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Subject: Dice Rolling for actions? rss

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martin
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I had an idea for a game that involves dice rolling for actions. My idea would be to have the player roll 5+ custom dice each turn to determine which actions he may perform that turn. The dice would have 6 symbols, each one representing a different action. Perhaps one of the symbols could be a "take any action of your choice" or players may convert 2 actions into a single action of their choice (ALA Tiny Epic Galaxies)

Once the actions are determined by dice, the Player distributes these actions to different workers/units to perform the said action.

Whats the general consensus on Rolling for actions? I know rolling for How many actions per turn a player has is kinda frowned upon. But what about which actions he may perform each turn??

I have personally not played any dice rolling for action games and do not have any experience with such. However, I feel that restricting which actions may be taken each turn might positively give the player tough choices which will improve the play experience.

What are your thoughts on this?
Are there any really cool mechanics involving dice rolling for actions?
 
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Brad Miller
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Grand Austria Hotel and Kingsburg use non custom dice like this, as do Roll for the Galaxy and War of the Ring (second edition).
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Philip Pack
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Pandemic: The Cure also does this... with unique dice for each character.
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Koen Hendrix
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Are all actions useful for all workers at all times? If not, it seems like you could get screwed by the dice really easily. That could be especially jarring in a lengthy, strategic game.

There should at least be some kind of mechanic to turn unwanted actions into something else (like the Tiny Epic example you mentioned).

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game has every player roll a small pool of standard D6s on their turn. The dice can then be used for different types of actions, with some actions requiring specific numbers (e.g. 4+).

In Alien Frontiers players roll their personal pool of 3-6 dice, and those can then be used for specific actions depending on their value. For example: you can use die to get half its value in Energy; you can use matching pairs of dice to gain an extra dice next turn; 3 straight numbers (e.g. 2-3-4) allows you to steal form another player.

In both of these games (and many others) there are multiple uses for both high and low values, which greatly helps to mitigate the randomness of the dice. It feels like it's not so much about rolling well, and more about using your results well.

My first game In Security does use a rolling-for-actions system, but uses a shared pool of dice as the available actions. On their turn players can pick one action from the pool and pass the now-slightly-smaller pool to the next player, or they can pay to increase and reroll the entire pool. The game is quick and light so the moderate amount of luck doesn't get annoying.
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Veethika
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In my recently design game Annexe I have used a combination of d6+d12. The sum obtained has to fall in a range for the relative action to be performed. It kind of well distributes the chances in the context of my game.
 
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John Swanson
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How much have you played Tiny Epic Galaxies? What you describe is very similar to that, and I can tell you that for me, the fun of the game often comes down to how many near to completely useless turns I have.

Similar to what has already been said, if some actions are only useful within specific contexts, the system can be extremely frustrating if you don't get anything you need.

On the other hand, if all die faces have some utility regardless of the particular game state, you could have a really interesting system where players must balance each die face as a 'semi-flexible' resource.
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martin
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Thanks for the heads up on all those other games that use the mechanic I will have to do some homework and look into those games.

Quote:
How much have you played Tiny Epic Galaxies? What you describe is very similar to that, and I can tell you that for me, the fun of the game often comes down to how many near to completely useless turns I have.
Similar to what has already been said, if some actions are only useful within specific contexts, the system can be extremely frustrating if you don't get anything you need.


I have not played it yet. Good point and this seems to be the root of the problem with such a mechanic. Any time you take away freedom of choice, there is a chance of frustration on the part of players not getting what they need.

Quote:
Are all actions useful for all workers at all times? If not, it seems like you could get screwed by the dice really easily. That could be especially jarring in a lengthy, strategic game.


Yes and no. From the possible six actions/dice faces, Most workers could use one of around 4 or so of the actions. The other will benefit the player's economy (giving resources) and the last will likely give the player choice to use as any action they desire.
Also it should be mentioned that the 5+ dice are rolled and then assigned to the workers. Not rolling for each worker. So maybe you need 2 "Build" actions, but instead get one. You would then have to prioritize which worker gets it or possibly even sacrifice other orders/or even resources to get that second "Build" action.

