Friday, July 13, 2012

6th Edition Rulebook: Gamer's Edition Review

It took long enough, but my Gamer's Edition rulebook set finally arrived this past Saturday. The set contains a standard 6th Edition rulebook, a satchel for carrying it, and Gamer's Edition-only red Munitorum dice in a lasgun power pack tin. GW will be releasing more Munitorum dice in an identical tin, but these will be white with black markings; the red dice are exclusive to this edition. GW is also supposed to release Battlefield Objectives and Vehicle Markers in lasgun power pack tins, but these have all been delayed until the end of this month.

6th Edition Rulebook
I won't be reviewing the rules here (although I like a lot of the changes). However, let me say that the book is beautiful. It's full color and is filled with photos and artwork. I know that a lot of people balked at the $75 price, but having bought dozens of cheaply bound and less interesting text books for $100+ each in college, I feel like I'm getting a bargain.

The leatherette satchel was the primary reason why I bought the Gamer's Edition since I've been carrying my books and other tools in a cardboard box for over a year. The embossing on the side declares it to be an Imperial Guard officer's signal satchel originating from Cadia. You can attach either an Imperial Aquila or the Chaos Star to the flap, both of which are heavy metal pins.

The primary pocket is ideally sized for the new rulebook and the secondary pocket is large enough to hold two to three codices with room to spare for templates. However, I'm guessing that the bag was designed with hardcover codices in mind, so I may have a lot less room in a couple years. Finally, there are three small pockets designed to hold the lasgun power pack dice tins (presumably one tin each for the Munitorum dice, Battlefield Objectives, and Vehicle Markers). I think the upcoming dice and tins are supposed to be limited edition, so I'm definitely going to have to order at least two more tins as soon as they're available to fill the remaining two pockets.

It's a shame that the Gamer's Edition and its satchel were so limited that they sold out of them within about four days. I think a lot more gamers would have bought the satchel over time if they had made more of them.

Munitorum Dice and Tin
Finally, there are twelve red Munitorum dice in the tin along with six servo skull dice holders. As I mentioned earlier, the tin is labeled as a lasgun power pack and has some fun fluff printed on it. It's listed as having a range rating of "19 megathule" but with the caveat to "Confirm compatibility with techpriest prior to using this power pack". While the satchel is from Cadia, the power pack says it's from Armageddon. The tin is easily large enough to hold all twelve dice and the six dice holders that come with it, while leaving some extra room. I'll probably fill one tin with Vehicle Markers, Battlefield Objectives, and as many holders as will fit, another with just Munitorum dice and some holders, and a third with my Chessex dice.

The dice holders are styled as tiny servo skulls that are just large enough to hold a single die. At first I thought the dice holders were a silly idea, then I realized that I accidentally snatch up counting dice at least once per game and my opponent and I then have to try to remember how many wounds are left, how many turns have passed, etc. Since we now have to keep track of vehicles' hull points in addition to everything else, I can see the need for the holders even more now.

And that brings us down to the Munitorum dice. The dice look great, with embossed gears, nuclear trefoils, hoses, and servo skulls behind the highly stylized numerals used in the 40K universe. But oh, how I wish I could say that the square corners and lack of indented pips make them well balanced. (I've discussed imbalanced dice here and here.) I was immediately suspicious when I opened the package and noticed how light the dice are. With square edges that reduce irregular rolling and without the deep pips that can affect a die's center of gravity, the only other major factor that can ruin a die's balance is porosity or internal bubbles. Lighter dice seem to suffer from such defects more often.

Since there were only 12 dice, I performed a chi-square test using 120 rolls per die instead of my usual 90. By increasing the number of rolls by 1/3, the chi-square test becomes a lot more sensitive and is better able to detect unbalanced dice. Although none of the dice failed, three very nearly failed the test and three more were suspiciously skewed. Interestingly, the six dice that appeared to be mostly balanced scored a lot better than most of the Chessex dice that tested relatively well. And since it's also possible that some Chessex dice that passed the test at 90 rolls would fail at 120, it's likely that the Munitorum dice are more fair than the much cheaper dice.

As for the apparently unbalanced Munitorum dice, whatever small manufacturing defect is present in them caused most to preferentially roll twos or fives. One die rolled a five 31 times out of 120; the expected number was 20. This behavior is different than what I've seen in Chessex dice, which tend to roll ones and twos when they're unbalanced. In the end, I removed six out of the 12 limited edition dice from my collection.

Oh well, when life gives you lemons, and all. The dice really are nice, I do need to be able to keep track a lot of things under 6th Edition, and I have six dice holders, so I'm going to mark the unbalanced dice and use them solely as counting dice. As farfetched as it may seem, I'm hoping that the delayed release of the other Munitorum dice is due to the discovery of balance issues and that the next release of dice will roll fairly. Being the sucker that I am, I will of course be buying the new dice and testing them too.

[Update 7/15/12: See my later post where I find that even a 120 roll test can be misleading.]

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