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9-Again Overestimated

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  • 9-Again Overestimated

    It irks me when I see effects that apply the 9-again quality with fluff to suggest that this is a significant bonus. 9-again is equivalent to +11% more successes, which is almost always worth less than a single die on average. It's hardly worth anything.

  • #2
    The value of X-again bonuses is dependent on your dice pool. 9-again is worth more than +1 dice to roll starting at a dice pool of 9. 8-again is worth more than +1 dice to roll starting at a dice pool of 4.

    So "almost always worth less" depends drastically on how often you can get dice pools in the 9+ range. Is 9-again great in combat where that's probably going to be rare? Nope. But getting 9-again in combat is pretty easy and not painted as being that big a deal. But that's because combat is a situation were your base dice pool is almost always going to be penalized to something lower.

    If you're focusing on a Skill where you generally get to roll your full base dice pool and likely can put in more bonuses from equipment and such than you'll face penalties, getting in the 9+ range isn't as hard, so 9-again becomes a bigger deal.

    The value of X-again is also relevant to whether or not the number of successes you're trying to get is a bigger deal than successes vs. failure. If all that matters to the roll is pass/fail, more dice is always the better choice because that increases the odds of pass; which X-again boosts don't. X-again essentially increases variance so if you're trying to an above average number of successes on the roll for some reason, 9-again has the advantage of increasing the likelihood of hitting bigger even if on average it doesn't roll that much better.

    And of course, beyond all the math, there's the issue of personal bias regarding how the fluff is worded.

    9-again is a bonus. It only helps you roll more successes. If you had to chose between not having it and having it, you'd always take having it. That it might not be as valuable as some other possible bonus doesn't mean it isn't significant and worth grabbing if you can. Where the fluff "overstates" the value of that bonus is going to be situational at best.

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    • #3
      What Heavy Arms said, plus extended actions. In extended actions, 9-again becomes a nice boost.


      David A Hill Jr
      Freelance Writer
      Independent Game Designer

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      • #4
        I'd like to see Heavy Arms's math on that, because it takes a 13 dice pool to actually increase the likely average successes by a full number. With 8-again that number drops to 9. Honestly, 9-again is only worth it as a rider effect on another minor merit or power to make it worth taking. 9-again isn't even worth a single dot merit. 8-again would probably be worth 1 dot on its own.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Yawgmoth View Post
          I'd like to see Heavy Arms's math on that, because it takes a 13 dice pool to actually increase the likely average successes by a full number.
          I think you sort of answered your own request there. I didn't use integers as the basis of when X-again surpasses a +1 dice bonus because there's no reason to discount fractional successes when looking at average performance. An average success rate of 4/3rds is better than an average success rate of 1. It isn't a huge margin, but rounding down the fractional success so that you look at both as being equal kinda misses the point of the statistics in question.

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          • #6
            I always view stuff like that in the 'fluff' sense: hey, cool, I get an advantage if I do things this way!

            Maybe it's the crunchy gamer in me, but bonuses = fun. The mood of the dice is way more important than most bonuses anyway, so no point in getting worked up about the statistical variance. It doesn't matter what you should have rolled, it matters what you did roll. I've seen people on multiple occasions (ok, one guy. He's a freak.) roll exceptionals on chance dies, I've seen people fail on a roll of 23 dice (and if you count extended rolls, I believe the record for our group is something in the 30s).

            I mean, it's not like it really matters, unless you're going for min-maxing or similar optimisation anyway, right? That's just my view, though.
            Last edited by Allan53; 12-22-2013, 09:32 PM.


            My Commandments for GMs My Commandments for Players

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Yawgmoth View Post
              I'd like to see Heavy Arms's math on that, because it takes a 13 dice pool to actually increase the likely average successes by a full number. With 8-again that number drops to 9. Honestly, 9-again is only worth it as a rider effect on another minor merit or power to make it worth taking. 9-again isn't even worth a single dot merit. 8-again would probably be worth 1 dot on its own.
              The number of successes per die is equal to the probability that you succeed plus the probability that you reroll and succeed etc. For 10-again this is:

              [0.3] + [0.3 X (0.1^1)] + [0.3 X (0.1^2)] + [0.3 X (0.1^3)] +......

