For many years I have had interest in implementing an opposed-die roll dice progression mechanic in a game. Many years ago Cory Ring and I wrote a small set of rules for the HMGS MidSouth Dispatch (newsletter) that featured such a mechanic. The problem is that there isn’t enough variance between a d4 and a d12 and then there is the big gap between d12 and d20. The gap can be filled with two dice, but then you don’t get the same uniform distribution of results that a single die achieves.
Recently, I found a company (http://mathartfun.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/DiceShop.html) that sells d14, d16, d18, d22, and d24. I wrote to them, and they were able to sell me 10 of each such that each type of die was a unique color. Since these are uncommon shapes I wanted to be able to say, “roll the blue one and always mean the d14 — or whatever shape was blue. They arrived recently, and I have begun to think about how to employ them.
The basic notion is that abilities would have a base die as a part point. Modifiers would then change the die rolled. The attacker and defender would each roll a die, with the higher roll winning. I have also thought it might be interesting if the difference in the rolls somehow indicated the level of success. For instance if the attacker’s roll is three times the defender’s that might indicate some sort of critical hit.
On a recent flight for work, I began to wonder about the probabilities of winning under these types of rules. One of the reasons that this die progression approach appeals to me is that someone rolling a d4 COULD defeat someone rolling a d24. But what is that probability? So out came Excel. The table below shows the chance of the attacker (rolling the dice along the left of the table) defeating a defender (rolling the dice across the top of the table).
So, if an attacker roll d4 and the defender rolled d24, the attacker would have just a 6% of winning. Note that the attacker must roll higher than the defender to get a hit, so ties go to the defender. On the other hand, if the attacker rolled d24 and the defender rolled d4, the attacker would have a 905 chance of winning. Again, ties go to the defender.
Looking at this chart, I was pretty happy with the way the probabilities laid out. Then I stated wondering why things weren’t summing to 100%. For instance, why was P(Victory, d4 vs. d24) + P(Victory, d24 vs. d4) not equal to 1? Then Duncan made a comment that helped me figure it out. It’s those ties. Since some rolls are losses for both d4 vs. d24 and d24 vs. d4 those were the missing percentages.
The table (above) shows the probabilities of ties that are always failures. For a d4 vs. anything, there are 4 rolls that are always ties: 1:1, 2:2, 3:3, and 4:4. For d4 vs. d4, this is 25% of the total rolls possible (16). To check my math, I then inverted the first table…
so the defender is down the left and the attacker is across the top. Then I added all three tables together, yielding this:
Except for one cell (it looks like two, but this table is symmetrical about its diagonal) at 99%, all the math adds up. I rechecked all the math and didn’t find an error, so I’m chalking it up to round-off errors.
So, if anyone has stayed with me this far, I think the math shows that from a probability standpoint, the die progression mechanic is viable.
I am planning to implement this with something melee heavy so that weapons get a base attack die and skill and circumstances modify the die. The defender’s armor gets a base defense die, with skill and circumstances modifying it. I may try this in a couple of weeks with some Robin Hood figures.
Cold Wars 2015 began with a huge snow storm that crippled the Northeast. Schools were shut down, roads were clogged, and (thankfully) Congress was closed. I had planned to head to the convention around 1500 and play a pickup, invitational scenario using G.A.M.E.R. rules. Because the roads were treacherous, I wasn’t able to leave until 1815, arriving in Lancaster at 2100. None of the HAWKs were in view. I spent about 90 minutes loading junk onto my cart and limping my way back and forth with lots of stuff for the five games I planned to run. Due to my late arrival, the G.A.M.E.R. event did not occur.
I ran into the Goolanders, father and son, Thursday evening, and they told me about their spaceship game using G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. One of the first things I did Friday morning, then, was look in on their preparations. In the picture (above) you can see part of the setup. They built a wooden box about 2 feet by 4 feet, I think. In this they placed smaller boxes representing the various rooms on the ship. This makes the spaceship reconfigurable for repeat play value. Eric Schlegel played in this game and had a good time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate, because I was running my own event.
