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Subject: All else being equal: one dice roll or mass dice roll? rss

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ace base
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I know in general there is a tending towards simplification in game design, but that being said games like axis and allies have appeal in the mass dice fest.

Assuming you had a simple game, an rpg or something, and with the odds being basically the same (I know they are not same) is it 'more fun' for a player with 8 accuracy to roll 8 d20s hoping for one result, or to roll one dice and hope for a 8 or less?
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Liz Burton
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dragon0085 wrote:
Assuming you had a simple game, an rpg or something, and with the odds being basically the same (I know they are not same) is it 'more fun' for a player with 8 accuracy to roll 8 d20s hoping for one result, or to roll one dice and hope for a 8 or less?


My opinion: If you're only interested in one die result, it would be better to use just one d20.

Of course, if all the dice are important (e.g., Risk, Heroscape), then by all means use lots of dice!
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Adam Mitschelen
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I think it's important not to underestimate difference between how those two options behave statistically. By your example, if your accuracy is 20 you are guaranteed a hit rolling one D20. However, rolling 20 D20's and checking for at least one 20 may still fail. In fact, the probability of success is only about 64%.

That said, I think the 'more fun' option is the one that produces the better game.
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Koen Hendrix
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Looking at just the fun factor, I really enjoy getting to roll a lot of dice when I go 'all out'. One person rolling 3 versus another person rolling 8 dice adds a nice tactile (not to mention, audible!) experience of the difference in power level.

(You said disregard the probability, but you need to know that the two methods have a very different kind of probability curve. I prefer the dice pool method there too, for what it's worth.)

Also, if you do use dice pools, I'd use d6s or d10s rather than d20s.
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Michael Bonet
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I look at it this way, in Castle Ravenloft you roll 1 d20 to determine if you hit when attacking. Your percentage to hit is based on a specific number on your card or the monster's. The percentage might be higher but psychologically that one die roll does not feel like it offers enough of a chance to win. Now take the die mechanic in Eldritch Horror. You roll multiple dice based on your skill at a particular action (e.g. Investigating). Your percentage actually drops because of the multiple dice but psychologically it makes me feel like I have more of a chance, especially if I view each die as an individual percentage instead of the whole.

Statistically, I should prefer the single die roll and focus on lowering that threshold but like many gamers, the allure of rolling multiple dice is powerful.
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Mark J
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I wonder about this question myself.

I can see that rolling more dice may give a feel of "there's a whole lot going on here". Like if when I attack with 1 army I roll 1 die but when I attack with 10 armies I roll 10 dice, I can see that giving a feel of "more".

On the other hand, rolling more dice can just be an awkward pain.

On the third hand, I wonder which is easier for the player to manage? Like which is easier: "roll a number of dice equal to your marksmanship rating and if you get at least one 6 it's a hit", or "roll one die, add your marksmanship rating, and if the result is 7 or more it's a hit"? (I realize the probabilities are not the same, I'll get to that in a moment.) Is the counting or arithmetic in either case so trivial that it doesn't matter? Or is this the sort of minor inconvenience that adds up to make a game unnecessarily complex?

And yes, the probabilities are different. If you roll more dice, there are more possible outcomes. Logically if you roll 1 D6 there are 6 possible outcomes, 2D6 there are 36 possible outcomes, etc. You may or may not take advantage of that. I think an advantage of a rule that says roll multiple dice and if you get at least one 6 that's a success, versus rolling a single die and some range of values is a success, is that an "at least one 6" rule makes it so it's always possible to succeed and always possible to fail, the odds just get smaller or larger as the number of dice increase. But with a single D6 (or however many sides), at some point you have to make the jump from 5/6 chance of success to 100% chance of success, and there's no possible number in the middle.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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saneperson wrote:
I think an advantage of a rule that says roll multiple dice and if you get at least one 6 that's a success, versus rolling a single die and some range of values is a success, is that an "at least one 6" rule makes it so it's always possible to succeed and always possible to fail, the odds just get smaller or larger as the number of dice increase. But with a single D6 (or however many sides), at some point you have to make the jump from 5/6 chance of success to 100% chance of success, and there's no possible number in the middle.


