Tabletop: How to Deal with “Cold” Dice

Hello Frontline Gaming fans, SaltyJohn here from TFG Radio, bringing you a quick article about handling life when your dice go cold!

Cold dice, they happen to everyone.  You can play 3 games in a row with hot dice that go cold at the crucial moment in the third.  You can play a game where the dice are cold only at the moments when they really matter.  You can play a tournament where all day long your dice are so cold you throw them in the trash, buy new dice only to have them be even colder, which you didn’t think was even possible.  So how do you deal with cold dice?

First let’s get one thing straight.  I am not asking if you switch dice in the middle of the game. I’m not asking if use “cold” dice for when you need to roll low or “hot” dice for when you need to roll high, that can be considered cheating or at least less than ethical.  What I am asking is how do you handle when the dice, no matter which dice, just don’t seem to roll in your favor. I’ll start off with a few things I have done.

1.  Buy new dice.  I own a TON of dice.  I do a project every year with my 8th grade class where I ask them to make a board game based upon the expedition of Lewis and Clarke.  I tell them I would supply 6 sided dice and various other polyhedral dice, two baggies full of d6s of every size and color imaginable live with me at work.  Chessex, translucent, opaques, swirly colored dice, speckled, 16mm, 12mm, Casino dice from the Flamingo in Las Vegas etc.  Inevitably one of my students asks, “Why do you have so many dice?”  “Because I play a lot of games, moving on…”  I have bought dice to match most of my armies over the years and so I end up with a lot of dice because for whatever reason it never crosses my mind to send the dice with the army when I sell it on eBay.  Also, if my dice run cold for 5+ games in a row I usually call it quits on them for a while and buy new dice.

2.  Rotate dice.  I have so many sets of dice as a result of number 1 that I often just rotate a new set in.  For example I used just normal translucent colored dice last month for the tournament at our FLGS.  They don’t match my color scheme but I hadn’t used them since I played my old Necron army in the waning days of 6th and I had found them when I moved our family office from upstairs to downstairs.  I used them on a whim.  I have seen people alternate the dice they use in Warmahordes.  Meaning one game they use black for damage red for column, then red for damage black for column.  I also alternate dice between game systems.

3. Throw them away.  I have only done this once but I have witnessed it done many times.  I had a game once with my Space Wolves against a well tooled Blood Angel army.  I had Sanguinary Guard + Dante in the open clumped together in front of 3 PC totting Long Fangs.  3 overheats, 3 failed armor saves.  Ok, that happens sometimes I guess.  Same turn 5 Vanguard Vets Heroically Intervene on my Thunderwolf Lord and 4 Thunderwolf Cavalry all with Storm Shields.  I fail 6 of 7 3+ invul saves, roll a 12 for leadership , and roll enough to go off the table edge and die.  The hits kept coming in that game, so I threw the dice out and bought a brick of black GW dice to use the rest of the day.  Normally I wouldn’t change dice in the middle of a tournament but I just couldn’t bring myself to play another game with those dice.

That’s just me though and I have seen this discussion pop up from time to time so I thought I would pose the question.

~How do you deal with your dice going cold?


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

  • piglette

    I just use some weighted trick dice and they result in much better numbers for me.

    • petrow84

      plus a chopped-off hand upon being captured, if you happen to end up on the streets playing dice game in the Middle Ages

  • MTF8

    Take one of the offending dice. Put it in a vice, or take a hammer to it. Place its shattered form either back in the brick, or otherwise in full view of the rest so they can all see the price of failure.

  • Tushan

    Or simply use casino dice!

    There is a f..g reason casinos dont use that chessex crap.

    • SonoftheMountain

      when you have to roll 20+ for your Ork army that just isn’t practical

      • Tushan

        Works for me, rolling 15 at a time etc.

    • Hahboo

      Casino dice are made to be thrown against a backstop. Tossing casino dice up in to the air where they land without rolling and chip terrain provides minimal benefit compared to just using that chessex crap

      • Tushan

        Imaginary problem. Never had a single casino dice ruin terrain or a model happening to me ever.

        • mgdavey

          You know what else is an imaginary problem? “Cold dice”

          • Tushan

            Of course it is, however I dont see why you come dragging with this to me instead of to the author of the “cold dice” article.

  • Wonderdog

    I don’t – because its a myth. It’s not the dice’s fault…

    …its because you didn’t sacrifice enough virgin koala bears to the dark gods before the tournament stupid!

  • Darren Mills

    I’ve only had to dump cold dice once. Outside of GW I’m a cold logical machine, but once I go through that door…. break out the crystals, altar, and lucky color coded dice.

  • Mathias Vilhelmsson

    I have my dice just standing around atm. Bought a “dice” of GW dice, that all rolled 1s for about 1/3 of all the rolls I made (No really, I counted). I then had a gander at google, and it turns out some crazy fool apparently used the exact same type of dice I had in an experiment, and found that they were abnormaly prone to rolling ones..'s_How_I_Roll_-_A_Scientific_Analysis_of_Dice

    • Dave Bacon

      My friend bought some of the GW dice earlier this year, they looked a lot like some others he had, except the GW have the little skull on the 1. It’s become something of a running joke when playing 40k at his house, and someone gathers up a fist full of dice, rolls them and then you see on these little skulls smiling up at you.