Friday morning, my first event of the convention was Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, USAAF, and RAF. I used X-Wing with custom dials and pilot cards. Only one player had ever used the rules; although, one or two had read the rules previously. The Allies weighted their right flank, and the “bomber” was able to maneuver to their weak flank. In the end, the Allied inflicted few hits on the bomber before it crossed the table — a decisive German victory.
My second game of the convention was the Northwest Frontier byG.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. In this scenario, the British column is trying to get Wee Willie Winkie across the table when they are ambushed by Pasha Chrismajadeen and his Pathan chieftains. The game had a number of memorable and humorous moments — for which G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. is famous. Chris sent Victoria Hawkes out ahead of her female hussars to melee with the driver of the Russian steam lorry. She failed to inflict any damage and was herself killed by the driver. Later, just as the crewmen were about the abandon the female hussars’ steam coach, a squad of Russians assaulted the vehicle. As they clambered atop the vehicle, the crewman thought better of their plan to bail out and instead redoubled their efforts to repair the coach’s engines. A squad of female hussars counter attached, and a roiling melee ensured atop the coach. Two of Chris’ hussars rolled 20’s and fell off the coach to their deaths. Meanwhile, one of the scout helicopters was shot out of the sky, and the engine of the second conked out, crashing. On the other side of the table Pasha Chrismajadeen charged single-handedly against the 33rd Punjab lancers, who seemed to have trouble staying on their feet and instead spent a fair amount of time falling and standing back up. Despite these setbacks, the British managed to achieve a clear victory, protecting Winkie.
While I was running these two events, other HAWKs were busy running other games.
Jim and Don ran a very popular, six-player Saga game that they have been developing for months. This was Jim’s GM debut, and the game went extremely well.
Greg ran one of his Dr. Who games featuring Noah’s dungeon tiles. The folks seemed to really enjoy the game. Mark Ryan played the rear guard, hold off the Weeping Angels long enough for the Dr. and his entourage to patch up the crack in space-time. Greg told me that Mark “went all rogue” and actually charged the angels, which was quite unexpected. In the end, I think all Mark’s folks were thrown into the “vortex” by the angels, but as I mentioned, he delayed the angels long enough that order was restored to the galaxy, universe, or other large timey-wimey place.
Though I was remiss in capturing them in electrons, Dave ran a series of Look, Sarge, No Charts demonstration games, both Napoleonic and fantasy, all day on Friday. His final Napoleonic game lasted until one in the morning.
Typically Greg attracts all the females at a convention for his Dr. Who games. He has the HAWKs title of Lord Admiral High Priest Babe Magnet Potentate. At Cold Wars 15, however, it was clear that Greg’s chick-Fu is now weak, and David Schlegel has wrested the Lord Admiral high Priest Babe Magnet Potentate title from him. David’s games were full of females from ages 8 to 48. Apparently all these women and girls really wanted to be the heroine from the Hunger games more that one of the Doctor’s companions. What women David didn’t attract ended up in Duncan’s game or Eric’s games.
Our big Fate of Battle game for Cold Wars was the 1814 attack on Paris by the Russians and Prussian. Duncan, Chris, Dave, and I worked on a piece of the centerpiece terrain element: the Montmartre Heights. Jennifer thought the mountain was uninspiring and “eh,” but we were proud of it.
While the French fought a delaying action on their right flank, the main action took place on the heights. Due to overwhelming numbers and really poor French artillery marksmanship, the Prussians and Russians swarmed up the hill.
Patrick, the commander of the division defending the heights failed both his unit’s morale and his player morale. After a “dressing down” from the overall French commander, Patrick held the heights. Everyone predicted an allied victory; however, within the next three turns, all but two allied brigades failed morale and scurried back down the slopes.
Though one Prussian unit remained on the heights, I judged the game a French victory. For those folks who argue that war-games emphasize casualties more than morale, this was a battle that turned on morale. All the players had a good time.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch…
… Daniel Boone was captured by the French…
… the Scarlet Pimpernel threw the French authorities into a tizzy…
… angry people bashed each other with swords and pointy sticks…
… and everyone came to Schlegel’s Ferry, including Nazis, space aliens, the adventure party from the Hobbit, Charlie Brown, and gangsters.