Maybe including a default action that is used when a worker is not activated with an action. maybe a completely seperate action and Certainly not as powerful as a real action or maybe even a regular action but at reduced effectiveness?

So I gather the best bet would be too add as much counter-balances as possible to this mechanic so that players can maybe sacrifice abit in order to get what they really need in terms of actions for that round. It Seems like a Thin red line (selfish promotion here...sorry couldn`t help myself lol) between taking away some freedom from player so they have tought choices and taking too much away so that they feel frustrated.

possible solutions:

(Wilcard)
One dice face gives the player a "use as any action of your choice"

2 for 1
Player may sacrifice any two actions and convert them into any one action of their choice. (ie. Tiny epic Galaxies)

Pay for re-roll
Possibly spending resources for a re-roll?

Including lots of Special abilities
Maybe have buildings that allow an extra action dice to be rolled, or a dice to be re-rolled. Have cards that give One-time special abilities such as 'add any action of your choice to the dice pool this turn' ect.

Building a better organized network (Somewhat related to the above..)
Perhaps the players, if they so choose, may focus the first couple of turns of the game to build their communication infrastructure or whatever. This may hurt them short term, but help long term in that once the buildings and or abilities are gained they will be better able to command the workers with actions that they want most of the time.

Default actions
Maybe if any worker is not assigned a useful action, they may take a default action, which is less effective but better than doing nothing.


Any ideas or suggestions? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Chris Morrow
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You might also look at Discoveries or Troyes where players build a dice pool to use for their actions -- there are ways in both games to utilize dice from other players' pools (at a mark-up, of course). For me, this mitigates the potential downtime of rolling unusable actions.

Personally, I like the inclusion of dice as resources and actions in the games listed here so it is something that would interest me as a consumer.

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Kent Reuber
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Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861 and Clash of Wills: Shiloh 1862 use the "dice for actions" mechanic.

1: draw a card
2-3: fire with artillery
4-5: move
6: draw a card, fire or move with a unit in a general's area.

Some cards allow you to move or fire, which allows for some less-random results.
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Tonichi Sanvictores
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You can take a look at King of New York for some inspiration as well.

However, I'd call them "outcomes" instead of "actions", since based on your description, you distribute the actions that are rolled. In the case of KoNY, the outcomes happen, whether you want them or not.

On your turn, you roll 6 dice, and can reroll any number of them 2 more times. When the dice rolls are what you want (or you have used up your 2 rerolls), all outcomes must be resolved (in any order).

Die faces:
* Heart - gain 1 life
* Energy - gain 1 energy (which can then be used to purchase powers)
* Claw - attack worth 1 pt
* Star - gain Victory points (but only for 3 dice with this outcome)
* Destroy Building - destroy a building/military unit worth 1 pt
* Skull - military units attack for 1 pt per unit

The tension comes from deciding what strategy to pursue per turn, and dealing with sub-optimal dice rolls.
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Dave Lartigue
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In my opinion, you need to decide if you want to involve dice or not. I don't mind dice, and in fact I get turned off when a game that relies on dice includes a bunch of ways to mitigate the randomness of them. Why make a dice game if you're going to sand the faces down and allow everyone to just pick what they want to do anyway?

If you're going to use dice for actions, then use dice. But you have to give players ways to handle not getting what they want. I would suggest not allowing them to manipulate the dice to remove the randomness, but instead making it so that if I really want to ship goods but don't roll any of those, there's still something else I can do. It may not be what I wanted, but I won't be sitting there doing nothing.

If you can't or don't want to do this, then ditch the dice. You'll make everyone happier. The people who hate dice will gain interest in your game and the people who like dice won't be fooled into thinking they're playing a dice game when in fact they're playing a dice-avoiding game.
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Edward Wedig
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My game, Twenty Yard Shamble, uses action dice. Each turn, players roll 4 (or 5, or 6) dice, and get to choose 3 actions that their zombie may take, in any order.

