40K Deep Thought: Does Random = Fun?

40K is slowed down a lot by excessive dice rolling – but does it make a fun game?

40K Loves Dice

We all agree to play a game with dice.  Random is a built in part of the game, the challenge and the fun. We don’t play chess.

But when does the dice rolling go too far?

I want you to think about what playing a typical 40k game looks like, and ask yourself these questions:

  • How many dice do I roll at a time in an average turn?
  • How many dice should I have in my dicebag?
  • How many dice do I roll in total in a typical game?

Now think about the other popular games in the industry and ask yourself the same questions.

 

I bet the numbers for 40K are WAY WAY WAY higher aren’t they?

“Hi Forge World, I’d like to order 20 sets of these.  No, it’s just for me…why do you ask?”

What is the Point of Dice?

I would argue that as a solid game designer you want dice to give you a set of random results with a granular scale desired by the customer for the key elements of the game that determine victory.

Now let’s unpack that.

I would want to choose the type or number of dice to get the number of results I want the game should need. In some games combat can be determined by a small dice pool (Warmachine), or a large one (40K). But does 40k give the players any more granular or fun/satisfying results for the time expended in rolling all the additional dice?

I vividly remember playing at Adepticon many years back with a Nurgle terminator heavy force up against an IG conscript horde that loved to use “1st Rank Fire-2nd Rank Fire” He rolled hundreds of dice each firing phase – all for a tiny handful of dead terminators. It was exhausting for both of us and drained the fun right out of the game. We had both become prisoners of the dice.

Those conscripts rolled WAY more dice than this…

The second part of my argument is that not everything needs to be random. Only the things that the game designer thinks affect victory. Really why bother letting players roll for every last thing – it just slows things down.

Think about what you roll for in 40K currently:

  • Warlord Traits
  • Determining Psychic Powers
  • Missions
  • Deviation
  • Casting psychic powers
  • Defending against psychic powers
  • Running
  • Charging
  • Hitting
  • Wounding/penetrating
  • Saving
  • Various mission parameters
  • Reserves
  • Leadership
  • etc… (I’m sure I missed some)

Now ask yourself, which of those really matter and affect the game? How many of those are random for no reason other than to make you roll dice? Also note that making you roll for some items is a way for designers to walk away from improperly balanced sections of rules.  If you have 6 warlord traits that are all equally balanced – there’s no harm in letting players choose. But if you have a poorly balanced set of psychic powers, making players roll for them lets the designers off the hook – “it was the dice, it’s not my fault”

I think at least half of that list could be replaced with fixed rule. For example just choose your warlord trait/psychic powers, more fixed mission rules, fixed run distances, etc…

And I think the game would not lose a bit of its fun, still reward skill, and move things along with less dice rolling.

~So how much do you think rolling dice equals fun, and do you think 40K needs to cut WAY WAY back on the amount of rolling to play the game?

  • Tom Fägrell

    One point that needs to be made is that the randomness actually deceases with the number of dierolls you make (as they tend to average out). The way the combat system is set up in 40k makes it far less random than games relying on a single d12 or d20 roll for determining the result. Instead you can play the probabilities with a certain degree of reliability.

    I have no problem with the warhammer d6 system at all. I think it is satisfying as fluk to roll all those dice. And it also provides a certain drama to the combat – as the result sort of gradually resolves and the success of an attack can be different degrees o successful.

    That said, GW also has a nasty habit of making everything random. All those single die rolls on those froggin charts for traits, terrains, this and that are horrible archaic leftovers from the bloated 80s games that took two days to complete.

    The worst kind of randomness is where you play a whole game over several hours, then in the end you coin flip for the win.

    • ZeeLobby

      I would like to think that they added re-rolls to the game to improve statistical outcomes. I mean I really doubt that’s the reason, and it extends gameplay massively, but it is there I guess.

      Also, most games that use a d12/d20 tend to have other dice rolls that factor into the damage as well. Infinity’s order of events, damage locations, etc.

      Personally the most statistically accurate game is probably WMH, which is why I guess competitive players tend to like it, but it definitely lacks the fun of slinging tons of D6s at once.

      • ChubToad

        WMH has almost no randomness, with the maximum number of dice you throw being 5. But that makes the games too predictable and makes some lists pretty useless against others.
        I don’t know if more randomness is a good thing, certainly would help even out the field, IMHO.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah, WMH sidesteps this by having list pairings. That’s how they’ve always accommodated wide diversity in unit types while maintaining balance between factions (as best they can). There are still random aspects to the game, blast deviations, damage column rolls, etc. I mean the rolls themselves are random like you said (just as susceptible to spikes or runs as other games), but it’s definitely more calculable.

    • Heinz Fiction

      Randomness is good when it simulates propabilities influenced by model stats, positioning, battlefield conditions and other things the player can actively incorporate in his strategy. It’s bad if it’s just a dice roll in vacuum because a lazy game designer didn’t bother to assign point values to a warlord’s trait or something.

      • Zingbaby

        You nailed it, but it’s really not that big an issue.

        The WAAC-tards hate anything ‘random’ because it means they might have to actually think and react beyond the list-building / net-list phase.

        • José Monteagudo Ibarreta

          Just like Heunz said. I once heard something like this: Good randomness is when it prevents the game from being the same everytime. Bad randomness prevents you from planing your game. It can be nice when the outcome of a shooting or a fight is not set in stone (it can add nice tension or heroic moments) but it is terrible when you dont know what the function of your your psyker is gonna be in the battlefield or how your warlord trait is going to affect your deployment or that of the enemy. And just in those two examples the results of the table range from completely useless or situational to almost gamebreaking.

          • Zingbaby

            Planning the game is one thing – winning the game at the List-building “planning” phase is another. Random prevents the latter to some degree.

            Not to say it’s been implemented perfectly in 7th – because it certainly has not.

  • Adrien Fowl

    There are way too many dice roll in each game. It takes an eternity to go through a whole game! The dice roll to determine the warlord traits, psychic powers, missions, etc. could usually we taken out of the rules.

    I’ve been playing AoS for a year and half I am totally positive that we can take those rolls away and the game will be improved.

