Why I like a pair of dice in Mint Tin Pirates

posted in: dice, games, Mint Tin Pirates | 0

When Steve and I decided to do a challenge of creating mint tin pirate games, the only guidelines were that they fit in a mint tin and be playable in 10 minutes or less.

We’ve both play tested the games and will be bringing them to a game design meetup tonight.

Both have mini cards and mini Meeples, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Steve’s is hand-to-hand combat (literally). Both players throw down an attack simultaneously. If they are tied, they can each add to their attack. Two swords against two swords can be won by throwing down another sword or adding a pair of cannons. It’s fun and fast paced.

His game makes it feel like you’re dueling and can defend yourself – it fits the pirate meme.

With my version, players take turns and attack only with pairs. You roll two dice to see if your attack is successful. In my mind, a cannon could miss the opponent when the ship rocks in a wave, a knife throw could also miss or the targeted pirate could duck, and a swinging swashbuckler on a rope could totally miss. The dice act as those random factors.

The game could be played with a single d6 dice and it would save on the cost of the game but here’s why I like a pair of dice:

A pair of dice seem more fair.

Here’s the probability for each number with a single six sided dice:


And here’s a pair of dice:


The single dice has the same probability for every number in every roll and the pair of dice has a classic bell curve for it’s probabilities – some outcomes are more likely than others – rolling a 7 has the highest probability.

In Mint Tin Pirates, the 5 minute game uses a roll of 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 as a successful attack. Statistically, that means you have a 66.7% chance of winning each throw.

But you can also have a 66.7% chance of winning with a single dice if you say that a roll of 3, 4, 5, or 6 is a successful attack.

So if you have the same percentage for success with one dice versus two dice, why use two?

It’s all about what feels more “right”.

That sense of feeling right is important for a game to be fun to play. You have to feel that you have a chance to win (thus Las Vegas – the casinos win more than they lose, but despite this being obvious with their fancy hotels, extravagant fountains, and cheap food and drinks, people still love to gamble).

The bell curve of a pair of dice makes it feels like you have more chances to win even though the probability can be the same with a single dice. The number of combinations, 36, makes it feel more exciting than just the 1 in 6 of a single dice.

So, that’s why I like two dice. =)

charts from AnyDice – an easy to use online dice probability calculator