Monday, November 17, 2014

NoBloMo #16 - Rolling Dice

In an entirely unscientific-based rant, I want to talk for a moment about rolling D6 dice, and how I'm falling less in love with the pips. This is vastly different from Pip on Twitter, whom I adore. But I digress...the diagram you see above is what I think about every time people focus on the value of two dice rolling. See? TOTALLY unscientific.

A Numbers Game

D6 Dice and board games practically go hand-in-hand, and have been the driving force in many board games, usually as-is, leveraging dice values with actions and movements for decades. But really, when you understand odds and calculate the chances, you start to dismiss luck and chance as pure randomness, making it a terrible thing.

I really think, however, that dice values and probability has made people extremely sour about dice-rolling in games.


The most common number of D6 dice used is two, and the probability of getting certain values is a bell curve. The most common and likely value you earn being around a 7, while getting a 2 or 12 is a 1 in 36 chance.  Bottom line, players quickly understand that it's hard to get 2 or 12, but easy to roll the average. Most games leave it at that and work their game around these simple statistics, never to observe past mere values and see the greater picture - that they're cubes to roll.

Face Value

LOVE the Angry Dice Expansions! (I still love dice)

Get rid of the pips, get rid of the sum probabilities, and you get just cubes. Cubes that give you a 1/36 chance again for any combinations, or at least plateaus the traditional bell curve to something flatter. Replace face values with symbols, positioning them strategically in different faces, and increasing/decreasing their frequency gives designers a new statistic to conform their gameplay against, and it gives control back to them for directing where the game will take them. Yes, it's still a roll of the dice away, but it's a roll of THEIR dice.

No-Pip Dice Games

I went through a number of dice games in my previous NoBloMo on Dice, but there are still plenty of games out there that do not rely on values to manipulate gameplay.

Robinson Crusoe by Portal Games uses dice to determine the success or failure of tasks, whether damage was taken, and whether something happened along the way. It's uniIt's a nice random element that makes sense, since you're on an island where anything can happen.

Firewall is a game that has players trying to hack into a terminal. The dice for this game not only are not pips, but they're lavishly decorated to fit the tech theme appropriately. You can roll programs with a cool binary backdrop, computer terminals, and hex-based firewalls. The game just went live on Kickstarter today, so you should really check it out!

Chroma Cubes (another Kickstarter that successfully funded rececntly) has players rolling dice to get the colors they need to color in their pictures. A fun game that easily captures children's attention as well as adults!

A New Image

I'm not terribly against any game that uses dice values to dictate actions. In many games, it's the best option to go by. RPGs stick out in my mind. But sometimes, dice are just cubes with 6 faces, 6 chances to be something different. We don't necessarily need it to be values 1 to 6. They can be anything we want. And wouldn't we want something more than just dots?

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