Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dicey Subject

( names of particulars are left out of the commentary on purpose as they aren't relevant to the point, this story takes some setup so bear with me)

The other day a friend of mine lost his bag of custom dice on the way home from a game at my place. When I say "custom" I mean they were logo dice, the "six" being replaced with a custom icon. They were produced by a popular internet forum and he had picked them up as novelty. I felt bad for my friend as it sucks when you lose anything gaming wise you'll need to replace. I jokingly told him on a private forum we are both members of, "that it was "Ok" as I was starting to suspect they were loaded anyway" and he should "Go get some crappy "brand X" dice we all normally use and let the 1's fly"
I was joking of course about the loaded dice thing, because you always seem to remember when your opponent rolls alot better than you- especially with logo'd dice. Seeing those logo'd sixes everywhere after a bad game is almost like a bell being rung in your head every time they come up. Of course this is purely psychological because when you lose you always want an explanation, and normally its an explanation other than something that would be more realistic like " You let yourself get out of position and he flank charged your best unit dummy, of course you lost.". Needless I say I never get wrapped up in the dice thing, because sometimes you just have have a shitty dice day.

Two nights ago, while I was too tired to do any serious hobbying but not quite tired enough to go to bed (I was in the what I like to call the "void" which for me is usually between 1:00-2:00am) I was on the net cruising a few forums not looking for anything in particular just looking for the motivation to go upstairs and go to sleep. To my surprise I stumbled across a similar dice discussion from on the very forums my friend had the logo'd dice from. The discussions all took place in Oct/Nov and believe it or not the central gist of them involved accusations of dice cheating at both the Las Vegas GT, the Baltimore GT and the Ard' Boys finals for Warhammer 40K by a particular well known and long established gaming club. I was somewhat surprised at this but not really, as I know and have personally witnessed things that lead me to assume that nothing is below the belt in terms of unscrupulous or childish behavior on the 40K tourney scene. Regardless, this got me interested into what the hell was going on here, so I spent some of the next day investigating these claims and the participants through various outlets on the net. The basic summation of all the noise was- that after a bunch of back and forth 8th grade behavior from a bunch of adults fighting about playing a game- The antagonist (a long time and well known forum member) ends up getting his account forever banned from this popular forum but not before majorly succeeding in tarnishing the image of the accused well-known popular gaming club. I read this as a total Lose/Lose resolution.-Now I don't know any of these guys- so I throw no stones at who is right or wrong here as I really couldn't care less. The important thing is by following the discussion I was led to a variety of articles that laid out in very specific detail all the intricacies and fallibility of those little plastic cubes we stake so much of our fun on- Dice.

In a nutshell- I've learned that you shouldn't make assumptions about the neutrality of the dice you are using, things like logo's, sharp corners, dull corners, the size of the dice and the specific purpose intended for your dice all have an impact in how they fall, throw in some unscrupulous behavior or intent and you got a real stinking mess on your hands and its definitely a stinking mess this hobby does not need. I've seen and played people with dice every size shape, type and color and never thought twice about this even after the shittiest dice game ever, one that would make you want to fall on your sword if you were packing one.

While Mr. antagonist over at said popular forum makes the first impression of a Kaczynski-like misanthrope with a chip on his shoulder the size of the Titantic, he did make one very, clear and excellent point. You should not be able to use any old dice you feel like at any tournament that people are paying money to play in.

There should definitely be a dice standard in any of the official circuit tournaments, ( ideally the very common 12mm round cornered dice we all have boat load of. with no logos.) something clear and concise and spelled out in the basic rules of the event along with everything else. An even better idea is at the big national events they should give a set of dice away as swag and everyone MUST use the swag dice for the tourney. The removes the potential for any accusations of impropriety with dice or any funky dice rolling. With all the common rules disagreements that always pop up, having dice as a scapegoat is just one extra thing any competitive event can do without.

Now we all have fancy dice of a variety of colors to match our Armys. I have red and green dice for my Hochland/Empire Army, Red and Yellow for my Daemons, etc. Personally I stop using anything bigger than 12mm "Standard" dice and any logo dice today, even in my casual games.
I am going to suggest my friends do the same. If you want to save your funky dice for fun games where opponent could care less that's cool, but for christ sake if you are using those big Las Vegas style dice..throw those damn things away OR bring enough that you can offer a set to your opponent so if you really want to use them- insist he use them too.

The bottom line is this- If you both aren't using the exact same kind of dice while playing..the playing field is not even, and if you are "Paying to Play" not having an even playing field is best way to incite all kinds of problems. Casual gamers take this advice with a grain of salt but if you see that you and your opponent are both using different kinds of dice -think about swapping out to the same kind or just sharing one set..Odds are.. you'll will have a better game.


John said...

I'm not a tournament player so I had no idea before reading this, but I cannot believe there isn't a dice standard at GW tournaments. The possibilities for cheating are just far too vast.

Letting people bring their own dice to a WFB/40K tournament is like letting people bring and shuffle and deal their own cards at a poker tournament. Unbelievable.

squighound said...

While I've been to events, I've never played a tournament, and I too cannot believe that they let people bring their own dice, it's outragous!

Large bags of plain boring plastic dice cost nothing - standard dice should be used for every competition where you pay to take part.

RonSaikowski said...

I never got into the issues you mention here but I heard abouth them as well... through surfing the net.

I think you've got a grand idea with big tournaments giving away swag dice and making one kind mandatory for the event.

