none of them shows a snake or a fox, then then the snakes and foxes do not move. So all that is needed to win is never to throw either of those (or at least, not often enough to let them catch you). Unlikely, perhaps, but definitely not impossible as all Randlanders apart from Olver seem to believe.
Maybe Olver is gonna be famous for inventing Game Theory and Probability Theory.
The problem with this is that Mat has been known to do the impossible just by invoking his luck when it's important, as we saw with Comar's weighted dice. In reality, we know that it is logically impossible to win the game.

The Unreasoner
07-01-2011, 10:01 PM
Even weighted dice simply make anything other than the fixed roll improbable, not impossible.

How exactly did olver win at snakes and foxes? It seems the easiest way to prove impossibility would be to assume perfect rolls in an experimental game, defeat would prove impossibility.

Am I supposed to believe no one did this?

This leaves me with only two explanations:

Talmanes was right, they counted wrong. (lame)

Olver's dad put a flaw into the board that was easily overlooked but made the game possible, if unlikely (cool, but unlikely)

Do we have an answer? Not a well supported theory, an answer.

It's hard to say for sure, since it's definitely possible that they miscounted, but the timing is just too perfect. I tend to believe it was something like the experience with Comar's weighted dice. In fact, Mat never tossed the dice when they played Snakes and Foxes, because he suspected something like that might happen.


I thought of the luck thing with mat, but even with perfect luck (and so perfect rolls) impossible is impossible. that is why i hypothesized the "perfect game" proof. I suppose it may very well be the case that no one bothered to test the theory of impossibility, after all the books are full of instances where failure to challenge a belief leads to negative outcomes and yet the people accept anyway.

of course maybe he won because the general breakdown of the pattern and reality somehow rendered the game possible to win. i think this may be one of the mysteries that was not intended to be resolved.

anyway, olver is well on the way to becoming a hero of the ages to come. trained to be a perfect soldier, fascinated by adventure, and already doing impossible feats? noal will be but a footnote in the legend of olver.

pretty much the entirety of that line of thought from the questions thread. I would be very interested to hear more theories

and i believe it was stated that the snakes and foxes have a separate 'turn', so a nonzero minimum roll

Terez
07-02-2011, 12:00 AM
Even weighted dice simply make anything other than the fixed roll improbable, not impossible.
Yes, but Mat actually felt the shifting, meaning that the weights themselves probably shifted.

The Unreasoner
07-02-2011, 12:41 AM
i think the shifting wasn't physical, more like the dice in his head

Terez
07-02-2011, 01:21 AM
It could be, but you don't know, do you? Like I said, probably the point.

The Unreasoner
07-02-2011, 01:32 AM
I guess i don't.
If it really is mathematically impossible, mats luck couldn't have really had any effect though, unless it influenced the pattern degradation in olver's favor.

Terez
07-02-2011, 01:41 AM
It doesn't have to be Pattern-degradation; it could be something as simple as Olver subconsciously miscounting, like Amys slipping up and telling Moiraine she had to go to Rhuidean when the Dream indicated that Moiraine would demand to go. It could be something like the pieces moving on their own. No matter what actually happened, it's symbolic.

The Unreasoner
07-02-2011, 02:03 AM
I absolutely agree it's symbolic, but I am curious as to the mechanics.

I don't see how the pieces could have moved on their own without pattern degradation though. hallways moving about=lines on the board moving about, pieces moving on their own=portraits on cards coming to life.

for them to have 'counted wrong' it requires a lack of even the most primitive game theory.

Toss the dice
07-02-2011, 03:13 AM
...for them to have 'counted wrong' it requires a lack of even the most primitive game theory.

What do you mean by primitive game theory?

I'm guessing Olver miscounted. Talmanes wasn't really paying attention anyway, and ANYONE could make a miscount error on a board game once in a blue moon.

Now, let's go back over what we know happened:

Mat beat the Snakes and Foxes for real. Amazingly, at exactly the same time, Olver actually wins at the game. Logically, we are to assume that this was no accident, no coincidence. The first time Olver (and supposedly anybody) has won at Snakes and Foxes without blatantly cheating (we are assuming Olver didn't knowingly cheat), is exactly when Mat beats the Snakes and Foxes in the ToG.

So - we have determined that the two outcomes are related.

