Wargaming Tactics: Dice Pools

Wargaming tactica #1: Dice pools.

Regardless of the system you are playing: Warhammer 40K, Battletech, Chain of Command, X-Wing Miniatures, DBx- building, using, and manipulating dice pools is the first layer to victory.

Every wargame is a simulation of a narrative, and the dice in the game are the DNA which powers that narrative- simulating the fog of war, effectiveness of the units in the moment, and the chaos of the tabletop battlefield.

Don’t just roll the dice and pray to the dice gods that something happens.

Spray and pray never works in the real world.

Dice pools.

Dice pools diminish as you use (roll) them.

In the attack phase you begin with a pool of dice, or number of dice attacks, in opposition to the unit you are attacking- let’s look at the game Chain of Command World War II as an example.

My German infantry unit has a rifle team of five men and a machine gun team with gunner and a loader.

The riflemen each roll one D6 and the machine gun team rolls 8 D6 which equals 13 dice for the start of the pool.

We take this dice and shoot at a target- rolling the dice will have some hitting the target and some missing the target. What we need to hit depends on the unit.

Chain of Command has regular infantry hitting on a 4+, elite units a 3+.

After we roll to hit we now have a new (smaller) dice pool of the hits.

These get rolled against, depending on the rule-set armor, wounds, etc.

In Chain of Command rolling for wound has a roll of a 4 or 5 causing shock, and a roll of a 6 causing a wound and removing a model- special attacks and weapons again might change this.

The final dice pool wounds/removed models is very small compared to the starting dice pool.

Dice pools get smaller and smaller as you roll them…

…so the first thing is to try and start with the biggest dice pool possible- either with a single unit, or combining multiple units.

The difference in our illustration of having one infantry unit shooting at a target, or three infantry units shooting at the same target.

Build and use the biggest dice pools that you can.

Second tactica to this is being able to modify your dice rolls- which depending on the ruleset and the interaction of units works in different ways.

Maybe you get one chance to re-roll misses.

Maybe you get to re-roll any miss of a ‘1″.

Maybe you wound on a 3+ compared to a 4+.

Look, stack, and use the rules and unit interactions to not only get large dice pools, but have ways to keep the loss of dice from pool-to-pool at a minumum.