I have the big dice and I use them with a fancy logo on the six. Sometimes the small dice or the one with the hard to read color schemes escape my nearly blind eyes on the table.
Of course I would have no problem letting my opponent use my dice if he wanted to or switching to something else if he asked.

Did I say I liked your tournament dice idea. Well put.

Bill Lim said...

Interesting points. I suppose in the log term I do agree with everything you have said here, especially the "tournament dice swag". It levels the playing field, and eliminates one more thing that could cause "issues".

However in house games, fun games, I really don't have a problem with any "different" dice being used at all. One of the GW "red shirts" at my local shop uses those Las Vegas big dice with straight edges, and it has never bothered me. While I do agree with everything you said, dice have never really been a big deal to me...except when I roll those double ones....followed by double ones! :)

John@Plastic Legions said...

funny thing about those square edge casino dice is they are by far the most accurate as in the best chance of any number 1 out of 6 coming up equally. there are two issues with them thou..they are meant to be thrown, not rolled..meaning plopping them down on table like we all do has been likened to "cheating" and since they are more accurate then the standard dice we're used to..if you are using them and your opponent is not you really have a statistical advantage..if your going to use the casino dice you really should both use them and use a separate 3 foot or so dice run to roll them . Since the Casino dice are the ones being fingered in the "cheating" scandal I read about. I just say stay away.
but like you said against our pals I could care less, just borrow the casino dice for the miscast roll! LOL!!!

Bill Lim said...

hmm, intresting. I was just reading an article on another "blog" about winning at warhammer, about dice rolling. This "article" involved rolling hits on your scatter dice. Basically it was instructing (and there for condoning -at least in my eyes) a method for rolling more "hits" on the die. Man this is particularly why I stay away from the tournament scene. I'm in the hobby to paint stuff, and have fun with my friends. I'm not here to worry about getting a fair game. Not saying that these types of behaviors are more or less prevelant in the tournaments...I guess I just hear about them more often...
*shrug* I'll stick to my local stuff for now. Perhaps one day I'll dip my toe into that pool, but not right now.

xenite said...

I believe that one of the tournaments did issue dice to the players one year. I heard that this practice was canceled because of cost later on. The funny thing is that that the dice given out were some kind of GW 'logodice'. If some kind of generic dice were used, the cost would be negligible.

I could see some players really crying about this. There is a ton of dice superstition out there, and some players take it seriously. I don't think that this will affect the tournament much, but I am sure you would hear some griping over it.

I wonder how seriously large tournament organizers take this issue. There isn't huge amounts of money or licensing on the line like in Vegas, and the major investment is an emotional one on part of the players. I guess that what comes to my mind is that an outcry about this as a problem would have to get a lot bigger, and affect the organizers bottom line more before it was addressed in any sort of meaningful fashion.

ahschmidt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xenite said...

"Not saying that these types of behaviors are more or less prevelant in the tournaments...I guess I just hear about them more often..."

Yeah, most of this stuff is probably pretty uncommon. The amped up competitive energy of a tournament, and the fact that most people don't know their opponents probably cause a degree of paranoia about cheating. This goes over to the rubber-ruler and most rules mis-plays you run into as well. I would say that these are accountable to laziness, and lack of understanding, but usually get labeled as 'cheating'.

Sigmar said...

My gaming buddy and I always use the same dice, we don't have our own collections we just pool them.

I favour the round edged variety which are of the regular size. I feel cheated when one of my dice or my opponents doesn't take a nice long roll across the table hopefully taking out an Empire handgunner on the way :)

I shy away from tournaments because I don't want anything to do with people who would be that desperate enough to win at all costs. If found out they should have their models melted down and their dice closely "inspected" with a hammer before they leave the tournament.

I know the article you speak of, the author is quite, errr.. angry sometimes but he often makes some interesting points.

Have a great holiday,
my Warhammer blog

Bill Sullivan said...

Sharp edges are definitely more random, but they wear poorly. (See also the first edition D&D dice, and most items from Gamescience) Blood Bowl tournaments typically hand out Block dice, and require that players use a single set for both players, though there's really only five or six dice used in a BB game, including block dice.

I'd have to find it again, apparently someone did a standard deviation test on the little white GW dice that come with the boxed games, and they DO actually roll a bit lower than average.

I have read articles about officiating tournaments that mention how to be aware that someone may be using loaded dice, by watching for behaviors like "Oh, I always use my green dice for leadership tests..." Personally, I tend to use the same colors for the same weapons, to the point that I can play a game with Anthony almost without explaining which dice are which for a mixed shooting phase (blue is bolters, red is plasma, black is heavy bolters, etc). While obviously I'm not favoring dice for how they roll (or I would throw all of mine away and buy some that don't suck...), it does help me play a little faster. Not to mention that being told "you have to use these, just in case someone here is a fuckwit" feels kinda shitty.

Anonymous said...

Either way my opinion is to just have both people use the same type of dice. I just don't like logo'd dice as some replace the 1s and some the 6s. I don't like not knowing what my opponent is rolling. I won't complain, but it does make my game less enjoyable.

The only time I would cry foul is if I notice my opponent specifically using different dice for leadership checks. As long as the same dice are used for all roles, I am happy.

Brian said...

I use the AWC logo dice to roll 99% of all my rolls for 40k. I validated their spread recently and found them to be fair dice.

During some games against strangers in the past people do suspect that they're not "fair" dice just because they're logo dice.


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