Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dice of Ice

Sharing pain is good (said the Dark Eldar player to the Eldar player over lunch).

I play a lot of Warhammer, 2-3 games per week.  My armies, of considerable size, by end of January will include in no particular order:
Chaos Space Marines (& Black Legion)
Space Marines (& Blood Angels)
Astra Militarum
Militarum Tempestus
Sisters of Battle
Grey Knights
Dark Eldar
Tau Empire (& Farsight Enclave)

I think it’s safe to say I am more well versed than many on the issue of not only what to anticipate from the enemy, but also the enormous myriad of armies and play styles that you can use.  I’ve tried them all just about and my blog is dedicated to the variety that you can find pleasure in playing.

Despite all that knowledge, experience, and most importantly, copious opportunities to actually play AS these armies, I’ve found no solution to bad dice rolling, nor the frustration I feel when the game is taken from my hands by the Dice of Ice.  Not just for a round but for a game!

It’s one thing not to be overly good at the game.  You hardly notice the dice then and many people enjoy PLAYING more than winning or losing anyways.  It’s also one thing to play a certain army for financial reasons and sometimes just lose because the army you have is the one you have.  Sometimes that means mismatches that you aren’t’ fiscally able to do much about during this blizzard of codex drops we just went through the last twelve months or so.  Understandable there again.

When you have the resources of nearly the entire 40K universe at your disposal with nigh limitless ability to adapt and learn as the new codex’s drop by actually PLAYING them in order to find the strengths that you then must plan for in your normal armies, it is nothing short of galling to lose with those now prepared armies after all that effort and resource spent, because of the Dice of Ice.

The dice in War games give us drama and that’s important.  If there were never opportunity for disaster and miraculous comebacks, then we might well not enjoy the game as much as we do.  I am not blithe to it.  But I am human.  And there is a line in the game where one bad dice roll may screw you and you’re like “okay Good game” as compared to a literal torrent of bad rolls, round after bloody round.  By all rights your opponent should be shivering in a corner and quivering with fear but instead he’s dancing on your grave and it’s all you can do to hold your embarrassment at bay.

There is no solution of course.  These things happen and one has to move on and accept the ultimate truth of war games:  you cannot win them all.  Stop trying.  Most of us do eventually accept that.  the Dice of Ice, on the rare times they strike, are such a jolting and unrelenting reminder that after such a game we are HAPPY when we get just one bad dice roll a round!   We welcome it like a friend instead of dreading it like death.

Dice of Ice struck, of course, which is why I felt the need to share the pain.  Venting is good.  I will try to keep it in mind as a humbling reminder that no matter how good you are, how well constructed the force, and no matter the number of mistakes your opponent may unwittingly make…  You can always be cut down to size by the Dice of Ice.  So revel in your victories gracefully, let the close defeats roll off of you like water off a ducks back and pray that you have practiced enough grace in both cases that the Dice of Ice don’t return to humble you!

If you have a really good Dice of Ice story, let’s hear it!


  1. You didn't actually share the story that inspired you to write this blog post and I'd like to read it.Maybe you can edit your post to include it? Are you still using those really cool personalized dice? The ones that you used when we first met and played 40K together? With as much as you play/use your dice, and as long as you have had them, I suggest a little dice maintenance: Check for cracks, chips, and wear. Use a caliper to check their measurement. Likewise, if you don't own/want to spring for a caliper use the water test. Rule out that your statistical odds aren't being modified by old equipment.

    1. I was using custom dice from my tournaments, new ones. So no problems there. It was just one of those games where you watch helplessly as the game gets away from you in a hurry and the dice go cold. Pure chance. Lady luck deigned to humble me. :) The Coven fought an infantry based Blood Angelforce and it was just an enormously difficult time even breaking five Tactical Marines, as one of s dozen rolls that wete the picture of epic failure. Lol

    2. Have any good Dice of Ice stories to share?

    3. cheking the dice with calipers? are you kidding me?

  2. Oh yeah, and you may recall my insistance about equipping all of my Rhino chassis w/dozer blades. Well, it all points back to one particular game where Rhinos, Baals and a LRC all failed terrain checks and got stuck...way far away from objectives.

    A different game saw my libby perils twice in the same player turn, blowing up his brains ala Scanners.

    1. OOfta. Yeah. that would hurt, getting stuck on the start line plus having counted as moving with almost your entire mobile portion of the force. Ouch. Did the pain continue beyond that? I know that in the game that prompted this blog, I started the game off by rolling 1's on every roll off and it just got worse once the game started. Like a lot worse. Like a lot of times. =(

    2. Man, thats when you wonder what your troops were doing the night before deployment? You can't help but forge a little narrative when such drastic swings occur- the true appeal of playing a game relegated by dice. Matters were dire as their transports were all mired in the center of the board without line blocking terrain: Against Matt's old IG artillery lists my troops were ground up without their boxes to protect em. It hurt. Bad.

    3. Iagree. All you can do is imagine an interesting and tragic story to go with it.

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  4. My personal favorite is my two SOB dominion squads failed to pop open a Black Templars land raider at close range. 8 meltagun shots, average of 5.3 hits, then let the penetration dice good times roll....The Dice of Ice allotted me 3 hits and zero glances/pens. I afterwards calculated 0.108% chance of failure.

    1. bummer! Yeah that hurts but I've done the math and you really do need 8 Meltas to pretty much eliminate your chances of failure on a Land Raider. It's a tough nut to crack. Everyone can have a good day where they get it on the first try but whose really going to plan on THAT! You had the number of meltas you needed. dang. Did it cost you the game though? Was it round after round of that or just that one moment?

  5. First of all, English isn`t my native language(I`m from germany), so excuse eventual mistakes in my spelling.
    I´ve noticed a relationship between bad dice rolling and some of my models or weaponclasses. I have two Blood Angel Librarians. One with Jumppack and the other without. The guy without Jumppack kill`s himself in 8 out of 10 games with perils of the warp( I have to admit, I have not played him in 7th editon with the new perils table) After a endless row of disappointment, I use my Dark Angel Librarian, if I need one on foot. The betrayer guards the dust on my furthest shelf! Oh, and the other one behaves himself normal.
    And for weaponclasses: While my Lascannons hit slightly more than standard, my melters(regardless which army) do everything, to miss the target. ;)

    1. Ah. So the Dice of Ice may cling more tightly to certain weapons or models then? We had not considered that this could be contributing...


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