The game is about racing zombies, and betting on the outcome. To mitigate the fact that sometimes, the dice wont roll in your favor, there is a betting mechanic in the game where players can place bets on any zombie, including their own. This allows players who's zombies are performing poorly (bad dice rolls), to bet on better performing zombies, and earn prestige points. It also allows players with better performing zombies to "double down" and bet on themselves.

Personally, I don't have an issue with rolling dice for the number of actions that a player gets. But, if you think it may be a problem, you could give the player a choice: they get 3 actions for each dice they would normally roll, or they can "take a chance" and roll the dice, and hope to get a more-than-average number of actions.

-Ed
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Isn't this describing the central engines for The Castles of Burgundy and Roll for the Galaxy? I'm guessing each can fit that description and those are two extremely popular games so it must work well for many.
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John
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Some thoughts:
(Wilcard)
An obvious solution, easy to understand. A (Wilcard) is at least as good as any other roll so rolling wildcards is always good.

2 for 1
Roll for the Galaxy did this too before Tiny Epic Galaxies. I think King of New York has a card that allowed you to do this with certain dice rolls (or to gain certain dice rolls). I like the

Pay for re-roll
Personally I don't like re-rolling dice. It takes time (admittedly not much time) sometimes I find it difficult to work out whether re-rolling is worth doing, sometimes it's obviously the only thing to do (e.g. last round of Yahtzee). The Yahtzee "up to 3 re-rolls and variations where you pay or must keep certain dice don't seem that interesting to me.

Including lots of Special abilities
I always like special abilities are always good - adding a specific action, allowing a player to switch a specific action (or to a specific action). Roll for the Galaxy has plenty of this kind of thing.

Building a better organized network (Somewhat related to the above..)
If you're having special abilities then I think a trade off between gaining the special abilities and going straight for points (or whatever the aim of the game is)

Default actions
Seems ok, but probably the least interesting of the options. However if it works for your game then use it.
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John
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Geosphere wrote:
those are two extremely popular games so it must work well for many.


That was my thought - it's certainly one of Roll's central mechanics and Roll has been pretty successful.
 
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John
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One suggestion:

Dice faces with two options
Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition has this. So you could have a gain resource / build face. I think both this and the wildcard work better if you can gain new or different dice during the game - I don't like the idea of starting with dices where one face is better than others. The answer to "which roll is best" should be "it depends".
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Dave Lartigue
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zabdiel wrote:
One suggestion:

Dice faces with two options
Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition has this. So you could have a gain resource / build face. I think both this and the wildcard work better if you can gain new or different dice during the game - I don't like the idea of starting with dices where one face is better than others. The answer to "which roll is best" should be "it depends".


This killed RollFTG for me. If it's a dice game, have the guts to make it a dice game. A die with all six numbers on every side isn't a die. The way for players to deal with the randomness of the dice should be to give them fallback options if they can't do the one thing they want to do the most. Too many rerolls, wildcards, manipulations, and so forth just make me wonder why you went with dice in the first place.
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martin
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Quote:
You can take a look at King of New York for some inspiration as well.


Yes, I have heard of Kings of New york and have looked into it abit before. I just failed to mention it in my post because I thought my idea was closer to Epic tiny galaxies

Quote:
In my opinion, you need to decide if you want to involve dice or not. I don't mind dice, and in fact I get turned off when a game that relies on dice includes a bunch of ways to mitigate the randomness of them. Why make a dice game if you're going to sand the faces down and allow everyone to just pick what they want to do anyway?


Good point Dave. I will have to give it some serious thought. Like I said before, I find its about taking away just enought freedom from players so that they have tought decisions to make with the dice but at the same time trying to minimise too much frustration on their part. If they don't get the dice/actions they want there will have to be other stuff to do to keep them occupied on their turn.

In your opinion, Do you think the Wildcard dice face of 'choose any action' would be too much?

Also special abilities on cards I think could be a good idea as one time bonuses. perhaps getting one card every 2-3 turns wouldn`t hurt a dice game too much?

