I’ve played enough X-Wing to know that dice are evil. They are not to be trusted. They will fill you with false hope on rolls that don’t matter only to betray on rolls that do. I should be used to this by now. It should cause me no strife. And yet today I was ready to fling the damn things across the store for their sins.
There’s a fairly large contingent of gamers who will have nothing to do with dice. They want their games decides by strategy and skill, not by luck. They want their actions determined by their own decisions, not what some pips tell them. For them, Monopoly is the greatest crime against gaming imaginable, with Risk a close second.
But with things like miniatures, you need some kind of resolution mechanic that represents how even the best laid plans can go wrong. In battle, there is such a thing as luck. And besides, it would be a boring game if the ships all did the same damage and had the same defense every turn. You might as well just look at the lists before the game, tally up stats, and declare a winner.
Of course, a good game with dice will give you ways to add, subtract, manipulate and mitigate the dice and their results. X-Wing has all sorts of things like that: adding attack dice if you’re close, adding defense dice if you’re far away, abilities that let you re-roll or alter dice. It’s a pretty dizzying variety of options actually, but they’re essential if the game is going to be competitive.
The game knows the dice are evil, even if I occasionally forget.