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Subject: Dice Swapping: OK? Not OK? A Question About the Bell-Curve rss

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Mechajunkie One
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Sometime ago I purchased the Transformers Edition of Monopoly(Yes I still do play the occasional game of Monopoly*Shock**Gasp**ETC.*) and wound up being a little disappointed by the included components. The two things that bothered me the most were the teenie-tiny pawns and the cheap-feeling dice. For the pawns, I settled on some 3" figures from the Transformers Titanium toy-line. For the dice, I purchased two sets of Koplow 15mm metal dice. Why two sets? Well, as tacked-on as the theme for these "Special" editions of Monopoly are, I still felt the need to keep it intact as much as possible. In this case, it meant swapping out the translucent-red plastic die for a red-pipped metal die, and a translucent-purple plastic die for a purple-pipped metal die.

When I first tossed the metal dice onto the board, I was surprised by how much they rolled(waaayyy more than the plastic ones) before coming to a stop, even though there was less force used in throwing them than there was with the plastic ones. I have read postings here at BGG about the bell-curve and how its "natural" state can be affected by someone who knows how to manipulate dice rolls. This(in addition to the difference in rolling behavior that I noticed between the plastic dice and the metal dice) caused me to wonder if the bell-curve can also be subject to the kind of material a die is made of. So, does a metal die have the same bell-curve as a plastic die?

Arkham Horror is another game that I'm considering for some dice swapping. Specifically, I want to swap the plain-vanilla dice that came with AH for Chessex's "Skull" dice as I like the idea of a player being given a goo by the dice for a bad roll, and these particular dice also have a sort of natural fit for this game if you consider the theme. Now, as far as I know, the pips and skull are etched onto the die. So does that mean, because of the skull pattern, that this die will not have the same bell-curve as one of the dice that came with AH?

My last question is if the size of the die can affect the bell-curve? Do 16mm 2d6 have the same bell-curve as 12mm 2d6?
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If I rolled 1d6 a bunch of times and got a bell curve of results, I would be a bit concerned...
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Erik Syvertsen
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The curve of the distribution of a large number of samples should be a normal (bell) curve regardless of the size of the dice.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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The roll of an ideal single 6-sided die with six different sides has a uniform distribution. That is, the distribution is flat: you would expect to have the same probability of getting a 1 as that of getting a 2, a 3, etc.

Real-life dice should be close to the uniform distribution described above, unless they are malformed in some way. (It's possible for a die to be made of material that is not consistent all the way through, or for some edges, faces or corners to be shaved or worn down; any of these could cause the distribution of rolls to be quite a bit different from the uniform distribution.)

The size of dice should not have an effect on the distribution of rolls, assuming that the dice are small enough that they can be shaken and rolled.
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Erik Syvertsen
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Just for the record - I was assuming a 2d6 (or higher) for my reply.
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Jonny Lawless
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An interesting pitch regarding dice and how they are made:



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Dice should be eeriely skewed for Arkham Horror. Adds to the theme if you can only roll odd numbers. goo
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Matt Drake
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I donated a dice tower to a high-school kid who did a science fair project where he rolled dice thousands of times, and used dice from several different manufacturers. The end result is that the error rate was so low that even with the most inaccurate dice, you really don't have much to worry about. I mean out of 3000 rolls, the total for each face of a d6 was within 20 occurrences.

I will say this - the dice with the lowest errors were not GameScience. They were GameStation, and Koplow and Chessex were next. GameScience was fourth. Kind of takes the punch out of these Zocchi videos (though I still think he has the coolest dice).

In the end, dice are dice. Any die manufacturer worth its pips is going to make dice with an error rate less than 5%. Only casino dice are more random than that.
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The Count
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jonnylawless wrote:
An interesting pitch regarding dice and how they are made:

thumbsupthumbsup
When I read the OP' post, I was going to find those videos...but then I saw you beat me to it. I found him/video very interesting.
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Mike James
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GeneSteeler wrote:

Dice should be eeriely skewed for Arkham Horror. Adds to the theme if you can only roll odd numbers. goo


Or those damn non-Euclidian d6s that only seem to roll 0 or e.
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droberts441 wrote:
jonnylawless wrote:
An interesting pitch regarding dice and how they are made:

thumbsupthumbsup
When I read the OP' post, I was going to find those videos...but then I saw you beat me to it. I found him/video very interesting.


I'm sorry but every time I see those videos I just want to scream...."Dude they're just dice!" Yes he's passionate about his dice but in some parts of the vid he crosses the line into the weird side.

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What's all this about wife swapping?! OH! oh. Dice swapping...sorry.
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I'm skeptical about the wooden dice that come with Settlers of Catan.

They're wood after all and it is reasonable to suspect that there is some variability in the density of the wood. Secondly, since they are light, they lack the force to overcome inherent imperfections in the grain. Thirdly, they burn very well when you need to make a point to all of your other dice.
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hahnarama wrote:

I'm sorry but every time I see those videos I just want to scream...."Dude they're just dice!" Yes he's passionate about his dice but in some parts of the vid he crosses the line into the weird side.


Especially since the one Gamescience die I have is the D5, and it is clearly, obviously NOT unbiased. Just a couple of quick tests proved beyond any reasonable confidence level that it didn't come up evenly on all five sides. So now I basically ignore his claims.
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sbszine wrote:
If I rolled 1d6 a bunch of times and got a bell curve of results, I would be a bit concerned...


Fix'd be concerned no longer...a bit or otherwise....

davestephens wrote:
What's all this about wife swapping?! OH! oh. Dice swapping...sorry.


That's pretty close to what I figured at least one person would come in here to post. My idea was that someone would come in here mistaking the topic for meeting up with other people who have married their dice goo

CrankyPants wrote:
I'm skeptical about the wooden dice that come with Settlers of Catan.

They're wood after all and it is reasonable to suspect that there is some variability in the density of the wood. Secondly, since they are light, they lack the force to overcome inherent imperfections in the grain.


I don't have a copy of Settlers yet, but I do have these same concerns for the dice that came with Dragonland.

CrankyPants wrote:
Thirdly, they burn very well when you need to make a point to all of your other dice.


My dice are currently behaving well, buuuuut it's always good to learn about the different disciplinary actions used by gamers should the dice get out of line.....

gatchaman wrote:
hahnarama wrote:

I'm sorry but every time I see those videos I just want to scream...."Dude they're just dice!" Yes he's passionate about his dice but in some parts of the vid he crosses the line into the weird side.


Especially since the one Gamescience die I have is the D5, and it is clearly, obviously NOT unbiased. Just a couple of quick tests proved beyond any reasonable confidence level that it didn't come up evenly on all five sides. So now I basically ignore his claims.


Hmm....thanks for the warning. Too bad, I actually had a custom rule idea for WoW:tBG that I felt the d5 would have been perfect for IF the sides would have come up evenly.

Well thanks for the replies all. I know that for those who actually put thought into the games they make, deciding what kind of dice to use for the game is very much a part of the designing-process. So I guess my general concern was that I might be negatively altering the mechanics of a game were I to swap the dice that comes with a game for some specialty dice.
 
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