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"What Dice Mechanics?" Topic


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899 hits since 31 Mar 2016
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Pontius31 Mar 2016 8:04 a.m. PST

I normally play naval games and use my own rules, which could be described as a great nephew of the Fletcher-Pratt system, but they suit me and generally give what I think are realistic results.

In developing the firing tables I used statistical analysis to determine the chance of a hit at a given range band and then the binomial theorem to calculate probabilities for multiple hits. Decimal dice are used to decide the results of firing. This sounds complex but once all the calculations are performed it gave a table which says, for instance, a roll of 45 at medium range with 8 guns firing will result in 2 hits.

A wargames club fairly near to me recently held an open day and for the first time in years I played an Ancients game using modern rules and against a real opponent. After just playing solo naval with my home brewed rules this was quite an eye-opener. For the first time I used a "buckets of dice" mechanic, well the most D6s I rolled at once that afternoon was sixteen.

The question is do gamers prefer to use handfuls of D6s or just a decimal pair? At times after a percentage roll fails I think "that ought to have been a hit!", but after rolling 8 D6 and getting nothing higher than a single 4 somehow I can't see much difference.

John Armatys31 Mar 2016 8:12 a.m. PST

I prefer a handful (not too big…) of D6s – they are easier to read than D% and I think that I can work out the number of "hits" faster than checking a D% roll on a table.

warwell Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 8:22 a.m. PST

I also prefer a handful of D6s and don't care for tables.

I've disliked percentage dice since my D&D days. I'd roll the dice then forget which die was the 10s and which was the 1s.

Mute Bystander Inactive Member31 Mar 2016 8:31 a.m. PST

Hmm, % dice are okay though anything smaller than 5% (which is D20 material) increments seems wonky; but in an ideal world prefer D8/D10/D12 either in pairs (a curve of results) or opposed dice rolls.

Refuse to play "buckets of D6" games if avoidable. Will play "buckets of D20" but only because usual opponent uses TS&TF style [sigh] rules for most games.

Tables? Most get far too involved with "factors" that frequently are rare at best.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 8:50 a.m. PST

I prefer a 'handful' of dice rather than a bucket. More user friendly than loads of tables and able to generate the occasional unexpected result. Cavalry breaking a square, for example!

emckinney31 Mar 2016 9:25 a.m. PST

I used to despise buckets o' dice systems, but I've come to appreciate their utility. They produce a real bell curve with lots of average results, but also make it possible to have really, really unlikely extreme results that can't be achieved by more conventional systems.

Incidentally, your experience is a wonderful example of the problem of being hermetically sealed and the value of conventions and tournaments. Avalon Hill used used to get letters about their games: "The Germans can't win this game!" "The Americans can win this game!" Couldn't both be right, but when you're playing the same opponent, or the same small group, it's all to easy to get stuck on a ruthless …

dragon631 Mar 2016 10:11 a.m. PST

TS&TF style?
Too Slow & Too Fussy?

vtsaogames31 Mar 2016 10:16 a.m. PST

I have gotten to appreciate totaling a pair of D6. It gives you a bell curve. Yes, it requires a table but on the other hand buckets of dice give very strange results every now and then when someone rolls yahtzee. See emckinney above. They also tend to carom off the table and old folks like me have problems picking them up.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 10:37 a.m. PST

If you need more options than on 1D6, or flatter probabilities for stacking modifers than 2D6, give me a D10 or a D20 please.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 11:24 a.m. PST

emckinney said:

I used to despise buckets o' dice systems, but I've come to appreciate their utility. They produce a real bell curve with lots of average results, but also make it possible to have really, really unlikely extreme results that can't be achieved by more conventional systems.
LOL! I used to accept buckets-o-dice systems because of this same logic, but I've come to despise them because they seem to create wild swings of luck that produce too many really, really unlikely extreme results. grin

Honestly, a buckets-o-dice system is just another mechanic among many, perfectly valid in the right applications. I just don't happen to know any games using it that I like. OTOH, I am secretly convinced it's the "right" approach to give the "feel" of galleon-era artillery LOTS of dice for big broadsides, a few dice for small batteries, one die for the lone gun taking pot shots, etc. It would work for Napoleonic naval as well, if not for the tremendous number of guns aboard multi-deck men-o-war…

- Ix

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 11:34 a.m. PST

I've disliked percentage dice since my D&D days. I'd roll the dice then forget which die was the 10s and which was the 1s.
That problem was solved for many years ago:

…but I admit I've never liked percentile dice much either. If a system is actually picky enough to require a bunch of math to calculate 1% differences, I will probably find it more work than fun.

- Ix

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 11:43 a.m. PST

Percentile method every time but I now use a D20 so that I can filter out the extreme results with less than 4 or 5% probability.

Buckets of dice has the annoying habit of producing one of those extreme results at a critical point in a game and ruining an otherwise sound tactic. I've also found that some players (yes, Jim, I'm talking about you) start to rely on their luck and base their tactics on luck rather than tactical plans. With BoD systems this can work – with a modified %age replacement it is much less likely.

By presenting the table in a way that can easily be read and understood it is much quicker than BoD systems – particularly if you have inactive players translating the active player's dice throw into casualties.

