This week’s mailbag is the first of 2012 and comes hot off the press!
Dear Yahtzee Manifesto,
My husband and I always stage a Yahtzee tournament with friends on New Year’s Eve. We believe that playing Yahtzee at the stroke of midnight brings good luck for the year ahead. Last night we encountered a situation unlike anything we’ve seen before.
I always like to throw the dice with some force and let smash them into a backstop for extra dice action. During a roll in the middle of a game on New Year’s Eve, the corner of one the dice broke off and shattered into many tiny pieces. I guess I don’t know my own strength! My husband, who I’ll call Steve, insisted that we stop the game immediately until we could fetch a replacement die. He contended that the deformity would influence the roll of the die and lead to unfair results. We couldn't find anything that covered this in the instruction booklet and the rest of us were perfectly happy to carry on with the game. I understand Steve’s logic, but I believe he was over-reacting.
My question for you is this: was Steve right in demanding that we stop the game? I should also mention that this tournament has money on the line – the winner took home £400. Many thanks and have a happy new year!
Janet Cross - Swansea, Wales
Happy new year to you too! We were quite disturbed to hear of your dice misfortune, especially as it befell you on the brink of the new year. Unfortunately, the scene you describe is becoming more and more common and is likely to only get worse.
In the old days, the dice and other Yahtzee gaming equipment were crafted with great care by a delicate hand. They were made with quality in mind and built to last a lifetime. With the advent of capitalism, the quest for profit has led to a state of affairs where giant corporations can leverage their size and wealth to mass-produce loads of second-rate gaming equipment. Artisan workmanship has essentially been stamped out under the boot of big business. So while we were crestfallen to hear of your incident last night, we certainly aren’t surprised.
But on to your question. Steve is correct to state that your damaged die will significantly change the odds of rolling certain numbers. The missing corner has slightly altered the mass of the cube and put its center of gravity out of its natural position. Of course, all players will be affected equally by this deformity as the games progresses. But had you noticed the damage before the start of the game, you could have continued play assured that each player really would face identical conditions. Since the accident occurred in the middle of game, the odds will invariably be stacked for or against a given player. For example, let’s say that the dice damage has decreased the odds of rolling a Six by 15%. If you have not yet scored your Sixes by the time of the die malfunction, you will be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis an opponent who had already scored a strong total for Sixes. So the remainder of your game after the die became damaged was not played under entirely fair circumstances. Steve was indeed correct to insist that a new die be found before play could continue.
Thanks for your email Janet and we hope that you soon find a replacement die. We suggest seeking out a higher-quality dice set that matches your own tastes and rolling style. Good luck, comrade!