# A Dicey Topic

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Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008

This is intended as a quick brainstorming (although practical tried-and-true examples are welcome too, of course ;) ) topic for how to use dice in creative ways within games ... to allow them to add the spice that is variety and elements of mystery without completely removing the player's sense of control in the game nor adding too much chaos.

For example, most folks who frequent these forums aren't big fans of the old "roll-and-move" mechanic -- roll a single 6-sided die, move your pawn that many spaces. However, I've seen "fixes" and "patches" and other approaches that change this up a bit -- move your pawn *up to* that many spaces ... move your pawn foward or back that number of spaces ... have more than one pawn, and pick which pawn will move that number of spaces, etc.

In my piecepack game called "Siege by Number" (link) -- a tactical combat and get-your-commander-inside-the-enemy-base type game -- I used a mechanic where the player rolls up to 4 dice, depending on how many pieces he has on the board. Then the player can "spend" each of the dice to move a piece. The piece is allowed to move up to the number of spaces shown on the die that was spent.

In some of my current in-process designs, I find that I want to give randomly-generated ratings to different pieces/units in the game, but still give the player a bit of control over that. In one game, I allow the player to roll a number of dice, count all the pips showing, then distribute them among the various ratings. In another game, the player rolls a numbre of dice and can apply a single die against each rating.

Games involving combat have employed many interesting techniques -- from custom dice, to each unit getting to roll a different number of dice and summing the pips for each, to each unit getting to roll a different number of dice and counting the occurances of a certain number for each, etc.

So ... what else comes to mind and/or what have you seen that seems a clever dice-based mechanic?

-Bryk

Anonymous
Re: A Dicey Topic

Brykovian wrote:
what have you seen that seems a clever dice-based mechanic?

I found the initiative method in Victory Games' Civil War rather interesting. Both players roll 2d6, with the higher roller gaining the initiative. Each player may then spend a number of command points equal to the difference of the two rolls (command points are limited each turn, so once spent they're gone...generally), with the player having initiative going first. If both players roll the same number, there's a chance the turn ends, and if it doesn't a new batch of command points are added to each player's pool. The chance of the turn ending increases each time the same initiative number is rolled, until it becomes automatic.

What I liked about this mechanic is that it not only determines initiative, but it determines by how much your generals "got the jump" on the enemy. If I roll a 10 and you a 4, I can really put together a coordinated attack, but if I roll a 6 and you a 7, neither of us are going to be doing much more than reinforce.

Anonymous
A Dicey Topic

There is the old Formula De trick of incorporating dice with different numbers of sides. I really like how battle ball used this trick. each polyhedral dice had its own color that matched the color of a playerâ€™s base, when you move you moved the number you rolled however tackles were resolved with opposed rolls with the lowest dice winning the tackle.

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
A Dicey Topic

Although not a new thing, but I still love Settlers of Catan's dice mechanic, which is pretty much a huge part of the game. In a game design I probably won't finish anytime soon or if at all, I had a mechanic which a player rolled 5 twenty-sided dice. The board was a 5 square by 5 square area, so the dice were meant to choose random locations. each dice left off one of the rows, which the other 4 dice had. If 2 dice roll the same number, you would reroll one of them until it became a unique number.

I never got to test it, but in theory it seems like it could work and be quick and painless. In practice it probably needs some work.

-Steve

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Re: A Dicey Topic

MikeDew wrote:
I found the initiative method in Victory Games' Civil War rather interesting....

That does sound interesting. So, to double-check if I understand this right, in the long-run both players get the same number of command points to use, but a large difference in the rolls will mean that the player going first will get to use a larger number of command points before the other player gets his turn, and also gets to use that same larger number of command points. Nice. :)

-Bryk

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

SVan wrote:
I still love Settlers of Catan's dice mechanic...

I think that's a neat way to give the players a way to "play the odds" with where they setup. However, there seems to be plenty of commentary about getting "screwed by the dice" with this system -- leading some to using a Deck of Dice to play the game. Or are there other reasons for playing Settlers with a Deck?

-Bryk

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

One mechanic I have seen that is interesting was in The Sinking of the Titanic Game ("It's the game you play while the ship goes down!"). You roll 2d6, choose one die for N-S movement and the other for E-W movement.

An idea I had while reading this thread would be to have an action list, and allow, say, 3 actions from the list per turn... but rather than having access to the whole list each turn, you roll maybe 6dX (where X is the number of actions in the list), so you choose 3 of the 6 die rolls for your actions that turn. In this way you might be able to do certain actions more than once (if you roll 2 4's for example then you could do action 4 twice).

A simpler version mihgt be to have X actions, roll 3dX and those are the actions you get to take, period. Less control/choice but maybe cleaner. Depends on the game I guess.

- Seth

Anonymous
dice variables......