  • ZeeLobby

    It’s really the chart rolls where randomness suffers. My long-time daemon playing friend knows that pain. While I have grown to appreciate games that use different docent or combinations to create more statistically calculated outcomes, it’s still fun to occasionally sling huge mounds of D6. In reality it should make games faster, it’s more that the ridiculous amount of rerolls now slows the game down.

    • Shaun Macey

      If im not mistaken deamons have always been a bit of a random army to show the fickleness of chaos. I think your friend should of took that into consideration.

      • ZeeLobby

        LoL. I’m assuming this is /s. There’s fickleness as in “Lord Skarloc lost Khornes favor and was slain in battle” and then there’s “Lord Skarloc has demon lazer eyes now instead of his relic axe because he rolled poorly on a table”. Only Tzeentch, the lord of change, really makes sense for completely random boons every battle. Just because the gods favor is fickle doesn’t mean one day the general wears pants, and the next day it’s jorts…

        The randomness was built into daemons because GW has literally gone through a period where one of their core principals was actually “random = fun”. Rolling for warlord traits, random terrain, random psychic abilities, random x, random y. Fun right!? No, just random, haha.

        • Tothe

          Some randomness made sense for Orks in the 4th/5th ed. codex. It had a meaning in representing the slapdash attitude they have toward everything. But I fail to see the need for so much rolling to start the game and then having a separate psychic phase in each turn to boot.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. Agreed. But I can’t see why some of it couldn’t have been brutally effective. They just needed to not make the outcome only neutral or bad.

          • Tothe

            Example of bad change: Ork “Mob Rule” used to mean large squads were automatically fearless. It fit the fluff and crunch. Now it means extra dice rolls and consulting a table. It isn’t fluffy and it actually distracts from the crunch.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I mean GW have examples of both great and poor implementations of randomness. Some really do support the fluff, and others are just random for the sake of randomness. And then there’s a ton that stretch between that gulf.

  • Inian

    Hitting, Wounding/penetrating, Saving & Leadership are the only ones I would question the removal of dice from.

    Psychics and Warlord traits are horrible to have as random, you hit the spot with the reason as well, it allows terrible balance issues and I doubt anyone wants to end up loosing a game because of rolls made before you even set up on the table.

    Movement should also not be random, this includes difficult terrain, running, charging and fleeing. Mostly because it slows down the game but also because it adds nothing tactical at all having it random. While it was fun seeing Kharn roll a double 1 when trying to charge my gaunts it was probably incredibly boring for my opponent.

    Seizing the initiative is also a big slap in the face and can make a huge difference in a lot of games. Replace this with some bonus to the roll to determine who gets the first turn instead this method is faster, easier and far less devastating. Although I wouldn’t be against some other method of determining who goes first, e.g. bidding or something similar and one player gets to go first and the other gets a small bonus.

    Reserves need not be random any more either. We already have a bunch of formations that remove this and Drop Pods and similar. Why do we have these formations/units? Because no one likes the random nature of reserves, that’s why.

    • Fully agree with all of that.

    • Nightwalker

      I actually like the steal the initiative because it makes you have to consider it when you are deploying if you got first. Or, from the other point of view, your opponent is going first, so they set up everything in the open to move up and come get you, but then you steal that initiative to get the jump on them.

      Having to accommodate for that 1 in 6 chance that you may have the jump thrown on you is one of the best things they added to set up.

      • Charon

        The problem with this is that some armies have such a potent alpha strike, that it doesnt matter if you are in cover or not. It just gets ignored anyways.

      • Inian

        I liked the idea of it but in the end I just don’t like how it plays out on the tabletop. For me some bonus to the second player would be better. For example starting with a victory point.

    • Shaun Macey

      Reserves don’t always come when the time is right that happens a lot in war and I think it is well represented with the reserve roll.

      Same with moving through difficult terrain some times you might slip some times you are fine. Charging also though I think you should add your move value as well to make it not so completely random.

  • Karru

    Short answer, no. Random doesn’t mean fun.

    Long answer, certain randomness is acceptable and encouraged when it makes sense. For example, the Ork stuff like the Don’t Press That! rule or the random amount of shots with Deffguns. Things that aren’t acceptable are Warlord Traits, Equipment and Psychic Powers for example. Basically things that aren’t supposed to be random because it doesn’t make sense. Why would Tigurius suddenly forget between battles what powers he has available? Does he just not feel like using some powers? What’s the explanation here?

    A good way to view RNG and how good it is to think it like this:

    “If I don’t make this thing into RNG, can one base a strategy on it?”

    Let’s take the Psychic Powers for example. Scryer’s Gaze from Divination helps with Reserves. If that wasn’t RNG, one could base a strategy around it where he could make a Reserve heavy army that relies on the power. Since it is RNG, the 1/6 chance of rolling it isn’t worth it, so you should never base a strategy around it.

    Same thing goes with certain Warlord Traits. Again, one could base a tactic around using certain Traits.

    The point is, more RNG you put into a game, less options people will have. This isn’t a power gaming viewpoint, mind you. Why would a casual player make an army that is based around a tactic that relies on him rolling the perfect results before the game starts? It might sound fun, but once you realise that the tactic is absolutely worthless unless you make those perfect rolls, he will get completely smashed.

    AoS is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t make everything RNG based. The Traits give benefits to different things, sometimes the character himself, sometimes units with different keywords. All these give people ideas, possibilities and as such way more options and variety can be seen being played. That’s why I never understood people that are for heavy RNG in games. It will lead to people wanting to minimise the risk of the RNG heavy screwing and so the armies start to look more and more the same.

    • ZeeLobby

      I always thought Skaven were a great example of fun random. Sure that randomness meant sometimes your army was completely useless, but more often then not, it was effective, and it hit hard. My issue with Orks was that many times it would just render a unit useless for a turn, and the units power levels weren’t really compensated for that in any way.

      • Karru

        In Fantasy, Skaven random was done perfectly I think. The Gatling Gun they had for example. You could keep rolling the artillery dice for as long as you wanted, but if you rolled the same result or missfire, you blew up if I remember correctly.

        It was that risk/reward type of deal. You could push your luck if you absolutely wanted.