I agree with this.

I think that the reason D&D made use of d20+mod instead of d6+mod is to create more "slices" before you get to that final jump of 19/20 to 100%. That said, the power scale in D&D is such that you go from the mundane to the fantastic in some pretty big jumps, and the mundane are usually shut-out of any chances to harm the fantastic.

If you were, on the other hand, going to simulate a less fantastic world ... one in which a normal person can get lucky and land a fatal hit ... I'd go with multiple dice and a "count success" system.
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Imaginary Thomas
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I would find rolling 8 d20 cumbersome and many people won't have 8 d20 lying around (in terms of a print and play) and to include at least 8 in a box would drive the price up.
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Mark J
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Oh, yes, excellent point: Even if you conclude that more dice is better, what does this do to the cost of the game? The difference between 1D6 in the box and 2D6 is pretty trivial. But if you start saying that you need 20 dice, especially if they are not cheap and ordinary D6's, that's going to add to the cost of the game.
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Benj Davis
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Rolling more dice is more fun, up to about ten dice of sizes up to d12, or up to about 3d20s.
Rolling multiple times, however, is not more fun.
 
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Joseph Larson
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Rolling dice is a lot of fun. Especially if you have a dice tower. The click/clack of the dice. Or the pop-o-matic bubble, anyone remember those?

But then there's the math. And for many folks the fun of the roll is overshadowed to one degree or another by the math. Even something as simple as "Add up the number of hits" is math, though it's fairly tame math. But as with games like Risk or DnD, adding the numbers on dice and attack bonuses for 3 characters and then comparing the results smacks some people so squarely in the arithmetic that the fun of the dice falling like rain is completely swallowed up.

Mind, folks like you or I who have big brains aren't daunted by that sort of thing. But we're not the mass that the simpler games are trying to appeal to.
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Aaron Edwards
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Moar dice!
 
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Silver Robert
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I remember reading a paper on probability theory that scientifically proved the chance of all the dice in the group hating you approaches 1 as the group size decreases. whistle
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Dave Hamrick
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I don't have a degree in psychology or anything, but I do assume that the sound of two (or more) dice rolling together in ones hand sounds more pleasing than the silence of rolling one die.

Plus, two dice means much different odds and much more variety in game play. Of course, that all depends on the core function of the dice--is it the heart of the game and is it necessary to calculate everything by 36ths, 216ths, etc? Or is it simpler, needing only 6ths?

At the end of the day, just do what ya like best and make everything else flow around it!
 
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David Horm
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I vote more smaller dice.

Recently I played a game of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game dog-fighting game where I vocalized the number of defense dice I would roll. "So 3d8 is my default plus 1d8 for distance plus 1d8 for obstacle plus 1d8 for my upgrade for a total of 6d8." I would place the dice next to each other one by one watching the attacker's eyes widen with each additional die. It was really fun just setting it up, but wasn't so fun when I rolled all blanks.

I also recently played Lords of Vegas area-control game where I had to roll my 2d6, and Player B's 2d6s, and Player C's 3d6s to determine the boss of a giant casino. The boss is determined by the highest single die, and you gotta reroll ties. Player B and I tied on the first roll with 6s, then that reroll caused all three of us to tie with 5s, and then another reroll caused Player C to win the casino back at 6. It definitely felt like a going-all-in-stand-up moment.

In Formula D racing game, the higher gear you're in, the bigger the die (with more sides) you roll, but it's a single die. The highest gear is a d20 (with modified numbers), but you don't get to use it often since you have to slow down for corners. I guess it's kinda exciting when somebody does shift all the way up there, but that funness is fleeting.
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