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"Why don't war-games use 20 sided dice???" Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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forwardmarchstudios26 Jan 2017 11:47 p.m. PST

Seriously, it makes a lot more sense than 6s.
The first advantage is that it lets you create 5% modifiers, which is a lot more wieldy than trying to figure things out with 6s, or a BUNCH of 6s inside of a BUCKET. Is it just because people tend to have 6-sides dice laying around? Or is it simply ingrained habit. It feels "right" to hit on a six…and so… we do!

Ney Ney26 Jan 2017 11:57 p.m. PST

Frostgrave does

setsuko26 Jan 2017 11:59 p.m. PST

Try rolling more than a couple of D20 at the same time, and you'll realize why they are not more popular for wargames. Also the "swingyness" increases the more different results you can get on the die. Rolling a lot of D6s compared to a few D20 means that the results are more predictable, which is often a good thing in a wargame.

E: as for Frostgrave, again, a D20 works better in a small skirmish game than in a wargame where you have lots and lots of results to randomize. Because it is not practical to roll more than 1-2 D20's at the same time.

Mako11 Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 12:05 a.m. PST

I love them, and they do roll very well.

They are superb for some things, and I've used multiple D20s for solo game play, very successfully.

I really prefer them for skirmish games, since I find D6s very limiting. Even 2D6s can be as well.

2D10 is another good option as well, for some things.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 1:28 a.m. PST

I expect it is a personal preference.
My point of view would be that more dice rolled together create a more centralised outcome. Six sided dice are easier to read at distance (the face of each number on a D6 is usually bigger than the face of each 20 sided dice) Unless it is a very big D20.
D6 can create the outcomes that I am attempting to model. i would also want to create games wherein a 1/20 modifier is too trivial and time consuming to consider.

As i said, this is both subjective and objective and would not criticise players whom enjoy using D4/8/12/20 etc No offence intended if you don't use D6.

good luck to them!

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 1:32 a.m. PST

TSATF does.

4th Cuirassier27 Jan 2017 1:39 a.m. PST

The advantage of a D6 is that the variance around the mean is lower and more predictable.

The mean score on a D6 is 3.5 and the lowest and highest possible scores are 2.5 below and above that. There are only 6 possible results and so there is a reasonable chance that every possible result will be rolled over the course of a game.

The mean score of a D20 numbered 0 to 9 is 4.5 and the variance is also 4.5. So the span of outcomes is wider. The impact of luck on gameplay may also then be higher depending how you have written your rules.

In a game / turn where there are 6 die rolls every possible result on a D6 could theoretically be rolled, whereas on a D20, at least four of the 10 possible results cannot possibly be rolled.

For this reason I like two D6s rather than one D20 in some situations. The chances of rolling the bottom, middle, and top score on a D20 are exactly the same in each case – 10%. The chances of rolling the bottom, middle, and top score on two D6 are respectively 2.8%, 16.7% and 2.8%. They allow a wide range of outcomes but grouped towards the middle.

I actually quite like the average die (233445) because it has the same average score as a D6 does but the variance is now only +/- 1.5. Generally speaking I dislike game systems where the entire outcome hinges on luck, and prefer those where bad die rolls limit the extent of your success but don't completely reverse it.

For this reason Risk is the worst boardgame in the world because the outcome depends wholly on luck. Campaign was not much better because although it allows different strategies, there aren't enough 2xD6 die rolls in the game for it to average out, so the worst player can win off lucky early-game die rolls. Diplomacy is best because it replaces die rolls with duplicity and cold malice.

Calico Bill27 Jan 2017 1:44 a.m. PST

Too high a luck factor. Some might prefer this, but with multiple D6, your roll is usually close to a given number. With D20, you can roll a 1 as easily as a 20, meaning your usual + or – to the roll count for much less and the outcome more luck driven. Never known as a lucky die roller, I'm highly prejudiced I admit 😀.

4th Cuirassier27 Jan 2017 1:54 a.m. PST

Calico Bill just said it in 20% of the words :-)

Sho Boki27 Jan 2017 1:57 a.m. PST

d10 and d20 are good for percentage throwing, when result simply must be lower than unit's parameter for success.
And this is not important, how much lower.

langobard Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 2:02 a.m. PST

Agree with 4th Cuirassier and Calico Bill.

That said, I am fond of the Fire and Fury group (Fire and Fury, Age of Eagles/Honor/Valor) which use D10.

I think the best use in black powder type gaming of more than D6 was the D100 used in On To Richmond for combat results. OTR also used D10 for most outcomes, but I really love the D100 as a separate use item to give a very wide range of potential historical outcomes.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 2:11 a.m. PST

It depends on how the results of the throw are used.

On a D6 a +1 is a much bigger advantage than +1 on a D10 or D20 so larger scope dice give finer tuning/more subtle modifications.

