How do you deal with “cold” dice?

Hello Frontline Gaming fans, SaltyJohn here from TFG Radio, bringing you a quick article about handling life when your dice go cold!

Cold dice, they happen to everyone.  You can play 3 games in a row with hot dice that go cold at the crucial moment in the third.  You can play a game where the dice are cold only at the moments when they really matter.  You can play a tournament where all day long your dice are so cold you throw them in the trash, buy new dice only to have them be even colder, which you didn’t think was even possible.  So how do you deal with cold dice?

First let’s get one thing straight.  I am not asking if you switch dice in the middle of the game. I’m not asking if use “cold” dice for when you need to roll low or “hot” dice for when you need to roll high, that can be considered cheating or at least less than ethical.  What I am asking is how do you handle when the dice, no matter which dice, just don’t seem to roll in your favor. I’ll start off with a few things I have done.

1.  Buy new dice.  I own a TON of dice.  I do a project every year with my 8th grade class where I ask them to make a board game based upon the expedition of Lewis and Clarke.  I tell them I would supply 6 sided dice and various other polyhedral dice, two baggies full of d6s of every size and color imaginable live with me at work.  Chessex, translucent, opaques, swirly colored dice, speckled, 16mm, 12mm, Casino dice from the Flamingo in Las Vegas etc.  Inevitably one of my students asks, “Why do you have so many dice?”  “Because I play a lot of games, moving on…”  I have bought dice to match most of my armies over the years and so I end up with a lot of dice because for whatever reason it never crosses my mind to send the dice with the army when I sell it on eBay.  Also, if my dice run cold for 5+ games in a row I usually call it quits on them for a while and buy new dice.

Keep these dice around.

2.  Rotate dice.  I have so many sets of dice as a result of number 1 that I often just rotate a new set in.  For example I used just normal translucent colored dice last month for the tournament at our FLGS.  They don’t match my color scheme but I hadn’t used them since I played my old Necron army in the waning days of 6th and I had found them when I moved our family office from upstairs to downstairs.  I used them on a whim.  I have seen people alternate the dice they use in Warmahordes.  Meaning one game they use black for damage red for column, then red for damage black for column.  I also alternate dice between game systems.

Step 1: toss the dice Step 2: Light the dumpster on fire to make them pay.

3. Throw them away.  I have only done this once but I have witnessed it done many times.  I had a game once with my Space Wolves against a well tooled Blood Angel army.  I had Sanguinary Guard + Dante in the open clumped together in front of 3 PC totting Long Fangs.  3 overheats, 3 failed armor saves.  Ok, that happens sometimes I guess.  Same turn 5 Vanguard Vets Heroically Intervene on my Thunderwolf Lord and 4 Thunderwolf Cavalry all with Storm Shields.  I fail 6 of 7 3+ invul saves, roll a 12 for leadership , and roll enough to go off the table edge and die.  The hits kept coming in that game, so I threw the dice out and bought a brick of black GW dice to use the rest of the day.  Normally I wouldn’t change dice in the middle of a tournament but I just couldn’t bring myself to play another game with those dice.

That’s just me though and I have seen this discussion pop up from time to time so I thought I would pose the question.  How do you deal with your dice going cold?

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About SaltyJohn

John has been playing Warhammer 40k since the 3rd edition box set with Space Marines, Dark Eldar, and weird green palm trees were in the set. He is currently a 40k Head Judge for the Las Vegas Open, the largest 40k tournament in the world. An avid board gamer, a huge fan of video games, and a guest spot on Geek and Sundry as a "Historian" during an episode of "Game the Game" round out his geek credentials. You can catch "Salty" John on TFG Radio's Twitch Show, and Podcast, as well as find him streaming video games on Twitch on the TFG Radio Twitch page from time to time.

22 Responses to “How do you deal with “cold” dice?”

  1. Flourescent Alpaca July 28, 2017 8:49 am #

    I have a bunch of different colored dice in my collection and a lot of times I switch between colors from turn to turn within a game just for the sake of mixing it up

  2. Venkarel July 28, 2017 8:52 am #

    Variance is part of the game, the perception of hot or cold dice is the human brain finding patterns where none exist. That being said if you are truly worried your dice trend in one direction or the other you can always preform a water test to see if they are correctly balanced, or just buy and use casino dice (remember you should replace these your dice regularly to insure that they are not damages by use).

  3. Threllen July 28, 2017 8:58 am #

    If you’ve got a spare hour one day – just take your set of dice, roll them all over and over until you’ve rolled at least 1,000 dice, and record the results as you go.

    If they skew towards one number even after 1,000+ rolls… consider picking up new ones. Otherwise remind yourself of the results whenever you *feel like* your dice are going cold during a game. Oftentimes in the heat of battle your perception of how terrible the dice are is a reflection of one or two key rolls whereas you forget that, on less important rolls, they may be rolling hot or at least more in line with how they should.

    And even if your dice are really, truly cold during a game (we’ve all been there) just remind yourself it’s random dumb luck. No amount of superstition is going to change that if you’ve proven to yourself that the dice themselves are not poorly weighted. Just make sure you don’t tilt yourself and start making poor decisions in-game because you’re frustrated over something you can’t control. Eventually the dice will pick back up.

