Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Not that One again

There is a line in King Lear when the Earl of Kent shouts "Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!". The Bard, it seems, fets free to train his guns on anyone or anything, even a letter of the alphabet.

Sometimes that's how I feel about the number 1. You know, when the dice rolls over and your inner monologue is going "Anything but a 1, anything but a 1" and there it is. The single dot of death, winking at you from the centre of the cube's uppermost face.

Of course it isn't always bad. There are a few rules sets where rolling low is good. Martin Goddard at Peter Pig purposely has low numbers being good in his morale tests, just to provide encouragement to those of us who feel we are carrying more than our fair share of the low end of the number spectrum as the universe contrives to provide an even distribution.

However even Martin was noted for giving the tactical advice "Roll lots of sixes". So not a massive fan of the number 1 either.

And there it was again last night, popping up with alarming regularity during a game of big battle DBA (which will be covered in a later blog). Whether frustrating an army advance by making an appearance as a PIP roll, or ensuring that a unit of knights dies unexpectedly, there was that little single dot spreading misery across the table.

What is to be done with the wretched thing?

Seriously, what is to be done about it? Can we go on like this?

I mean back in the 1970s we all went crazy for average dice which did a way with the 1 completely, spreading the dislike to the number 2, which hardly seems fair. I mean, what has the number 2 ever done, except for being twice 1?

That's sort of hiding from the problem though. If we're allocating probabilities to events then we have to accept the 1, in the same way we must glory in the 6. It occurred to us last night that perhaps we should be looking at some form of compensation for the pain and heart ache inflicted.

For example, every time you roll a 1 you could get a fail marker. Once you have two of them you could be allowed to re-roll a die on a later turn (not immediately, - that would be silly). Or perhaps you cold use a fail marker to add a one to a die roll either before or after you make it. Capped out at a maximum of one add per roll, and not to exceed a six, of course. Otherwise madness would rain.

Or maybe you just get first dibs in the box of biscuits the next time it goes around.

"Thou whoreson one, thou irritating number!", as the more literate amongst us might say.


12 comments:

  1. Stirring prose and thought-provoking philosophy. "Playing in the tails" of a probability distribution is not uncommon when the PDF is uniform.

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    1. I know there is no use railing against the probability. What happens, happens.

      And tail events happen, otherwise there'd be no tail.

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  2. I suspect rolls of '1' linger in the memory in a way scores of '6' don't. . .

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    1. Unless you are Wayne "Snake Eyes" Thomas. No one has a memory that big.

      But you are right. Sixes are only our just desserts after living long and blameless lives.

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  3. I like the idea of being first in line for the biscuits :-)

    Regards, Chris.

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    1. You just need to bring the biscuits next time.

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  4. I quite like the number 1 - at least it is honest and not a bit pretentious. Worse, I feel is something like the number 3, looks OK at first and then you do -1 for attacking uphill and -1 for being against elites and before you know it .... you are back at 1, only the sense of peril is now magnified by the cruel nature of that deceit.

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    1. But 1 offers no hope. If rolling a 1 means that you win, then there's no point in rolling. The poor 3 only fails because you've got yourself in a position where it can't help. It's your fault you're attacking uphill, after all.

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    2. Guys, this has great potential. I sense a need to explore a treatise on the number 1. Both of your positions could be the catalyst to the dawn of a new branch of philosophical thought.

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    3. There'll be a university somewhere that'll give you a grant for it.

      Actually looking back at this I think I should have spent more time on the idea and worked it up into a full magazine article for something like a Christmas fun edition.

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  5. I'll have to let you have some of my binary dice ... 3 ones and 3 noughts ... no extree outcomes and 1 is king ...

    Phil

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    1. So...you raise the importance of the 1 by adding zeroes to the dice. Sounds like special treatment to me.

      I would also remind you that the Romans and the ancient world had no concept of the number zero, so we won't be using those dice for most of our games.

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