      • Mathias Vilhelmsson

        HAHAHA, Those are the same ones I have, if its the ones that come in a cube-shaped container?

  • Strategery.

    what the F is going on?! there are currently 6 comments and they are all decent. no “first!” nobody complaining about GW! nobody wishing for plastic sisters or a new chaos codex. good jokes! coherent opinions! WHAT IS GOING ON

    • euansmith

      Sorry, its a time zone thing, I was in bed.

  • A perfectly random set of dice would still get hot or cold runs, because perfectly random doesn’t mean “I get a result mapping to the probability curve wvery time”. And with the number of rolls in a typical wargame you’re unlikely to notice the difference between “precision” dice and more typical sets. Heck, dice will seem to underperform in general just because humans have a cognitive bias to remember bad situations more readily. Weather the storm, you’ll eventually hit a hot streak regardless of what set of dice you’re using.

  • spla5hmummy

    My dicing issues disappeared when I started using the official GW dice app on my phone. It’s fantastic. Only trouble is it drains my phone battery having the screen on so much so I have to take a charger to games.

    • Lee Ashford

      Hmmmm…. Sounds fishy…

  • paralipsis

    “Cold dice” is just a restatement of the “hot hand fallacy”. While it’s certainly true that poorly made dice will have some degree of bias, most of the time the fault is in the mind of the player, not the dice.

    Humans suck at intuiting random behaviour. We have a fundamental predeliction towards pattern recognition, even when no pattern exists. Things like regression to the mean run directly counter to our expectation that past performance will indicate future outcomes, even of random events.

    I say this not as someone immune to the pitfalls of this kind of thinking, but rather as someone who can at least sometimes check themselves when thinking this way, and instead laugh and make fun of moments when a game turns on an unlikely sequence of dice rolls. Sometimes it’s hard to have the distance to do so when emotionally invested in the outcome. But the best games I’ve ever played are ones where the outlier rolls, good and bad, are are source of shared levity with my opponent.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      yeah, cold dice is a myth. If my dice appear to be crappy, which obviously does happen, my opponent often says I should switch them out. Its just random probability though, and I never switch them out, and they return to normal behaviour pretty soon generally as no streak of unusual rolling will ever last long.

      Round edged GW style dice do roll more ones however, which is not an illusion. Its best if both players are using the same sort of dice, if one is using GW dice and another casino dice then the casino dice player has an advanta

  • Bakvrad

    I usually smile and say, that It can’t get worse
    Then it gets worse and I laugh.

    • BenTheMan

      THIS!!! 😀

    • orionburn

      I’ve learned never to say that. Life seems to take that as a challenge to prove me wrong…lol

  • Mathew G. Smith

    Going by the pictures, your first mistake was buying M. C. Escher brand dice.

  • orionburn
  • Alex Baur

    Don’t buy 12mm dice, especially GW’s. They have been proven to roll almost double the amount of one’s they statistically should (30%) the big 16mm ones aren’t perfect either but are significantly better. Of course the best option is Vegas dice, but the sharp corners will quickly get damaged if you roll them on hard pieces of terrain.

  • neverness

    I know a player who will sell an army (or team or unit) for performing badly before they even think to consider tossing the dice. I suggested this to him once and he looked upon me with scornful disgust that I would ever suggest such a notion (especially considerung MY luck with dice!) and proceeded to ebay off the army anyway!.

  • Richard Mitchell

    My backyard is a die graveyard.

  • Michael Ambrose

    I have a collection of dice which are a mix of both hot and cold – me and my friends tended to use my dice, and we would see that some were consistently high rollers, and some consistently bad. I assume an inperfection in weighting.

  • Da Gargoyle

    My gaming strategy is predicated on the basis that I can not win games by depending on dice roll. I once dropped a template on a daemon & its retinue without scattering only to roll six dice and every one was a 1. Meh! It was my first tournament, I was never going to win and it got a laugh. On the flip side, in my last social game of Ed 7 I rolled eight 6’s to take advantage of Conceal from my Warlock. Swings and roundabouts. Don’t worry about the dice, tactics and strategy are the way to go.

  • euansmith

    I was watching a video of a Kings of War game (on Lukes APS channel), where they used a die rolling app for the massed dice rolling and used physical dice for the Nerve Checks. This looked to be a really happy medium.

    I don’t know how complex an app you would need to roll dice for 40k (I’ve not seen GW’s app), but with re-rolling 1s and exploding 6s, i guess it would need a bunch of buttons.

  • Andy Wise

    Here’s me thinking this could be a serious article about how to deal with the psychological impact of bad luck leading to pessimism. Instead a great ad for dice selling companies.

    Not sure if it’s actually a joke, Pimpcron style.