Quote:
Some thoughts:
(Wilcard)
An obvious solution, easy to understand. A (Wilcard) is at least as good as any other roll so rolling wildcards is always good.

2 for 1
Roll for the Galaxy did this too before Tiny Epic Galaxies. I think King of New York has a card that allowed you to do this with certain dice rolls (or to gain certain dice rolls). I like the

Pay for re-roll
Personally I don't like re-rolling dice. It takes time (admittedly not much time) sometimes I find it difficult to work out whether re-rolling is worth doing, sometimes it's obviously the only thing to do (e.g. last round of Yahtzee). The Yahtzee "up to 3 re-rolls and variations where you pay or must keep certain dice don't seem that interesting to me.

Including lots of Special abilities
I always like special abilities are always good - adding a specific action, allowing a player to switch a specific action (or to a specific action). Roll for the Galaxy has plenty of this kind of thing.

Building a better organized network (Somewhat related to the above..)
If you're having special abilities then I think a trade off between gaining the special abilities and going straight for points (or whatever the aim of the game is)

Default actions
Seems ok, but probably the least interesting of the options. However if it works for your game then use it.


Thanks John. I appreciate the feedback on my ideas.

Quote:
One suggestion:

Dice faces with two options
Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition has this. So you could have a gain resource / build face. I think both this and the wildcard work better if you can gain new or different dice during the game - I don't like the idea of starting with dices where one face is better than others. The answer to "which roll is best" should be "it depends".


Thats a really good idea, thanks and deffinately a possiblity to use. However, I don't think I would implement it unless I find a 6th action I wish to fit in the game. Right now I have 5 actions to use + the pick any action (wildcard) dice face.

As of right now, thanks to all the input from BGG users, I think the best solutions and the simplest would be:

(Wilcard)

One dice face gives the player a "use as any action of your choice"

2 for 1
Player may sacrifice any two actions and convert them into any one action of their choice. (ie. Tiny epic Galaxies)


Pay for re-roll
Possibly spending resources for a re-roll?


Including some Special abilities cards
Maybe have buildings that allow an extra action dice to be rolled, or a dice to be re-rolled. Have cards that give One-time special abilities such as 'add any action of your choice to the dice pool this turn' ect.

Building a better organized network (Somewhat related to the above..)
Perhaps the players, if they so choose, may focus the first couple of turns of the game to build their communication infrastructure or whatever. This may hurt them short term, but help long term in that once the buildings and or abilities are gained they will be better able to command the workers with actions that they want most of the time.


Default actions
Maybe if any worker is not assigned a useful action, they may take a default action, which is less effective but better than doing nothing.


So I`ll probably go with the two options above for my game and try not to overdo it with the special abilities. Test it with what I have and see if the balance of freedom vs frustration is right.

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Matt Lee
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An interesting twist on this concept is in Saint Malo.

You roll 5 dice and can mix and match what you re-roll until you complete the third roll and you choose which icon you are scoring for that roll. There is the additional pirate face that must be used if there are any still showing after the third roll, but otherwise you have a rather large selection of different things to build, such as walls to protect your village, different townsfolks (based on how many townpeople you roll), churches you can build, wood you can gather and so on.

Interestingly, they chose to go with wet erase markers and thickly laminated boards instead of many tokens.
 
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John
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Legomancer wrote:
This killed RollFTG for me.

I should have said that I've not idea how well this works in practice, I've never played Roll let alone Ambition.

Legomancer wrote:
Too many rerolls, wildcards, manipulations, and so forth just make me wonder why you went with dice in the first place.


Yes, though if you have to sacrifice something to get the manipulations then it could be interesting, but if you have too much at the start of the game or everyone has to go for manipulations then I agree.
 
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John
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Legomancer wrote:
make me wonder why you went with dice in the first place.

There's also the aspect of pushing the boundaries of what's possible with dice, using components in unexpected ways and having a wide variety of games is a good thing in my book.
 
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