      • Charon

        The problem is that Skaven (unlike orcs) alsways had an amazing risk vs reward system.
        Most of the time their random stuff was incredibly powerful but had a chance to backfire.
        So this is actually a good way for random. While yes, you could throw the occasional game by having terrible results, most of the time you were compensated by having very powerful effects.
        Orks on the other hand just had random because… well orks.
        There was no risk vs reward at all it was just “roll good and it works average, roll bad and prepare to die”

    • thereturnofsuppuppers

      I think AoS has a nice ballance. You can roll for your traits, or you can pick depending on what type of game you’re playing.

      • Karru

        Exactly. The option for rolling is still there, but you don’t have to use it right out of the gate. This gives more options to players.

  • Majere613

    Randomness isn’t the problem- as mentioned below, the more dice you roll, the closer the result comes to the statistical average. The problem is far more when very important events and abilities hinge on a single, unmodifiable roll, a very good (i.e. bad) example being Guilliman’s ‘4+ to not be dead’.

    You can easily just agree to not bother rolling things like Warlord traits or table edges, 40k is designed to be played like that. Personally I just draw psychic powers from the cards, which is easier than rolling them.

  • Simon Chatterley

    I’d love to see the AoS roll for who goes first each turn. Means there is always a chance you can change the course of a battle.

    I know some people hate that mechanic but they are usually the players who have become used to always having a1st turn and suddenly can’t cope with prospect it can be stolen. A timely double turn can turn the tide of a battle and I love the risk and reward.

    • Karru

      Actually, it’s not the case of people “not being able to cope with the prospect of not getting to go first all the time” but people that want to have some “consistency” during the game.

      While there are certain advantages to the AoS style ruling, the problem is that some games are won and lost purely based on that roll. Getting a double turn can mean absolute destruction to certain armies. Imagine that in 40k. People are having trouble surviving one Tau shooting phase, imagine them getting two in a row before you are even allowed to react.

      The risk of double turn is the biggest problem with the system. It isn’t the “I can’t go first all the time”. Getting that double turn at a key moment will decide the game. Getting to move twice, shoot twice, cast powers twice and attack twice before your opponent can do anything to you is huge and can lead to a certain victory and a complete annihilation.

      To counter that, you can go ultra defensive, minimise the effects of double turn. This in turn makes the game slower and more boring.

      Basically, it is not that simple. There are some very legitimate concerns regarding the “rolling for the turn each turn”. It’s not just “I can’t handle not going first every turn since I won the first turn roll off”.

      • Simon Chatterley

        As always opinions vary. My observations have been the people I know who hate it the most are also the most competitive.

        Yes the double turn can mean a complete pasting. But you get that if you are going second anyway. Tau going first means you have to weather 2 turns of shooting. Imagine if there was a chance I might only have to weather 1 round. Now there’s a chance my CC army can get to them, forcing tactical decisions on both sides.

        Yes it comes down to a dice but so much tension is in that. I find it fun anyway.

        I also play Malifaux an awful lot and the initiative flip can often be the most important in the game. Just a mechanic I love I like the idea of really going for it on the basis I’ll either get some luck and be able to take advantage of my daring move…or get crushed. But man, for a beautiful moment I had a chance at glory.

        • Karru

          Going second doesn’t always mean total bashing. Some armies prefer to go second actually. For example, SM Drop Pod armies are very devastating if they get to go second as the opponent can’t do anything to them before they arrive.

          There is also the objective grabbing in the last turns. Well, this was more relevant in 5th where they actually mattered, but still it’s a thing that happens.

          If Tau went first, you’d have to weather only one round before you can move and react. You do get to do something on Turn 1 before Turn 2 arrives. In the AoS system, if you get to go first and you happen to be the CC army when Tau player wins the roll off for the first half, you wouldn’t make it across the board, period.

          Again, it is as you said, opinions vary. It’s like the Alternate Activation vs IGOUGO systems. Both have their advantages and people who like them will most likely defend them to death. I personally don’t “care” which is in play, I just have my preferences.

          • euansmith

            I’m still rooting for 8th Edition taking the Movement Phase from LoTR: Player One moves all their stuff, Player Two moves all their stuff, then the fighting begins. This would give Player Two a chance to react to Player One’s movement and mitigate the effects of Player One’s attacks.

          • Simon Chatterley

            Think that’s it. Right now in 40k I don’t feel like I’m making tactical choices. I can look at my opponents list and decide pretty accurately who will win based on the First turn roll. Yes RNG on dice might make a difference but rarely does it. Sad that 40k has gotten to that level but it seems to be table or tabled right now.

            AoS surprised me as I long wrote it off but with the missions and points I’m finding it a lot more tactical. Combat is a joy as you get to choose your fight order so can influence the outcome. I get into 3 combats and I can only choose my first, then my opponent can counter somewhere else. It’s nice and you can use blocking units to guard/prevent combats. Just been very refreshing.

            Malifaux is still the most tactical game I play though. Every single game choice seems to have an impact and the cards can hate you so bad but can save you as well. Again, I love that mechanic so much.

            Just hope 40k does something different in 8th. Give me choices again that are meaningful. I played a game with my World Eaters against a full Tau gun line. Long deployment and he obviously set up on his back line. He won turn 1 with Kill points the mission and the only meaningful choice I felt I had was whether I bothered to set up or just put my army away again. I decided to play but the result was exactly as I predicted..I was turn 3 tabled

          • euansmith

            Choices are so much better than randomisation. I like some versions of the Apocalypse Engine RPG family of games where the player rolls a die to determine the degree of success or failure, but then gets to choose from a list of good things and bad things that can occur as a result. Meaningful choice really brings a game to life.

          • Severius_Tolluck

            Arguably GW’s finest game mechanic to date. Shame they buried it back under the rug instead of using it for their core systems.

          • Simon Chatterley

            As I said, I love Malifaux a lot as well and really like the choices I have to make when it’s IGYG. Even then there the thing that can chain activate 2 models.

            At the moment I play 40k, AoS and Malifaux a lot and 40k is the one at the moment that feels like a total chore.

            No game system is perfect at the end of the day but at the moment it feels like anything they do to 40k would be an improvement

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Its an incredibly bad idea. When almost every modern game uses some form of alternating activation, only GW would think having two whole turns in a row is a good idea!