There are a couple clever ones I like,
Instead of just rolling *d6 and going with your result, or adding modifiers, I like a mechanic where each unit, or vehicle, or thingamajig, gets a base of 3d6. If they rate the may get a plus of 1, 2, or even 3. This represents one additional dice to roll with their base 3d6. Now, success is reached by hitting a target number based on poker hands, or yahtzee. IE 2 pair, 3 of a kind, Full house, small straight, 4 pair, large straight, 5 of a kind, etc.
If their target number is a lowly 2 pair and they roll a small straight they have it. The extra dice increase their chances of better or higher hands rolled. This works good on head to head scenarios, ie. combat, a race, etc. It can also be used against a chart, like 2 pair lets you move 1 space, while a 3 of a kind lets you move 2 spaces. Get the idea?

Another dice mechanic I like is Using different dice d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, d30, etc for different units. This represents the units being better or worse than another. However if the individual units have modifiers than they may still be able to beat a higher die.

I also like to use dice in the reverse of what one would think is logical, it is simple, but different. And variety is the spice of life. What I mean is a lower roll is desired. Say a person is racing another, they roll d6, and they roll a 2, well on your result chart a 2 lets him move forward 8 spaces. Like I said this is very simple but it is a different way to achieve the same results.

Thats all for now, If I think of any more I will post.

Komi

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

How could I forget- the dice mechanic I suggested a while back in it;s own thread...

Say there's some combat between 2 sides. Each side would roll 1d6 and add modifiers (see below). The rolls are compared, and the difference of the rolls determines the result:
Diff Result
0 Each side takes a damage
1 All shots blocked, all thrusts parried. No damage.
2 Low roll takes damage
3+ Low roll takes extra damage, or retreats, or whatever

Modifiers:
Sides would get a +1 modifier for the following kinds of things:
Outnumbering: +1 for outnumbering, or else +1 per extra person
Skill: +1 for having one or more skilled 'units' on your side.
Weapons: +1 for having 1 or more weapons on your side.

Pretty simple mechanic for combat in a game where people can gang up on people. I wouldn't use it if combat were the main focus of the game, but may be good where fighting is a side issue that needs quick, easy resolution and gives players a good way to try and control the outcome.

Scurra
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Joined: 09/11/2008
A Dicey Topic

One of my favourite dice mechanics is in The Traders of Genoa although it isn't used for any combat system. Instead, you roll the dice to determine where the dobber (that represents the one moving piece starts) - one counts across and the other counts down.

Anonymous
Re: A Dicey Topic

Brykovian wrote:
That does sound interesting. So, to double-check if I understand this right, in the long-run both players get the same number of command points to use, but a large difference in the rolls will mean that the player going first will get to use a larger number of command points before the other player gets his turn, and also gets to use that same larger number of command points. Nice. :)

Correct. Plus, the winner of the initiative gets a free reinforcement (from his pool of available reinforcements) without having to expend a command point, so there is slightly more incentive to winning than just being able to go first (as if you could control the dice throw a la LCR).

Seth, sounds like your mechanic and this one are very similar, in that the result is based on the difference of opposing throws. GMTA?

Brykovian wrote:
However, there seems to be plenty of commentary about getting "screwed by the dice" with this system

GUILTY!!
sedjtroll wrote:
One mechanic I have seen that is interesting was in The Sinking of the Titanic Game ("It's the game you play while the ship goes down!").

"Johnny, we have to get to the few remaining lifeboats!"

"Just a second, ma, it's my turn and I'm only two points away from building the Monument!"

Sorry, Seth, it just conjured up an amusing mental image...

Maybe you play Rette Sich wer Kann?

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

Scurra wrote:
One of my favourite dice mechanics is in The Traders of Genoa although it isn't used for any combat system. Instead, you roll the dice to determine where the dobber (that represents the one moving piece starts) - one counts across and the other counts down.

I haven't played Traders before ... does the player get to pick which die represents across and which one is down? Or are the dice two different colors?

-Bryk

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

In my last reply, the mentioning of dice with different colors flashed me back to my youth, playing APBA Baseball with my brother. The APBA system (and I think they used this for their other sports sims as well), had a Red die and a White die ... the Red die gave the first digit of a 2-digit number, and the white die the second.

So, you would get 2-digit combinations of 11, 12, 13, ... , 64, 65, 66 ... You'd then look up that number on the individual player's card (for whoever was batting), which would give you a reference number to the situations reference table. (It sounds complicated, but actually works pretty well.)

The interesting thing is that if you played a lot of games -- something close to a full season, you would get results similar to what that player had done in the real-life season.

-Bryk

DavemanUK
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Basari

Even though I dislike roll&move, I do enjoy the dice rolling in Basari for moving pawns as the resulting spaces show the available rewards for the players to choose from (gems/VPs/extra movement). This basically presents fairly unique combinations each turn to analyse which of the rewards the other players will choose (and you choose yourself).

Dave W

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
A Dicey Topic

Brykovian wrote:

I haven't played Traders before ... does the player get to pick which die represents across and which one is down? Or are the dice two different colors?

They're specific... Red and Black I think. The game kinda sucks- that was my first impression anyway. Then I thought about it some more and decided that "sucks" was a little harsh. It's just not very fun.

- Seth