Mat is a ta'veren, and quite a strong one. Can you think of any other legitimate reason how the two above outcomes came to be linked? The Snakes and Foxes game is a simple game, it's not as if it's connected to the real thing like some real life ouiji board. If you think that's possible, that's a whole different conversation, but for this argument I'll assume it's not.

So - we have determined that the two outcomes are related, and also that Mat's ta'veren nature caused it.

I think you're reading too much into this mechanics thing. The way I see it, Mat's ta'veren nature simply made Olver miscount. Or maybe wind or something else moved a piece and no one saw. I find something like that incredibly believable, much more "believable" than the usual ta'veren fare.

Remember, the symbolism is the main thing. The mechanics were almost certainly caused by Mat's ta'veren-ness, were a mere footnote to an already trivial happening, and the whole thing was highly believable. Compared to Mat & company beating the Snakes and Foxes in their own world it's nothing.

Say what you want, but that was one hell of an epic ordeal. And considering who they were, what they did, Mat's knowledge of them after going through BOTH doorways, explosives, Birgitte Silverbow's help, and Mat's native old-tongue - it's probably the first time the Snakes and Foxes have ever been beaten. They rescued Moiraine, out-bargained the Foxes, and killed a LOT of both. Right before he escaped, Mat had waded into them with his Ashandarei, leaving a whole pack of Snakes writhing on the floor with bloody and broken bodies. The symbolism of Olver winning the game was just a little icing on the cake, a confirmation and rubbing in of the ass-whooping Mat & company gave them.

I would expect no less, considering who was there. The group of Mat Cauthon, Thom Merrilin and Jain Farstrider is about as badass as you can get.

The Unreasoner
07-02-2011, 03:46 AM
ta'veren can only make the improbable probable, not the impossible possible. I agree that the symbolism is powerful, but if the game is really 'impossible', no 'normal' role combination could have won the game. when mat rolled a one with two dice, it was an abnormal event, and worthy of note or mention. same thing with rolling a thirteen with two dice. if olver won, without cheating, it must be pattern degeneration or an intentional flaw in the board. even if olver 'counted wrong' in every role of the game, always giving himself the best roles and the adversaries the worst, he still shouldn't have been able to win a game which is mathematically impossible. if the 'counting wrong' allowed olver to win, he would have needed at least one 'impossible role', giving him a roll >12 or <2, worthy of note or mention.

if olver won legitimately, he notably did not mention any unnatural rolls, and neither did talmanes. and so if olver didn't cheat, didn't roll an impossible roll, he won the game. which a basic game theory model could prove was impossible, if it really is.

so either the game is not impossible (merely improbable), or olver 'cheated' unknowingly.

GonzoTheGreat
07-02-2011, 04:26 AM
The problem with this is that Mat has been known to do the impossible just by invoking his luck when it's important, as we saw with Comar's weighted dice. In reality, we know that it is logically impossible to win the game.How do we know that?
Because everyone in Randland, apart from Olver, believes it is. And how do you know that they are right and he is wrong?

"Dovie'andi se tovya sagain," Olver said, throwing the dice. They rolled across the canvas floor of the tent. Olver smiled as they came up. All black dots, no wavy lines or triangles. A lucky roll indeed.A throw of the dice which does not let any of the snakes or foxes move. Throw a hundred more of those, and you can get quite far before the snakes or foxes catch you.

If neither the snakes or the foxes ever get a throw which lets them move, then how could you lose, unless you were stupid enough to step onto one of them?

Terez
07-02-2011, 06:25 AM
Presumably their placement around the board makes them impossible to avoid.

GonzoTheGreat
07-02-2011, 07:51 AM
On a number of occasions Olver has "nearly gotten there", which would suggest that he was indeed on his way back from the edge, and thus had been able to avoid the s&f at least once.

Toss the dice
07-02-2011, 09:42 AM
ta'veren can only make the improbable probable, not the impossible possible. I agree that the symbolism is powerful, but if the game is really 'impossible', no 'normal' role combination could have won the game. when mat rolled a one with two dice, it was an abnormal event, and worthy of note or mention. same thing with rolling a thirteen with two dice. if olver won, without cheating, it must be pattern degeneration or an intentional flaw in the board. even if olver 'counted wrong' in every role of the game, always giving himself the best roles and the adversaries the worst, he still shouldn't have been able to win a game which is mathematically impossible. if the 'counting wrong' allowed olver to win, he would have needed at least one 'impossible role', giving him a roll >12 or <2, worthy of note or mention.

