# Too many dice?

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koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009

Hi everyone.

I have recently designed a sci-fi interstellar combat card game. I have created a proto-type and have been play testing it for about 3 weeks now. It has proven to be a lot of fun. Everyone loves the game and actually asks me to bring it over for them play. I am about to open it up for play testing through an outside group. Anyway, to get to the question. The game uses a simple number of dice system for fleet to fleet combat. You total up the strength of all of your ships at a given location. You then roll that many six-sided dice. What you need to score a hit is determined by what ships and cards your opponent has in play. The mechanic works well, however there have been times when I have had to roll 14 dice or more. My friends say there is something gratifying about rolling that many dice. I think it is clumsy. However, this is not to say that it is not fun. I’m just wondering if there are any other mechanics that could produce the same kind of results without the large dice pool.

I would really appreciate any and all suggestions. Thanks,

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Too many dice?

There are some alternatives without changing the probabilities :

- Split the dice pool: If you roll 14 dices, then roll 7 dice and multiply the number of success by 2.

- Use the law of average: If you must from 5-6 on a d6 to make a success, it mean that you have 1/3 of chance to make 1 success. If you roll 3 dices, then it's 3x1/3 = 1. Which mean that in average, you should get 1 success when rolling 3 dices. So you could play with the rule where each 3 dice ( for a 5-6 roll ) make automatically a success, and the left over dices are roll. Here is a chart

roll 6 = 1/6 -> 6 dice = 1 success
roll 5-6 = 1/3 -> 3 dice = 1 success
Roll 4-6 = 1/2 -> 2 dice = 1 success
roll 3-6 = 2/3 -> 3 dice = 2 success
roll 2-6 = 5/6 -> 6 dice = 5 success

Finally, you can make various method combinations. Like using only half of the dices under the law of average, and roll the rest of the dices.

Infernal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

In a game that I recently was designing (a table top war game). I was rolling 20 sided dice versus a particular target number to determine combat results. I started off with rolling 1D20 for each combatent, but soon relised that I was going to be needing to roll many dice as this was a large scale combat game (1000s of troops on each side).

I relised that I could convert the D20 into a percentile die. Each number on the D20 was worth 5% (100%/20).

I determined that if the target number was rolled exactly then 50% of the troops would score a hit. For each number off target (above or below) the number of troops that scored a hit was modified by 5%. So that if you rolled a 15 and the target number was 12 then 65% of the troops would score a hit.

A similar system coudl be worked out for any dice:
for example, with a D6:
100/6=16.666...
Now this isn't exact, but this could be generalised as 16.5% for each number off the target. A simple way to remember this would be with a chart or table. So:
-3 : 0.5%
-2 : 17%
-1 : 33.5
0 : 50%
+1 : 66.5%
+2 : 83%
+3 : 99.5%
if it is off by 4 or more it is either 0% OR 100%. Now these numbers are hard to calculate but you could have a look up chart/table for common number (5, 10, 20, 25, etc) that the players can use.

Under this example if you rolled a 5 and needed a 3 to hit and you had 20 ships then 16.6 (17 or 16 depending how you round) ships will hit. Of course this system works better with a die value that divides cleenly into 100 better (D10 and D20).

This reduces the dice to just 1 die, but does add some calculation into it.

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Too many dice?

Thanks, those are very good ideas, However I forgot to include one detail that changes things. Typically a roll of 4-5 results in one success (unless there is a card in play that alters that), and a roll of 6 results in two successes. I want to keep the possibility of scoring a large amount of successes, or possibly very few successes. I’m open to any kind of mechanic. Even ones that include cards, or card and dice combinations. Hell, throwing darts to generate a success could be cool too. Just brainstorming.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

A simple solution would be to set a hard limit as to how many dice may be rolled during a single attack (say, 8 dice). This would encourages players to spread out their forces, rather than concentrate them.

Perhaps, when a player's attack strength is better than 8, he is allowed to reroll that many dice. So, if a player's attack strength is 14, he rolls 8 dice, and then is allowed to reroll up to 6 dice of his choice.

