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SC2 is a deterministic game in the sense that there is nothing left to chance. No units get a "20% chance to cause bonus" or anything like that. The same keystrokes will always yield exactly the same result.

But there are some elements which have an element of randomness. The importance of this is that there are still some elements of the game which cannot be predicted. I'd love to see a list. Here are a couple I can think of right now:

  1. Starting situation (spawn location, map, ladder opponent)
  2. When an SCV is constructing a building, it moves in seemingly random patterns during construction. If you're lucky, the SCV will move where he can't get sniped.

There are other random things but don't affect the game, like the appearance of a dark templar (scythe or no scythe).

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+1 because I want to know whether SCV construction patterns are random. You're right about there not being many random elements in this game (esp. compared to warcraft 3). –  Raven Dreamer Aug 22 '11 at 23:06
    
also, is pathing deterministic or random? If two targets are in range of a weapon (and no action is given) which one is shot at first? Assuming equal distant? –  z ' Aug 22 '11 at 23:10
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rule #52 of coding, if you assume it will never happen, it will happen the first time its tested :P They have to do something to handle that edge case, even if its just picking the western most one first, or something. –  z ' Aug 22 '11 at 23:23
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Right, my overall point is "what gameplay actions in SC2 can you not strategically use to your advantage". No human could ever use "equidistant target selection" behavior to any strategic advantage, whether it's deterministic or not, so it doesn't really matter. Maybe it's possible to make a custom map which tests it though to make certain :) –  tenfour Aug 22 '11 at 23:35
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Now I really want to make a starcraft 2 map with two marines, one named "Han", the other named "Greedo", both with a single hitpoint, spawn them, and have them attack move at each other, just to see who shoots first (and if it changes based on their relative cardinal positions). –  Raven Dreamer Aug 22 '11 at 23:56

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Interesting question. I can think of the following (with 1, 2, 3 and 5 already mentioned by you):

  1. Starting locations.
  2. Choice of opponent(s).
  3. Map choice, if it's random.
  4. Race choice, if it's random.
  5. SCV movement while building.
  6. Larva movement.
  7. Larvae location after injection is done.
  8. Creep spread around a creep-generating point.
  9. The time it takes to burrow and unburrow.
  10. Interceptor movement pattern (take a look at this video - if it wasn't random, all interceptors would have probably taken the same route after the first attack, but they don't).
  11. Also, I'm pretty sure there's also a small variance on the viking transformation duration - see this related question.

In any case, while items 5 to 11 do have some concrete gameplay effect, I'd say their impact is very low.

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The viking one is due to available air/ground space. If they are closely grouped together they need to spread out to get up in the air and to land. If you spread them out, they'll all land and get up in the air (tried on a unit tester). –  Sorean Aug 23 '11 at 14:19
    
@Sorean I also tried it on a unit tester when they were well spread-out, but there was still some divergence. Look at their rear engine glow when they come back into the air, it was clearer there they it wasn't simultaneous. –  Oak Aug 23 '11 at 14:21
    
Creep Spread has since been patched to be more uniform. –  tzenes Aug 23 '11 at 14:45
    
@Oak might just be the early morning eyes not catching it. I'll double check when I get home tonight. –  Sorean Aug 23 '11 at 15:17
    
Now that I think of it from a programming (not progaming) perspective I can see how it would be off. Even though all the units could be sent the same command at a single key press a computer cycle can pass before all the units receive that command. You're probably right about the timing. –  Sorean Aug 23 '11 at 15:34

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