We had a brief lull in the action as the HAWKs gathered around the Elven Capital for dinner. We took this opportunity for Sam Fuson to present some mementos to the members of the HAWKs to supporting the 114th Signal Senior Leader Professional Development event mentioned in a previous blog posting.
Those HAWKs for whom this was their first SLPD event received battalion challenge coins. Those who have supported multiple events received a battalion coffee mug.
The kind gesture was appreciated by all recipients.
My fourth event of the convention was a reprise of the Paris 1814 game, but with Elves substituted for French and a variety of fanciful creatures substituting for the Prussians and Russians.
The elves successfully defended their capital.
While the orcs, goblins, spiders, dwarves, giant ants, and other assorted creatures was assaulting the Elves, Ed and Sam were running a modern game with Ed’s home rules. Jim said later that he really enjoyed the game and the rules. It was the first time the Americans won this game, I’ve been told.
Sunday morning I ran my 54mm chariot race game using Roman Circus rules. There was a SNAFU with the convention hotel — again. This time, they kicked us out of our room early, so we had to pick up all our gear and move to another room in time to start our games. While I was watching four of six chariots crash, Duncan ran his Charted Seas game and Don ran a pickup game of Saga for a bunch of West Point cadets.
Attendance was off due to Thursday’s storm. The dealer hall seemed empty all weekend. I’m sure a bunch of dealers were very unhappy. In the past it has been hard to get to the Old Glory booth, for instance, but many time I passed it was empty. I did my part to stimulate the economy, partaking in a convention special on Middle Eastern buildings from Miniature Building Authority, some roads and trees from Battlefield Terrain Concepts, and other odds and ends. Dave did his part too, by hauling a bunch of stuff away from the flea market.
I enjoyed Cold Wars. The past couple of HMGS East conventions I didn’t enjoy. Whether it was a bunch of recalcitrant players lousing up a game, not being able to find what I came to get in the dealer hall, or something else, the last few were starting to make me think that I should cut back on convention attendance. All of my games went well (although a little more play testing would have made the fantasy game on Saturday a little better) and there were no spoiled sport players, so I really enjoyed game mastering. There was enough white space that I had plenty of time to wander around looking at stuff I didn’t need and socialize with the other HAWKs. A handful of folks I hadn’t seen in quite a while, including Patrick one of the early HAWKs, were there, which was pleasant. I would have liked to run my G.A.M.E.R. event Thursday night for a few folks who haven’t had a chance to try the game yet, but otherwise, I had an excellent time.
Chris Palmer loaned me his collection of Star Wars miniatures from several years ago. I don’t know if the figures are still sold, but I wanted to give the game a try. Last night my son and I put the figures on the table and gave it a try. We played two games. The forces were the same.
We each took 100 points. My son had Luke (rebel, not Jedi), Leah, Han, Chewbacca, and Lando. I had 12 generic Stormtroopers, one Stormtrooper scout, and two Stormtrooper officers. The Rebels won both games.
The game is VERY simple once you get used to how cover is computed. It is a little odd that there is no penalty for long-range or moving fire, but at the ranges in the game, everything would probably be at close range anyway.
Though we had the same number of points, it seemed pretty hard for the Stormtroopers to get the upper hand. In the first couple of turns, I got many more activations than the Rebels because of superior numbers, but one hit on a Stormtrooper was a kill, so the numerical advantage faded quickly. There is a group fire rule that I didn’t take advantage of in our first scenario. In the second one, I used it aggressively (note the firing line in the picture above).
Though I inflicted 110 points of damage, I was only able to kill one Rebel, Leah, before all the Stormtroopers were killed. I think perhaps the points are not quite right.
My son said he thought the game was much more fun than he expected.
We plan to play it again. I am sorry that I didn’t invest in any of this when it was available. If and when my copy of Imperial Assault ever arrives, these figures might make good additions — or perhaps a GASLIGHT game. Hmmmm.