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Made in ru
Guard Heavy Weapon Crewman






We are testing different armies from the 8th edition of Warhammer 40K. There’s still a lot to try, but some thoughts have come to our heads. So, today we’ll discuss an essential part of every wargame – randomness.

Almost every wargame uses random numbers on the dice (or cards like in Malifaux). Some use classic D6, some D20, some have special dice, etc… And depending on the wargame mechanics the level of randomness can vary. Which one is the best?

We have an example of the game without randomness at all. It’s chess. Sure, it’s hard to call it a wargame. But chess doesn't lack attention and players at all, since it’s been here for thousand years, and it’s considered a sport. Even an Olympic one, starting from the next year. So, no randomness at all makes the game a sport, indeed. You are 100% sure how your figures will act and the victory depends only on your skill.

It could seem that re-playability might be low. However, chess is popular all over the world and people keep playing it. So, why don’t we expel randomness from wargames?

Well, there’s an important point of interest here – random events. They add unexpectable stuff and make the game more interesting and complex. Moreover, it adds excitement, passion, which is necessary for any wargame, since it makes people more involved, buy new miniatures and play more. So, randomness is profitable for wargame making companies.

Besides, it can be a part of the balance. Wargames are much more complicated that chess. Figures have characteristics, you can change their weapons, and they behave differently. Again – there are a lot of different armies, and not all of them are at the same power level than the others. So, the minimum required numbers on dice help to balance the power of some armies with low accuracy or something else. For example, your favorite Tau in Warhammer 40K on average hit the target on 4+, while having extraordinary firepower. Sure, they have a lot of instruments to improve their ballistic skill, but it’s a question of balance…

Well, we definitely need randomness. But too much of it reduces your role as a warlord. Yes, you choose where the unit goes and whom it attacks. However, if the model deals D6 damage, it doesn’t depend on you. So, the more D6, the less your skills are required. Sure, it adds challenge – you have to keep in mind the possibility that your squad might appear useless and build up some extra ways to help it. However, when there are too many random factors, you lose control of it all.

Here are some examples. Our favorite Warhammer 40K, 8th edition.

Astra militarum Shadowsword. Roll D6 for number of shots. Hit on 4+. Re-roll 1’s if you have a master of ordnance nearby. Wound on 2 (mostly), re-roll if the target has titanic special rule. Armor is useless here, but your target can use invuln. After that, you roll 2D6 for every wound to determine damage. So, 7 stages of dice rolling before you finally kill someone.

The same Shadowsword, but in 7th edition. Place a template and roll for scatter. Roll for the D-strength result. In case of 1 and 6 don’t roll anymore. Otherwise, wait for the opponent to use his invulns and then roll D3 to determine lost wounds. That’s it. Minimum, 2, maximum – 4 stages of rolling. Which of these two similar tanks, do you think, is more reliable?

So, the more dice rolls, the more unpredictable, long and complicated gameplay is. And the less is the role of the player. So, where’s the happy medium? There are a lot of wargames between chess and 8th edition of Warhammer 40K. For example in Infinity, you can reduce the random factor to 0, by thoughtfully using modifiers. However, it’s hard and not always useful. And there are also crits, which leave a chance to fail even for the most strategical ones. But this chance is definitely lower than 7 circles of random hell.

So, one of the main goals for every wargame is to keep the balance between skill and luck. Write your examples and ideas about how the randomness should work.

FInd more in our blog: https://warzone40k.com/wargames-random


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Made in us
Executing Exarch






This isn't really randomness. What you've pointed out is just piss-poor game design from the recent GW school of "re-rolls" and "ignores". The only part I agree with is that no attack should take 10-14 steps to conclude. That's nothing short of horrible.

 
   
Made in au
Kinebrach-Knobbling Xeno Interrogator





Aqshy, realm of Fire

You're forgetting your opponent in 7th, who'lll argue till they're blue in the face about the template juuusst missing this one dude, etc etc.

What's more is that chess is hella random. Your opponent has different skills, has varying understandings of the traps/counters of chess and not to mention some might favour using certain pieces more than others.

Some things, the larger weapons in particular, are going to take more time to resolve. The smaller, more common guns are just: Roll to hit, roll to wound, make saves. Unless you add in all the superfluous re-roll buffs. To be quite honest, I think the shadowsword + MoO is cherry picking something to try and push that the new system is bad, in favour of 7th (of all things).

I don't disagree that too much randomness is bad, but too little is also bad- if there's close to no randomness, you're as "skilled" as the next net-lister with the point and click army.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/06/08 11:04:47


This is where I'd put my signature...If I had one! 
   
Made in it
Chaos Space Marine dedicated to Slaanesh




italy

My personal experience so far with 8th edition is that it has a lot of dice rolls and steps before actually accomplishing something.

Altough i can appreciate a sheer random game for the sake of fun, i also can't understand why a streamlined -18 page of rules-game, should consume so much time in just dice rolling.

Imo, the developers tried to "balance" weapons and armies adding an uncontrolable factor: sheer randomness. Your weapon is not overpowered if it can go from 1 wound inflicted, to 6. It would, however, if it could inflict a consistent 4 wound per hit. Extreme reliability means that particular loadouts would become dominant due to basic math calculation.

