Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

Black Dice- A Final Touch


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In the last few months I have been exploring a wide range of ideas as I wrestle Die Marching and Die Fighting into agreement and shared systems. I have initiated the multiple bucket concept into our Die Fighting games to a degree that that is the way we now play the rules on every occasion. I have flirted with ideas involving Black Dice, which essentially function as a negative die roll, the earliest ones of which I posted in the Files section of the repiquerules Yahoo! site. I also added them as a new tool in the Colonial Wargames Template that I posted over a month ago. As time has passed, however, I have become even more enamored with extensions of the Black Die concept, and am thinking about making them standard rules for Die Fighting. I am looking at a few additional tests to just make sure everything is covered and there will be no surprises.

What is the black die and how does it function? As I said above it functions as a negative roll. In any roll for movement or combat it is subtracted from the total of any unit that is burdened with a black die. It slows down units and makes them more vulnerable in combat, but its effect is not some fixed “minus one or two” but a variable. This maintains the lack of sure predictability I prefer in all my designs. In Rally rolls it eliminates any resource, Free, or command die it matches. So if a duplicate 4 was thrown, but the black die was a 4, then that eliminates that duplicate. That’s it-simple and straightforward, adding no extra tables or time to movement, combat, or morale actions being rested.

When I initially used it, I simply made it an extra negative effect on a unit that had performed badly in a given game. It was a “Badge of Dishonor” for a unit that had spectacularly failed in its actions against the enemy. It really had no effect until the next game. and , even then, was confined to a very few units-no more than 1 or 2 on a side. It seldom had any great effect, though it could make long range fire by a dishonored, black die burdened, artillery piece rather ineffective.

In the Colonial Template, it was used to gradually add “drag” to attacking natives, and make European fire more effective than just simple loss and push back. It made natives behave as natives did in attacking the overwhelming firepower of modern troops. It was limited in application and not linked to the basic rules.

But its possibilities continued to intrigue me. So much so that I began doing private tests of integrating it into the combat system for Die Fighting.

I am changing the effect of combat loss from the original method found in the rules for an upcoming WSS DF game to be held on the 16th of November, and using that game as a test bed using the Repique Rules Crack Playtest Group. If it passes muster, I will do a longer article here.

For those of you that would like to experiment with the concept on your own, here’s the Rules as I sent them out to the Test Group:

New Combat Method-
A. Hits of 6 or less may be bought down as per original rules. No Change!

B. Hits of 7 or more are changed.

  • 1. You still owe the difference in red dice lost at 7+. No Change
  • 2. However, in combat, the distance retreated is determined by a single black die, which is then added to the unit. That die is rolled, thereafter, on ANY move or combat roll and is subtracted from the roll of all other dice. In movement a negative roll indicates no forward movement.

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The Black Die makes this a roll of 12 not 16!

  • 3. Upon a second hit of 7+ The losing player owes the difference in red dice lost, and an additional black die is added to the unit. If another black die is already on the unit, the unit will retreat the total of both black dice rolled. The two dice are thereafter rolled on any combat or movement roll and subtracted from the other dice totals. Any negative movement roll requires the unit to halt, even without immediate cause from enemy actions.
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Ooops! Black dice more than Red-Yellows don’t count! Total is 2!
  • 4. Upon a third or more hits the procedure is as above, with the three or more black dice total being subtracted.
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Yellows don’t count! Total is a measly 7.
  • 5. There is no limit to black dice acquired, but after two black dice, item 6 becomes increasingly likely.
  • 6. If on any action the total of the black dice exceed the roll of the red dice used, no Command Dice may be added to the total, Free Dice still count.
  • 7. Any unrallied, routing, unit, will be forced to retreat, straight back, along a line of least resistance from terrain the total distance of its black dice ADDED to two red dice, on each subsequent card phase of any type until it is either rallied or exits the table. A rallied unit will retain any black dice, other than the one removed for rallying. That is, a rallied unit may still have black dice after rallying. A unit is deemed routed if it rolls a retreat on any black dice total greater than 6 (7+).
  • 8. Catastrophic loss, where a unit suffers a loss of dice of more than its unit value plus 6 in a single combat resolution, shall still be as originally stated. The unit is removed from the table, being considered destroyed as a fighting unit.
  • 9. Black dice may be removed from a unit in two ways.
    • a. If the unit wins any combat roll for fire or melee, one black die is removed.
    • b. On a Reload, Rally, Restore Card phase, a rally roll attempt may be made using the usual procedures. Any successful roll eliminates one black die. Rally attempts by more than one officer, the immediate brigade officer and then the commander in chief, for instance, may be made, each time using new dice. However, any number thrown on an existing black die negates any one rally die rolled of that same number. Any triple that qualifies as a rally roll removes ALL Black dice regardless of number.