How to Survive 40k When You’re a Bad Luck Brian

Hello all, Rawdogger here to talk about being successful in competitive 40k when you’re terrible at rolling average dice.

By now, those of you who have followed Frontline Gaming since the company began way back when have come to know of my unfortunate bad luck while playing Warhammer 40k.  In fact, people have even begun to reference ‘Rawdoggin’ rolls when the dice are rolled and an unbelievably bad result occurs.  I’m talking rolling 4 1’s on 5 dice when making Terminator saves.  Despite my 5 year string of bad luck playing Warhammer 40k I continue to try and play the game and do the best that I can.  Over the years I’ve come to accept the dice going sour from the first armor save of the game and I’ve come up with a couple ways to try and mitigate the furry of the dice gods that I seem to have somehow incurred.



Twin. LINK. EVERYTHING – The first thing that I do when writing a new army list is look for ways that I can get a re-roll when making my dice rolls be it a wargear item or a psycher with access to Divination and that sweet, sweet Prescience.  Oh, what’s that dice gods?  I only hit twice on 10 dice?  FUCK YOU TWIN LINKED ALL DAY, SON.  Dark Angel allies or the most popular Inquisitor in school Coteaz are both good Imperial allies for Prescience.

The Feel No Pain Train – The same idea goes for trying to make saves.  I know that if I am running a death star dependant on 2+ saves, I’m going to be rolling 1’s all day long.  If there is a way to get another roll I’m all over that.  Maybe let’s get a Blood Angel Sanguinary Priest to attach to that death star?  Iron Hands might be a good choice since even a 6+ Feel No Pain is enough to throw off the dice god’s fate.


Be Greedy –  When you know the Predator you took is going to get blasted off the board with the first Lascannon shot of the game, you start thinking about taking multiples of EVERYTHING.  Since your Terminator squad will most likely mishap and then be taken out of the game with a 1, you’ll need to bring a couple more. I always take two of something if possible and look enviously upon those like Reece Robbins who are smiled upon by the dice gods and bring a single dakka Predator and it kills a Wraithknight somehow.

Boy’s Night Out! – Something that has been hard for me to accept has been the fact that I will never be able to play a small, elite army.  I watch other people blast their opponents’ face and chest with a Draigostar and sadly think to my past games trying to do the same thing only to remember the Dreadknight taken out by Kroot Rifles and Tigurius periling and being removed from the table turn one.  One way to mitigate these issues is to emulate a Frontline Gaming party and bringing more dudes.  I’ve started leaning towards blobbed up Astra Militarum lists or mass Tactical Marine armies.  When your luck guarantees that you’ll be failing 80% of your armor and jink saves 70% of the time you quickly learn that the more bodies you have on the field the less you die a little inside when losing a high costed unit to bad luck.


So those are just some of the ways I try and cheat the dice gods when playing 40k.  What are some of your tips and tricks for those of us cursed for eternity to be rolling all 1’s?


About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

30 Responses to “How to Survive 40k When You’re a Bad Luck Brian”

  1. greggles June 4, 2015 11:57 am #

    I also suggest the Greggles method.

    Bad dice? Roll more and drink more. It’ll work itself out.

  2. Variance Hammer June 4, 2015 11:59 am #

    I’m going to start looking at this more on my blog, but one of the ways is to minimize the number of rolls you have to make. Go for the Heavy 3 over the Heavy d6, even if “on average” the former is better.

    Because every time someone says “Statistically…” or “On average…” they’re talking about the math of an infinite number of dice rolls. There’s no game of 40K, and certainly no single turn or roll, that involves enough dice for the Law of Large Numbers to kick in like that.

    • Ghost Valley June 4, 2015 12:19 pm #

      Very true. I try to remind myself of that every time I fail a charge or LD test or fail 6 out of 7 armour saves. There are not enough dice rolled to ever be surprised about any result you get. And we remember the sixes and ones but rarely look back at a game and say “I rolled way more 3’s today than usual. That was unexpected”

    • Alex Yuen June 4, 2015 1:24 pm #

      you can use expected value. N does not have not huge to have a 95% confidence interval. in general, most people have no clue what they talking about when they say statistics.

      • Alex Yuen June 4, 2015 1:27 pm #

        grrr… N doesn’t have to be huge to have a 95% confidence interval.

      • Variance Hammer June 4, 2015 1:33 pm #

        You *can* use the expected value, but with small numbers, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t get it. The variability around that expected value for the number of rolls in your typical unit’s lifespan over the course of a game is pretty huge – especially if you’re considering single clutch rolls.

        I’d like to think I do have a clue when I say things about statistics – it’s what I do for a living.

        • Alex Yuen June 4, 2015 2:36 pm #

          depend on meta. with stuff like scat bikes you rolling like 20-40 per squad of bikes or 50 man blob. So N is not that small. 40k is no like x-wing where you roll like 3-5 dice. of cause there are cases like leadership where you only roll 2 dice.