If you throw multiple dice for a specific result (e.g. hit on 4,5 or 6) then there is no real reason why you couldn't switch to D8,10,12 or 20 and get that finer tuning. No loss of convenience or more difficult calculation. Personally I find D6 too limiting.

Throwing opposed dice is more of a problem as the span of results is greater and often more difficult to translate into game outcomes. It is here that D6 is probably the optimum solution.

I use a tabular form to combine multiple D6 throws into a single D20 throw (similar to Pony Wars but easier to use). This has the advantage of taking out the extreme throws and reducing the range of results without changing the mean score.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 2:19 a.m. PST

Single die mechanics ==> use a die with a large range of outcomes, e.g. D20. The variability is in the numbers rolled.

Bucket of dice mechanics ==> use a simple die such as a dD6. The variability is in the number of successes.

Using a bucket of dice method using D20s is a bit unwieldy.
Using a single D6s, and take the numerical result as an outcome, is rather limited (unless it's really used for something else such as an entry into a table cross-referenced with another parameter).

Some people say D6s are better because you can use your old Monopoly dice and you don't need to buy those strange D&D polyhedral dice. Those people should jump into their TARDIS and timewarp from 1957 to 2017.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 2:19 a.m. PST

For this reason Risk is the worst boardgame in the world because the outcome depends wholly on luck.

If that's your argument, ANY game using dice depends wholly on luck.

Lonkka1Actual27 Jan 2017 2:25 a.m. PST

D20 is way too random.
I prefer 2D6

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

Who says we don't?
I play TSATF.

olicana27 Jan 2017 2:37 a.m. PST

It depends what you use it for. In Piquet, the d20 is most commonly used to decide pre-game things like troop quality it's basically percentage dice in 5% graduations the table for troop quality would be:

2- Vacillating (roll to determine quality at first combat).
3-5 Battle weary base everything on a d4
6-16 Ready base everything on d6
17-18 Eager base everything on d8
19+ Determined base everything on d10

SYW Prussian infantry might add 3 to the roll because they are averagely better, AWS Austriand might deduct 2 because they were worse than average troops.

However, as can be seen, nothing rolls d20 in combat, because the swing would be too great. Indeed, in Piquet, once a factor brings a dice up to d12, any further 'ups' only add to the result with a maximum of 12.

All in all, I prefer rolling d20 to percentage dice (2d10) because any set of rules that gives a modifier of less than 5% is taking itself way too seriously but, not otherwise.

Ssendam27 Jan 2017 4:01 a.m. PST

I'm continually surprised about the argument that a D6 is gives more consistent results or that the Bell Curve from 2d6 means the more likely result is more likely to come up, because it entirely depends on the tables you are comparing your rolled result to. A d20 gives a bit more latitude to fine tuning … even better a percentile.

Schogun Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 4:39 a.m. PST

A friend once told me re d6s: You can buy them anywhere -- dollar stores, drug stores, even gas stations. You're never without a d6!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 5:20 a.m. PST

I have used every die, and written rules which required D20's. I'll admit to disliking D4's: they roll poorly and are just that extra bit tricky to read. But D20's are A tool, not THE tool.

I'd also like to know why it's considered an objective good if the player knows the precise odds. Certainly he should know the rough odds--"my volley fire ought (or ought not) to stop this charge"--but I see no reason why he should know the chance is 85%. His historical counterparts certainly didn't.

4th Cuirassier27 Jan 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

If that's your argument, ANY game using dice depends wholly on luck.

Not really. If I am adding a die roll of 1, 2 or 3 to (say) a fire score of 6, the result changes from 6 to 7, 8, or 9. If my fire results table says that a score of 6 to 7 = 1 casualty and 8 or 9 = 2 casualties, the die roll may or may not have modified the basic result, but the target takes losses regardless. What would be wholly luck is if the die roll changed the result between "no casualties" and "lots of casualties".

The game Monopoly is another example of dice not making that much difference. You'll land somewhere every turn, and given the distribution of good and bad places to land, there is no particular advantage to high scores. You get to pass Go more often but in doing so you lose opportunities to land on useful squares and spend your extra $200. USD

Cluedo is another. High scores get you from room to room but you needn't visit every room to win.

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 5:56 a.m. PST

Tractics used d20 before they were made. You had to number chips 1-20.

Art27 Jan 2017 5:59 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

I use a single D6 dice for musketry.

as an example:

Roll of

1, 2, or 3, the battalion commander executed early fire

4, 5, or 6, the battalion commander executed a late fire

Of course nationality and year will be a slight modifier…such as the British, who executed late fire more often than early fire.

Everything else that I use…are percentile dice

Best Regards
Art

Martin Rapier27 Jan 2017 6:12 a.m. PST

D10, D20, D100 etc all give a spurious impression of accuracy which is misleading when dealing with real data which is so noisy (in a statistical sense) that the big increments provided by a D6 are quite sufficient and in many cases, the outcome may as well be decided by tossing a coin.