Once the system is up and running in the game you won't need any mathematical skills beyond simple addition and subtraction (plus maybe the odd halving or doubling). The maths is all done at the design stage and spreadsheets make that a doddle these days.

nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 11:51 a.m. PST

I think I might be a closet Bucket-of-Dicer….

I like the GQIII mechanic of a d12 for each barrel as it provides me the "feel" of each broadside being a group of individual shells.

Regards,

Scott Chisholm

warwell Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 11:54 a.m. PST

Yellow Admiral – I've never seen those before.

D20s can be a problem if they are worn. Then they never stop rolling.

Tony S31 Mar 2016 1:42 p.m. PST

I tend to like lots of dice myself. When there is a unit of infantry in square in front of my 12 pounders' canister range, or when my tripod mounted MG42 opens up on the enemy in the middle of a pasture, there is something wonderfully tactile about throwing masses of dice.

Seems to reflect the large amount of metal about to be hurled at my opponent's poor troops!

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member31 Mar 2016 2:22 p.m. PST

I prefer a D20, or percentile dice to bucket loads of them.

emckinney31 Mar 2016 2:40 p.m. PST

<quote>Yellow Admiral I've never seen those before.</quote>

They're new--only available in the last 20 years or so.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2016 4:06 p.m. PST

Gildas Facit: "some players (yes, Jim, I'm talking about you) start to rely on their luck and base their tactics on luck rather than tactical plans."

You say that like it's a bad thing!!

Timmo uk31 Mar 2016 4:17 p.m. PST

Buckets of dice can take too long to process a result from if there are too many dice need and another pile for saving throws. I still like 2D6 although one rule set I play I'm using 3 different coloured D10 and it works well.

I don't mind buckets of dice so much but I hate saving throws. Endless dice rolling, often for little effect, is such a waste of gaming time. It could probably be worked out to be done much quicker with 2D10 since any probability generated by a bucket of D6 can still be expressed as a percentage.

(Phil Dutre)31 Mar 2016 10:49 p.m. PST

They're new--only available in the last 20 years or so.

Make that at least 30 years … ;-)

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Apr 2016 2:16 a.m. PST

pziv – of course it is a bad thing.

I want rules that allow a reasonable test of my plans compared to my opponents. If pure luck is all I'm playing against, I'd play Ludo.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Apr 2016 5:22 a.m. PST

A good table with two dice beats rolling 21 D6 every time…

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2016 10:52 a.m. PST

D20s can be a problem if they are worn. Then they never stop rolling.
Agreed, but it could be worse:

d30

d34

d60

d100

Pontius03 Apr 2016 2:57 a.m. PST

By presenting the table in a way that can easily be read and understood it is much quicker than BoD systems particularly if you have inactive players translating the active player's dice throw into casualties.

Once the system is up and running in the game you won't need any mathematical skills beyond simple addition and subtraction (plus maybe the odd halving or doubling). The maths is all done at the design stage and spreadsheets make that a doddle these days.

Gildas, these are my thoughts as well. It took a long time and much trial and error to produce a table that was easy to use. My old gaming friends who helped me develop these rules found them quick to use and gave realistic results.

I dislike any rules that require multiple rolls to get a result, whether through saving throws or using a straddle table followed by a hit table. I remember trying one set that took multiple throws to determine damage, which could then result in little more than scratched paintwork.

(Phil Dutre)03 Apr 2016 4:27 a.m. PST

W.r.t. tables vs dice:

It depends on the actual mechanic and the use in the gaming engine. You can find good and bad examples of both.

In general, I think it's best that if the outcome of a mechanic is a number (whether that is number of hits, target number, amount of damage, … ) this should be resolved by a dice procedure. Dice are good at producing numbers, whether you count the pips on the die, or whether you count a number of succesful die rolls.

However, if the outcome of a specific mechanic is NOT a number (e.g. a morale description, a random event, an elaborate damage description, …), then an indexed table is a good solution. Whether the table takes the form of rolling dice and look up the result, or draw a card from a deck (which is also an indexed table), is a matter of taste.

Side-issues such as the application of modifiers on the die rolls or modifiers on the index for the table look-up might influence the decision above, but in general, too many modifiers usually are a symptom of bad game design anyway. Moreover, modifiers should be such that the mechanics itself is influenced minimally (e.g. modify number of dice, or target number, not the results afterwards; or modify how you roll for the index into a table, not the rolled-for index itself).

Bad designs are also hybrid systems in which you have to roll dice, then look something up in a table only to define a further die rolling procedure. Either roll dice and read the result from the die rolls, or read out the result from a table, both without too much further complications. Too many rulesets use complex mechanics because their designers didn't think about the procedures ("Hey it's cool if we roll a D6, D10 and D18, then take the highest number, and look it up in a table to determine whether you roll a D10 or D12 for damage"), but only about the final outcome.

Streamlining mechanics in wargaming is an art not many people have mastered. :-)

(Phil Dutre)03 Apr 2016 4:30 a.m. PST

D20s can be a problem if they are worn. Then they never stop rolling.

I hope this was meant in jest and is not a serious argument against D20s?

I have been using D20s ever since my D&D days back in the eighties. I strongly doubt this is ever a problem when using D20s. I never noticed D20 rolling off the table or keep on rolling 'forever' any more than other type of dice.

BTW, dice that keep rolling are actually a good argument PRO that type of dice, from a probability point-of-view.

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