Reducing the Overall Effects of Chance in Britannia

(or Risk, or Axis and Allies, or any other game where

you roll individual dice toward a result)

Copyright 2006 Lewis Pulsipher

While at least three quarters of Britannia players (according to one online survey) are satisfied with the role of chance in combat, it's certainly true that poor dicing can be frustrating. No matter how good a player is, if his luck is consistently bad he's unlikely to win.

I'm going to describe a simple method that not only "evens out" luck during a game, but also speeds it up, because players don't spend time in physical gyrations before rolling, and in chasing errant dice after rolling.

Get a deck of playing cards (or two) for each player. Take out all but the Aces through 6ís, and shuffle. Players turn over the top card for each die roll. Three dice, three cards. When a player's deck of 24 (or 48) is exhausted, shuffle and start again. Over the course of the game each player will "roll" about as many 1's as 6's, and so on.

The only problem that might arise is players "counting cards", that is, memorizing which cards (or how many 5's and 6's) have already come up. If so, two decks of cards per player will make that memorization harder, though it will increase the variance of chance over the course of the game as each player will likely have more cards left unused at game end than when using one deck.

Turning over cards isn't as exciting as rolling dice, but it's a lot quicker and "fairer".

Alternatives to playing cards: Use the "business card" template in Word or WordPerfect to create your numbered cards. Print them on ordinary paper and put them into "card protectors" that are used by fans of collectible card games, or print on business card stock (buy at office supply stores) and use without protectors. Or just write the numbers on paper or business card stock. Or write numbers on plastic chips or cardboard chits and pull them from a cupójust remember to draw all of them before refilling the cup.

Don't use this method for a game where you roll and sum combinations of dice (e.g. 2d6 or 3d6); it skews the results away from extremes (such as a 2 or 12 for 2d6), though the more cards in the deck, the less skewing occurs.