Being a very mathematically oriented person, I long ago learned that our intuition often cheats us when we’re working with statistics. In short, it seems our brains are not made to be good at grasping this field of mathematics. Over time, this has come to annoy me in one particular area – dice rolls. I know loads of otherwise very rational people who have strong believes in dice luck – and unluck – and whom often after a lost match blame bad dice roll. Worse yet, I sometimes myself leave a match thinking that the rolls were against me even though I know, that my brain is eager to find patterns, that might not be there.
I have a theory regarding this. My theory goes, that dice rolls in reality are not that big a factor in a loss (or victory) as we intuitively expect. I believe that the combination of our brain looking for patterns and our built-in eagerness to find some other explanation for a loss than bad decisions we made, we build a story of “bad dice rolls lost me the game”. I would like to test this theory by proving that even in matches where we full unlucky (and more rarely, lucky), when we compare all the dice rolled in the end, we weren’t that far away from rolling the statistically expected.
My tool to try to assess this is – surprise – an excel sheet. I plan on using a match or two in the near future to gather some data (preferably one I’m not playing since I think it is hard to log all dice rolls if I’m also playing) and see what I learn. My approach is basically to log all rolls and for each roll also note if higher or lower is better so as to even that factor out and then make some simple statistics on the rolls for the entire match.
This will leave one factor out, however. Not all rolls are equally important. Make all your armour saves on your battleship so that it survives to activate with one hull point left is significantly more important than an equal amount of saves on an undamaged battleship. However, first I would like to ignore this factor as to properly include this we need to evaluate the importance of all rolls – a subjective analysis that our story-inclined brain can easily seize upon and use to move the statistics to the story it would like to tell.
In any case, if you have interests like me I hereby present the sheet I created for this purpose to download. It does require a bit of excel savvy (it is helpful if you know your way around pivot tables) but other than that it is rather straight forward. If you do happen to log a full match I would love to have your data. Get the tool here: Dice statistics tool
When I get around to log a match or two I will post my findings on the blog for further analysis and discussion – I am curious as to what I find.