              0.333333.......

              or

              a + ar^1 + ar^2 + ar^3 +......

              Thus we can use "a/(1-r)" giving us the probability of the average successes per die, which can be expressed as fractions:

              Chance Die without 10 again: (1/10)
              Chance Die 10 again: (1/9)

              Without 10 again: (3/10)
              10 again: (3/9) or (1/3)
              9 again: (3/8)
              8 again: (3/7)

              Rote Action:
              Chance Die without 10 again: (9/50)
              Chance Die 10 again: (1/5)

              without 10 again: (51/100)
              10 again: (51/90) or (17/30)
              9 again: (51/80)
              8 again: (51/70)

              Dicepool; Average successes with 10 again
              1: 8/24
              2: 16/24
              3: 24/24
              4: 32/24
              5: 40/24
              6: 48/24
              7: 56/24
              8: 64/24
              9: 72/24
              10: 80/24
              11: 88/24
              12: 96/24

              Dicepool; Average successes with 9 again
              1: 9/24
              2: 18/24
              3: 27/24
              4: 36/24
              5: 45/24
              6: 54/24
              7: 63/24
              8: 72/24
              9: 81/24
              10: 90/24
              11: 99/24

              Dicepool; Average successes with 10 again
              1: 7/21
              2: 14/21
              3: 21/21
              4: 28/21
              5: 35/21
              6: 42/21
              7: 49/21

              Dicepool; Average successes with 8 again
              1: 9/21
              2: 18/21
              3: 27/21
              4: 36/21
              5: 45/21
              6: 54/21
              7: 63/21


              One system oddity is that you're more likely to get a dramatic failure on a chance die with rote action than you are to on a normal chance die, nearly double in fact.

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              • #8
                Here's what I mean when I say 9-again is overestimated. The Hunter: The Vigil book says that instead of gaining +3 dice for using a point of Willpower, you can choose to get 9-again instead. This is a phenomenally horrible choice. Your dice pool would have to be at least TWENTY SEVEN just to break even on average! Even with 8-again you'd need a dice pool of 11 or more to break even. This rule was obviously written by people who do not understand the mathematics behind the game's systems. (Incidentally, this is why the 5th dot of the Professional Training merit is not overpowered)
                Last edited by Strill; 01-04-2014, 07:40 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by NineDaysDead View Post
                  One system oddity is that you're more likely to get a dramatic failure on a chance die with rote action than you are to on a normal chance die, nearly double in fact.
                  How so?

                  The Rote Action rules clearly state that you only re-roll if you get a 10 on the initial roll, once you've exhausted re-rolling the 10. The odds of dramatic failure on the chance die stay at 10%: rolling 1 on the initial roll.

                  Originally posted by Strill View Post
                  Here's what I mean when I say 9-again is overestimated. The Hunter: The Vigil book says that instead of gaining +3 dice for using a point of Willpower, you can choose to get 9-again instead. This is a phenomenally horrible choice. Your dice pool would have to be at least TWENTY SEVEN just to break even on average! Even with 8-again you'd need a dice pool of 11 or more to break even. This rule was obviously written by people who do not understand the mathematics behind the game's systems. (Incidentally, this is why the 5th dot of the Professional Training merit is not overpowered)
                  Yes, 9-again vs. +3 dice is a stupid choice.

                  But that's a fairly rare mistake. 9-again is usually much easier to get than that, and rarely comes at the explicit sacrifice of +3 dice. You need a very large dice-pool to even consider it, and it would still only be worth it below 28 dice if you needed more than average +1 successes anyway (which is a pretty insane situation where you need 9-11 successes on a single roll that badly).

                  Of course, getting 28+ dice on a roll isn't exactly impossible in the nWOD system either. Even for mortals without any stronger power than teamwork.

                  As well, the books are written by humans, who make mistakes. A person that writes a mathematically unsound rule (and an optional one at that, you never have to take that choice) is not inherently bad at math. It just means they made a mistake. If you were to label every RPG writer that's ever made a mechanical mistake "obviously [a person] who [does] not understand the mechanics." then every RPG designer is an incompetent boob and you should just give up on the hobby.