Assuming the game IS indeed impossible to win, I agree. Mat's tav'eren nature does not allow him to do the impossible, merely make the improbable happen.

Following this line of reasoning, one of the explanations I gave earlier fit this perfectly. Olver unwittingly miscounted, a piece was bumped or moved by wind, etc.

If the above is the case, it was caused by Mat's ta'veren nature. I think this is where you're getting mixed up. His ta'veren nature caused the miscount/wind/etc to happen, not the simple direct winning of the game. His ta'veren nature ultimately did cause the win, but THROUGH one of the other things. So mechanics-wise, we're talking directly vs indirectly here. You're arguing that directly (through legal rolls of the dice and no miscounts or wrong moves) it is impossible, and I agree, providing the game is impossible to win. I'm arguing that Mat did it indirectly. There's a big difference. And obviously, if there was unintentional "foul play" involved in the win - Olver didn't really win. But he doesn't know that, so ultimately, considering the context and the symbolism, it doesn't really matter.

Now if it IS possible to win at the game, however improbable - well I see that as perfectly reasonable considering the circumstances. If there was ever a time for anyone to win the game - that was it.

The Angry Druid
07-03-2011, 01:44 PM
Hello there, i recently finnished reading ToM, and i was wondering, how did Olver manage to win at Snakes and foxes? Did he cheat or has this something to do with Mat & co escaping? Or is it something really obvious or insignificant?


first post and hello :)

Best idea I can come up with.

Well, maybe min rolls for the S&F and max rolls for the player, enough times to result in a win, is so statistically unlikely that everyone wrongly assumes you can't win the game.

You CAN win the game, it isn't impossible, just so unlikely that no one ever does, or it is so rare that everyone believes you can't win.

It would be like winning a game of backgammon while rolling nothing but doubles to whole time. Impossible? No. Ever happened? No.

Jeremiah
07-03-2011, 06:50 PM
The connection for me is this:
1) Mat won against the S/F, but they sorta implied that he'd be back. (no quote, and it might just be a feeling I have).
2) Olver won the game
3) Olver has sworn that he would enter the tower.

problem:
From the info we have about the outriggers, it's supposed to be centred in seanchan land, and no necessary connection with S/F.

However, this doesn't prevent some part of the plot of the outriggers with Mat dealing with the s/f in some way.

Ishara
07-04-2011, 07:49 AM
Well, here are the quotes relating to the game itself:

TITLE: Towers of Midnight
CHAPTER: EPILOGUE - And After
"Dovie'andi se tovya sagain," Olver said, throwing the dice. They rolled across the canvas floor of the tent. Olver smiled as they came up. All black dots, no wavy lines or triangles. A lucky roll indeed. Olver moved his piece along the cloth board of the Snakes and Foxes game his father had made for him. Seeing that board made Olver hurt every time. It reminded him of his father. But he kept his lip stiff and did not let anyone know. Warriors did not cry. and besides, someday he would find that Shaido who had killed his father. Then Olver would get his vengeance. That was the sort of thing a man did, when he was a warrior. He figured Mat would help, once he was done with all of this business at the Last Battle. He would owe Olver by then, and not just for all the time Olver had spent being Mat's personal messenger. For the information he had given him about the Snakes and the Foxes. and

TITLE: Towers of Midnight
CHAPTER: EPILOGUE - And After
He threw his dice. Another full run. Olver smiled, moving his piece back toward the center of the board, half lost in thought and dreaming of the day when he would finally get his revenge, like was proper. He moved his piece across one more line, then froze. His piece was on the center spot. "I won!" he exclaimed. Talmanes looked up, pipe lowering in his lips. He cocked his head, staring at the board. "Burn me," he muttered. "We must have counted wrong, or . . ." "Counted wrong?" "I mean . . ." Talmanes looked stunned. "You can't win. The game can't be won. It just can't." That was nonsense. Why would Olver play if it could not be won? He smiled, looking over the board. The snakes and the foxes were within one toss of getting to his piece and making him lose. But this time, he'd gotten all the way to the outside ring and back. He had won. Good thing, too. He had started to think he would never manage it!