It does of course depend how you combat results tables and/or modifier lists are structured.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 6:23 a.m. PST

Got to disagree with you 100% on that Martin.

Your first statement cannot be verified in any sensible way.

Noise does not prevent two outcomes to be known to have different probabilities. It may prevent an accurate measure of what the difference is but it can often be estimated to a degree that has finer distinction than can be achieved using D6.

Your second statement I'm fully in agreement with.

Having a range of tools to model a given situation (or range of situations) is ALWAYS better than trying to use a single tool for them all.

Old Wolfman27 Jan 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

Aerodrome 1.1 uses D-20's if one takes some damage,the roll,along with a D-10,determines if you've taken a critical hit. Beat the damage inflicted by the D-20 roll,and you're OK,if not or it comes up even with DP's taken,the D-10 determines the critical hit ranging from pilot distracted to pilot killed. Also it helps determine in the event of a possible collision,if you buzz the other flyer or if you run into them.

FatherOfAllLogic27 Jan 2017 7:01 a.m. PST

Because six-siders are traditional.

Buck21527 Jan 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

"Battleground World War 2" relies on the D20 for nearly everything in its rule set. Got a bunch of D20's? Then go with BGWW2…

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

What would be wholly luck is if the die roll changed the result between "no casualties" and "lots of casualties".

Huh? This merely says you dislike high variance. Granted, procedures with high variance produce a larger range of results, but what has that to do with luck in the game? Luck at least for me is that you have no control over the outcome of a game. Whether some procedure in that game has high variance is orthogonal to that.

The game Monopoly is another example of dice not making that much difference. You'll land somewhere every turn, and given the distribution of good and bad places to land, there is no particular advantage to high scores. You get to pass Go more often but in doing so you lose opportunities to land on useful squares and spend your extra $200.00 USD USD

And how does that make Monopoly a luck-based game? The outcome in Monopoly is much more dependent on trading rather than the squares you land on.

Cluedo is another. High scores get you from room to room but you needn't visit every room to win.

Again, this doesn't make Cluedo a luck-based game it's a game about combinatorics and cleverly eliminating options.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 7:15 a.m. PST

In my opinion, you simply cannot argue for or against a particular type of die based on its range of outcomes. With a combination of number of dice and/or look-up tables, one can produce any desired mathematical distribution of results with any type and number of dice.

However, I do think that deciding on how to use dice in a gaming procedure is part of good design. After all, the handling of the dice, the effort of reading the results, possible looking things up in a table, counting the number of successes … all determine the efficiency, the fun, the tension, … of a gaming procedure.

The classic example are saving throws. Mathematically, one can easily eliminate saving throws and still keep the same range of probabilities. But the mere concept of saving throws adds greatly to the suspense and fun of resolving combat.

In the same way, deciding on whether to use a D6 or D20 should be driven by how a gaming procedure is part of the bigger design.

Personal logo Chuckaroobob Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

I prefer D10, 12 or 20's rather than D6's. This might be a reaction to GW style special rules or my ability to roll all "1's" result on 14 D6. Yes, that really happened.

PJ ONeill27 Jan 2017 7:42 a.m. PST

Years back Jerry Pournell, the science fiction writer, wrote and article in AH's General magazine, describing a test he did on D20s. He used a machine that measured the surface area of each face of a collection of D20s from different manufacturers. He found a discrepancy of up to 30% on the face sizes.
When I mentioned this some years later, on this forum, someone familiar with the making of D20s posted a note that this was still true and resulted from the way they were made. He said that after they were cast with the numbers on them, they were given a coat of plastic and "rolled" in a tumbler until the numbers became visible again. This caused uneven wearing of the face edges and different face sizes.
The use of multiple D20s alleviate this, but I have never trusted a single D20 to provide an even distribution of numbers.

P.J.

Personal logo John Treadaway Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 7:48 a.m. PST

Some people say D6s are better because you can use your old Monopoly dice and you don't need to buy those strange D&D polyhedral dice. Those people should jump into their TARDIS and timewarp from 1957 to 2017

Sppt on Phil!

forwardmarchstudios27 Jan 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

Ha! Lots of good points made though. I dont think a d20 really has any more swing than a d6 though. A THACO roll doesnt have much swing, for instance.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 8:41 a.m. PST

It depends on the design.

I am a believer in using the smallest dice type that will accommodate the desired outcomes.

F.x. if you don't intend to have any modifier smaller than 15% and a roll has 2-3 outcomes, a D6 is fine.

If you wish to have the modifiers increment at 5% and/or a roll may have 5+ outcomes, then a D20 would be preferable.


