Speed Rolling

This weekend, I was introduced to a new 2019 title, Astro Trash by The OP (USAOpoly). This is a real-time game in which everyone has 10 pieces of trash that they are trying to get rid of first. Everyone is rolling dice quickly to try and move various colored trash to either your neighbor or to the sun in the middle.

The key to the game is rolling the dice — You need to be able to roll quick, recognize what the dice say, and promptly act — then do this again and again until you’ve managed to fully eradicate the trash from your planet.

Some other games that have real-time dice-rolling (or speed rolling as it becomes)…Blend off! by Thunderworks Games, FUSE by Renegade Game Studios, and Tenzi.

All of these games share the same core requirement of players: roll, analyze, act, pick up, roll again…

In games like this, I would consider myself fairly average…maybe slightly above average (so, let’s say in the 60th percentile). Is there a way to get better, though? If someone wanted to get deliberate about their speed rolling abilities and win % in these types of games, how would they seek to improve?

Well, let’s take a serious look at a pretty silly topic and analyze the possibilities.

Rolling dice. In most games, this is an action to create a random dice circumstance — HOW the dice roll occurs isn’t that big of a deal. In a real-time game, normal rolling just won’t cut it, though. Things to consider –> hand-movement distance, ideally I need to practice on a roll technique that reduces my movement. Put your palm flat on the table, then allow your hand to raise up as you pivot on your wrist (not your pinky) to a palm-up position that should be about an inch off the table. That’s your ideal range for dice-roll movement. Palm-up, hand-closed with dice, then halfway over for release, and fully back down to grab the dice. Next, and very important is the dice release. Utilizing the technique just described, the dice will be released as your hand moves to a vertical position (the handshake position). How the dice come out of your hand will impact speed and thus…probably needs some good practice. If done incorrectly, the dice could end up flinging away from your hand. Not good…not good at all! Your hand-movement range is completely negated because now you have to spend time moving around to pick up the dice — the dice need to stay close together, ideally right in the area that your hand can close upon them all as your hand completes its downward pivot. Thus, when releasing the dice, they should not be tossed, but allowed to softly fall out of your hand as it opens. If you can get good at a release in which the dice stay close to your palm, pickup and re-roll speed will improve dramatically. This will allow you to get more rolls in during a round than your opponents. Dice rolls are random, so more rolls equals a greater opportunity to get the outcome you desire.

The twist exercise bar can help you develop wrist strength

Before leaving the dice roll topic, I would also suggest playing these games on mats. Mats are easier to pick dice off of compared to hard surfaces and they also help absorb dice rolls, reducing die bounce. Long rolls and spinning dice might create great tension in many games, but for speed-rolling, those dice need to make their minds up quickly and stay still.

The next step is to think about how effectively you are using your other hand — the non-die-rolling hand. This will be the hand performing actions. [You could argue that in some games, using both hands to perform actions will be more efficient. That may be true, but that requires hand-eye-mental coordination that I don’t think a majority of people can properly utilize, thus I am a proponent for a single action hand.] Think about what actions your 2nd hand will need to perform. Moving items around? Placing rolled dice? Picking things up? Will it be working in a focused area or having to play over a wide swath of the table? Take a few moments to practice those movements, practice the leaning that may even need to occur. You may even find that altering your sitting position can allow for greater movement range and faster actions. Generally, where you roll the dice isn’t a big deal, so position yourself for ease of action.

A chair like this may be great for video games, but DITCH IT for your real-time games. You want to stay static and reduce movement (no wheels!). Keep a solid center and pivot at the hips and waist.

Beyond movement efficiency, maybe the most crucial aspect of these games is the time spent on dice analysis — mentally registering what has been rolled, being aware of what is needed/useful, then deciding to act. The goal is to have full awareness of what all is needed, so that any useful die roll can quickly be acted upon. This may not be easy for everyone. In a game like FUSE, you may have several cards you are working on at once. What you want to avoid is spending time after every roll to consider every card’s needs. You want to be able to see a black 6 and immediately know, I can use that…and I put it over here. To get to that point, it may take practice over several game sessions — maybe start with a small focus. I need “blah” dice roll. Focus on that until the need is completed and then quickly pick the next need. A small focus will probably make you slow initially (and thus less wins), but it may be the necessary step to make you a speed-rolling savant in the near future. Get good at a single focus and then practice holding multiple needs in your mind. The goal –> don’t waste rolls by re-rolling an advantageous die/action and don’t waste time determining if a die roll is profitable.

So there we go, folks — quick die rolls, quick action movements, and quick analysis. Work on those skills and soon you will be an RTDR* champion just like my oldest son!

*Real-Time Dice Rolling

For more board game discussions, please follow me over on Twitter @boardgamecrock1

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