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"Hordes of the Many Dice" Topic

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

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Elohim06 Dec 2011 6:04 a.m. PST

One thing that irks me, and according to the VnB designer's notes, irks Frank Chadwick too, is the all-or-nothing nature of using just one die roll to simulate a combat or other tabletop interaction.

Since I'm not all that good at statistics, I was wondering if anyone here knows if my proposal represents the same spread of results.

Instead of 1d6, 6d6 are rolled, with a 4+ being a success, successes being used in the same way as pips on the standard die. Would that skew the game too much?

Mooseworks806 Dec 2011 6:11 a.m. PST

Sounds like Impetus.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2011 6:44 a.m. PST

It would give you a very different distribution of results

0 2%
1 9%
2 23%
3 31%
4 23%
5 9%
6 2%

Note that it would give the added result of a zero – not much use in a DBA style game.

MotttheHoople06 Dec 2011 6:44 a.m. PST

Couple of points
Your new method raises the possibility (around 1.5%) of zero successes and I don't know if that's allowable.
The pattern of cumulative probabilities follows a bell-like curve (around 30% of rolls will be three successes for example) whereas the roll of a single die should give a uniform probability. 6 dice will even out the results somewhat akin to the effect of an average die with 2, 3 or 4 successes coming up a squidge over 75% of the time.
I'm not familiar with Volley and Bayonet so couldn't say what the impact would be…

EDIT: Goddammit GildasFacit, you're not allowed to answer while I'm running the probabilities. It makes me look stupid.

advocate06 Dec 2011 6:52 a.m. PST

What Mott said, when he edited.


I just waited for youse guys to do the math…

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2011 7:21 a.m. PST

Probability of 1 & 6 are no longer the same and this would make for a skewed distribution if used in combat (where two sets of dice are compared).

The zero result causes a problem if one side has a zero score.

Overall results are different from the single dice version but I'd have to investigate how much change there would be across the range of possibilities.

On one example (Attacker factor 3 v Defender factor 2) the results skew toward the attacker with more equal results as well.

If both have factor 3 the 'doubled' results both drop to 1/3 of those with a single die each with the extras adding to the 'equal' results.

Looks like the majority skew towards the highest factor with always an increase in the 'equal' results.

Interesting but probably unworkable.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2011 7:22 a.m. PST


Not intentional, just that I happened to have Excel open and ran a quick Binomial model to test it out.


Ivan DBA06 Dec 2011 11:44 a.m. PST

It would skew the game radically, and would make it slower and less decisive because it would make it much harder to double an opponent. Furthermore, it would also distort the game by making elements that inflict quick kills too powerful. By that I mean that with a 6 D6 roll, the odds of doubling would bs greatly reduced, while the odds of simply beating an opponent(and getting a quick kill if you have the right element) would remain the same.

Finally, the "all of nothing" objection is not logical. Unless you have units that have multiple wounds or some other graduated system of damage, ALL combats are all or nothing. The only difference is how many steps or throws of the dice the rules make you go through to get there.

What you are really objecting go is the possibility of getting killed on an unlucky throw of the dice, such as when you have a favorable match-up, but get killed anyway because you roll a 1 and your opponent rolls a 6. Personally, I regard this as just part of the game--and a realistic part, because in battle, nothing is certain. But if you don't like it, then use house rules to make combat less chancy. Your idea of rolling multiple dice is one way. Another would be to use average dice, such as a D6 that has two 3s and two 4s, but no 6 or 1. This would also distort the game, though somewhat differently than rolling multiple dice.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2011 12:33 p.m. PST

Using average dice for rolling PiPs is feasible – we do it in a number of DBX game clones as well as in DBA. Using them for combat dice is not a good idea, too few doublings and too many 'no effect' results makes for a very slow game.

Ivan DBA06 Dec 2011 12:52 p.m. PST

I agree with Gildas. Also, I take to heart the warning in the DBA rules' introduction: "the resulting system is more subtle than it appears, and should not be tampered with.". In other words, Phil actually discourages house rules. Humble? No. But is he right? Probably so.

Elohim06 Dec 2011 1:23 p.m. PST

Good thing I asked the statisticians and Excel users to step in then =]
As much as anything else it's the deflating feeling of only rolling one die as opposed to a handful. Also, as Chadwick points out, more low-value die rolls give a greater feeling of control than fewer high-value rolls.

Ah well.
Thanks for your help everyone =]

Thomas Thomas06 Dec 2011 1:26 p.m. PST

As too combats you already have two opposed die rolls which produces a bell curve – no need to add time wasting multiple die rolls. I don't know what the fasination is of watching a bunch of d6 bounce around and produce very perdictable results (due to large sample size). Perhaps its soothing, sort of a lava light for gamers.

As to PIPs one variant I use is that regulars get 4 PIPs but still roll a d6; 1 = -1 PIP; 6 = +1 PIP. (I realize that Regs can't get 6 PIPs – sometimes no chain of command/beauracy can work miracles – you just can't depend on it…


GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Dec 2011 2:25 p.m. PST

Actually Phil under-rates the flexibility of the system he invented. DBA can be tweaked successfully once you understand the subtleties that have been built into the rules – and those that came about by accident.

What I find mildly amusing is that the greatest proponents of treating DBA as the Holy Grail are the same people that had to write a 60 odd page explanation of an 8 page rule book.

elsyrsyn06 Dec 2011 6:39 p.m. PST

Humble? No. But is he right? Probably so.

PB could never, I don't think, be accused of access humility. In this instance, though, I think he's dead wrong (as GildasFacit states). The system is just MADE for tinkering, and for the very reasons PB thinks it should not be fiddled with.


Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2011 3:02 a.m. PST

"What I find mildly amusing is that the greatest proponents of treating DBA as the Holy Grail are the same people that had to write a 60 odd page explanation of an 8 page rule book."

Kind of like trying understand, the crazed words from some ancient prophet. 60 pages of trying to fathom meaning from cryptic phrases and letting the masses understand what was intended by someone who whats to save a page or two of space.

I don't think PB gives a hoot about the rules, he just wants to see if he can make the most complicated set of rules that fit on just five pages. Its just a game he likes to play, and the joke is on us.

Now maybe if the font was just a bit smaller………

Ivan DBA07 Dec 2011 12:14 p.m. PST

Sorry if I provoked the usual criticisms of Phil Barker's writing style. My point wasn't to defend the style of the rules, or to even bring that up. I don't think his writing style is relevant to the topic of this thread. I do agree with all the usual critiques on that score though.

Rather, I just think people often try to tweak DBA without filling considering the subtle ways the rules work. DBA simply does not have the wide range of independent variables of other games, such as Warhammer. That means it is hard to change anything withou upsetting the play balance, such as it is. This is especially because there is no points system to adjust in order to compensate.

Elenderil09 Jan 2012 10:23 a.m. PST

Hmm….. I do find the idea of giving certain elements an extra life interesting. However, on the whole I don't think I would do so as it would skew the probability curves far too much by doubling the elements survival rate on an extra life, tripling it on two extra lives etc.

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