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                  • #10
                    We did clean this up a bit in GMC. There are a few times 9-again and 8-again come up, but they're rarely made as either/or choices with dice modifications.

                    For whatever it's worth, Hunter's Willpower rule got a pretty significant overhaul in Mortal Remains. There are definitely different scenarios where different choices can be better. But here's what I went with:

                    Risking Willpower

                    Within this update, risking Willpower works slightly different. You still may only risk Willpower once per scene. If the action fails, it’s automatically a dramatic failure. However, this does not give a Beat. Instead, it gives two Practical Beats (see p. XX). A successful action offers one Practical Beat (see p. XX), does not remove the Willpower point, and indeed refreshes one of the character’s spent Willpower –not to exceed their maximum dots. You can risk Willpower to choose from two of the following advantages:

                    • Add three dice to your dicepool.

                    • Your roll achieves exceptional success on three successes instead of five. Or, for a combat action, add one lethal (or bashing) damage to a successful attack.

                    • Roll with the 9-again quality on your roll. If you already have 9-again, roll with 8-again. You cannot choose this option if you already have 8-again.

                    • Remove the 10-again quality from any contested roll s against your action.


                    David A Hill Jr
                    Freelance Writer
                    Independent Game Designer

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      Of course, getting 28+ dice on a roll isn't exactly impossible in the nWOD system either. Even for mortals without any stronger power than teamwork.
                      Only in Mage games with uncapped dice bonuses from spells have I seen dice pools that high.

                      As well, the books are written by humans, who make mistakes. A person that writes a mathematically unsound rule (and an optional one at that, you never have to take that choice) is not inherently bad at math. It just means they made a mistake. If you were to label every RPG writer that's ever made a mechanical mistake "obviously [a person] who [does] not understand the mechanics." then every RPG designer is an incompetent boob and you should just give up on the hobby.
                      I never said they were an incompetent boob. I said they're someone who doesn't understand the mathematics behind the game's systems. And they are (were). That mistake was one which is very obvious once you quantify 9-again, which that person obviously did not do.

                      In the vast majority of situations, dice pools don't go beyond 10, 15 at the most. You've gotta have a seriously min-maxed player to ever reach 20 dice, nevertheless 28. However, the book flat-out says that 9-again is better than +3 if you're relying on multiple successes and have a dice pool high enough to guarantee success. This is something that will not be true for the vast majority of games.

                      Originally posted by MachineIV View Post
                      • Roll with the 9-again quality on your roll. If you already have 9-again, roll with 8-again. You cannot choose this option if you already have 8-again.

                      • Remove the 10-again quality from any contested roll s against your action.
                      If you're choosing two options from the list then I guess it's not a big deal that all of these options are so weak, but it still strikes me as a noob trap to include +3 Dice with them when it will, except in very very obscure scenarios, be a must-have choice.
                      Last edited by Strill; 01-04-2014, 01:32 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Strill View Post
                        It irks me when I see effects that apply the 9-again quality with fluff to suggest that this is a significant bonus
                        Where does it suggest that's a significant bonus? Merits that offer it are usually 1 or 2 dots. 9-again weapons aren't exactly fabled weapons of doom, they're sledgehammers and axes and some of the guns you can buy legally with no problem, even in countries with stricter gun control laws.
                        Last edited by nofather; 01-04-2014, 01:53 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Strill View Post
                          Only in Mage games with uncapped dice bonuses from spells have I seen dice pools that high.
                          And?

                          What you have and have not seen has nothing to do with what you can do with the system.

                          Take, for example, a mortal expert sniper. So we've got 16 dice just form Att+Skill+Weapon. FS: Sniping lets him up that to 23 and reduce most penalties to zero. His equally awesomely expert spotter then gets 14 dice to help out, probably with 9-again but that doesn't matter; the average teamwork bonus to the shooter will still be ~5. Boom 28 dice.

                          Of course, not using FS: Sniping 5 and reducing back down to 23 dice would also be mathematically stupid, but the point stands that 28 dice is not out of human range. The the sniper is easily going to have 9-again on top of all of that without the Hunter WP option as well, but that's also not a knock against how high you can go.