          • Simon Chatterley

            As previously said opinions will vary. I like it. You don’t.

            Life continues

      • Severius_Tolluck

        It is the WAAC players and in generally the more competitive players that do not like random factors for reserve or such. What I find AoS has half the equation right, rolling for initiative works wonders. However I think it works better in let’s say Bolt Action, where we take turns drawing out units. That makes choices of unit orders and activations critical because it can change at any moment and leaves your opponent the ability to react accordingly.

        • Karru

          I personally disagree with the notion that it’s the competitive crowd only that doesn’t like randomness in games.

          I consider myself as casual as one can be when it comes to gaming. I like to make my armies with a theme and a story behind them. I want that theme and story to show during the game.

          This is why I always loved Chaos, at first. With their 3.5 Codex, one could make up amazing stories and themes for their armies and the rules reflected that perfectly. Now, throw in the randomness of the new table and boom, your options are reduced to 1/100th of the amount you once had.

          The main problem isn’t even the effectiveness in this case. To be able to make amazing stories and themes which you can then show off to your opponent through playing the game is the key.

          That’s where AoS does things right. It allows people to make amazing stories for their armies and now are getting into the “unique” character thing with the equipment and other charts they can use. You can make these amazingly fun and cohesive armies that work the exact same in every game, because you could base a synergy on top of them.

          The more random you make things, more you are limiting everyone, not just the competitive crowd. The problem is that even the most casual player won’t enjoy being completely trashed every game. That’s when they start to look for the alternatives, which include changing the theme or their army completely.

          Also, as I pointed out to Simon, the discussion regarding the IGOUGO vs Alternating Activation is always down to own preferences. Both have their ups and downs, neither is superior to the other no matter how much both sides try to prove otherwise.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          BA gets it just right.

      • marxlives

        I guess what the question boils down to is do you want a strategy or roulette? Strategy needs consistency so you can “win” on even terms. Your variables are almost even and so you won on brain power, not chance. It easy to build a casino on chance but not a tournament game on chance. Which is why WMH has such a strong tournament scene. But if charge distance is random, you can circumvent this by carrying more units, chances are you will get a good charge roll somewhere. On firing or attacks, you carry weight of dice and force you opponent to screw up some rolls somewhere a long the line.

        This is probably why D-weapons and the popularity of super heavies came into play and were pushed by GW. It is a good way to monetize on what basically comes down to as a game patch using models. These weapons punish players who do take multiple units of melee/fire teams, as a way to win through the weight of the dice. However when you are talking about a product that is asking for multiple units at 50 dollars a pop just to play, that sort of “fix” is going to create problems.

        Having so much randomness not only hurts the player experience, but it also leads the GW designers towards fixes for issues that are not good as well. Since new models are being pushed as essentially game patches (which I would expect from a 5 year old game not a 30 year old one) until a new edition can bring fundamental change.

        The push toward making 40k have the same rule set as AoS, is also disturbing. I know alot of players are very happy and excited by the prospect, but I see it as extreme vanillafication. Where, due to rules and not only aesthetics, there is no difference between Space Marines and Sigmarines. Want Tyranids in AoS…go ahead, or Wood Elves in 40k, the skies the limit. But some sort of flavour is gone when the rules for your sci-fi game are the rules for your fantasy game. Though I am sure GW will sort it out in the end and there will no longer be two games, by the time 10th edition rolls around there will be only one game.

        And that makes sense.

        Back in the day when everyone was begging Privateer Press to make a sci-fi game they turned it down and Matt Wilson made a pretty good point about it, they didn’t see the profit in creating two products that competed against each other within the same market space. Now that GW is not the only game in town, I am pretty sure they are seeing the wisdom in that.

        That is essentially why WHFB failed. Everyone plays in the same pool, your 40k players were you WHFB players and now you 40k players are your AoS players. When one IP pulls the customer bases’ wallet the other IP loses out. Especially when you are talking about a game that, due to the necessary multiple boxes of 50 dollar a pop units in order to just play what is basically a single 50 point force of WMH, does not recieve many “new players”, which FFG products are amazing at.

    • ZeeLobby

      Honestly this first turn anxiety solely exists because there’s armies where if you go second, you may have already lost. Hopefully just fixing the game balance means going first or second isn’t the end-all-be-all of play, especially competitive play. I mean plenty of turn-based games accommodate for this by giving a slight bonus to the player that goes second. PP letting them deploy farther forward, Hearthstone giving the coin and extra card, etc. There’s things you can do to make the impact less damning.

      • Severius_Tolluck

        yep or L5R with the extra income and draw, MTG with the first turn draw, etc.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah. I’d really like to see them reduce ranges to the point where even hitting anything first turn is a challenge. Allow units time to maneuver and adjust before disappearing at least. It was always sad picking up units I had just deployed and putting them away. At least let me move them once!

          • Severius_Tolluck

            Most frustrating thing ever is to lose before you even get to have your first turn, only 40k is truly good for that. That’s why I liked LotR so much and somewhat AoS although it is not fully there yet. Bolt Action kinda has it going well.

  • AdeptusAstartes

    Attitude and approach = fun.

    Random dice are facilitators and amplifiers – they either multiply the laughter or the rage. You can still rage through tears of laughter!

  • Mathew G. Smith

    I suspect a lot of the random tables are going to be replaced by AOS’s “here’s a list, pick one” approach.

  • euansmith

    I’m reminded of playing WRG Ancients back in the 70’s, where you added up a bunch of factors, rolled an average die (numbered 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 5) and then read casualties off a table. It was only one die roll; but adding up the factors could be a chore.

  • Nyyppä

    To some extent, yes. When it goes to things like Chaos Boon table or similar, even psychics, then it’s not a good idea. When a random thing defines the base line effectiveness of a unit and the cost for the random chance is based on the best possible result it’s pretty much the only way to not go if one wants to succeed.

  • m3g4tr0n

    Yes. There’s nothing more exciting than putting your nuts into Lady Luck’s hand. Could it be a gentle squeeze, or does she pop them like grapes?

    • Hagwert

      LOL love that phrase , “Putting your nuts in Lady Luck’s hand” is going to printed on my t-shirt when ever I play a game from now on .

      • m3g4tr0n

        Happy to help.