So...it can be disliked, but it's not inehrently un-fun and impratical. It's just time consuming.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/06/08 11:14:38


 
   
Made in gb
Most Glorious Grey Seer






Depends on the scale and options in the game.

One of my very first experiences of wargaming pre-dates even Heroquest.

That game was [url=https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2606/dover-patrol]Dover Patrol[/u]. I'm not sure if it was my Dad's or my Grandad's, but it's a properly ancient example!

In that game, there's no dice. There's the board and your fleets. Both players have identical fleets. You deploy them how you wish up to the line, with the descriptive side of the facing you. Combat is resolved by revealing the two ships, then consulting a chart. Either one loses, or nothing happens.

It was so long ago I don't remember much more, but it was a pretty fun game (unless like me your brother was a serial cheat!).

Lots of tables and stuff? Fine for something like Bloodbowl, but still you can't push it.

For something like 40k? The lack of scatter is most welcome, as that caused no end of arguments about the angle, exact distance etc. Tables? Well, I don't mind those so much. I find it adds new considerations, and keeps me on my toes. Other opinions are available

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Made in au
Norn Queen






I've reached a point where I dislike rolling buckets of dice many times over.

Infinitys system I enjoy because you use, at most, 6 dice. That's the absolutely most dice anyone will roll and is a pretty rare occurrence. Opponents roll a few dice. Depending on who wins, someone will probably roll a few dice once more for saves. No wound rolls. No rerolls. The key, rather than loading more and more and more dice go win through weight of fire, is rather to find advantageous ranges, angles and using equipment to stack modifiers onto those rolls into your favour.

For Malifaux, the flip against each other is great. You flip (generally one card, sometimes two, rarely three), opponent flips, both add stats, winner is declared. Depending on who won, flip again for damage (again, usually one or two, sometimes three). The key is getting the right suits to get triggers and high enough values to get the hit through. Flipping more than one card isn't always an advantage either.

When I heard about 40k 8th, where a full unit of Genestealers will get 80 attacks... ugh. I only realized then how much I hated rolling buckets of dice, sorting through them for the right result, rolling buckets more, sorting through, then the opponent rolling their own buckets, sorting through, then finally finding out how many handfuls of models to take off the table.
   
Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending





Houston, TX

This seems to be more of a blog post promo and lest of a discussion topic and he topic is more suited to the Game Design forum.

SpinCycleRandom: Chess is not random. It is entirely decision based. You declare and act, not random determination of action success.

Elbows is spot on that 40k illustrates some very bad design in it's reliance on multiple dice rolls at the expense of play. It seems unnecessary to have multiple randomizers to resolve one action, especially in such an unsophisticated system. For a d6 based system, it would be much more efficient to simply determine the relative advantages and disadvantages and make a single roll. Alternately, since having one dice roll makes one player passive in the turn structure they have, make it an opposed roll. But 40k does a lot of roll more dice in lieu of coherent design.

Loki: The genestealer example is a good illustration of why it is important to pick a scale and scope of the game. GW cannot decide if it wants a skirmish or unit based game, so you get units resolved by model, which involves a bunch of unnecessary dice rolling. Since GW clearly wants 40k to move models, they could just go with a unit based game and compare the relative strengths of each unit and roll a dice for each unit. So the genestealers may have bonuses for more numbers(+1), vastly superior CQB ability(+2), and having the initiative(+1), while the target may get a bonus for being in cover and ready for assault(+1). Roll a dice each, add 'em up, and apply some results. Maybe losers take some casualties and are destroyed if doubled.

Cards are a very interesting randomizer and offer some neat things dice can't do in terms of the pool of results. Whether cards are replaced, and when, in the deck and hand also adds a lot of options. However, card probabilities are also often more complicated, so it can be make it tougher for players to make informed decisions.

Scatter is a whole 'nother kettle of fish and we currently have a discussion here on indirect/ parabolic fire: https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/725308.page

-James
 
   
Made in us
Contagious Dreadnought of Nurgle




In My Lab

I don't think a single roll is a good idea. If you're going to have a single roll, make it a curved one. 3d6+Modifiers, for instance. Not 1d6.

Clocks for the clockmaker! Cogs for the cog throne! 
   
Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending





Houston, TX

It depends on what probability spread you are looking for. There is no one answer, and mine was just a hypothetical based on the model GW already uses.

3d6 would give a centrally clustered distribution as opposed to 1d6's straight line. It depends on the design goals if that is desirable or not.


-James
 
   
Made in us
Seven Year War Afficianado




MN

Randomness is an attempt to generate the "Fog of War" or "Friction of Battle" in a compelling and easy way.

You could even argue that randomness is one of the defining elements of warfare, and tactics and strategy are simply a means to try to reduce or minimize it. To remove randomness would be to remove the essence of warfare?