Maybe you could tie this reroll mechanism to one of your other mechanisms. For example, a player may only use the reroll option if he has acquired a certain technology level, or when the attack is in the vicinity of the player's home planet, etc.

Infernal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

If you set a limit on the number of dice that can be rolled this would simulate the fact that not all of a force can be involved in an engagement or reserve forces (where less than this limit the engagement is more of a skirmish). This could lead to "pitched" battles where bringing in reenforcement could be part of the strategy (as well as cutting off those reenforcements) and could lead to greater strategical depth (rather than tactical depth). It also increases the interesting decisions that a player can make (should I sacrifice this small fleet to delay this reenforcement squad so that I can overwealm this other squad, or just use the fleet to reenforce the main battle but let their reenforcements arive).

If you allow only a specific number of shipos to addack and be destroyed each turn it can change the nature of the battles and what they can be used for (delaying, attrition, etc), rather than a binary win all/loose all end condition. You can try to retreat from battle if you have survivors left and leave a small (sacrificial) fleet to hold them. It changes the nature of combat from just a tactical exersize to include a stratigic element too.

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Too many dice?

Quote:
This could lead to "pitched" battles where bringing in reenforcement could be part of the strategy (as well as cutting off those reenforcements) and could lead to greater strategical depth (rather than tactical depth).

This is a really good point. I had not considered that. The game plays very quick though, and I don’t want to slow it down. However, I'm going to explore that idea. I could have cards in play that alter the number of ships that a player can use to attack with. The remainder are considered to be reinforcements. I think that makes pretty good sense.

Thanks for all the ideas, if anyone has any more, please keep em coming.

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

I really like the idea of the remainder being reinforcements, that adds a neat element. Risk has a similar thing going on---no matter how many guys you have there, you only roll so many dice past a certain point. Having more dudes just means you have more staying power.

It's worth noting that dice aren't free, so having tons of dice could up production costs if you care about that sort of thing. Making several prototype sets could also be more annoying. I also think some people will be turned off by having big buckets of dice, although others will love it. Some of the things mentioned in this thread sound really interesting, but I personally am slightly turned off whenever a game requires rolling more than 8 or so dice. It just feels slightly silly, becomes cumbersome unless they're small dice, and requires a bit of time to look through the scattered dice for successes. Only my two cents though.

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

jkopena wrote:
I personally am slightly turned off whenever a game requires rolling more than 8 or so dice. It just feels slightly silly, becomes cumbersome unless they're small dice, and requires a bit of time to look through the scattered dice for successes. Only my two cents though.

I guess you never played Stack?

Back on topic. Risk was mentioned as a way to limit dice, however, one annoyance with that is protracted battle sequences. Since your game is fun and quick, perhaps you can enhance the presentation of the dice as part of the game play (think pop-o-matic).

When we play with lots of dice, the clatter and scatter is annoying. To fix this, we bought a sheet of felt from Wal-mart, placed it in a good-sized plastic container and throw the dice into that.
You could even mark up the felt with a boundary, and dice that fell outside of that boundary would be considered a) long-range attackers b) incoming re-inforcements or c) non-participants.

Mitch

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

Larienna wrote:
There are some alternatives without changing the probabilities :

- Split the dice pool: If you roll 14 dices, then roll 7 dice and multiply the number of success by 2.

Taken to its logical extension, you could roll 1 die and multiply by 14. Somehow, that seems flawed. I am not too good with probability and statistics - in fact, that is the only course I ever failed in college - but it seem to me that eliminating the dice has the effect of making the large fleet size irrelevant.
Playing Axis and Allies gives one a good feel for the need to have an overwhelming force. The dice results can't be "shared" if you have 12 tanks: you have to roll six dice twice.

Larienna wrote:
- Use the law of average: If you must from 5-6 on a d6 to make a success, it mean that you have 1/3 of chance to make 1 success. If you roll 3 dices, then it's 3x1/3 = 1. Which mean that in average, you should get 1 success when rolling 3 dices. So you could play with the rule where each 3 dice ( for a 5-6 roll ) make automatically a success, and the left

Now this is just flat out wrong. Take three dice right now and roll them. You just rolled a 1, a 2 and a 3. DOH!

