Eh, for some games this is true.
(And I’d be careful about using a Bethesda game as an example of where “if this happened you’d be mad”.)
Counter-example: FTL. The creators, in interviews somewhere or other, stated something to the effect they wanted to balance the game so a really good player could win 10% of runs on Normal. 10%.
I feel it in their game design. You need certain setups to have a shot at beating the final ship. To get there, the right merchants need to be in the right sectors, and before you get to those sectors you need to have the right encounters so you have the money to buy them. You also need the right opportunities to recruit crew members.
Meanwhile, there’s always the odds that the wrong kind of encounter will take away a crew member or damage your ship in a way that makes it impossible to meet the other goals. The “fun” once you understand all the systems is trying to figure out if you can win from a certain position. That involves understanding what you need to happen and how likely that will happen in your remaining jumps.
Part of being a good FTL player and having fun is learning the unwinnable states and either playing, ‘Well, how far can I get?’ or abandoning an attempt as soon as you recognize it. If you don’t like that, you won’t have fun with FTL.
Another example: Poker. Once the deck is shuffled, your fate is set. Your left-hand partner might have been dealt a Royal Flush and you might be dealt “if I’m lucky I get a Full House”. There is absolutely nothing you can do to win that game. Part of being a good Poker player is learning when it feels like you can’t win and folding before you’ve bet too much on that game. By losing on purpose, you’ll have more money to bet when it feels like you can win. But, alas, if you think you have a good chance of a Full House, you might bet hard and get wrecked by the improbability that your opponent had a Royal Flush.
Those games have stood the test of time and are very highly regarded. They have built-in to their premise that you can’t always win, and that it’s not always clear when you can’t win. Some would say that nature is what makes them fun.
I don’t think every game has to have this aspect to be fun. But it is not true that 100% of games have to make every game winnable and be completely transparent about your chances of winning. Many RPG games with puzzle elements have this aspect. Puzzle Quest has always had it.
You can’t win some setups in GoW. Even if you are “the right team” vs. “its natural target”, if the game gives you the wrong board you are toast.
What is worth discussing is whether some teams have too many “the wrong boards”. That’s what’s happening over in the DE thread. That’s what the devs felt like when they made every nerf they’ve made.
So it’s valuable to pick out specific teams and discuss, objectively, whether they are too “lucky” because they can do things like “replace every gem on the board with the ones they need”. That’s what Forest Troll and Nyx did together on Nyxbringer, and it was nerfed.
And while I think “I’m losing more than I feel I should” is a good thing to express, it’s foolish to jump to “…because there is a CPU AI conspiracy against me.” Successful teams in Gems of War can and do exploit free turns plus cascades to lock their opponent out of making decisions.
Every time you pass the turn to the opponent you risk that happening. The best defense is a cheese team of your own that denies turns. Some of my best win-rate teams never get used because it’s boring: they win on turn 1 or 2, but it takes me longer to resolve their loops through careful play than it does to accept some losses with a faster team.
Most of the people who seriously threaten leaderboards have accomplished win streaks in the multiple hundreds. Many still do. A friend of mine just broke their personal record. If there were really a system in the game to mandate losses, why would it only focus itself on specific people and let others win “naturally”? It doesn’t make sense, unless you assume the devs have personal vendettas.
I guarantee you if they did I’d have been a target and quit long ago. I’m not particularly nice to them, and I get real sensitive to swings in my luck.