I wanted to get a discussion on dice. Specifically some of the misinformation surrounding dice.
We all know dice are an integral part of playing Warmahordes. They are readily available and generally fool proof to use randomization devices for the game. Dice provide that element of uncertainty the is missing from game like chess. They create moments of epic long shots or by all rights impossible failures. And while they sometimes let us down when we need them most I would not trade their suspenseful touch for anything else.
With dice however there is a great deal of misinformation. I'm not talking about just general superstition but uncritically accepted misinformation about dice.
While not the only myth surrounding dice my personal pet peeve dice myth is that cheap dice roll 1's more often. In reality cheap dice tend to be less fair than more expensive dice. Fair, in this usage, means the rolls are evenly distributed. A theoretically perfectly fair 6 sided die would be equally likely to roll one number as another. In reality all dice are unfair; even the best dice are only fair to a acceptable margin. What is important is that a dice is reasonably fair;or to put it another way the difference in the probabilities of each outcome is close enough to be negligible.
Now the most often cited source for a myth I've seen revolves around an internet hoax involving chessex brand dice (probably the most commonly used dice brand). The hoax deserves credit as a masterful event in trolling history. The hoax originally appeared as a forum post on Warseer (a GW game oriented message board) describing an elaborate experiment (the poster claiming to be an academic assisted by grad students) involving the rolling and recording of thousands of dice rolls. The original post is quite easy to find with a google search if anyone is interested. The results of the experiment claim that the dice were so unfair they rolled 1's 29% percent of the time; this claim is crap. It is often held as truth. But it is crap and so easy to falsify it is inexcusable that it has persisted for so long.
lets look at why this is so obviously false:
first lets look at a perfectly fair dice:
100% / 6 = 16.667%, so a fair dice should roll each side 16.667% of the time
At 29% there is a remaining 71% divided up between the remaining possible outcomes.
71% / 5 = 14.2%, this means that the average probability of all other numbers is 14.2%
and so for a comparison:
29% / 14.2% = 2.042, so if this study is true a chessex dice will roll a 1 more than twice as often as the average of any of the other numbers*.
*actually this is not strictly true but would require an even more warped dice, even at 29% for any certain side the dice would have to be quite noticeably aberrant
I'm sure most readers out there have chessex dice of their own; as I mentioned they are extremely common. If you do, I recommend you pick some up and do several dozen test rolls recording the results. Because the extreme degree of predicted divergence from fair rolling it should take relatively few tosses for the claim to be revealed as a hoax.
But there is a second part of the hoax that just adds to my contempt; this hoax is also used as a method to push the use of casino dice as a better alternative. Now, before I go further, I do realize that casino dice are more fair than standard dice; it is a fact no reasonable person should dispute since they are manufactured to precise specifications. What I do find annoying is that casino dice in general are very impractical for table top war gaming.
Casino dice, when used in the casino setting, are used in a very specific way. On a craps table the dice are aggressively tossed so that they bounce off of a back wall. This is done to prevent any players from perform dice techniques; a method by which a player rolls a dice in a certain way to bias the outcome of the roll. Dropping a dice rather than rolling it forward with force with not result in a fair roll. Craps dice compared to the inexpensive mold dice most players use are more vulnerable to the use of dice techniques since the straight edges reduce the amount of rolling; this is exactly why casino's require the dice to be tossed a distance and bounced off a wall.
Now the issue is that in most games dice are rolled on the game table with the models and terrain where aggressive rolling is most likely to result in chipped paint jobs and hurt feelings. There are way to get around this (for example a rolling cup) but really the gains in fairness are minuscule compared to the loss in practicality.
TL;DR: Dice are generally fair and expensive dice offer little advantage over cheap ones. Critical thinking should be applied to everything; especially on the internet.
Thanks for your time. I hope it does something to combat some of the misinformation out there... Also anyone else have anything to add to this? Other dice based misconceptions/hoaxes/or even just interesting facts? I'd love to hear more.