Design – Dice and Decks

Which would you rather have, a d20 or a set of 6 cards from 1 to 20?


I know this is an unusual question because when you look at it they are the same… well they are and they aren’t. While they may have the same purpose, they can be very different

So yes, they both give a value of 1 to 20 and they are both random. However lets look at the differences.

Fixed vs Flexible

A die will always be 1 to 20… OK they can mean different things if they are attached to a table but they just provide a specific value (ignore Dice Forge game, more the exception than the rule).

A card can be taken out, that one can be removed and replaced and be changed so there is more control.

Energetic vs. Clinical

What happens when you roll a die or dice? They bounce around then they stop and during that bouncing it can land on any side.

What happens when you draw a card? You take the top card of the deck and, that’s it. There’s no sound and no energy.

Random vs. Semi-random

The way they operate gives a different feel as well.

Dice are fickle, you can roll multiple 20’s in a roll even though the odds of roll 4 in a row is 160,000 to 1 (ask my RPG group). This randomness also creates those rare against all odds moments where your luck permanently is on your side.

Assuming you don’t shuffle the deck, you will co through every card once meaning there is an element of knowledge you can glean from past draws. You will always have the good with the bad.


Dice and Decks are very simple ways of getting randomness in a game. However each can be very different style given to a game.

Now this is very simple compared to what I normally write but you’ll need this to understand the next part of the essay series I am writing.

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