# How can I reduce the planar die "whiff factor" with house rules?

I like to play Planechase sometimes. Mostly this variant, which gives players some additional choices when planswalking.

However, the most annoying part of Planechase is that the planar die has such a high "whiff factor" (incidence of null results). A particular thing I dislike is the handling time when a player has nothing else to do or desperately wants to planeswalk — rolling the die, tapping some mana, rolling the die again, &c.

Criteria for a house rule that meets my needs:

1. reduced incidence of totally null results
2. reduced handling time (compared to multiple rerolls)
3. whatever you change, the vast majority of the existing planes should still be playable as-is
4. it's okay to replace the planar die with some other game piece (including a custom die)
• Isn't the purpose of rolling a dice to add in some chances of bad things? Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 18:45
• Numbers 2 and 3 have me a little confused. 2 seems to imply that you want a smaller chance to roll nothing, but 3 seems to imply that you still want a 1/6 chance to planeswalk and 1/6 chance to roll chaos. So what, exactly, are you looking for? Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 19:02
• @murgatroid99 Right now you roll nothing and it just cascades. Roll nothing. Spend mana. Roll nothing. Spend more mana. Roll nothing. This is a crappy cycle. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 19:04
• I understand the issue. What I'm saying is that criteria 2 and 3 seem to contradict each other, and I'm trying to understand what you want. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 19:07
• @murgatroid99 Minor consequences for rolling the die so it's not a do-nothing action, or figure out a way to condense "do nothing" rolls into a shorter procedure, or replace some of the randomness with a cost. That sort of thing. Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 19:09

This is inspired by the action-choosing mechanism from Speculation.

Start of game setup:

• Get six objects that can represent planeswalk/chaos/nothing: colored marbles, Scrabble tiles, popsicle sticks with symbols drawn on them, etc.
• Place the objects in an opaque bag.

When the player wants to "roll":

• The player pays the cost for rolling and chooses an item from the bag without looking.
• If a Nothing item is removed, set it aside on the table.
• If a Planeswalk or Chaos item is removed, perform that action and return all the items to the bag.

This reduces the likelihood of whiffing over time.

• Normal 4/6 chance on the first roll.
• 3/5 chance after the first whiff.
• 2/4 chance after the second whiff.
• 1/3 chance after the third whiff.
• No chance of whiffing after four whiffs.

This seems to well satisfy criteria 1, 3, and 4. Admittedly, it's not much faster than regular rolling, if you discount the fact that on average you'll get a favorable result faster than if you had used a die.

• Nice solution that leads to something happening. I might suggest you make a deck of 6 cards (in alternately-coloured sleeves), which will pack nicely with the plane cards/decks and trades the time of fiddling with a bag for shuffling. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 10:17

I play with a large group of people (5+) when we play Planechase, and we have a runnning rule: after 2 null rolls, you flip a coin and call it for either planar or chaos. While it assures an eventual result for spending the mana, it also limits the ability to spend it freely to achieve a result by placing a 50% chance at the end, which can be devastating.

Example: null roll 1 (Player 1) = nothing happens null roll 2 (player 1) = nothing happens Chaos roll (Player 1) = Chaos event happens null roll 3 (Player 1) = coin flip for chaos or walk.

• Welcome to B&CG SE! I very much appreciate having a playtested answer. :) Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 5:38

Here's one option: limit the number of chaos rolls and the number of planeswalk rolls to 1 per turn.

If you roll the planar die `n` times, the probability of rolling at least one planeswalk symbol is `1-(5/6)^n`, and of course the probability is the same for chaos. So, my suggestion is this: determine the number of rolls (and tap for that much mana), then calculate that probability and round to the nearest 1/20. Then we can map those probabilities onto a D20.

For example, say I have enough mana to pay for 5 rolls. Then the probability of success is `0.598`, so we round to `0.60`. Then we can say that the "bottom" 12 numbers (1-12) correspond to planeswalk and the "top" 12 numbers (9-20) correspond to chaos. 9-12, of course, correspond to both. In those cases, flip a coin to determine which happens first.

Note that this severely inflates the probability that something happens. In the previous example, if I actually rolled the planar die 5 times, there would be about a `0.13` chance of nothing happening. However, it also removes the possibility of either planeswalk or chaos happening more than once.

For reference, here are the success rolls on a D20 corresponding to various numbers of planar die rolls:

1. Just use a planar die
2. planeswalk: `1-6`. chaos: `15-20`
3. planeswalk: `1-8`. chaos: `13-20`
4. planeswalk: `1-10`. chaos: `11-20`
5. planeswalk: `1-12`. chaos: `9-20`
6. planeswalk: `1-13`. chaos: `8-20`
7. planeswalk: `1-14`. chaos: `7-20`
8. planeswalk: `1-15`. chaos: `6-20`
9. planeswalk: `1-16`. chaos: `5-20`
10. planeswalk: `1-17`. chaos: `4-20`
11. planeswalk: `1-17`. chaos: `4-20`
12. planeswalk: `1-18`. chaos: `3-20`
13. planeswalk: `1-18`. chaos: `3-20`
14. planeswalk: `1-18`. chaos: `3-20`
15. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`
16. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`
17. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`
18. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`
19. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`
20. planeswalk: `1-19`. chaos: `2-20`

Above 20, the probability for each rounds to 100%, so just flip a coin to see which happens first.

• This is a good start, but can you describe this as a simple rule rather than a mathematical relationship to use to build rules? Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 15:56
• Would a table of rolls necessary for planeswalk and chaos cover what you're looking for? Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 16:09