Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lists and Luck

I've been playing around with this idea in my head for the last few days: Does bad luck lead you to make better lists in 40K?

Over time most peoples die rolls will approach average, but the incidence of good sets of rolls vs bad sets of rolls will still be random. For instance, you may roll really high on too hit rolls, but really low to wound. I might be beating up guardians with my marines and need 3's to hit and roll all 5's and 6's, then need 3's to wound and roll all 1's and 2's. The total rolls are average, but the permutation of the rolls is bad. You'll most likely remember the below average to wound roll, and not the above average to hit. I seam to get the worst possible sets of rolls when I play, and I've seen other people who tend to always get the best.

If one player gets bad sets of rolls in 3 out of 2 games versus another who gets 3 out of 2 good sets, both players will get a vastly different 40k experience. The former player is going to curse his dice, and go about altering his play style and his list to insulate himself as much as possible from bad dice. The latter will probably attribute his losses to bad luck that's bound to happen eventually. That player will not change his lists or play styles too much as his dice don't appear to be the major contributing factor to the results of his games.

As long as a strategy is successful a player is not going to change it. Based on his experiences it will seem to be the optimal strategy. Luck can effectively mask sub-optimal strategies. Take two players running a MM Dreadnought in a drop pod. If player A rolls slighly above average and manages to use this combination to take out a high priority target 4 out of 5 times, it is a valuable asset in his list. If player B rolls slightly below average and achieves success 2 out of 5 times, it's time to reevaluate. Player B will either have to double up on the strategy, abandon the strategy, or add some other force multiplier( i.e. Vulcan, Locator Beacons). Player A will keep on playing his successful strategy. I'm currently having that dilemma with my MM/HF speeders. They are not performing as well as I expect them. I either have to play two more to ensure success, or find some other unit to fulfill their roll.

Of course over time even incidences of bad vs good rolls will tend toward average. If both player A and B are rolling equivalently, player B will have an advantage because he's mitigated chance. He doesn't need the good rolls any more. And if player B starts rolling better than player A, then his advantage grows even more.

So what do you guys think? Am I just trying to make myself feel better about my horrid dice?


  1. This is a good point. I try to stick with what the average result SHOULD be, and work from there. Play as many games as you can, and apply the unit(s) in the best situations, and the averages will work out eventually. I fear that by crating that much redundancy could result in over-specialization.

    My friend is building a SM army with very little melta, but with multiple lascannons. He seems to always roll the 5s and 6s he needs to take out high armor vehicles with lascannons, and rarely relies on the meltas for the job. His luck in these situations are holding him back from the need to create a list that has a balance of the two weapons.

  2. I do agree with you that the ability to re-roll certain things creates people to create lists aroung the re-roll. Hence the redundancy of Vulkan lists. The reason more people take dual lightning claws, take a chaplain. Re-rolls bend fate and can make you more successful. Even though they cost more. I would rather have the re-roll than more of a unit. Some would say I am blessed when it comes to averages. I disagree, but play each battle, movement, etc. as if I will only roll a 3 or 4. This is one of the problems I have with basic guard. I hate hitting on 4's so I take more veterans.

    Very astute observation.