    • Alex Yuen June 4, 2015 3:03 pm #

      my point, change the point of view!! instead of saying like 10 shot -> 5 hit -> 2.5 wound. the popular logic or saying.

      start by saying, I have N shots and what is the “expected hits” at 99% C.L.? I know the answer might not be useful but is just a better point of view. lets say if the answer is 3 hits instead of 5 hits than that give players a better idea on planing. Rather cry about not getting 5 hits. players knows that they can expect 3 for sure.

      like i said above, can’t apply to every case but sure some sure will works.

      • Variance Hammer June 4, 2015 3:05 pm #

        Read the upcoming Eldar Codex review that’s being posted. I end up doing exactly that.

        • Alex Yuen June 4, 2015 3:09 pm #

          well, you know your stuff.

  3. Ghost Valley June 4, 2015 12:15 pm #

    The technique of buying 3 new cubes of dice after every loss has been a strong favourite of mine.

    • Variance Hammer June 4, 2015 12:16 pm #

      Or public executions of the dice that failed you, as a warning to others.

      • Ghost Valley June 4, 2015 12:19 pm #

        I just throw them at the fridge to set an example for the rest.

  4. vercingatorix June 4, 2015 12:20 pm #

    Play a orks, we never get saves anyway! Take that dice gods.

    Although offensively I think that rolling bad is even worse for orks. If you manage to roll way below average on 5 dice, it’s disappointing. If you roll way below average on 75 dice, it’s very frustrating. 15 orks unable to kill 2 vanguard. Guys….come on.

    • Warmaster_GIR June 4, 2015 1:37 pm #

      My wife plays Orks. She rolls statistically opposite with her shooting. Whats that my Snap Shooting lootas hit with 25 out of 30 shots against your Fire Raptor and we penned it 10 times… Yay dead fire raptor. Her bikes are even worse, pretty sure they have a 97% hit rate against my marines.

  5. Warmaster_GIR June 4, 2015 1:33 pm #

    See I’m the opposite with Feel No Pain, I can pass armor saves, but I will never pass feel no pain. Its gotten to the point that I don’t take things that give feel no pain because of how very rarely I pass FNP saves. I played a 3000 point 30k battle with FnP spread everywhere, I passed 3 of the 30 Feel no pain saves I had to take…

  6. westrider June 4, 2015 3:20 pm #

    – Avoid things that go to extremes. Don’t go for the 2+ or 6+ stuff, stick with the 3-5.

    – Get re-rolls for anything, not just To-Hit. Look for ways to get Shred, Sunder, Tank Hunter, Monster Hunter, Fleet, Preferred Enemy, etc.

    – Beer

  7. fluger June 4, 2015 3:27 pm #

    I can’t recommend playing hordes enough (per your last point) as you’re then forcing your opponent to roll average and you don’t care as much. Put it this way, a terminator fails a save as often as a ork boy MAKES a save, but getting 4 out of 5 of one is way more fun than the other. If you aren’t planning on or even hoping to save, then when you DO save, it’s a pleasant surprise not a kick in the nuts. Same can be said for BS3 and 2. You don’t anticipate getting that many hits, but Orks hit as often as Space Marines hit, but most SM players can remember times that their devy squad missed with all 4 lascannons or the like, where as I can talk about when my lootas got 14/15 hits and swung a game.

    Seriously, don’t play elite armies, because the weird variances that happen end up being POSITIVE experiences, not negative ones.

    Do it, join the horde.

  8. Calle June 5, 2015 12:07 am #

    There are two big problems with orks and bad dice roll. The random assault charges can change the game in a turn and leadership tests is tough for small units. Ld 7 is far from good.

  9. 1d4chan fan June 5, 2015 12:34 am #

    If you have offended the dice gods, try aiming for worst possible result. If I need to roll 2+ on a single die, I BELIEVE it will roll 1. I even point to the die and say “1” before it stops rolling. If it works, you are the right hand of the dice gods, if it fails, you pass a 2+ armour save.

  10. RoockieBoy June 5, 2015 3:11 am #

    I agree on taking horde. Last game I used the lucky stikk, someone had swapped it for the unlucky stikk. I had to pass TWO 2+ saves on my mega warboss and one 4+ (ruins). I decided to tank the first TWO saves, and rolled TWO ONES. I said:” no prob, i’ve got the lucky stikk, and re-rollerd them, getting TWO ONES! I then proceeded to LOS the AP2 wound to a loota, rolling ANOTHER ONE! My attempt to save the AP2 wound with a 4+ cover ended up eith me rolling ANOTHER ONE. And even with the re-roll, my warboss died.
    That meant I rolled SIX ONES ALLTOGETHER!
    Take that Rawdog! Heheh
    I also had a strike of bad luck when joining Yarrick to a primaris psyker in a Blob. The odds of getting perils with THREE dice were 7,44% if IRC… I proceeded to get perils in THREE STRAIGHT GAMES in my Turn 1, GIVING FIRST BLOOD to my opponent, before he rolled a single die. Needless to say, I finally ended up learning the lesson.

