Friday, 18 October 2013

I make my own luck (not really)

Good Friday everyone!

Today I would like to talk about the unusual mentality behind a 1 in 6 die roll.


So I woke up with a great email sitting on my phone from a treasured playtester for CRYPTS who came up with an awesome idea.

The email included a suggestion introducing a minor mechanic introducing an effect by rolling a 1 on a d6 in certain situations.

Now first I would like to say that I loved the idea suggested and will be looking to incorporate this into my next test rules.

Second, it got me thinking about my mentality of the d6, and I'm left wondering if others see it the same way.


I remember back in my GW days I used to have lots of armour saves that required rolling a 6. I remember that rolling a 6 on 1d6 seemed impossible. It never happened, especially when I wanted it to.

On the other hand, rolling a 1 seemed to happen all the time!

This is the strange thing, because both rolls are 1 in 6, so assuming a perfectly balanced dice, over a long enough time you should see just as many 6s as you do 1s.

But hand on heart I would swear to you that for every 6 I rolled, I would roll 10 1s.


The more I think about this, the more I see similar irregularities in other games. Let's have a look at Malifaux for example.

Now this game as many of you will know uses cards rather than dice, as such it's version of super good vs mega bad is the red vs black joker.

Now many will remember the hoo-har about a year or 2 ago over Hard to Wound, and how flipping more cards made it easier for the attacker to flip a red joker causing insane amount of damage, which was the opposite of the intended mechanic.

What you never heard was that flipping more cards also meant a higher chance of flipping the black joker, causing no damage - the exact intent of the mechanic!

So why was this? That something that using very basic probability should be just as likely to be flipped is never remembered in that instance, while the other is?


I have only one possible explanation for this, and that is down to the perceived difference between the good results and the bad.

Going back to the d6 mechanics, no matter the situation, rolling a 1 was always bad.

If you wanted to shoot someone with a gun, rolling a 1 meant you missed.

If you wanted to save your trooper from being shot, rolling a 1 meant you failed.

Rolling a 1 was always BAD!

But if you wanted to shoot someone, and your required 'to hit roll' was a 4+, then rolling a 6 was the same (in many games) as rolling a 4 or a 5.
- hell, imagine if it was a 2+ requirement, then there is no difference between a 2 and a 6.

With this in mind, if there is no difference, how many 6s have been rolled and been ignored because they are counted as part of the mass 'success' roll?


So just think about it for a moment. Let's say you need to make 5 die rolls in a game, a 2+, a 3+, a 4+, a 5+ and a 6+?

In those 5 rolls, if you ever roll a 1, you will likely pay attention, because it means you fail in any of the 5 rolls.

In those rolls however, there is only 1 which requires a 6 to succeed, and when it comes to that roll, you have a 5 in 6 chance of failing!

So just think about that, if you need to roll that 6, and you manage to pull it off, you'll be celebrating, because it was about as against the odds as possible!


Of course random chance does allow for the possibility that there could be someone who for their entire life only ever rolls 1s. It is possible, just super-duper unlikely.


I've never been one to call myself unlucky, I prefer to put my failures in games down to a lack of skill. Yes I may get bad dice rolls, but chances are if I had done other things it would present more opportunities to get better dice rolls (like using 2 dice instead of 1).


Anyway, that's all from me for today, so as always; stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

No comments:

Post a Comment