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"'Rolling to hit': clarity needed" Topic


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790 hits since 21 Jul 2012
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Samulus22 Jul 2012 5:08 a.m. PST

This is more a question of preference and clarity than right or wrong.

When shooting at a unit you need to roll equal or higher than its defence rating on a D10 to score a hit
e.g. Defence = 6+, you need a six or more. Simple.

However, when modifiers are placed on this number to simulate effects such as cover, range, tech, moving etc do you prefer the target number to be modified or the dice result? or both as seems appropriate?

a). If modifying the target number which must be rolled (i.e. the 6+) to make it harder to hit (e.g. now you need an 8+, so its gotten '2 harder) which is a clearer form of expression?

1. You're at +2 to hit (i.e. you literally add the modifier to the characteristic number to get 8+)
Or
2. You're at -2 to hit (this is right and wrong, its gotten harder to hit and the negative value communicates this clearly but technically arithmetically this can be confusing because the score needed for success has increased, not decreased).
Or
3. You don't care and don't think it really matters.

b). If you modify both factors e.g. the dice result and the score required for success, is this just making your life difficult? or will you get on with it?

Yesthatphil22 Jul 2012 5:21 a.m. PST

Good point, Samulus … and sometime it isn't even clear in the rules.

Mostly I prefer 'both as appropriate' as long as it's clear how it works …

MajorB22 Jul 2012 5:27 a.m. PST

I much prefer to modify the dice result rather than the target score.

If you modify both factors e.g. the dice result and the score required for success, is this just making your life difficult?

Yes!! It would imply that the rules writer doesn't understand probability. I have to say though, that I have never come across a set of rules that does modify both.

Samulus22 Jul 2012 5:32 a.m. PST

@ Margard – Gruntz modifies both, which can be confusing. But I can see why, sometimes the structure of your stat lines conspire against you and make it necessary. I'm potentially facing a similar conundrum.

Why do you prefer modifying the dice, can you put your finger on it? To me it seems modifying the target score is easier because once this is done you roll and don't ned to interpret the dice, simply look for 6s etc

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 5:34 a.m. PST

Rules need to be clear. Either one type of modifier, or another should be applied in a set of rules. Not both!!!
I think one problem that occurs is rules end up being written by a commitee. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
This doesn't always happen all at once. rules that are around long enough can end up with this kind of problem through modification.

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 5:38 a.m. PST

In most peoples minds + is good and – is bad. If you say you are at +2 to hit, that sounds to me like you would have an easier time of hitting not harder. Like Margard, I'd modify the die roll. It's just more intuitive.

The G Dog Fezian22 Jul 2012 5:49 a.m. PST

I'd really care which approach you take, but I'll be as adamant as Robbyrobot above – pick ONE and get on with it. Using both is a sure fire way to confuse the stuffing out of your players.

If I have to pick, I'd be on the Die Roll Modifier side. Like this joker above, it seems more intuitive. If hitting is 'good', cover is bad (so a -X) and being stationary is good (so a +X).

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member22 Jul 2012 5:54 a.m. PST

"do you prefer the target number to be modified or the dice result?"

Most people understand modifiers as "dice modifiers," so I usually write it as: "+1 on each die rolled to hit," or something like that.

Samulus22 Jul 2012 6:06 a.m. PST

Looks like modifying the dice result is winning.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 6:38 a.m. PST

In general I like rule sets to always "go the same way." Either change the target number or modify the dice roll, not both. Also, I hate games where low is good some times, high is good others. Again, pick one.

I have always appreciated rules that spell out how to play this as in:

"You have a defense of 6. I rolled a 5. You have concealment for -1, I have high ground for +1 and my ace for +1. So my final result is a 6. Hit!"

MajorB22 Jul 2012 6:59 a.m. PST

Why do you prefer modifying the dice, can you put your finger on it?

As I think someone else has said above, it is more intuitive. A negative modifier (e.g. long range) is more easily assimulated as a -ve die roll modifier than a +ve target score modifier.

I think it was Traveller that introduced the acronym DRM for Die Roll Modifier and I have used the concept ever since when designing wargames.

Samulus22 Jul 2012 8:05 a.m. PST

Ok, I've altered the few relevant sections so that only the dice roll is modified and that it works in a straight '+ is good' and '-is bad' way.

I've also added a quick example at each stage for clarification, this is probably unnecessary most of the time but it does make it crystal clear, which is desirable. After all, people don't have to read them.

@ Crispy, my stat lines are currently 'high is good' with one 'low is good' stats (Morale). I don't see this as much of a problem as Morale is represented as a 'number +' (e.g. 3+) and this makes an easy to follow distinction between it and the other stats (similar to WH40K armour saves which are expressed in the same manner).

Mako1122 Jul 2012 10:34 a.m. PST

I've seen both used, and in some cases, even the rules writer(s) seem to sometimes get their +/- wrong.