  • Krizzab

    yes, but the issue are ton of rolls, hit, wound, saves. Depends of game system of course, but if you want certain inmunity to rage bad luck rolls play Dragondice :D.

  • V0iddrgn

    I agree that the game as a whole has way too much dice rolling, which is bogging down game play. We all agree that 8th needs to gut a lot of this. However, I firmly believe that an element of randomness here and there does indeed equal fun. I know I’m on thin ice here but I actually enjoy things like the Powers of the C’tan. This is because it feels fluffy (not totally in control of a Star God) and the results are all usable. Anyway, my answer would be to gut most randomness from the BRB but keep (SOME) elements of randomness in each faction.

    • Inian

      While I agree in principle there are exceptions. For instance a lot of Ork guns (Mek Guns & Snazzgun for instance) are horrible due to the randomness occurring after you selected a target. If you beforehand knew the Strength and/or AP you could at least make the shot count for something, even if at the start of the turn you didn’t know if they should be shooting at Terminators, Scouts or a Land Raider.

      Randomness needs to be tempered with tactical choices and weighed against speed of play and ease of use.

      • V0iddrgn

        I agree that a picking a Target after rolling for the Strength and/or AP would allow players a lot more benefits for having such weapons. Im just not sure the game designers would agree because these types of weapons are “discounted” in points cost due to their random nature. For instance, Snazzgun adds less than 4 points to a Nob’s points cost and Mek Gunz are notoriously cheap as well.

        • Inian

          Yet I have never seen anyone play either Mek Gunz or Flash Gitz (except when the new Mek Gun models came out, then I saw them for a few games before they were put back to gather dust on shelves).

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        well said

  • MechBattler

    I’m just going to put this out there.

    Let’s face it – We’re all about 2 degrees off of a gambling addiction. Not knowing what’s going to happen and finding out is a thrill for us. Most people experience this to one degree or another.

    Addicts can’t stop doing it. It’s an obsessive compulsion. We get our fix by throwing dice hundreds of times in just the span of a few hours. And we like it. Then we’re good until we need another fix, and we do it all over again.

    Let’s be honest folks- how many of us would be throwing dice in a gambling establishment if we hadn’t found 40k?

    • thereturnofsuppuppers

      I’ve certainly seen 1 problem gambler in my local area who plays 40k. he is very competitive.

      I don’t think it effects more casual players, who are looking for another form of escapism.

      • MechBattler

        I myself despise gambling. I don’t like the idea of risking money on the chance of winning more. That said, I definitely have a stronger than average desire to throw dice. And I definitely have an addiction to plastic model building. So I’m sort of in the middle.

        • thereturnofsuppuppers

          Gambling can be fun if its small odds, and you consider the money lost at the start.

          Essentially you’re paying for an hours entertainment.

          It can be extremely dangerous if you don’t have a support around you and start to rely on it as a emotional tonic.

        • TenDM

          Do you care about winning when you roll? Personally I’d be happy just playing with dice.

          • euansmith

            Are you like me? Do you go to game shows? Find the Chessex Display? And plunge your hands in to the huge tubs of pristine dice? The feel, the sound and the look of all those dice is so alluring to me.

          • MechBattler

            I’d fill a ball pit with dice and go swimming in it.

    • Pyrrhus of Epirus

      i dont understand this comparison at all. I like the battle of wits and strategy elements to the game, i have zero interest in gambling.

    • Ryan C

      I’d disagree with that, I hate gambling. I throw dice because dice are a required mechanism for the game. I’ve often pondered about how Warhammer could be redesigned to eliminate dice rolling entirely.

      it isn’t the rolling that I’m addicted to, its the narrative, art style, universe, creativity, story, etc. Its the pushing awesome minis across the battle field.

  • Two perspectives I have found myself on.

    As a tournament gamer in my younger days – random was not fun. I wanted to come up with a plan, and I wanted that plan to always succeed barring my opponent doing something to stop me.

    Like chess.

    Random was the opposite of fun.

    Then I got bored because all of my games were basically the same. Random made my games somewhat different. I started to enjoy random for that… that uncertainty and having to have decent reaction skills.

    • TenDM

      I like the idea of compromising here with Mortal Wounds. Things that allow a unit to have the hard coded layer of reliability you need in a tournament setting but don’t guarantee the outcome. Your expensive unit still faces some unpredictability, but will never be totally ineffective.

      • I look at the tournament AOS lists and they do their best to mitigate any randomness via sheer number of dice or reliably pumping out mortal wounds which give no save for the most part.

  • WhenDidVicesBecomeVirtues

    I think it comes down to the personality of the player. If someone is being competitive, they don’t want random, they want odds stacked in their favor such as rule loopholes or cheese units. In my opinion, randomness is more fair since everyone is equally as likely to roll good or bad on the dice.

  • Kostas Pap Gus

    Random is fun in most of the cases because it bring the unexpectable to the game. For example the Orcs and Goblins army in the WHF was a real fun army. The reactions of the monsters, of the Giants and the misfire of the cannons were also a funny thing.
    IMO even rolling a big amount of dice is fun because it gives you the feeling of commanding a horde or shooting with a very powerful weapon.
    The re-rolls on the other hand are very annoying and slow the pace of the game without reason.
    The can simply give to the models better characteristics instead of the re-roll ability.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      rerolls become important because the D6 gives a very limited range of outcomes. How do you show better than BS5 without a reroll?

      • Kostas Pap Gus

        Re-rolls in that case its even unfair. They increase the probability of successful hit significantly.
        But I am talking about other cases when for example a unit has a rule to re-roll 1s.

  • Kostas Pap Gus

    A good example of the good use of “random” is the rules of the new terrain of Armageddon/40K.
    You take cover if you are within 3′ of them but on a bad roll of the dice you might get some casualties due to infrastructure malfunctions.

  • piglette

    I would say definitely too much is randomized. It’s boring when mundane stuff like running is determined by a d6. Just make it a flat number like 4 or 6 inches. Random rolling is best for determining things like skill checks, extrapolating combat, and fun tables.

    As for tables, they are great fun when they are something you voluntarily enter into. Shock attack gun is fun because you know what you’re getting into. Chaos boon is fun because it feels like a free bonus. Warpstorm table and other such things aren’t fun because they are just random events forced upon the players that can heavily help or hinder one player or the other with no input from them.