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Made in gb
Dakka Veteran





Oxfordshire

There's randomness for fun and randomness for the sake of it. I gave up on 40K back in 4th when I got sick of rolling a bucket of dice, re-rolling the successes and to have my opponent roll off against those successes for me to have achieved bugger all. And that's before you add in special rules for re-rolls of any of those dice, plus any extra rolls that equipment could force you to make. It was and is pathetic.

Infinity has been mentioned - most results are on the roll of a d20 and takes into account skills and setup - still random but efficient and rewards a player that takes it into consideration. I haven't played Malifaux but I like the essence of the card deck. There's a new game being made called Drowned Earth which uses 2d10, one for results and the other to randomise something exceptional happening. Haven't tried it out yet but it seems like an exciting way to introduce randomness.

Guildball is my game at the moment and the randomness of attacks is controlled quite well. You roll a pool of dice and so long as you get at least one success your attack is successful and allows you to achieve a result. Each successful dice after the first doesn't necessarily give you more results but it does open up options for what that result could be, either making it more powerful or giving you totally new options to play with. The benefit and excitement of the randomness comes from not rolling buckets of dice over and over. It changes the results you have access to while still rewarding you with something most of the time should you have bad luck.
   
Made in us
Executing Exarch






Easy E. points out nicely what "good randomness" is - indeed, the reflection of elements outside the control of any commanding officer. This can be the scenario, the army construction, the weather present in the game, the daylight/night time conditions, the availability of reinforcements, the presence of artillery or air support, the method of arrival (drop pods, parachutes, etc.), or any other element which throws an additional challenge into the game. This is the kind of randomness which is almost NEVER present in a game of 40K. Often a player should be battling his opponent and chance.

Any student of military history knows that the most exciting/intriguing stories (which become legends) are based not around A:B ratios and a clinical precise execution of a battle plan (no one wargames the first Gulf war because it was pretty awful from a wargaming standpoint). This is why I find historical games which introduce real scenarios to be far more enticing, and something I hope somehow appears in 40K (doubt it).

An increase in the number of dice rolls is decidedly not adding randomness, just poor design.

 
   
Made in au
Norn Queen






 jmurph wrote:
Loki: The genestealer example is a good illustration of why it is important to pick a scale and scope of the game. GW cannot decide if it wants a skirmish or unit based game, so you get units resolved by model, which involves a bunch of unnecessary dice rolling. Since GW clearly wants 40k to move models, they could just go with a unit based game and compare the relative strengths of each unit and roll a dice for each unit. So the genestealers may have bonuses for more numbers(+1), vastly superior CQB ability(+2), and having the initiative(+1), while the target may get a bonus for being in cover and ready for assault(+1). Roll a dice each, add 'em up, and apply some results. Maybe losers take some casualties and are destroyed if doubled.


This is why I broke from my 'no more army scale games' policy for The Other Side. Each unit is made up of 2-3 Fireteam bases, which each have multiple models on them. However, the fireteam bases are what act, not the individual models. So rather than moving and acting with 10 models, it's done with 3 bases. Models are wounds for the Fireteam. Actions happen very similarly to Malifaux. So basically it's a game about the size of a large Warmachine or small 40k game, without buckets of dice.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/06/09 01:47:32


 
   
Made in fi
Longtime Dakkanaut





 jmurph wrote:
Elbows is spot on that 40k illustrates some very bad design in it's reliance on multiple dice rolls at the expense of play. It seems unnecessary to have multiple randomizers to resolve one action, especially in such an unsophisticated system. For a d6 based system, it would be much more efficient to simply determine the relative advantages and disadvantages and make a single roll. Alternately, since having one dice roll makes one player passive in the turn structure they have, make it an opposed roll. But 40k does a lot of roll more dice in lieu of coherent design.


Problem with single roll being 40k is based on d6 which means very small range considering wide difference of abiltiies.

Rerolls are _essential_ to separate units sufficiently in 40k as long as game is based on d6.

If 40k was based on d20 no rerolls would be quite viable. Maybe even d10 or d12(especially if GW actually USED full range a lot unlike 8th ed where range is basically 3+ to 5+ in almost all cases). But good luck waiting GW to change to that.

”Buddhism doesn't tell you what is false and what is true but it encourages you to find out for yourself.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa ~ 
   
Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending





Houston, TX

I don't know, SoBH uses a single dice and it works pretty well for reflecting a wide range of actors in a skirmish. The basic combat mechanic is both sides roll a D6, add modifiers, and high roll wins. Results are loser is knocked down (evens on the winner die) or pushed back (odds on the winner die) and killed if the winner doubles the loser (gruesomely if tripled). It also has morale rules (though it does use three dice for that). Considering that 40k is just fantasy IN SPACE! (with skulls), it could be workable.

Really, there is a lot that you can do with clear goals, a little planning and a basic understanding of probability. Unfortunately, GW is a model company first and rules a merely a way to move more product and so will likely always be sub par.

-James
 
   
Made in us
Seven Year War Afficianado




MN

As a player, I want to be able to react to what you are doing and not just let mey guys die. There are a lot of different ways games do this, but wiht 40Ks system the best way is to have a save mechanic since you can not react with an action or have an opposed roll off.

Your preference maybe different,

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2017/06/09 17:09:56


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