We live in a world of infinite possibilities. Anything can happen; Murphy’s Law and all that. But, there are some events that are so far outside the realm of expectation that we consider them impossible. They are miracles. In sport’s games, we often see feats that would shock even the most experienced player. For example, a last moment football catch on the tip of a player’s head that ultimately clenches the entire Super Bowl win. Ultimately, miracles happen and there is a life lesson you can learn from them, even when they happen in wargaming.
Have you experienced miracles in wargaming? I have, but it wasn’t in my favor.
A Mathematical Tragedy at the Game Shop
This is a historical day in my life of wargaming.
Here on this cool breezy night, I played an awesome game against my buddy Armando. My Kreoss2 led Menoth Warmachine army versus his Mercenaries Force were pitted on the tabletop field of battle. But, in reality, our army compositions didn’t matter. It came down to the last few activations, which determined the game.
Here’s a slice of what happened. I popped Kreoss’ feat, which provides an auto-hit in melee effect to models in his control area and an extra melee attack for friendly faction models. Then, I charged a knight exemplar at his warcaster. This should have been the death knell for that model, by the way, as I would be auto-hitting with a weapon master. I roll 4D6 at POW 14 and the math is 99% in my favor. The damage output should be incredible.
But, a miracle happened, only not for me.
I ROLL FOUR “1’s”. Snakes eyes on steroids.
The percentage chance for the same number appearing on 4 different D6 sided dice is 0.06%. In other words, this shouldn’t really happen. But, it did! As my shock and dismay wears off, I roll the extra free melee attack with the baseline 3D6. This did 11 damage, which is slightly above average.
In the end, I lost this game to a math mathematical outlier.
I contemplated the loss.
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Dice Happens, Among other Odd Things
This is a family friendly blog, so my profanity that night will remain inaudible.
On the way home, I contemplated the realm of possible things that could happen in any game of chance. Sure, I rolled four “1’s” in a single dice roll, which in itself could happen to anyone. But, I did it during the most important event of a game of Warmachine, during an assassination run. If my warcaster had succeeded that single roll with a merely sub-average dice roll, or just a poor roll on the lower end of the probability bell curve, I would have won the game.
Instead, this 0.06% chance event killed my victory. I literally had the win taken from me by some divine intervention. Or, at least that’s how some may explain it. I’m sure thousands of tabletop gamers play in battles where they roll 4 D6 dice at the same time and have never seen all of the dice come up “1’s”. It is also possible that many will never see that happen in their entire gaming lives.
As I sipped my stale diet coke in the car, I did remember another game I played against Shane during a Journeyman League at Gamer’s Gambit. Indeed, more miracles happened. But, it had nothing to do with numbers.
Physics is a Place of Improbables
That evening, I saw dice jump tables and bump miniatures. But, on a particular roll, Shane’s dice danced and pranced like Mexican jumping beans. Yes, the odds of what happened with his dice were beyond my comprehension. I think it was on a command check to see if his Khador Winterguard would flee due to taking massive casualties. He rolled his dice and one of them landed on their corner, and stayed that way.
Not only were we both shocked by the landing, we could not decide what to do about it. You see, this particular dice roll would determine whether his unit would stick around for the rest of the round. If his Winterguard failed this check, then I would be able to push for the objective and win the game. On the other hand, success on his part would stop my advance.
There we were: stuck in a dice inflicted Schrodinger’s dilemma. Of all the turns this dice roll and corner landing could have happened, this was the most consequential for our game. I don’t know the physics of how this happened, but there’s no math in my understanding that could have predicted this event.
Shane literally threw the dice, which bounced on the table a few times, and one of them landed on it’s corner. We couldn’t even decide whether they were cocked and whether he should re-roll the dice or not. In the end, we concluded that his winter guard deserved a pass. Since Shane threw the dice on behalf of his winterguard, and that die ending up the way it did, pretty much meant in our interpretation that the Winterguard survived the moral check.
“We don’t want to get hit by lightning on the way home,” I said. “Your guys made it.”
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So, in wargaming, you have to consider that every plan you make may ultimately fail because of a miracle. As they say, the best laid battle plans mean nothing when the first shots are fired, or something like that. If you think about my experience, you may have learned that the chances of these miracles happening could have swung the games in my favor, too.
Although my opponents had appeared to be badly losing throughout the game, if they had quit without preserving until those last few dice rolls, they would have not seen and experienced the miracles that ultimately brought them victory. Suffice it to say, there is an important life lesson here!
The lesson is never quit. Even when the dice are down, they can turn on a dime. If you can come up with four “1’s” on a dice roll, then you can certainly flip that losing tide in equal measure back in your favor.
I should buy a lottery ticket.