Either way is fine with me, as long as there is an example or two as to how the modifier works in play, e.g. making the final "to-hit" number easier, or harder to roll, or modifying the die roll, and leaving the "to-hit number" the same.

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 12:03 p.m. PST

Once upon a time I was in a hobby shop in California when a young man strode in and asked how percentage die rolls were done. My friend was working the counter and proceeded to explain the used of two ten sided dice of different colors. The young man seemed puzzled. So I joined in to try to help. After some time he seemed convinced we knew nothing about the subject, or so he said, and stomped out.
I'm not sure what it meant, but it seems one cannot help the deliberately obtuse.
And I appologise for my poor spelling.

Personal logo CeruLucifus Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 1:19 p.m. PST

Actually I would say defensive modifiers should change the target number, and offensive modifiers should change the die roll.

Angel Barracks Inactive Member22 Jul 2012 1:22 p.m. PST

I prefer to modify the 'to hit' number.

So: basic troops need 5+
Cover is -1 to my hit roll
So I now need a 6+ to hit.


As opposed to same situation but I need a 5+ to hit and I must subtract 1 from each die result.

I would rather do some quick maths and have a single required result than look at the 16 dice I just rolled and then have to subtract 1 from each them, I like the numbers that I roll to be the numbers they are.

I am not sure that even answered the question.
If you word it so that there is a modifier to hit of -1.
Then it should be clear that a normal roll of 5+ is now 6+, whether you alter the number rolled on the dice or the target number needed.

Penalty / bonus.
Positive / negative modifier.
Same thing in my book.

To me it seems modifying the target score is easier because once this is done you roll and don't ned to interpret the dice, simply look for 6s etc


Yes, this.

MajorB22 Jul 2012 1:51 p.m. PST

Actually I would say defensive modifiers should change the target number, and offensive modifiers should change the die roll.

Boy is that confusing!

I prefer to modify the 'to hit' number.

Seems you are in quite a minority based on the responses above.

sillypoint22 Jul 2012 2:13 p.m. PST

I agree with Who (atj), high is good, low is bad, plus is good, minus is bad, that way you can concentrate on the game.

Mobius22 Jul 2012 6:00 p.m. PST

Panzer war uses the target number system with D10 rolls that go above 10 and below 1. So if you need a base 6 to hit but the unit is moving and your unit also moves this may be a 10 to hit. Any roll of 10 scores a hit. If the target number is an '11' it is still possible to hit. First a natural '10' must be rolled then an second roll of '6' is 11.

AndrewGPaul Inactive Member23 Jul 2012 4:56 a.m. PST

40k 2nd edition and Warhammer technically modify the die score against a fixed target number. In practice, however, it's almost universal that players calculate the required score to hit then compare that to the modified dice number;

"right, I'm BS 3 so that means a 4+ to hit. The target's in cover so that's -1 to hit, so I need a 5+."

PygmaelionAgain23 Jul 2012 6:07 a.m. PST

I was a little confused as to why Ganesha games had some modifiers that increased the attacker's rolls, whilst others decreased the defender's rolls. It is an opposed roll mechanic, so it's not one die against a base target plus mods.

An attack "hits" when the attacker scores higher than the defender, but gains a more desirable result when doubling or trebling the defender's result.

+1 to the attacker is fine, but -1 to the defender is even better for the attacker's chances of doubling or tripling out.

It is the first memorable instance in a ruleset where it made sense to have adjustments (both positive and negative) on both attacker and defender where they didn't just amount to creating one big modifier.

Wartopia Inactive Member24 Jul 2012 6:47 a.m. PST

There's a very similar thread on this very topic.

I've tested our home rules using "roll high, mod the roll", "roll high, mod the target number", "roll low, mod the target number", etc.

People generally want to roll high, it just feels good.

But if you want really intuitive stat lines and easy to apply mods the BEST approach is roll low and mod the target number. NOTHING else is as fast or easy to understand.

For example, roll D6, roll a 3 or less to pass. Any mods are pre-applied to the target number of 3. Short range? +1 makes it a 4 so roll a 4 or less. Concealed target? -1 brings it back down to a 3 or less. Accuracy 4 is better than Accuracy 3. etc., etc. This approach means:

- higher stat line numbers are better which is intuitive

- positive mods are good, negatives are bad which is intuitive

- it's super easy to understand your odds…eg 3 or less is 3/6…2 or less is 2/6, etc.

- by modding the target number the player gets IMMEDIATE feedback when rolling the die which seems to increase enjoyment

- there are no mental gymnastics as with the 40K BS values in which a BS4 means a 4/6 chance of hitting which means 3+.

- it's easier to remember stat lines relative to one another ("Oh, those guys have average morale, they're a 3. Those elites are super brave, they're a 5.")

I was tempted several times to try the "4+ Approach" and every time the game slows down and mods become more difficult to apply and stat lines are not as intuitive. It can work, it's just not as clean or fast.

