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Problem with Dice

4 replies [Last post]
Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009

Hello again, after a long time of absence I am back again to the boards. And this time its not ideas or concepts, its just a goddamn problem and I am hoping for some help, enough talk - here we go:

I am almost finished designing, formulating and balancing the core-rules of one of my newer games. Its a wargame, and quite a simple one. Basicly the game is aimed at younger players. Im using custom dice with icons on them just like in heroquest, the d&d boardgame or others.

so, when you attack an opponents unit you roll an amount of dice of different color (combat dice of different levels) to see how much damage you deal.

in addition to the combat dice you some times roll one or more special dice. those dice have 3-5 blank sides and 1-3 sides with special icons on them. if you roll one of the special icons your unit is able to trigger skills and powerattacks.

so now to the actual problem:
the point is "roll one OR MORE special dice". when rolling one dice everything is okay, but as soon as you have to roll two or more special dice you cannot know wich dice belonged to wich special ability after you threw the dice. so if i have two units attacking you and both have a special ability that makes me throw a special dice with 3 blank sides and 3 star-icons - after throwing my dice I just cannot now wich dice belonged to what unit.

so, i hope my point is clear. maybe someone can give me directions or suggestions. i have three solutions so far and they don't make me happy at all:

1. limit special ablities to 1 per combat round.
2. before rolling your dice, assign a color to each special ability and then split the special dice up into different colors so you can distinguish them after the roll.
3. well, when playing with fewer units one could roll all the special dice seperate. like: okay now i am rolling my headhunter dice. so and now i am rolling my thundercharge dice and finally i am rolling my trample dice. this solution seems okay, but slows down gameplay a lot.

maybe, maybe someone has an idea or can motivate me to use one of my own suggestions - because i just dont want to change all of the gameplay at this point (i came quite far with the game concept - a very rare case when its about me and designing games).

Joined: 12/31/1969
Problem with Dice

Perhaps the player can decide which special ability is triggered once the dice have been rolled?

Illustrated: You are attacking me with 1 Barbarian and 1 Shaman (bear with me on the sample classes/special attack names). The Barb has a Trample special ability, and the Shaman has a Headhunter special ability. You roll your standard attack dice, plus 2 special ability dice. If 1 star comes up, you can decide THEN whether it was the Trample or Headhunter ability that was triggered.

An approach like this would not add to the complexity of gameplay very much, but it has the impact of letting the attacking player decide which ability was triggered AFTER he/she has already seen how effective the standard combat dice were. This increases the effectiveness of the special abilities, since a player can tailor the ability to the situation.

Does this make sense in the structure of your game?


Emphyrio's picture
Joined: 02/10/2010
Problem with Dice

If you limit it to 6 special abilities each occurring 1/6th of the time, you could put a different icon on each side of your special dice with each icon corresponding to one of the abilities. But that may be too restrictive for you.

You might also consider using a different mechanic altogether for special abilities. For instance, you could have a pool of tokens, each of which can be used to activate a special ability of your choice. Or put one or more tokens on each unit card (assuming you have unit cards) which represent the number of times you can use that unit's special ability. Then you could add other game elements that could give you more tokens, or drain your opponent's tokens.

Fhizban's picture
Joined: 01/11/2009
Problem with Dice

im just wrapping OutsideLime's idea around my head

lets say I have 5 barbarians (so it be barbarians) and 1 shaman, so I throw six special dice in total. Then I can choose if I want to use trample or headhunter, the problem is that i can never know if my shaman-dice actually scored a star symbol. well okay this just goes to far.

lets say I have to decide:
A.) using up to 5 dice for the trample ability (because its 5 barbs)
B.) using 1 die for the headhunter ability (because of one shaman)

the rest of any possible star icons I rolled was in vain. thats not the optimum solution but its okay for a start. army building and decision gets even more tactictal.

there is one problem: the barbarians actually increase the chance of being able to use the headhunter ability, although its limited to 1.

Joined: 10/02/2009
Problem with Dice

I think your best bet is to just color code the dice sets to the units that use them.

That way the Barbarians are, say Blue... and all their combat dice are blue... and their special abilities dice are also blue.

Shamans are Red, and they get red dice all around.

If all you've got are white plastic dice, then draw the symbols in that color.

It does mean packing more dice into the game, especially in a larger battle, but it's the fastest way I can think of... especially where kids are concerned.

In Battle Ball, the characters have the same color base as their dice, so it's easy for my son to keep track of.


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