In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory.
Measurement owes its existence to Earth; Estimation of quantity to Measurement; Calculation to Estimation of quantity; Balances of chances to Calculation, and Victory to the Balances of chances.
A victorious army opposed to routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain. The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter IV: Tactical Dispositions, [17-20].
Here’s a way to mess with somebody about to make die a roll that’s almost guaranteed to succeed:
Say: “Roll anything but a 1.”
They’ll need a 2-6 on six-sided dice to succeed, but lo, and behold, for whatever reason they’ll often roll that damn “1.”
This is why I don’t trust the dice. They seem to fail at the crucial moments in wargame and may be subject to psychic manipulation and voodoo.
So here’s seven diceless strategies and tactics you can employ at the tabletop to counter those bad die rolls:
1. Know the Rules of the Game
I don’t know how many times I’ve witnessed players forget key modifiers to the die rolls because they didn’t bother to read and study the rules.
2. Placing Terrain
Some games have dice mechanics for placing terrain. Others don’t. In either case, if you can, you should be present when players set up terrain. If you can, anchor one of your flanks (if not both) with terrain that’s either impassable or rough. Another option might be to place terrain that might hinder your opponent.
3. Make Sure What You See is What You Get
Some wargamers like to proxy. They might substitute one miniature(s) for another. There’s nothing wrong with asking specifically the kind of forces you’re up against.
“Well, yes, these figures are painted and based to be Roman auxiliaries, but for today I’m running them as Legionaries.”
When in doubt ask: “What is this and what does it do?”
We’ve covered this in previous posts. Your initial deployment will influence the outcome of the battle.
5. The Speed Bump Tactic.
Slow down your opponent’s advance by placing inferior units (skirmishers, levy troops, etc.). Then hit him with your more elite forces.
6. Make Your Opponent Look Up a Rule.
When a rule come into question, and your opponent is being a nitwit, make him look up the rule. This is something The Bearded Bastard would do rather effectively. While his opponent would flip pages trying to make a point, he would plan his next move.
7. A Positive Attitude
Okay, I might be getting all superstitious again–but what does it seem like players with negative attitudes just can’t catch a lucky break?
If even you don’t believe your emotions can influence your die rolls, a positive attitude can make the game enjoyable even if the dice turn against you.
Next on The Art of Wargaming: Do You Know the Weak Point of a Tank?