  11. RoockieBoy June 5, 2015 3:18 am #

    The answer is to take things naturally, because it’s just a dice game. I’m still working on that, because it ain’t easy, but I’ve seen people punch the walls or throw dice to the floor in all rage-style, and it’s not nice. Also remember that when these weird rolls happen, It’s not nice for your opponent, as it makes them feel they’re winning without deserving it.

  12. xTHExCLINCHERx June 5, 2015 4:28 am #

    Templates and blast markers do a great job at mitigating bad rolls. Hey, even if it scatters, at least it has a chance to hit SOMETHING… oh wait… it will probably hit your own units… sorta like when I use a vindicator… nothing like blowing yourself up! Doh!

  13. rexscarlet June 5, 2015 5:08 am #

    First step to better dice rolling; Say; “two or above” NOT “anything but a one.” lol
    Second step; Buy bigger sized (“16mm,” not the mini 12mm, nor the micro) rounded corner dice the “heavier” the better with pips, not symbols for the six side. Trust me on this one, try them, and remember roll them out there, do not just drop them. According to the gaming community and TO’s everywhere, this is not cheating, so have at it. (note; six pips drilled out is lighter than one pip drilled out, notice the one is opposite of the six?) Rock tumblers are not perfect and some dice will be misshapen, and thus roll better or worse to one result. Additionally there are air bubbles, and different materials can have different weights (especially the swirled colors) which will also influence the outcome.
    The gaming community continues to use dice with drilled pips, and rock tumbler rounded corners, EVEN in Grand/Largest Tournaments, which amazes me to no end. Additionally, players always have “lucky dice” so funny.
    There is a reason Vegas uses the dice Vegas uses (CLEAR, no bubbles, machined square with painted non-drilled pips) and why Backgammon tournaments use the dice they use (“rounded” corners are traditional, but they are machined, etc.) $20+ for two “precision” dice.

    • westrider June 5, 2015 8:04 am #

      There’s also a reason people playing games where we’re often rolling dozens of dice at a time don’t want to shell out $20+ for two dice 😛

      I’ve actually seen some videos by GameScience suggesting that, especially for smaller dice, rounded corners tend to make them roll lower. I swear I’ve gotten better rolls in general since I started using GW’s more squared off and more evenly weighted Munitorum dice.

      • rexscarlet June 8, 2015 10:54 am #

        Yes, mini 12mm (GW DV white Dice size) are lighter, and still have rock tumbler rounded corners, which are all different, so will roll all sorts of ways, not to mention imperfections, air bubbles, and etc.
        Try my experiment, let me know what you think.
        I have GW Apocalypse very large and heavy dice, and they roll sixes all the time, I will use them to cease the Initiative all the time, but my friends make me roll different dice for that. lol

  14. Bellerah June 5, 2015 9:21 am #

    Also there is the trap with the “on average” cause success and failure are not weighted equally. When I watch the good players vs the ok players, they put themselves in a situation where half of average is enough to accomplish the task. set your success on being below average. Use the example of the charge, 7 inch charge is the average. And I never want to be charging 7 inches. But this kind of logic should be applying to the other areas of the game as well

    • Alex Yuen June 5, 2015 10:38 am #

      lets not talk about simple size because doing any statistical on a roll of 2 dice is just stupid. with that said, lets assume we live in this fantasy world so i can get to my point.

      in general, most people don’t know what it is mean “on average”. 7 inch charge is not “average” but the truth is a bell curve with standard deviation and not 7 inch. “on average” should be a range from X-Y depend on how much std dev and C.L you wanted.

      Most players say they having BAD LUCK. it is not that they having BAD LUCK but they fail at designing their army to account for proper statistical analysis. So when i really did the math and say if you are X std dev then you are rolling way above “average”. most are shock that they are in fact rolling “on/above average” and not bad luck. BAD LUCK in 40k really mean that I roll below 1 std dev away from statistical average which happen 16% of the time.

      this is a perception problem and expectation problem. All the suggestion about Horde, twin link etc. they are just changing the expectation of the result rather doing a proper statistical analysis. In my view, by overloading to correct the perception problem makes it a bad army list. Improper allocating points and therefore less effective army. instead of saying BAD LUCK players should design their army with proper statistical analysis in mind.

  15. franus June 5, 2015 10:00 am #

    also find tactics to throw more dice. Stats are easier to reach when you throw many of them. Stronger IMO than twin linking. All this because unless you keep track of the stats of each individual die stat, bad luck probably equals picking the “3+ already used” ones.

    • franus June 5, 2015 10:01 am #

      also works against suspiciously guys that lose friends ^^

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