    Random is most fun when it’s a sort of voluntary lottery you are entering.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      double move for run, done in the movement phase, would speed the game up, reduce randomness and also make assault and infantry armies more viable as on average they’d move 2 and a half inches more each turn. Likewise half move for difficult terrain.

  • Ravingbantha

    Warlord traits and determining psychic powers should not be random, not only does it slow th game down immensely, but as the general you would be picking the right leader/psyker for the job. Everything else should stay random.

    • Deathwing

      Warlord traits and psychic powers should be points costed in my opinion. Running through open ground should be a set distance. charging should be a set distance +D3 not 2D6, way too random as is. Id also prefer if psychic power casting was done the 6th edition way. It was faster.

  • Davis Centis

    Definitely agreed! Too much randomness slows the game down for minute improvements in quality.

    If you think about an average charge and close combat; you have the overwatch, the charge distance, the hitting in close combat, wounding in close combat, probably saving throws, and maybe additional saves (Feel no Pain). That’s 6 possible rolls to determine if something dies; meaning there’s 6 possible chances for nothing to happen (and one of those has it’s own additionally potential 4 more rolls – overwatch). This makes it very unlikely for things to happen. However, you can overcome this statistical problem by… throwing more dice! You can have each of those things give you a re-roll for possibly 12 (plus overwatch for possible 20) sets of rolls having to happen to determine anything. That’s also assuming all your attackers have the same initiative. And there’ll be rolls at the end for Leadership.

    To be frank, that’s just too many rolls. For that reason, I’d like to see random charge ranges go, for overwatch to go, and for Feel No Pain and its variants to go. That would chop things down to 3 rolls, with potential rerolls. The idea of the charging unit striking first is a good one to help speed things up too. In this way, if a unit is good in close combat, it’s just good in close combat – it doesn’t also need to worry about all the other potential steps to fail the close combat. If a unit is good at shooting, it isn’t also necessarily good at close combat, because there’s a lot less chances for them to counter the charging unit.

    But then again, I love close combat. My nids need to come back to the field.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I think random charges is OK, it stops the game becoming a Warmahordes-like excercise in trigonometry. I would like them a little less random, maybe 3+D6.

      I don’t see any point for overwatch though, its time consuming and rare for much to happen.

      In the absence of alternate activation a rule like the old overwatch rule (where you could forgo shooting in your own turn to shoot in your opponents) would be good however.

      • Davis Centis

        Well, it really comes down to how gamers are gonna game the system. I remember the “trigonometry” argument from back in 3rd/4th/5th editions, but my personal experience is that it wasn’t a big deal. The bigger deal back then was not having pre-measuring, meaning that knowing the cumulative distances moved was extra important. Since we’re allowed to pre-measure right now, I’d say that fixed charge ranges would be about as time consuming as fixed shooting ranges – which is mostly not at all, with exceptions that are quickly handled. Still would be a massive time savings over all the extra rolls to get into combat.

        Not sure I agree on bringing back old-school Overwatch. I didn’t play 2nd edition, so I really can’t say, but it sounds time consuming. It also sounds like a load of fun.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          I think the random charge distance is a little too random, as I said, but it does add a cinematic element and an element of decision and risk calculation which is good. Overwatch on the other hand I see as entirely negative time consuming .

          The old Overwatch didn’t add any time, you just put a marker next to the unit, and then in your opponents turn could interrupt their movement phase to shoot the unit (with a slight penalty to BS). It moved the time taken to shoot the unit’s guns around, but didn’t add any time.

  • AnomanderRake

    The issue is when ‘random’ starts to replace decision-making (as in psykers/Warlords, for instance), or when the dice start to override the game (if you can point at one specific die roll and say “If that roll (and only that roll) had gone the other way the game would have gone with it” you’ve raised the question of what the players are for, if who wins is determined by the dice).

  • Agent OfBolas

    Number of rolls is not a problem, it’s quite fun. Real problem is in rules overcomplication with exceptions for exceptions for advanced rules exceptions.

    • memitchell

      No. Rolling over a hundred dice to fight a Melee with one Ork mob, to kill 3 Marines is a problem. That is exactly the moment my son decided not to play 40K with me.

      • euansmith

        With Apps available these days, a lot of the rolling could be taken out of the game.

        Players could sync up their army lists, the attacker selects an attacking unit and a target on the app and then rolls a die or two (because rolling dice is nice).

        The result of the die roll could then be used as a fuzzy factor in calculating wounds on the target unit.

        Maybe even allow the defender a die roll at the same time for a bit of cosmetic agency in the result.

      • Agent OfBolas

        My friends left idea of start playing 40k after they noticed they need to go through 1000 pages of rules to be in line with everything.

        • memitchell

          It took 15 minutes (and another codex) for three of us to figure out how to add an extra 100 pt. squad to a Genestealer Cult formation.

  • Flavio Zancarli

    Try having 1-2 squad of guard shooting a flyrant with first-second rank…. 90 dices to hit then the to wound then the saves….. a bit of randomness is welcome too much is too much! also i’d like things that determine a tactic to NOT BE RANDOM i.e. psychic powers and leader powers!

    • Deathwing

      Agreed. Warlord traits and psychic powers should be chosen and points costed.

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    40K Deep Thought: Does Random = Fun?

    As an Ork player, no.

    • Commissar Molotov

      Ooo, but dat Rogue Trader and 2nd Ed. randomness was fun for Orks. You never knew what would happen from turn to turn.

      • Drew_Da_Destroya

        The Splattakannon and stuff were certainly fun, and honestly the Shokk Attack Gun is still pretty entertaining. 2nd edition Orks had a lot of fun fluff to justify their random, and it made it fun.

        But Mob Rule, the new Ork artillery pieces with random str/AP values, and some of the nonsense from the last codex (like Weirdboyz being useless) just wasn’t fun. It was arbitrary random for the sake of “fun”. Like somebody tried to copy Andy Chambers’ homework but didn’t get the reasons, just the answers.

