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Using 6-sided dice in Combat

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Nestalawe's picture
Joined: 08/07/2008


I am working on a Fantasy Empire-Building game, where players have Leaders and Armies. Each Army is unique and would consist of say 2000 men on average.

To keep battles quick, but interesting, I am looking at using unique 6-sided dice. By unique I mean having different results other than 1-6.

Ideally, I would like a combat to be resolved in one roll of the dice. Cards from player's hand would also be played to a variety of effects.

Now, this is a fantasy game, so there will be armies of goblins, scorpion men, knights, dark elves etc etc. But I was thinking of trying to sort armies into say 4 basic groups - Infantry, Cavalry, Missile Troops and Monsters.

My next thought was that I could have 4 or more different types of dice, with each dice being better at killing a certain troop type. The way I would have this would be that say I had an Infantry army that was best at fightig other infantry. The faces on the dice would be - Infantry/Infantry/Cavalry/Missile/Monster/Miss - thus there is a 2/6 chance of killing an enemy infantry army, and 1/6 chance of anything else. The idea would then be to go through your sides armies at the start of the battle and work out what type of dice each army gives you, gather up all the relevant dice, then both sides roll and see if they kill any of the opponents armies.

Thats the guts of it, but it doesn't quite feel as exciting or interesting as it should. I really like the idea of different armies having different dice, and of making each army unique.

One idea I had was to line up both sides of a battle, and match up army to army, with each army having a type it was better at fighting. i.e. an infantry army fighting another infantry may roll one type of die, but if it fought a cavalary army, it may roll a different type of die, etc.

Anyway, I have been wandering around BGG, trying to find some interesting ways games use 6-sided dice similar to this, and like the 'Commands & Colours:Ancients' system, and the 'Nin-Gonost' system (not so much) and am sure there is a snazzy way to work out a nice system somehow, which will let players decide the outcome of a battle in one rolling of a range of dice, with cards being played before and after, that would produce interesting outcomes in a way that 'feels' right.

Hmm, not sure if that makes so much sense, but still, any thoughts would be appreciated...


Joined: 12/31/1969
Using 6-sided dice in Combat

That's a very cool idea. Here's my suggestion to jazz it up...

Combat is fought in 3 waves. Each wave, a player may choose to select some
or all of his units to fight. Each chosen unit gets one dice.

Each unit will have one or more styles of attack. Prior to rolling the
dice, the player selects a die for each unit according to the troop type and style of
attack desired.

For example:

Orc Warband:
- Beserk! Use the red dice
- Engage! Use the green dice

Chaos Knights
- Support: Use the blue dice
- Charge! : Use the white dice

The players both secretly gather up their chosen dice and roll them. The dice
will have coloured spots (perhaps more than one) on each side. Rolling a red spot allows you to remove one enemy dice of that colour from combat. There would be a precedence order for deciding who gets to cause casualties first, based on dice colour. For
example missile troops using yellow die always attack first. Cavalry
using blue or white dice second, then infantry etc. Cards can also modify attack
order. Dice removed as casulaties may not hit back.

At the end of the wave of combat, both players may have some dice
remaining. They stay in place for the next wave, but move them to one
side so they are not disturbed by the next roll.

Now, play the next wave. The newly rolled dice are now considered in
conjunction with suviving dice from the previous wave. Attack order and
removal of dice rolls are as before.

Then play the final wave. The winner of the battle is the one with most
dice left at the end.


Playing the battle in waves adds an element of strategy to the game
since players must choose between keeping reserves to see how things pan
out, and what surviving dice are on the table, and winning the initial

The attack order precedence of unit types will also determine which wave they are best played in, in conjunction with considering the forces available to the enemy.

There would probably need to be an incentive for winning early
waves, such as extra special bonus dice in subsequent waves to prevent
players from holding nearly all their dice back to the end of the

Further Modifications

Each player has a dice representing the general. Adding it to a given
wave confers further advantages to that wave, but suffer consequences
if it is lost.

Could introduce abstract concept of terrain by :
- stating the victory bonusfor winning the first two waves (which is applied to resolution of subsequent waves)
- preventing use of certain dice in certain waves. E.g. no archers in final wave

Could introduce concept of morale at the end of a wave by removing dice
which are outnumbered by surviving enemy dice to a value greater than
that troops morale value.

Hope some of that makes sense...

Nestalawe's picture
Joined: 08/07/2008
Using 6-sided dice in Combat

Fwoar! Most excellent posting there RG!

A lot of good stuff in there, I will have to digest it some...

One thing - the biggest stack of units in the game will have around 10 armies or so methinks (speculating, but wanting to keep stacks to a reasonable size). One way I want to keep stacks to reasonable sizes is to give each General a leadership rating, which will indicate the number of armies they can lead effectively - they can lead more, but any over that amount wil suffer for it in battle.

Maybe that can be modelled by giving armies two types of attack as you mention, but only those that are being led will be able to use the second one.

Ok, i'll be back with further musings on your ideas, good stuff!

Joined: 12/31/1969
Using 6-sided dice in Combat

Nestalawe wrote:
Fwoar! Most excellent posting there RG!

Steady on, old chap!

One thing - the biggest stack of units in the game will have around 10 armies or so methinks

'tis ok, simply assign multiple dice per unit, with the constraint that they must all be rolled in the same wave. The more dice you roll, the easier it is going to be to balance the probabilities of the various outcomes, I'd say. Plus IMO a battle with more dice is just going to feel like a better rumble.

The other thought I had was rather than going for three waves, go for two flanks and a centre, with the attackingplayer opening battle on whichever sector he likes. Seems more militarily plausible to me than the waves concept.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Using 6-sided dice in Combat

I think was you should determine first what is the number of parameter that will be in your dice roll. The more parameter you have, the lower is the number of dice roll you will have to make but each dice roll will be more complex.

Have you take a look at this thread?

I also made a set of probabilities for 2 kind of dice roll, this can be useful to make sure the probabilities makes some sense. Look in these threads :

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