Let's see if I can make sense of something I've recently observed.
If you don't know the rules of the game of Parcheesi, don't worry about it. There are variants, but I'll just stick with one version. Here's the part that matters to this discussion:
- You have up to 4 moveable pieces that have to go from a starting point all the way around the board and into the center. If they are “killed” (an enemy piece lands on their space), they are knocked back to the beginning.
- You have up to 3 opponents trying to do the same thing first from their starting point.
- You can send someone else's piece back to the beginning by moving to its space, unless the space is protected.
- Some spaces are protected and pieces on them can't be knocked back to the beginning.
- A space can hold no more than two pieces. Any space with two pieces is a barrier and can't be passed.
- You roll a die (in some versions two dice, but we'll stick with one for this example) to determine how many spaces you can move one of your pieces. You can't refuse to move. If it is not possible to move that many spaces, you lose your turn.
Whew! So, here's the stuff that guides your thinking every time you take a turn…
- When you roll the die, you have a 1/6 chance of any particular value.
- You have to pick which of your pieces to move (and not all may be moveable that many spaces).
- You have to pay attention to where the other players' pieces are, in case they roll a value that could eliminate one of yours.
- You have to be conscious of which players are closer to a final win in case you can preferentially knock one of their pieces back or block them.
- You have to consider which of your own pieces are closer to the end (and have come the longest distance), making it more expensive to lose them.
Now, like all games that include chance as an element (unlike, say, chess), the emotions of gambling manifest. Before you roll the die, there's an ideal outcome, and before your opponent rolls, there's a worst possibility. So, at every die roll you find yourself cheering for one outcome and dreading others.