        • Djbz

          Random Strength values on the Ork weapons really suck.
          Especially on one shot weapons that NEED to be powerful because of the Ork’s terrible ballistic skill that seem to miss any time a decent strength is rolled.
          (And I’m the one that’s being shot at with them and it makes ME feel bad)

          • Drew_Da_Destroya

            Seriously. The only thing worse than missing when you roll high strength is hitting when you roll low.

  • Commissar Molotov

    Yeah, I think randomness is fun because it creates uncertainty. Everybody remembers that time the gretchin knocked the last wound off the Chaos Lord.

  • Deathwing

    Lets look at it this way. The fewer random aspects the the game there are, the more skill is really involved. We all remember warhammer 7th edition. Back then with set charge and march distances along with range guessing there were quite literally tournament players that a casual weekend gamer was not capable of beating. ever. These guys could eyeball charge distances and cannon ball shots down to the bloody dam 32nd of an inch from 20 inches out. It was maddening.
    Now is what we have now with 2D6 charge range any better? Hell No. Its way TOO random. A set charge range +D3 is more than enough randomness. Set march/charge range is perfectly fine as well.
    Warlord traits should be points costed and bought for your warlord. are some warlord traits better than others? you bet. But are you willing to leave that extra plasma gun in squad B at home to get your warlord that better trait? Ooooo.
    Casting Psychic powers should go back to 6th ed style for simplicity
    Psychic powers should be points costed as well. primus free, powers 1-3 5pts, powers 4-6 10 pts with 6th power requiring 2 warp charge.

  • Raspoutine

    Dice are dice are dice. It’s not directly related to fun, what makes or breaks a game are the choices it forces you to make. Monopoly is full of random and entirely bereft of fun because it lacks any choice for the player to make.

    And all choices are not equal, it must make a difference in the game to inject fun in the game. For example, the random factor in psy is fun : do you take a chance to get invisibility or do you go with a more reliable divination for rerolls. But others, for example warlords traits, where you have zero choice and will quite probably have no in impact the game, is essentially meaningless.

    Same goes for random : will it force you to make tougher choices? Do you go all out on a unit to wipe it out or do you spread your fire to waste less firepower? (seems like if you allocated all your dice before rolling them would be even more fun). Do you shoot a unit to thin it out and risk failing your charge? There, more random is more fun. But if you just pile on the randomness without player input ( ie daemonic storm and incursions charts, mysterious objectives) then it becomes a chore.

    And then there are false choices in 40k. Do I pay 15 points for a fusion pistol that’s going to make vehicles blow up and incinerate my harlequins? Do I pay 40 points for a terminator that will die to 24 points of guardsmen? Do I roll on telekinsesis? These are the chess equivalents of moving a pawn on the furthest lanes in the opening turn.

    A random roll can be fun, especially, when it’s thematic : skavens weapons for example were devastating while also prone to kill your guys but that randomness was built in the rules of the models themselves, you didn’t need to roll on a special chart. In that sence, I agree there is a cleanup needed.

    But it must also be understood that in a game of chance, anything that bypasses randomness is a nuclear weapon. In 8th, rerolls should be as rare as a chicken laying golden nuggets.

  • captkaruthors

    Yes. The amount of dice, re-rolls etc. harms the game. However, they painted themselves in that corner when they dropped all the other dice from the game from 2nd to 3rd. I have argued for years that the run move should just be a fixed value. Looks like that will happen in the new edition. Also, keywords like overwhelming or something can speed up the process of volume of dice. Say if a unit rolls more than 12 dice then their shooting gain overwhelming and give that an effect like ignoring cover…or armor. Insane firepower should be rewarded…not simply a dice exercise where you roll hundreds of dice, I roll hundreds of saves…then re-roll the failures..and congrats..you killed two models. LOL.

  • Sz

    Random that is prone to hide foolishness and cripple smart play are my personal pet peeves. Now I am not looking to kill uncertainty, but things like rolling to get to go twice in AoS is a huge bailout for those who maneuvered foolishly (please don’t bring that ‘fun’ to 40k.) Also the old orc unruly tables in fantasy took what would have been a mid-tier army (never anything real special) and made them pretty terrible. The old vehicle damage tables were another overly-randomized thing that wasn’t fun.

    I guess for me, important turns and pivotal players’ decisions should be the regular big influences of the whole experience. Not some random die roll in some random turn, e.g. AoS, I got to shoot two turns in a row and now your army is so wrecked it can never come back, but let’s draw this out another 3 1/2 turns. Gee, what fun :/

  • Emprah

    If I would have my way, I would just make the wounding, saves, casting psychic powers (old style), leadership and hitting into D20 rolls, and let you choose the rest.

  • Xar

    The most annoyed I have ever been was watching a whole unit of WTF roll: look out sir, cover save, FNP – one at a time, for each 2 wound model.

  • Bellumvinco

    No. It’s my opinion that the designers believe Random helps replay-ability. I don’t have a problem with Random effects as long as they aren’t powerful enough to seriously influence the outcome of a game. Then it Feels Bad Man!

  • I couldn’t agree more. The game needs less randomness. Psychic powers and Warlord traits should be chosen.

  • A lot of the issue is replayability. For me, it gets old very quickly when I play the same game over and over again.

    That was older style of WHFB and 40k to me. The same game. Every time we played.

    Too random of course takes skill away. No argument.

    But where is there a middle?

    Things like choosing powers are great… except that then you only see the same 1 or 2 powers in the game period. Because lets face it there has not ever been an edition where one or two powers weren’t just so incredibly stupid powerful that everyone would take it if they could.

    That takes the game back to playing the same game over and over again.

    • Karru

      This is the real problem many games suffer from. It doesn’t matter how random you make it or don’t make it, the games will always, at the end of the day, start to feel the same. If the game is too random, people will look for a way to make it less random. MTG is a good example of this. Player doesn’t like to rely on the luck of the draw so he makes sure the deck has a lot of “draw x cards” or “draw specific card” cards. A deck of 60 cards and most of the time you end up seeing the exactly same cards being played over and over again and people losing to the same thing over and over again.

