The Art of the Roll

a cup full of dice, concept: board games at christmas

Defiantly you face your opponent. He smugly informs you “that’s four wounds”. You look at your lone model on the objective.Your army is smashed but for that lone unit. If it lives, you win an epic battle of attrition that will be remembered in the scrolls of the ancients as a brilliant piece of generalship.  If it dies, you face shame and ridicule from the scholars of future ages, or at the very least the first round of beverages postgame. You pick up your dice and…

A guest article from JT McDowell.

The all important roll. We’ve all faced it, we’ve all had it happen. One roll that snatches victory from the jaws of defeat, or guarantees your destruction at the hands of your foe. In these most important of moments, do you roll your dice differently?  We gamers tend to be a superstitious lot; especially about dice rolls. In my many years of gaming I’ve seen many different rolling and dice rituals. Here are a few of my favorite rolls and rollers;

The no looky roll. As if somehow the dice will feel less pressure without you watching them roll. Poor little plastic cubes, so much is expected from you. So much pressure.

The dramatic crescendo roll. This is the one where you describe the roll you need and your voice gets louder and higher in pitch as you explain it ending in a Mariah Carey like solo right before you throw. After all, loud voices scare bad rolls away don’t they?


The excessive shaker roll. This guy just has to scramble the numbers up. At times it seems they are trying to beat the dice into submission against each other. Always seems to be shaking the dice an uncomfortably long time, and depending on viewing angle can go from G rated to NC 17 really quick.

The flourish roller. “I need a 4? Well watch this backhanded, double twist, three bounce, off the table, into the store owners coffee, oops sorry about that again really dont know what happened, I know third time today, it’s the table I swear it…” No Gambit it’s you.

The full on fanboy roll.  Whether it’s a steely eyed “never tell me the odds kid” or a bloodthirsty “Blood for the Blood god”. Fluff inspired appeals to the dice gods can be truly glorious and even appropriate. However quoting the complete uplifting infantryman’s primer before each of your Commissar’s  42 saves, or full on bellowing  WAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!! so loudly that little old ladies, birds, and children fall down deaf is a trip down the fanboy rolling hole you will probably never climb out of. Don’t worry, we can still hear you down there. We may even visit on occasion.

The one at a time roll.  So you did the math and figured out the likelihood of rolling three 1’s in a row was 1:216 and you figured that because of this you’d throw one at a time. That’s not going to help you mate, probability is what you’re after. 1 in 6 each time.  This one drives me nuts. It’s just annoying, it’s not dramatic, it wastes time and really makes me want to insert the dice bodily into my opponent. One at a time of course.


And the list really goes on. There are a few dice habits one should not get into however. Like picking up dice that score a hit rather than the dice that miss, let your opponents see the hits and drink in their sorrow! Or not allowing your opponent to use your crazy hot dice if they ask. It’s just proper etiquette; besides you can sacrifice a chicken and appease the spirits after the match to cleanse their unclean chi from your cuboids of destiny.

What about you? What crazy dice rollers and rolling rituals have have you seen or been guilty of? Post up below or tell me next time you see me. I’ll be the guy in the corner raising his voice dramatically whilst pirouetting and shoving dice up someone’s nose one at a time, all without looking.   


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.

16 Responses to “The Art of the Roll”

  1. Coblen July 15, 2016 12:43 pm #

    Everybody knows the only true way to guarantee good luck is to blow on your dice. Hold firmly one hand and blow into a circle made between your thumb and index finger. Then throw the dice quickly before the magic dissipates. Works every time.

  2. Nogle July 15, 2016 1:03 pm #

    I would never ask to use another person’s dice. Even if I forgot my dice, I’d buy a new cube

    • westrider July 15, 2016 1:53 pm #

      Damn right. Never touch another gamer’s dice or another gamer’s fries.

  3. DJ Khal Drogo July 15, 2016 1:27 pm #

    I whisper sweet nothings in their ear. My enemy, not the dice. It really messes up their rolling.

  4. punchymango July 15, 2016 1:54 pm #

    Rolling saves one at a time gets on my nerves too. It’s never anything else, just saves: nobody ever rolls dice to hit one at a time, or leadership dice one at a time.

    It’s just tedious.

    • Vercingatorix July 15, 2016 3:04 pm #

      I only do that if its in the exact scenario described at the beginning. So at most once a game and if my opponent is clearly having a good time and forging so much narrative.

    • westrider July 15, 2016 5:55 pm #

      It really bugs me that at some times, 7th essentially forces you to roll Saves one at a time, when you’ve got mixed Saves, or a Character you’re trying to LoS Wounds off.

    • AngryPanda July 15, 2016 10:49 pm #

      There are sitations there you more or less need to do this to see at which point the tank character has lost too many wounds and needs to do “look out sirs” but I’m pretty sure that isn’t what they mean here.

  5. Neon Revan July 15, 2016 3:34 pm #

    True, never touch anyone’s dice, THAT is the proper etiquette.
    Have several sets of dice, just in case one set runs out of luck.
    Place your dice with the 6 up when you don’t need them at the moment. Teach them how they are supposed to land.

    Statistics and probability will betray you in critical situations. In the end it is just luck. And luck is superstition. Don’t fight it, enjoy it, just don’t overdo it. After all, it is just fun.

  6. Lord Krungharr July 15, 2016 6:06 pm #

    My favorite dice roll to roll my eyes at is the flip-dump. They use just an index finger and thumb, loosely held and about two inches above the table. Then they try to flip it as they let gravity take it down, usually to get a six. When used that I tell them to roll it like in Vegas dammit! Not that I’ve been there but ive heard they demand an action packed roll.

  7. Lysere July 15, 2016 6:15 pm #

    I roll one or two at a time when I have different saves combined with FNP and several different characters with various wound amounts floating around. That or when it’s really clutch and we’ve got time to spare. If time is limited then I try to not do this.

    This of course doesn’t neccesarily work when you want it to.

    I will also sometimes use a fluff quote like “The Emperor Protects” or something.

    I’ve only ever done the trick shot once. Back in 6th I rolled a deny the witch roll against Jaws of the World Wolf that bounced off the psyker in question and onto my Vindicators cannon mount. It was perfectly flat, and a 6 of course.

  8. James Stagg July 16, 2016 12:31 am #

    Also a staunch hater of the one at a time (when not called for by the rules)

  9. zyekian July 16, 2016 11:27 am #

    With really critical dice rolls I’ll rub the dice on my butt first. But only when I’m playing Harlequins.

  10. Ru242 July 16, 2016 4:42 pm #

    I prefer 16mm dice. I am not a fan of the smaller ones.
    I actually prefer a common dice pot rather than each person using their own, to me makes it seem more fair and less chance for dice cheating.
    And when I roll my dice I want a good tumble. Single dice I want to bounce them off hard surfaces like I’m at a craps table.

  11. Beoron July 19, 2016 2:30 am #

    Once I did the no-look – never again!
    I attacked a Trygon Prime with my Libarian Conclave on bikes with powered-up psi-axes. I had to make one wound and the beast would have been gone. I rolled 12 dices to hit – 9 hits. Only one die needed to show a 5 or 6. So I rolled while looking at the sad face of my buddy, grinning devilishly myself. Than I saw the face of my friend change to the same grim. I looked at the role: No 5, no 6. – endless shame and humiliation! No-look -> no good!

    • Ru242 July 19, 2016 9:27 am #

      Keep your eye on the ball, as they say.

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