I suppose there's also a practical consideration in that you can count on any gamer having loads of D6's, a decent number of D10's (particularly for White Wolf players) and other dice tend to be more limited.
So a "bucket of dice" system may benefit from using D6 or D10 while games using a D20 tend to roll only 1 or 2 at a time.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

Years back Jerry Pournell, the science fiction writer, wrote and article in AH's General magazine, describing a test he did on D20s. He used a machine that measured the surface area of each face of a collection of D20s from different manufacturers. He found a discrepancy of up to 30% on the face sizes.
When I mentioned this some years later, on this forum, someone familiar with the making of D20s posted a note that this was still true and resulted from the way they were made. He said that after they were cast with the numbers on them, they were given a coat of plastic and "rolled" in a tumbler until the numbers became visible again. This caused uneven wearing of the face edges and different face sizes.

Lots of youtube material to be found online on this issue.

See this excellent explanation by Lou Zocchi: YouTube link

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

different dice and buckets o" dice and non traditional dice are annoying. Figure out your stats and use an app on your smart phone.

PJ ONeill27 Jan 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

Thanks for backing me up, Phil, I thought I was out on a limb, on that one. Being an old "stick-in-the-mud" myself.

4th Cuirassier27 Jan 2017 9:48 a.m. PST

@ Phil

This merely says you dislike high variance. Granted, procedures with high variance produce a larger range of results, but what has that to do with luck in the game? Luck at least for me is that you have no control over the outcome of a game.

If the result of a game depends wholly on die rolls then the outcome is luck, no? Imagine a game in which each side has equal numbers of pieces and combat is resolved by each piece rolling a die against the others. Winning is 100% luck (and the above is a description of Risk).

And how does that make Monopoly a luck-based game?

I'm saying it does not. Likewise Cluedo.

With a combination of number of dice and/or look-up tables, one can produce any desired mathematical distribution of results with any type and number of dice.

Statement of the obvious surely. If you have to throw a 12 on one die to achieve something in some game, then clearly it doesn't matter whether it's a D6, D10, etc, it's impossible. The point of using 2 x D6 and reading the result off against a table of 11 possible outcomes will tend to produce a grouping in the centre of the table. Using one D6 and results of 1 to 6 will produce a random walk wherein no score is any likelier than any other. This requires a different table of results.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

All you nice young boys with your slide rules and pocket protectors, God bless you, go on making your scientific analyses and mathematical models.
In the meantime I'll be playing games.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

PJ ONeill said:

Years back Jerry Pournell […] used a machine that measured the surface area of each face of a collection of D20s from different manufacturers. He found a discrepancy of up to 30% on the face sizes.
[…]after they were cast with the numbers on them, they were given a coat of plastic and "rolled" in a tumbler until the numbers became visible again. This caused uneven wearing of the face edges and different face sizes.


Metal d20s ought to solve that problem. :-)

- Ix

Personal logo Cyrus the Great Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 11:36 a.m. PST

I do!

Crow Bait27 Jan 2017 12:05 p.m. PST

American Battle Lines from ODGW also uses d20.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 12:55 p.m. PST

GOBS uses d20s. And d12s. And d10s. And d8s. And d6s. And d4s.
All on the principle that every geek has polyhedral dice anyway, and they're fun to roll. (Or, in the case of d4s, flip.) grin

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 1:15 p.m. PST

I do not even roll dice for much of my gaming these days. I prefer not to have to roll dice and look things up on a chart…..

Oberlindes Sol LIC27 Jan 2017 1:54 p.m. PST

Now I have a reason to buy metal d20s -- thank you. I still have plastic d20s from the late 1970s. I haven't figured out what numbers tend to come up more, so maybe I'll retire them.

@4th Cuirassier, who wrote, "For this reason Risk is the worst boardgame in the world because the outcome depends wholly on luck. … Diplomacy is best because it replaces die rolls with duplicity and cold malice."

Agreed.

Chris Wimbrow27 Jan 2017 2:21 p.m. PST

Skewed from the original question, I've always liked the APBA sports game usage of 2d6 with one size and/or color for the tens digit and the other for the ones. You have 36 possible results (11,12,13,14,15,16,21,22…56,61,62,63,64,65,66) which can have individual lookup results. Richard Berg even did a baseball simulation with this scheme but using a range of numbers for the more common results.

I guess you could say I'd be checking a chart no matter how simple a game's application of dice (outside of Risk, Monopoly, and the like.)

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2017 2:55 p.m. PST

My WW2 skirmish rules use D20 for the 5% increment reason you state. See them at this link
…for details!

vtsaogames27 Jan 2017 5:38 p.m. PST

2D6 is my cup of tea.
And they don't roll off the table as easily.

forwardmarchstudios27 Jan 2017 6:10 p.m. PST

Chris Wimbrow- Warhammer Quest did that for the treasure tables, random rvents, etc. Blast from the past there!

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