Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Of Dice and Men - (In)Precision Dice and You

Setsunakai, one of our locals, recently posted this on a local forum. I thought it was very interesting, so I have reposted it here with his permission.

Here's Setsunakai:

The humble Dice, the under appreciated yet most crucial part of our game. As most of you know I put a lot of stock in a unit's hypothetical statistics, but in order for those numbers to mean anything the dice has to be balanced on each of its axes.
So recently I whipped out one of my calipers to figure out how many of my dice were warped or unbalanced. I thought maybe a dozen or so would be unbalanced . . . oh boy was I wrong

Out of approx 6 bricks of assorted dice from various companies, only a fraction of the dice were balanced on all three of its axes (within .002 of an inch)

And as i don't think I can play 40k quickly with only 20 dice of various colors i may end up buying a brick of expensive precision dice of the 14mm variety

Educational videos
The store

Back to Purgatus: 

On a personal note, I KNOW that my Chessex dice are garbage. I routinely roll 1/3 success for tests which "should" get 1/2 successes, and about 1/2 successes for things that "should" succeed 2/3 of the time, even when rolling HUGE numbers of dice multiple times. 

Now, I am fully aware of how rare events work and how probabilities work. I know about hindsight bias and all the other things that lead to these kinds of impressions. Over the long run, one expects to roll like that some of the time. 

But almost every game I play using a particular brick of green dice, my opponents notice how horrible my dice are. My joke is that I have to take fully optimized armies to make up for my crap dice. You need 15 Krak Missiles if you only hit with 5 at a time, amirite? I still do fine on the table, but it's certainly not because of any help from my dice.

Anyways, I switched to some larger dice (the kind that come in the starter boxes for 40k or are used for Monopoly, etc) for a recent game and I almost felt like I was cheating just from getting truly "random" rolls. Yeah I still failed some of the time but it was such a HUGE and noticeable difference. I have to suspect that the irregularities are more noticeable for smaller dice than for larger dice, which actually makes some amount of sense when you realize where those irregularities come from (the polishing process to take off the sprue connection point from when the dice were cast). 

Anyways, I would be interested to hear all of your experiences with this issue as well. I plan on getting precision dice myself at some point and just take that factor out of the equation. I want my dice to roll "randomly."

This is a great place to also point out that casino dice are NOT what you are looking for, even if they have not yet been "cancelled." People rarely get those large dice to roll correctly in the space we have on a gaming table, and dice roll cheating is so easy with those huge dice that  I will never touch them or allow them in my tournaments.
A possible "solution" to this for Grand Tournaments is to have all the tourney participants use tourney dice which are issued as part of the swag and which can be taken home at the end of the weekend. At the end of the day that probably means that everyone is using equally crappy dice but that might be the best you can do on a budget. 

I'm not sure what the answer is. Thoughts?