Using a Single Die in Pub Battles

My hefty metal six siders and the damage they wrought.

I am always open to trying out elegant ways to play Pub Battles. By elegant, I mean simpler AND better. Pub Battles is a robust system, meaning you can change bits here and there without ruining the balance of the game. In other words, you can “season to taste.”

One example of this is the Field of Fire rule, I don’t like it, and I don’t use it. For others, the game is unenjoyable without it. To each, their own.

Dice are a little dicier (pun intended). One has to be very careful about exactly how one dishes out damage in combat. My initial motivation stemmed from the Pub Battles dice offered by Command Post Games. These dice use different symbols that allow all possible results from a single die. No more adding modifiers and applying them over several dice. One die gives you all the info you need. This works great, IF you have great eyesight. Alas, I’m old, Gandalf. I find myself straining to glean the info I need from the symbols on the die.

My initial thought was to use a single six sided die and read the result as D6/2 round down. So you roll the die and divide the result by 2 and round down. A 6 gives you three hits and a 1 gives you zero hits. This actually works out a little deadlier, as it is easier to get three hits on a single six sider than on three six siders. {MATH WARNING} 3 six siders give you odds on a scale of 8 (2 to the third power).
1/8 chance of zero hits
3/8 chance of one hit
3/8 chance of two hits
1/8 chance of three hits
A D6/2 rounding down gives this:
1/6 chance of zero hits
2/6 chance of one hit
2/6 chance of two hits
1/6 chance of three hits
So a single six sider is a little deadlier in dealing 3 hits, balanced by being a little less deadly on the other end.

That would be fine, but the modifiers throw a bit of gum into the works. Subtracting 1 from three dice still gives you a 1/9 chance of getting three hits. Whereas subtracting 1 from one die (dividing by two and rounding down) makes getting three hits impossible (a 6 becomes a 5, which rounds down to 2 hits).

On the plus side, their are those who are opposed to the three hit/one round kill result, feeling that you should always be given a chance able to bow out, rather than hold at all costs. I get this, but I like a deadlier game. This is probably a reaction to the pre 3.0 version of Pub Battles with Baggage Trains, where it often felt like you were trying to gum your opponent to death. Now with 3.0, I could tolerate this much better, especially since it only happens when the attacker is at a disadvantage. Maybe you should be given a chance to withdraw rather than fight to the death. Getting troops to hold that tenaciously doesn’t happen without some direction from above!

It is actually on the other end that the bigger difference is found. If you are flanking a defender, or defending a ford, a plus one modifier on three dice gives you an almost 2/3 chance of getting three hits, whereas it only grants you a 1/3 chance on a single die. That’s a pretty major nerf, and can seriously mess up a battle like Brandywine, Knyphausen might not even need Howe and Cornwallis!

What if instead of modifying the die roll, you modified the total hits? Now, a flanking bonus gives you a 50/50 chance of getting 3 hits (ruling that 3 hits is the most you can get) and you will always get at least one hit. I like this because it removes the possibility of an outflanked defender (or an exposed attacker) emerging unscathed 1/9 of the time with three six siders. While it is cool to be on the receiving end of this, it is more frustrating to have a carefully orchestrated attack become completely ineffective. The final result is it does not really effect the game except in some corner cases.

One of the added bonuses for defending from cover is that the -1 hit means that if you are defending in cover, you can’t suffer three hits in one round of combat, meaning that if you are fighting at an advantage you can’t be eliminated without first having the option of running away instead. I really like this, now that we have the 3.0 Baggage Train rules.

So, I’ll use the D6/2 rounding down, with the modifiers affecting the hits, not the dice

I am going to play this way for awhile before I call it my official way to play and add it to my Homebrew rules. If you try it out, let me know what you think.

Follow up note. I really like this method and plan to stay with it!

4 thoughts on “Using a Single Die in Pub Battles

    1. You could do it with three, and then just show a hit on 3 sides. That was an early thought I had, then I went to just one die as even simpler.

      The custom die would be the ultimate evolution. Just label a regular die
      0,1,1,2,2,3

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Greetings! Your blog was one of the main reasons that convinced me to order my first Pub Battles game. Your ‘play the map!’ story describes exactly where I come from. So thanks a lot for all the content, I’ve subscribed as a follower.

    This post in particular is very interesting… If I remember correctly, I’ve read somewhere on the Command Post blog that they had first considered to use 8-sided dice for combat resolution. This would allow to exactly reproduce the binomial 2^3 distribution you’ve described above! Maybe it’s not a coincidence. I also really like the suggestion of modifying hits instead of to-hit values… I’ll surely give it a try. All the best, MB

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, the 3 even odds dice give the same odds distribution as a three coin toss, or an eight sided die.

    I like the simplicity of one die. Being an old roleplayer from way back, using 1D6/2 round down is second nature for me. It may not be so for others, but that’s what I do. I have blank six siders and it would be easy-peasy to make up a set of custom dice, but I like my heavy metal cubes; that’s how I roll. 😉
    Thank you for leaving a comment! I was wondering if anybody else could relate to “wanting to play the map” just like the military atlases.

    Liked by 1 person

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