MajorB24 Jul 2012 11:42 a.m. PST

"right, I'm BS 3 so that means a 4+ to hit

That just seems so confusing and counter-intuitive. Why does BS 3 mean 4+ to hit? Why not just say the figure is 4+ to hit – the BS stuff is just noise.

The target's in cover so that's -1 to hit, so I need a 5+."

Again, completely counter-intuitive: a -1 modifier adds 1 to the to hit score? Why not just say -1 for cover?

"Right that's 4+ to hit with a -1 (die roll modifier) for cover" is just so much easier to understand. And quicker too.

Marshal Mark Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2012 1:25 a.m. PST

I was a little confused as to why Ganesha games had some modifiers that increased the attacker's rolls, whilst others decreased the defender's rolls……
It is the first memorable instance in a ruleset where it made sense to have adjustments (both positive and negative) on both attacker and defender where they didn't just amount to creating one big modifier.

It's hardly the first memorable instance when the combat system is derived from the DBA combat mechanic.

AndrewGPaul Inactive Member26 Jul 2012 1:48 a.m. PST

That just seems so confusing and counter-intuitive. Why does BS 3 mean 4+ to hit? Why not just say the figure is 4+ to hit the BS stuff is just noise.

Because high numbers are intuitively better – both when it comes to stats and to the die scores required. At least, I think that was their reasoning. I agree it's a little awkward, but then so is saying that a gunnery score of 2 is better than a score of 4 (Battletech) or that rolling low on the dice is better than rolling high (Infinity). As for the second bit you quoted, you missed what I said at the beginning; by the letter of the rules, the modifiers apply to the die score. A model with BS3 needs to roll a 4 or more on a die to hit. cover applies a -1 to the die score, so rolls of 4 now give a final score of 3, and miss. What I was describing in the second bit you quoted was my own thought process (and that of everyone I've ever played)

What you say at the end is exactly the same as I just said. -1 to what? The score on the die? why would you do that? After all, the thought process goes something like "right, I've rolled all these dice and I need to roll 4,5 or 6 to hit. However, there's a -1 die score modifier, so really I need to roll 5, 6 (or 7), so I'll look for 5s and 6s instead". Why not just say "right, that's a 4+ to hit, but there's a +1 modifier to the target number because of cover, so I need 5+ now"? Like I say, no mater what game I or anyone else I know plays, modifiers are, as a matter of practicality, used to calculate the required score, and then we roll dice and look for the right numbers. By that reasoning, modifiers should always apply to the target number, not the die scores.

Thunderman Inactive Member01 Aug 2012 9:55 a.m. PST

I'm a fan of modifying the target number, especially if a lot of dice are being rolled. After all the mods are factored in needing 4+ to hit is easier than mentally modifying 20+ dice rolls, for example.

What I find challenging is related to a couple of the posts above, where a stat (like Gun Skill) is the base target number, in which case you want LESS Gun Skill.
40k gets around this with their 7-BS=to hit, but that's kind of awkward. I've seen some statlines try to convey to the player that a lower score is better, like "Gunnery Miss Chance" so they know they want a LOW Miss Chance.
Others just put 3+ instead of 3, so then you know getting a lower value doesn't matter since it's going to be a target number.

Anyone have better approaches for this confusion?

Mobius01 Aug 2012 11:11 a.m. PST

I'm a fan of modifying the target number, especially if a lot of dice are being rolled. After all the mods are factored in needing 4+ to hit is easier than mentally modifying 20+ dice rolls, for example.

That's a good reason as well. We allow multiple shots from the same weapon during a turn. So once the target number is calculated we just read the die roll off each die.

Tony Aguilar Inactive Member02 Aug 2012 12:56 a.m. PST

I have never been a fan of modifying the die roll as I find it confusing. The die roll is the die roll – change what I am trying to roll for. Of course, having played most of my games with percentile dice might have something to do with my preferences.

Personal logo CeruLucifus Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2012 9:43 a.m. PST

Margard:
CeruLucifus: Actually I would say defensive modifiers should change the target number, and offensive modifiers should change the die roll.

Boy is that confusing!
Not really, it's exactly the same mechanism several people above have explained, except it assigns a role to each player.

Some games don't want both players to have a role, for example it's common in games with I-Go-You-Go turn sequences for the player whose turn it is to essentially control everything, and the other player just marks off wounds. In that case perhaps it makes sense to apply all modifiers to what the control player is doing. E.g., the player with control says "My target is usually 4+ but I'm at short range so that makes it 3+ but you're in cover so that makes it 4+, rolling …" and the other player just marks off wounds.

But if your game design wants both players to participate in each action, it makes more sense to assign defensive values to the defender and offensive values to the attacker. Thus the defender says "my target number is 4+ but I'm in cover so that makes it 5+" and the attacker says "yes and I'm at short range so that makes it 4+ again, rolling . . . ".

The same reasoning can apply to opposed die mechanics.

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