Thursday, 2 March 2017

Old stuff day: Dice - how do you roll yours?

Hi all - it's old stuff day today and I thought it would be nice to do something a little different, so rather than just re-posting an old article, I took the idea behind the article and re-wrote it with an updated twist.

Here's the original

What do your dice say about you?

It's the thing we can always blame when a game goes wrong isn't it. The 'standard' excuse.
'The dice weren't with me'
'My rolling was awful'
'My opponent never failed an armour save all game'

We've all heard them. We've probably all uttered them at some point, no matter how we like to think we don't blame the dice when we lose.

Truth is, sometimes it's just true! And some people just seem to suffer from it more than others, both on the positive and negative side of things. We all know 'that guy'. No, not 'that guy', the 'other guy' who always seems to roll well when they really need to, who always beats the odds when the dice hit the table. I can't think how many battle reports I've watched where the roller needs 4's to hit, rolls a dozen dice and grumbles because 'only' six have done so. Sometimes I'd kill for my dice to be average!

I like to think I'm an honest gamer - I won't blame my dice for losing a game, unless they actually did. Sometimes they do, but equally, and bringing that honesty to the fore, my dice often win me games too (ironically normally the ones I'd be confident of winning anyway) and when asked I wouldn't say I'm an unlucky dice roller, more that I'm an extreme dice roller - when they're good, they're excellent, and when they're bad, it's like they really hate me.

Officially my best dice roll ever - snap shooting at a Manticore with a space marine stalker. Three of these went on to damage the tank, wrecking it before it could fire.

So where am I going with this? Two places really, superstition, and technique.


Ever had your dice 'blessed'? I have. Not literally, but just getting someone else to hold them before they're rolled.

I've had people wear blind that dice roll better if you shake them for longer (it seemed to work when I tried it, at least for 2-3 rolls, then back to normal!).

Then of course we have the classic superstition. That a die that's failed to roll the right number is somehow cursed, and  must not be used again, I've seen players many times who will pick up separate dice to re-roll any failed rolls, despite all common sense screaming at them that doing so is ridiculous.

Then there's the scientific approach. Testing your dice to make sure they're random. I've seen recommended to float your dice in a liquid, and if they keep showing the same number when floating despite being nudged to try and show another face, you know they're unbalanced. Personally I think that a) that's a bit extreme and b) extremely expensive if you're thinking of replacing all the dice that don't come up as random.

Size is also something people get overly obsessed by (isn't it always?) with some people swearing that 12mm dice do not roll as well as 16mm ones.

My own personal superstition, and one that has absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever, is that my dice roll better when they are warm. I have therefore been known to take my dice out of my bag and put them in my pocket before I even leave the house to make sure they're warmed up before the game starts. Equally, I like to keep them in my pockets during a match, partly to make sure I don't lose any, and partly to keep them at optimum rolling temperature!


Sort of related to superstition, but not always inspired by it - have you ever watched your regular opponents and how they roll dice? I have. I know it's sad, but I can't help seeing little things like this in rooms of people.

Many of us have our own little idiosyncrasies when it comes to rolling dice. I mentioned above the guy who likes to shake them for a while before rolling them. That's mild, check out some of these (yes, some are the same as my original article, others are new).

The 'Magician' or 'Tablecloth Roller'

This involves holding a fistful of dice very low to the table, pausing for effect to make sure your 'audience' is watching, before stating the roll required for success. Then, after a pause (assuming there is no drum roll available) the hand is whipped out from under the dice, imparting spin to them before they drop the inch or two to the table surface.

The 'Bomber'

Remember that John Smith's advert? This is the dice rolling equivalent, and often limited so individual rolls rather than handfuls. The die is held normally before being launched directly upwards, at least three feet above the table surface. It plunges down, presenting itself as a very real threat to any model that's in its way. In my experience, the gamer who introduced this technique had extreme success at using it to roll 3+ invulnerable saves, but it's not been as effective for me (and has resulted in emergency repairs mid-game)

The 'Lazy Roller', or 'Hot Dice'

This is an odd one, because it often comes in part way through a game when a player is resigned to losing. They cease to care about what the result of the roll is going to be, and therefore have no enthusiasm for it in the first place. It results in the dice being barely lifted from the pile, before being dropped back onto the table from just enough height to allow them to be random. Most often seen used with small numbers of dice.

The 'OCD', aka 'These dice will not roll onto the floor!'

The dice are collected in one hand, the other hand is placed on the table with the thumb splayed to create an 'L' shape. The dice are then rolled against this hand to ensure that there are no rogue escapees.

The 'One-die bogey flick'

This is my own patent pending style for single dice rolls like seizing the initiative. Again, it was developed during a time of despair, when even getting off my chair seemed like too much effort given the likely result of the game. A single die is held between the thumb and index finger, the hand cocks, and then the die is launched on a shallow trajectory with backspin across the table.

Finally we have the most impressive roll I've seen (and only seen once), and I'm going to christen it the 'Wazoo'.

This was a 2d6 roll, requiring a 10+ to succeed. The player in question is well known for having poor luck and despaired at the likelihood of getting the requisite result. Consequently they turned their back to the table, legs splayed, reached under their legs with the dice rolling hand and looped them up onto the tabletop. Two sixes. If you ever need a roll for a result like that - this technique is your baby - I guarantee it might be successful!

Enjoy old stuff day peeps!


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