He's not paying enough attention to the game to cheat, in my opinion, but is careful to count properly, so I suspect it has something to do with the dice and the rolling of the dice.

And from the last moments in Gehnji:

TITLE: Towers of Midnight
CHAPTER: 55 - The One Left Behind
Mat spun the ashandarei and thrust it into the wall. The point sank into the not-stone. Light sprayed out around it, spilling free like blood gushing from a split vein. Mat screamed, ramming it in farther. Powerful waves of light erupted from the wall. He drew the ashandarei down at an angle, making a slit. He pulled the weapon up the other side, cutting out a large inverse triangle of light. The light seemed to thrum as it washed across him. The Aelfinn had reached the doorway by Thom, but they hissed, shying back from the powerful radiance.

Mat finished by drawing a wavy line down the middle of the triangle. He could barely see, the light was so bright. The section of the wall in front of him fell away, revealing a glowing white passage that seemed to be cut out of steel. "Well I'll . . ." Thom whispered, standing up. The Aelfinn screamed with high-pitched anger. They entered the room, arms raised to shield their eyes, wicked swords gripped in opposing hands. "Get her out!" Mat bellowed, spinning to face the creatures. He lifted the ashandarei, using the butt end to smash the face of the first Aelfinn. "Go!" Thom grabbed Moiraine, then spared a glance at Mat. "Go!" Mat repeated, smashing the arm of another Aelfinn.

Thom leaped into the doorway and vanished. Mat smiled, spinning among the Aelfinn with his ashandarei, laying into legs, arms, heads. There were a lot of them, but they seemed dazed by the light, frenzied to get to him. As he tripped the first few, the others stumbled. The creatures became a squirming mass of sinuous arms and legs, hissing and spitting in anger, several of those in back trying to crawl over the pile to reach him. Mat stepped back and tipped his hat to the creatures. "Looks like the game can be won after all," he said. "Tell the foxes I'm mighty pleased with this key they gave me. Also, you can all go rot in a flaming pit of fire and ashes, you unwashed lumps on a pig's backside. Have a grand bloody day." He held his hat and leaped through the opening. All flashed white.

...

Mat spun on the tower and pointed upward. "I know you're watching!" he said, thrilled. He had made it. He had bloody made it out alive! "I beat you, you crusty boot-leavings! I, Matrim Cauthon, survived your traps! Ha!" He raised the ashandarei over his head. "And you gave me the way out! Chew on that bitterness for lunch, you flaming, burning, misbegotten liars!" Mat beamed, slamming the spear down butt first onto the ground beside him. He nodded. Nobody got the better of Matrim Cauthon. They had lied to him, told him vague prophecies and threatened him, and then they had hanged him. But Mat came out ahead in the end.

Mat gets the last word, several times. I don't get the sense that he plans to go back, but neither do I get the sense that they expect him back. The only way to get back in now that he's been through both doors is through the Tower anyways.

Zombie Sammael
07-04-2011, 07:55 AM
It's just a fragile little piece of poetic licence to create a symmetry. If you think too hard about it you'll break it.

The Unreasoner
07-04-2011, 11:33 AM
and i was about to point out a seemingly contradictory quote to the rules in ToM. Poetic license indeed.

I agree that the timing is very cool, but i highly doubt mat had anything to do with it.

it looks like my pattern degradation and intentional flaw in the board theories fell flat, so i suppose that only leaves the theory that no one in randland knows primitive caveman game theory, and don't understand improbable=/=impossible.

GonzoTheGreat
07-04-2011, 11:57 AM
it looks like my pattern degradation and intentional flaw in the board theories fell flat, so i suppose that only leaves the theory that no one in randland knows primitive caveman game theory, and don't understand improbable=/=impossible.Well, game theory and probability theory only got started in our history because some enthusiastic gambler happened to be friends with a mathematical genius, and asked said genius for some advice. Considering how many friends the average mathematician has, this may have been a ta'veren occurrence itself.

The Unreasoner
07-04-2011, 12:12 PM
Well, I'm a gambler, and if I'm not a genius, I am an exceptionally bright mathematician. Although more elliptical curves and number theory than combinatorics/statistics, but i think it doable, but maybe i lack proper perspective.

however, if it really is something as simple as just not rolling any 'finn pips (which is seemingly contadicted by an earlier turn-based system), there is some serious stupidity going around if someone didn't roll a perfect roll and figure "hey, if i keep getting these, it's in the bag"

and before 'someone' assaults me for claiming brightness and is looking to contradict with examples of misunderstanding the books or of poor grammar...