  4. Jim Griffith July 28, 2017 9:45 am #

    People tell me my dice are always cold, but I have no clue. To me they are just room temperature.

  5. Adam Vollrath July 28, 2017 10:00 am #

    How do you deal? Just play another game. Don’t succumb to Gambler’s Fallacy.

    Also, I wish the article talked about consistency. Competitive players build armies that leave very little to chance. Don’t rely upon too many gimmicks, and look for re-rolls and 2+ rolls to reduce variability.

    • Threllen July 28, 2017 10:24 am #

      Weight of dice/law of large numbers is an important thing. If you’re relying on a handful of key dice rolls eventually they’ll go cold over the course of the tournament and you’ll lose a game the odds say you should usually win. On the other hand, if you’re throwing out a couple hundred rolls it’s much less likely all of those come up cold.

      I.E. – Why psyker-heavy armies were very risky in tournaments last edition. In most lists you were relying on generating the correct powers, getting them to cast, and making sure they didn’t get denied. And, unlike shooting attacks, you’re talking maybe a handful of dice thrown at each of those pain points. It’s very easy over the course of a 5 round tournament for your dice to go cold once and lose you a game. If it works it made for incredibly powerful comboes. But it’s much more likely to fail than throwing out a battle company worth of units that give you a lot more dice.

  6. Jmanj321 July 28, 2017 11:21 am #

    Table flip. Enough said.

  7. winterman July 28, 2017 12:02 pm #

    Play assuming you won’t get the statistical average or better. I know a few players who think their dice are crap and play accordingly and still win more often then not (then continue to complain about dice so much its a local meme). I think it can actually make you a better player because you aren’t thrown off by bad dice and have a head for contingency plans.

  8. Tomguycot July 28, 2017 12:03 pm #

    Also don’t use heavily tumbled chessex and GW style dice. They’re almost always biased towards rolling one way or the other (there have been several experiments done that you can find online) and often you can end up with a brick that is heavily and noticeably biased towards low rolls.

    I would recommend either buying squared koplow or Game Science dice as they aren’t heavily tumbled. You can also spring for backgammon dice but that gets expensive and may also be a little large.

    • AngryPanda July 28, 2017 12:19 pm #

      I wanted to get GameScience dice for Infinity and I was so confused that the one thing they don’t seem to have are sets of D20. Which you’d think isn’t a thing gamers only rarely need. Maybe I’m just being a bumbling moron again.

      • Threllen July 28, 2017 1:21 pm #

        Game science dice are overrated for their price when some warhammer armies require you to roll 30+ dice at a time.

        Chessex can be hit or miss but the translucent dice tend to be pretty well balanced. I’ve tested mine many, many times with only very few variations from the expected average.

        • Tomguycot July 28, 2017 2:26 pm #

          I would completely disagree with this. I mean how much do you spend on models and paint? Is it really that crazy to spend a few bucks more on dice that aren’t giving your opponent some number of free auto-fails every game? Not to mention its a one time investment.

          • AngryPanda July 28, 2017 2:29 pm

            Agreed Tommy. It’s the same with good modelling tools and colours. Also people never hesitate to spend a ton of fancy dice with symbols so it doesn’t seem too weird to go for quality too.
            Well that and I really only need 5D20 for now so that’s not so much 🙂

          • Threllen July 28, 2017 4:11 pm

            36 of those dice is upwards of $50 – $72 depending on what you buy. That’s not “a few bucks.”

            Also it’s a total waste when they don’t gain you anything. Buy 36 translucent chessex dice. Buy some game science dice. Roll them both a few thousand times and come back to me and let me know if you actually got a statistically significant difference…

  9. AngryPanda July 28, 2017 12:15 pm #

    I swear back in 6th I had a ton of green acrylic markers for my Necrons and bought matching days. They looked seriously good and were pleasant to read due to size but damn those things. Even with my own perception being screwed my regular opponent told me to burn them and bury the ashes on a crossroad so their ghost can’t find me.

  10. TrexPushups July 28, 2017 1:20 pm #

    My dice don’t seem to get cold.

    I must be living right.

    • AngryPanda July 29, 2017 4:59 am #

      Or treat them right 😉

  11. Lardus July 28, 2017 3:06 pm #

    If my dice fail me again on Saturday, I shall replace them with Khorne dice! Even though I play GK 🙂

    • AngryPanda July 29, 2017 5:00 am #

      After my above mentioned themed dice were cold for a year I told them this one more game and they’re done. And suddenly they started to act normal. So for it. Make sure to let them know their hour is close 😉

  12. Dakkath July 28, 2017 5:44 pm #

    Summary execution with a standard clawhammer tends to improve dice (or at least roller) morale for a few days.

  13. WestRider August 1, 2017 1:44 am #

    Just keep on keepin’ on. Every bell curve has its far ends. Sometimes you spend quite a while at one of them. But there’s really nothing to be done about it.

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