                          Or for a slightly less "extreme" example:

                          Two skilled scientists (lets say the lead with 8 base dice and the second with 7) with a team of 10 less skill assistants (5 dice each) in a well founded and outfitted lab (+3 dice). An average teamwork roll is going to generate 41 dice for the roll.

                          Teamwork. It's a rocking thing. Especially in HtV where you can get access to teamwork that doesn't have everyone using the same Att+Skill combo.

                          So yeah, just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it is out of bounds.

                          I never said they were an incompetent boob. I said they're someone who doesn't understand the mathematics behind the game's systems.
                          I fail to see the difference besides you not wanting to accept that you're being needlessly harsh. By your standards I don't understand the rules behind the English language because I've made some spelling and grammatical errors.

                          You're still using a single mistake as evidence of absolute lack of understanding.

                          However, the book flat-out says that 9-again is better than +3 if you're relying on multiple successes and have a dice pool high enough to guarantee success. This is something that will not be true for the vast majority of games.
                          Actually it is true in theory. You're using average successes as why 9-again is worth less than +X dice. You're not looking at the odds of getting above average successes. I admit this is much harder to calculate, but it is fairly simple to get the basics behind it.

                          If you're choosing two options from the list then I guess it's not a big deal that all of these options are so weak, but it still strikes me as a noob trap to include +3 Dice with them when it will, except in very very obscure scenarios, be a must-have choice.
                          What, exactly, is weak about reducing exceptional success to 3, the ability to upgrade 9-again to 8-again (9-again is really easy to get without this), or the ability to remove 10-again from your opponent in a contested roll?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

                            And?

                            What you have and have not seen has nothing to do with what you can do with the system.

                            Take, for example, a mortal expert sniper. So we've got 16 dice just form Att+Skill+Weapon. FS: Sniping lets him up that to 23 and reduce most penalties to zero. His equally awesomely expert spotter then gets 14 dice to help out, probably with 9-again but that doesn't matter; the average teamwork bonus to the shooter will still be ~5. Boom 28 dice.

                            Of course, not using FS: Sniping 5 and reducing back down to 23 dice would also be mathematically stupid, but the point stands that 28 dice is not out of human range. The the sniper is easily going to have 9-again on top of all of that without the Hunter WP option as well, but that's also not a knock against how high you can go.

                            Or for a slightly less "extreme" example:

                            Two skilled scientists (lets say the lead with 8 base dice and the second with 7) with a team of 10 less skill assistants (5 dice each) in a well founded and outfitted lab (+3 dice). An average teamwork roll is going to generate 41 dice for the roll.

                            Teamwork. It's a rocking thing. Especially in HtV where you can get access to teamwork that doesn't have everyone using the same Att+Skill combo.

                            So yeah, just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean it is out of bounds.
                            And in these cases, the question becomes: What possible challenge could you be facing that would require more than what you already have? Moreover why should such specific scenarios be catered to as part of a basic rule?

                            ​You're grasping at straws. I can guarantee you that these examples were not what the book's author had in mind when they wrote that rule, and making rules specifically to accommodate scenarios this rare is just cluttering the game with unnecessary rules.

                            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                            Actually it is true in theory. You're using average successes as why 9-again is worth less than +X dice. You're not looking at the odds of getting above average successes. I admit this is much harder to calculate, but it is fairly simple to get the basics behind it.
                            No, I'm in fact AM comparing them by both average successes and increased chance of an exceptional success. 9-again is crap either way.


                            What, exactly, is weak about reducing exceptional success to 3
                            Nothing, which is why I didn't quote that part.
                            the ability to upgrade 9-again to 8-again (9-again is really easy to get without this), or the ability to remove 10-again from your opponent in a contested roll?
                            These are all on par with 9-again. 9-again to 8-again is a 15% Success Rate bonus, and removing 10-again is a -10% penalty to your opponent's roll.
                            Last edited by Strill; 01-05-2014, 04:41 AM.

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                            • #15
                              So 8 and 9 again are less significant bonuses than additional dice. So? Still more of a significant bonus than no bonus.


                              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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