I claim it in math, and math only.

GonzoTheGreat
07-04-2011, 12:41 PM
The problem is not so much in doing the maths (any sufficiently intelligent high school child is supposed to be capable of doing it, nowadays), the problem is actually getting the idea of working out how to do those maths for the first time, instead of doing the traditional mathematical problems.

The Unreasoner
07-04-2011, 01:27 PM
It's not even so much about the math though, you could use it to find out exactly how improbable winning is, but whether or not it is possible should be intuitively obvious. Like if there was such a thing as a perfect roll, which brought a player no closer to losing or better, they should have immediately concluded possibility.

Zombie Sammael
07-04-2011, 01:30 PM
People use "impossible" to mean "completely improbable" all the time. If winning meant throwing all sixes on each turn, and the Snakes getting only ones, with every other possibility resulting in a loss, people would call that impossible, because the odds of it ever happening are so long that you would think no-one would ever bother to do it. In common parlance, just because something is statistically possible doesn't mean it's not practically. impossible.

The Angry Druid
07-07-2011, 12:59 AM
People use "impossible" to mean "completely improbable" all the time. If winning meant throwing all sixes on each turn, and the Snakes getting only ones, with every other possibility resulting in a loss, people would call that impossible, because the odds of it ever happening are so long that you would think no-one would ever bother to do it. In common parlance, just because something is statistically possible doesn't mean it's not practically. impossible.

I totally agree. Though the whole way the game is played seems to have been messed up (either in ToM, or previously). Either you take turns rolling for you and the Snakes, or you roll both at the same time.

FelixPax
07-07-2011, 01:17 AM
Hello there, i recently finnished reading ToM, and i was wondering, how did Olver manage to win at Snakes and foxes? Did he cheat or has this something to do with Mat & co escaping? Or is it something really obvious or insignificant?


first post and hello :)

Significant.

Perhaps the Snakes and Foxes do not desire to die either? Maybe one can actually win and follow the rules?


I doubt the Wheel has seen the last of the Snakes & Foxes... I fully expect them to play a further role in AMoL book.

BlueGray
07-20-2011, 06:21 AM
ta'veren can only make the improbable probable, not the impossible possible. I agree that the symbolism is powerful, but if the game is really 'impossible', no 'normal' role combination could have won the game. when mat rolled a one with two dice, it was an abnormal event, and worthy of note or mention. same thing with rolling a thirteen with two dice. if olver won, without cheating, it must be pattern degeneration or an intentional flaw in the board. even if olver 'counted wrong' in every role of the game, always giving himself the best roles and the adversaries the worst, he still shouldn't have been able to win a game which is mathematically impossible. if the 'counting wrong' allowed olver to win, he would have needed at least one 'impossible role', giving him a roll >12 or <2, worthy of note or mention.

if olver won legitimately, he notably did not mention any unnatural rolls, and neither did talmanes. and so if olver didn't cheat, didn't roll an impossible roll, he won the game. which a basic game theory model could prove was impossible, if it really is.

so either the game is not impossible (merely improbable), or olver 'cheated' unknowingly.

Snakes and Foxes sounds like a luck based game. The difficulty is that the distance to catch something going past you and then coming back again is far less than the distance of that traveler. I assume that the game is winnable, but it's chance is so low that it doesn't happen. Imagine you played a game where winning was drawing three royal flushes in a row. It would never happen, while still being theoretically possible. Mat never plays the game. Because he and everyone can see that there is a way to win if you manipulate the dice rolls. That's what draws people in, they can see a way to win, it just never occurs. Mat knows that his luck could manipulate the game to win.

I think the snakes and foxes are guaranteed a roll every other turn. But you can potentially lose some of your roll to them. This just compounds the issue of having to traverse more distance in the first place.

I also think it doesn't take an absolutely perfect play to win. Flip a coin 1000 times. If you get at least 800 heads you win. It's a very improbable event, but it also doesn't require perfection to achieve. You could win with the exact 800 and still have plenty of better occurrences.