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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Concerning Dice Pools rss

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Shanen Opolis
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I recently made a big change to the mechanics of a title in prototype, making a move from a single d10 roll with modifiers, to a pool of d6s, looking for 1s and 6s (the final version would have custom dice, of course).

The new system is actually really fun, and cleans up a lot of the snags we were having playing the previous version, so it's a definite improvement, but the only thing we noticed was that the number of dice needed could cause some problems.

Each player has 3 "pools" for different things during the game. These pools refresh to default values every turn, totaling no more than 8 or 10 between the three pools. These numbers are pretty low, but before you pull dice from those pools to roll, you also add anywhere from 1 to even 10 dice (on rare occasions). In playtesting we've found that the average roll includes maybe 3 to 12 dice, but could sometimes be more. Now that seems like a lot to me, so I'm just wondering how other people feel about big dice pools. What constitutes a good number of dice for a pool roll, and how many is too many?

Thanks!
Shane
http://endymiongames.com
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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12 dice sounds inconvenient but probably manageable.

But if you're going to be making custom dice anyway, have you considered making different kinds of dice, where some dice are "worth more" than others, so you wouldn't need to roll as many?

You said you're looking for 1s and 6s. If 1s and 6s are treated the same, you effectively have a die labeled {0,0,0,0,1,1}; if you replace 2 of those dice with a die labeled {0,0,0,1,1,2}, that's not quite equivalent, but it's the same average and pretty close to the same distribution. If you replace 5 dice with a single die labeled, say, {0,1,1,2,2,4}, you're definitely starting to lose some granularity at the high end, but you could greatly reduce the number of dice you need, and maybe it would still be good enough for your purposes?

(If 1s and 6s are treated differently, you could use a different symbol for each one, and some faces of a single die could have both symbols...)

I'm not imagining that players would have the choice to roll 5 regular dice or 1 special die, but that you could change one of your bonuses that currently adds +5 dice to your pool to instead add +1 special die, so players wouldn't have the opportunity to manipulate the system to their advantage.
 
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M. Rubinelli
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The most important limit is how many dice your players can comfortably hold and shake in their hands. As such, beyond having "more powerful" dice, I see two ways to increase this limit: use smaller dice (maybe in the 12 to 14mm range for a pool of up to 20 dice) or a dice cup.
 
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T D
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I'm not a designer, but my personal experience from playing games like Eldritch Horror is that rolling any more than 6 dice at one time starts to feel unwieldy. Incidentally, that's also around the point where die start to frequently escape and where it starts to become cumbersome to tally & calculate the result of the roll.

My personal advice would be, if you want a variable result with a value significant greater than 6 dice rolls of identical population, look for another mechanic like EH's shotgun/double effect, a chance to reroll certain dice, or the "more powerful" die previously suggested.
 
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Robert Stewart
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Elder Sign gets away with 6-8 dice (6-9 with the expansion) and feels manageable at that count.

King of Tokyo has 6 chunky dice, and can go as high as 8, which does feel a bit awkward.

It does depend a fair amount on the size of the dice, but once you get past half a dozen dice, figuring out the outcome of the roll starts to be a consideration rather than something you can ignore.

One possibility would be to halve the number of dice and use Fudge dice: {-;-; ; ;+;+} - for large numbers of dice, rolling half as many dice with twice as many symbols on each will get you pretty close to the same distribution of outcomes.
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