Mitch

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

Multiplying the dice by two to cut the number of dice in half does change the probabilities, but is a viable option in some cases as long as you realize what it's doing to the odds. For example, it's like a game where you roll for damage and really big creatures multiply by two rather than roll twice as many dice. The probabilities aren't the same, but it's a reasonable effect.

But I really like the idea of rolling into an area, and based on where the dice end up, e.g. in/out of a circle, they have different effects. I'll have to mull that over.

Infernal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

Quote:
But I really like the idea of rolling into an area, and based on where the dice end up, e.g. in/out of a circle, they have different effects. I'll have to mull that over.

I like this too. You could have a "bullseye" kind of arrangement with an inner circle which would count for hits, an outer circle (or circles) which could have other effects (fleeing/scattered ships? and can't be used in the next round) and an outside, which don't count for anything (or misses).

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Too many dice?

Of course the probabilities are not exactly the same, but it is some how equivalent.

Quote:
Now this is just flat out wrong. Take three dice right now and roll them. You just rolled a 1, a 2 and a 3. DOH!

This is why it is called the law of average. Normally you should make 1 success with 3 dices at 5-6. Sure you can get nothing or you can get 3 success. But if you want to play a more defensive, less risky strategy, you could say: "i'll take the average" instead of rolling dices.

Infernal
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

The percentage system I created allows for complete misses as well. All you have to do is workout the percentage spread for the numbers that you want to use.

Essentually you assign a "percentage hit" value to the dice numbers rather than a hard "hit or miss", binary value to the die roll.

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
DiceWar!

jkopena wrote:

But I really like the idea of rolling into an area, and based on where the dice end up, e.g. in/out of a circle, they have different effects. I'll have to mull that over.

Well, here is something my oldest son and I worked out this morning.
DiceWar on a posterboard

Each player gets eight dice (red for one, blue for the other). Stand so that your SAFE zone is across the table and nearer to your opponent. You can make up any rules you want, but briefly:
Last person with a ship is the winner. When two ships are near each other, you can battle just by pointing to the enemy ship and making a zapping sound. A zap does one pip damage. Roll Ships onto the board, trying to land within the orange circles. This will give the first ship that enters it a blast bonus whenever enemy ships enter the same zone. The bonus is equal to the number of dots in the zone. (So if a level 6 ship is the second to enter a corner zone, the first ship may blast it for 4 damage, then zap it for 1 more!) If a ship =1 and gets another zap, it is removed from the board. Ships that are rolled or knocked off the board are also out of play. Ships that land in your safe zone can not be zapped. Ships that land in the black hole get auto-zapped each round until dead.
When all ships have been rolled, the round is over. For every zone that you control, build one ship (from your out-of-play stock).
If you have no ships available for the next round, you lose.

Mitch

Anonymous
hmm

Personally i kinda like the idea of having a dice bin on the table and both players throw their dice into it at the same time making lots of noise.

both players count 1..2..3..throw!! and if you dont throw then you automatically loose!

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Too many dice?

I appreciate all of the suggestions that have been posted here. I tried the idea of limiting the number of dice rolled during battles and using the leftover ships as reinforcements. However, it just did not seem to work well in the game. In the end, through much play testing I have simply rebalanced the strategic value of the locations that players are fighting for. By doing this, there is very little need to build up massive forces at one place. In the current version of the game, I rarely find myself rolling more than 6 dice at one time. Also, there are only 9 potential battles in the game so players don’t get overloaded with throwing dice. Anyway, the game is coming along well. I am nearly ready to open up play testing to a much larger group. I am slowing down on the game design and starting to focus on the art for the cards.

Again, Thanks for all of the input.

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too many dice?

Do you really even need dice?

If your problem is that you are rolling too many dice, then why not use coins? Pennies are small, cheap, and make a satisfying "cha-ching" noise when you roll a whole bunch of them in your hand. Roll and toss them at once and count the heads. Quick and easy.

The one obvious drawback with coins is that they have only two states (heads or tails). When large quantities of coins are combined, however, the odds even out.