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  • Writer's pictureRobey

#diceday - The neglected step-child of dice

The poor d8.

Now, it should be said at the outset that a number of recent wargame designs have tapped into the potential of the d8. It turns up in Warlord's Beyond the Gates of Antares. But you'd be hard pushed to find a mainstream game that really lets the d8 shake its hair down and go wild. Which is a shame, because it's got a long going for it.

Just as the d6 can give 6, 3 or 2 results, so the d8 can give 8, 4 or 2 results, with a wider range to each than the d6. It's also a superior choice over the d10 as a simple scatter dice (as long as you don't want anything scattering more than 8", obvs). It's beautifully legible, beaten only by the d6 and, arguably, d12 in that regard. It's a true platonic solid so won't upset the maths purists.

If it has a down-side, it's that it shares a degree of manipulability when it comes to rolling, although that's a minor detail unless you're playing for serious money. And it does lack a certain haptic something. Like the d4 (don't worry, we'll get to that one eventually), it has poor... hand-feel. You know? Like how food critics talk about the mouth-feel of foods as an important quality beyond taste and far beyond nutritional value. It's how the dice feels to shake it in your palm.

And, trivial though this may seem, I think this might be what's held the d8 back from enjoying more of the spotlight in game design. It's pointiness in the palm makes it the kind of dice you want to let go of but, when you do, you worry that you've not given it the hand-time a good dice roll needs.

And then along came Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. FFG has recently been directed to pass the baton on this game over to fellow Asmodee subsidiary, Atomic Mass Games, so who knows how long that link will be valid. But the game's designers so nearly gave the d8 the time in the spotlight it deserved - and then they turned it into a custom dice.

I'll get to custom dice eventually. I have mixed feelings about them, as you'll know if you've ever listened to the podcast. But suffice to say that X-Wing took the d8 and managed to remove almost everything good about it and left in place the bad hand-feel, whilst tying in a dice that is manipulatable with a highly competitive tournament scene. It retained, of course, the mean distribution of the original and, it has to be said, I don't hate the X-Wing dice system (it's much better than FFG's Star Wars RPG system) but I'm not convinced it was a good choice, design-wise, commercially astute though it may have been.

The d8 is still waiting for someone to see its potential and use it in a starring role in a miniatures wargame. I mean, I'd do it. But I'm in a monogamous relationship with the d12. On which, we'll talk more next week.

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Dax The Destroyer
Dax The Destroyer

Mantic's Vanguard is a d8 based system, kind of surprising seeing as Kings of War is d6 based. I think they make good use of it. And the hand feel is better when rolling large groups of d8s.

I suppose that is true of most dice, except d4s, nothing can save them.

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