Is the Scatter Dice really that useful? One gamer doesn’t think so!
A Guest Editorial by HeavyPlate
Hey everyone, HeavyPlate here with an editorial about our old friend, the Scatter Die!
Recently, Games Workshop released their newest dice cube, and curiously, there wasn’t a scatter die inside of it. This struck me as odd but I kind of just brushed it aside as “Just another weird thing GW does.”
But to my surprise, my local community started spouting relief, as if they felt it was a sign that eventually, maybe sooner rather than later, Games Workshop would do away with the signature six sided cube.
Now, spoiler alert, GW shortly after just released a giant tub of scatter dice to be sold however in stores, usually for less then a $1 a piece. But that could just be a band-aid fix for forgetting to include the scatter in the dice cube, or a sign of trying to dump their inventory for longer term plans to do away with it entirely.
Frankly, this was something that hadn’t even entered my brain. The scatter die has been such a staple for so long that I just accept it as part of the game. It was so old hat that I didn’t even see why they’d WANT to get rid of it at first. So I asked around and took a survey on everyone’s opinion on it. This is what came up the most.
This has happened to everyone. The scatter is rolled and the 2d6 determined, the player busts out the tape measure and points it in the wrong direction. You tell him to move it because it is wrong. Most are cool with this, but not all can deal with being told they are wrong.
Now, 99% of the time, this is just a problem of a point of view. That the person with the tape just has a bad angle of the arrow. This is why the most effective way is when both players are resolving the scatter together.
This one everyone can agree on. Even if you have mastered how to resolve a scatter quickly, it regularly eats up more time than other shooting attacks. Even just not being able to find the scatter die for a bit slows things down, then if you have misplaced or even forgotten your template(s), hunting for the best location, scattering, moving, and finally counting how many are actually hit. It’s fairly tedious, especially with things that fire multiple templates. Some don’t like it so much they build lists to exclude a scattering weapon, just so they don’t have to do deal with it.
Because of all the steps involved, and the nature of the game and the scatter, it’s very difficult to resolve their attacks perfectly. As hard as you try, you’ll never truly achieve the perfect line from the arrow and get the correct distance from the center and THEN also get the right count of what is under a blast in a horde of models. There are too many variables. Most of the time players just try to work out what makes the most sense and just roll with that instead.
A feeling I also got from members of my community was that they wanted to do away with templates in general. They feel they contribute to the problem of complexity to 40k. A group even tried to experiment with a system to replace them. An example of their system was to propose that if the weapon fired a small blast, it just did D3 hits, instead of scattering and using the template.
While I can appreciate the attempt to make a thunderfire cannon quicker to play with, this system felt very wrong to me. The idea of a weapon that basically auto hits and could potentially be out of line of site just seems wrong. But what would be a better alternative? What would a gaming world looking like without this unique D6 we all must carry around?
After giving a lot of thought on how the scatter system works, I’ve come up with a proposed alternate to blast weapons. Now, please: I know this isn’t perfect and there are plenty of holes in it, I’m just trying to keep the flavor of the original idea while trying to streamline it somewhat.
So, if a weapon has the “Blast” profile, place the small blast on an enemy target within the weapons range.
Roll a D6, on the result of a 5+, the weapon “Hits” and every model under the blast is hit. (Just like before)
On a results of a 3 or 4, take a number of dice equal to the firing models Ballistic Skill(Example: BS 4 would get 4 dice, BS 3 would get 3) and roll them. Each results of a 4+ equals a hit on the enemy unit.
On the results of a 1 or 2, the weapon misses completely and no hits are achieved.
This is the basic concept I’ve come up with. I’m trying to keep the flavor that model positioning matters, while not having to place a template multiple times. It also means that you should statistically get the same number of “Hit” results as before. Finally, it also rewards armies that have a higher ballistic skill firing “scatter” weapons and had a reduced scatter, sometimes getting a direct hit despite the arrow, while still crippling the armies that have a lower BS. Those armies are usually only hoping for a “Hit” result anyway. From here you can give some weapons special rules, like maybe getting a “Hit” on a 4+ instead of being Twin-linked or on a 3,4 result hits can be achieved on a 3+ instead as an example.
With a Large blast, and a 3-4 result is rolled, you would just use the user’s BS times two. (For example a BS 4 would get 8 dice) This does mean that there would be instances that you could potentially do more damage with a 3-4 results, but it is rare and random, just like a scattering arrow. If the template is covering one large model, such as a vehicle or monstrous creature and a 3-4 is rolled, just use 1d6 following the same rules as before (a 4+ achieves a hit) from there. This is so you don’t have a scenario where you could get a large number of hits that wouldn’t of happened normally.
I was happy with this as a replacement for scattering weapons, when it hit me hard that’s not the only use for that silly dice.
This one floored me for a while. I thought it over for a long time, and frankly, for Deep Strike, using a scatter dice is kind of elegant. It’s probably the simplest way to resolve a powerful unit screaming from orbit or appearing from the warp etc. But this is a world that doesn’t have the luxury of a scattering D6, so how would you resolve this fairly without one?
If a unit has the deep strike special rule, place the first model as you would before.
Roll a D6, on a result of a 5+, the unit “Hits” and doesn’t move, continue with the deep-strike as previously done.
On a 3,4 results, roll 2d6 and the controlling player MUST place the starting model the combined result away from the original point, but the controlling player chooses the direction.
On result of a 2, roll 2d6 and the enemy player gets to choose the direction the unit must move.
On a 1, the unit suffers a mishap.
Example. A player is deep striking a 5 man unit of assault marines.
A 3 is rolled, the player deep striking must move that unit 2d6 from the initial position, he uses his tape measure and makes a circle equaling the size of the rolled result of the 2d6. He may place the first marine anywhere on the rim of that circle, but it must be on it. He then continues to place the unit as the rules normally state.
If a 2 is rolled, this process is instead done but the opposing player. This means they could potentially put that model where it would mishap or not be able to make a concentric circle.
In my mind, whenever a player is deep striking a unit, one side is hoping for good, the other not so much. I limit the options for the enemy player by only allowing a 2 result to take power into his hands because they will try to mishap the unit, and if they can not, then they’d at least get to put that unit farther from their own models. The enemy is rooting for a mishap anyway so it can only happen on a 1. Personally i like this more than just allowing units to appear on the board however they want with almost to no consequence.
So there you have it, an in depth look at what a world without the scatter die could look like. Tell me what you think of it. Do you think we still need a scatter die in 40k? What would you do differently? Or would you keep it how it is? Post your thoughts below.
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Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.