      The only reason why I prefer having less randomness instead of more randomness boils down to variety of choice. If there are suboptimal tactics and units that could be utilised with skill, I wouldn’t mind trying it out. Many players also like to try them out purely out of “what if I could pull it off with skill”. If it’s completely based on luck, like rolling certain Psychic Powers on certain characters and then some amazing rolling on traits for example, then it isn’t nearly as fun because you know it might happen once every dozen games where in between you get completely wrecked.

    • Tothe

      Maybe you needed to get creative in designing scenarios? Some randomness is necessary to replicate the chance of combat, but you need to abstract enough elements to streamline the game and keep it playable.

      • When you’re playing in a competitive region, the only scenarios people will allow to be used are typically the core-six.

        Player designed scenarios are generally a giant red NO NO.

        • Tothe

          THAT might be the root problem in the game becoming repetitive, then. Just 6 scenarios with a boring group.

          • My friend, thats pretty much every group I’ve ever known. You can’t hand wave a new group into existence. I live in a competitive region that sticks to tournament official rules and scenarios. I can’t change that and I’m not aware of any large groups that play otherwise either.

            I’m not into playing the same two or three people over and over either.

  • J Mad

    It seems like at least 2x per year the “is randomness fun” topic comes up and everytime its the same style of comments.

  • Orthon234

    You can also add mysterious objectives to the list of random die rolls that should be removed.

    Most of the time we end up ignoring them entirely because random mysterious objectives aren’t fun and are rarely important. Just remove them entirely.

  • Ryan C

    Personally I very much agree, rolling has gotten way out of hand. Massively so. In my opinion rolling should facilitate adding random variation to the game to simulate unexpected results during a battle.

    What they SHOULDN’T do is replace decision

  • Andrea

    NOOOOOO PLS TELL THIS TO GW, EVERITHING RANDOM IS NOT FUN IS NOT FUN AT ALL

  • Great article. The irony of 40K’s mass dice rolling is that the randomness tends to disappear – statistical deviations are minimalized over time.

    In my experience, however, 40K and dice rolling are inextricably intertwined, not only because they’ve been a game staple for so long, but because they really help you with the feeling that so many little occurrances in war are random and/or uncontrollable. Rolling dice seems to help that feeling along.

  • Shaun Macey

    Well if he didn’t want to roll that many dice why did he even bother bringing a massive blob of conscripts not a very smart person are they.

    However world traits you should be allowed to pick there are so many that are to circumstantial and will mean they have no effect on the game where as your opponents will.

    As for psychic powers I think they are about right but I think they should bring back being able to choose what power you get when you roll a double as with WFB 8th ed.

    As for everything else its about right. If you get tired by some one rolling lots of dice then only play small games.

  • Peripheral

    I think, from a design perspective, much of the additional rolls: roll to hit, roll to wound, roll for save, roll for FNP/resurrection is a function of the decision to use a d6 and traits that only run 1-6. You need the additional rolls to spread the probabilities out.

    You could eliminate some of the rolls by going to d10 and traits that run 1 to 10

  • Shawn

    I think you should still roll for missions. If you don’t, people will just be playing those missions that don’t hurt/hinder their army, or give them an advantage. Same goes for Warlord Traits and Psyhic Powers. You know Tau just love the Purge the Allien mission, because it’s just kill points. They can sit in the back and shoot and run, shoot and run, rinse, repeat. I think making DtW rolls a bit easier and putting a cap on warp charges is a better fix. As far as Warlord Traits go, while some are more useful than others, I don’t think there are any that are over the top. Choosing, can be fun, especially if you have a made up character you’re using.

    Deviation is just a nice mechanic that’s not necessarily random, but does simulate a missile blast (or plasma), including inaccurate shots, so I like that. However, I understand how some people might feel about it being unnecessary.

    Reserves should be rolled, because you don’t know when reinforcements will arrive, and if you have to pick a turn which they arrive then its hard to determine tactically when to have them arrive.

  • Arcangelo Daniaux

    – Warlord Traits => Buy with point
    – Determining Psychic Powers => Buy with point
    – Missions => Random
    – Deviation => Deviation + 2D6 is OK
    – Casting psychic powers => Leadership test like in 4th edition, or leadership/psy level + d6 need to pass the spell level
    – Defending against psychic powers => Go back to psychic hood 4th edition like, or leadership/psy level + d6 win over the psyker roll (non psychic unit only have D6 in case of psy level)
    – Running => Double movement during the movement phase, dont shoot nor charge
    – Charging => Movement value, or double movement during the movement phase and not shoot except for assaut weapon/pistols on the charged unit (yes, shooting that meltagun/flamer/plasma pistol right in the enemy face as you run toward them), or don’t shoot at all.
    – Hitting => Random
    – Wounding/penetrating => Random
    – Saving => Random
    – Various mission parameters => random
    – Reserves => Roll to see if arrive, but can choose to delay and don’t roll this turn
    – Leadership => Random

    This is how I think it should be, but it’s only my point of view.

  • Jay Mort

    There is no such thing as random as most think of it. Random simply means, ‘ignorance of cause.” The moment the die leaves your hand, the outcome is determined outside the application of will; yours or another the result is going to be what it ends up as. Dice are used to represent uncertainty for while the result is determined, WE lack sufficient knowledge of the causes acting upon the dice therefore we cannot: 1:predict the outcome, and 2: engineer the outcome.

    The problem is, even in the most chaotic battlefield, there is less uncertainty than 40k has injected into the game. Random charges, etc… just increase the uncertainty to levels of ‘crap shoot’.

    Uncertainty can also be included in other ways. Such as… GASP… no pre-measuring. Are you within 6″ or just out? Your dudes can definitely shoot 12″ but… is the far unit within range or should you shoot the closer one?

    Alas, the consternation highlights a well understood but oft distracted from quandary. Be careful for what you wish for. It may sound like a neat idea, but once the novelty wears off you might not actually end up liking it on final analysis.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I agree with the observation that half these rolls are unnecessary. I think eliminating them would increase the influence of player skill.

    Perhaps in the mythical ‘three ways to play’ one of them could be where you choose these things, as it would be better for competitive play.

    I would also like the option to roll for them though, when playing a player less experienced than yourself (like the poor chap I tabled yesterday) it would be good to be able to increase the amount of luck in the game. Unfortunately luck and experience were both on my side yesterday. Will seriously dial back my list for the next time I play him.