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"Die" redirects here. For the process of putting a creature in the graveyard from the battlefield, see Dies.

Rolling a Die
Unsanctioned die
Mechanic
Introduced Unglued
Last used Secret Lair Commander Deck: Angels: They're Just Like Us but Cooler and with Wings
Storm Scale 5[1]
Statistics
174 cards
{W} 5.7% {U} 13.2% {B} 10.3% {R} 19.5% {G} 13.2% {W/U} 0.6% {B/R} 0.6% {R/G} 0.6% {R/W} 1.1% {artifact symbol} 34.5% {land symbol} 0.6%
Other Symbols
MTGA D20
Scryfall Search
fulloracle:"(-sided|d20|d4|d6|d8|d10|d12)"

Dice rolling is a mechanic that creates a random effect in game play.[2]

Description

Dice rolling formerly was not part of the official Magic rules for the regular game, but had been used in supplemental sets and was considered for Battle for Zendikar.[3][4] With its introduction in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms it became a black-bordered mechanic.

Cards refer to dice rolling in two different ways, depending on whether they are set in the Dungeons & Dragons IP or not. Non-D&D cards always refer to rolling an "N-sided die", where N is the highest value of the dice. Cards using the D&D IP always refer to rolling a "dN", where N is the highest value of the dice, in keeping with the standard D&D terminology.

Types of N-sided die

Magic currently uses the following "N-sided dice":

  • Four-sided die
  • Six-sided die

Types of dN

Magic currently uses the following "dN":

  • d4
  • d6
  • d8
  • d10
  • d12
  • d20

History

Unglued

The rolling of a regular six-sided die as a mechanic was used on Magic cards in Unglued, and proved to be unpopular.[5][6] Ever since, bringing specifically six-sided dice to black border is something R&D has consciously chosen not to do.[7]

Planechase

Planar die

The planar die

Planechase introduced the six-sided planar die, that features the planeswalker symbol {PW} on one face, the chaos symbol {CHAOS} on another and four blank faces.[8]

In a Planechase game, the active player can roll the planar die as a special action any time they could cast a sorcery. The first roll per turn costs {0}, the second costs {1}, the third costs {2}, and so on.

Fractured Powerstone is a card that allows to roll the planar die. It is also the first black-bordered card which refers to rolling a die.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Planar Die
A specialized six-sided die needed to play the Planechase casual variant. See rule 901.3.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Chaos Ability
An ability of a plane card that triggers “Whenever chaos ensues” in the Planechase casual variant. See rule 311.7.

Battle for Zendikar

One of the mechanics that was considered for the Eldrazi in Battle for Zendikar was hedronize. Hedronize was a keyword action where the player rolled an hedron-shaped (eight-sided) die to get an effect. Thus, hedronize had eight abilities – you roll a die and you do one of eight things (gain life, produce a spawn, etc.). The rules card that would have come in the pack would list them. The mechanic didn’t play well because it was a little too chaotic.[9][10][11] Nonetheless, there were 8-sided Hedron dice given out at PAX.[12]

Amonkhet

AKH D4

Four-sided "lazotep" dice

Players who attended Amonkhet prerelease were rewarded pyramid-shaped (four-sided) "lazotep" dice for each trial they completed. These were also awarded in the Magic League. The dice (or counters) could be used to keep track of -1/-1 counter on their cards.[13]

Unstable

Sword of Dungeons & Dragons from Unstable makes a cross-over with Dungeons & Dragons and uses a D20 (twenty-sided die). Other cards again used dice rolling with regular dice. Mark Rosewater had reevaluated dice rolling and had decided that it could be popular if R&D was careful about how the cards were designed.[14][15] In Unstable, blue manipulates dice. Black magnifies dice. Red rolls the most dice. And green cares about what is rolled. White has a little dice rolling but doesn’t mechanically interact with it. What colors you draft affects how you may interact with dice rolling.[16]

Unsanctioned

Dice rolling was also used in Unsanctioned.[17] In addition, Pippa, Duchess of Dice creates green Die creature tokens with power and toughness each equal to the result of a die roll.

D&D crossovers

AFR Bundle D20

AFR Bundle d20

Inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons-game, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms introduced dice rolling in black-bordered sets.[18][19] The bundle of the set come with a D20, a twenty-sided die. This is the signature die of Dungeons & Dragons, and also the only sort of die connected to the main set. Cards that ask you to Roll a d20 have a results table to show you what may happen.[20][21] Except for Delina, Wild Mage and Treasure Chest, the dice rolling is partitioned with the lower bracket as 1-9, and the upper bracket is either 10-20 or 10-19 with 20 as a special powered version. The baseline effect at 1-9 is slightly improved in the 10-20 variant, usually by a unit of one (an extra token, a higher value of scry, another life) and very few directly affect combat math. Treasure Chest remains the only card to penalize a natural 1, though The Deck of Many Things subtracts from the roll and penalizes 0 or less.

The Commander Decks released with the Forgotten Realms set utilizes the other commonly used dice in Dungeons & Dragons. Those are the other Platonic solids and a pentagonal trapezohedron which is a 10-sided shape. As the d20, these dice are typically abbreviated by attaching their face count to the letter "d": d4, d6, d8, d10, and d12. Note that only a D&D set would write it that way. The default is “#-sided die”.[22][23] More cards have the 15+ partition, but also add a value, making them close to skill checks in D&D gameplay.

D20 dice-rolling also appeared in the follow-up set Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate.[24] The cycle of Ancient Metallic Dragons each have a saboteur ability that uses the number rolled on a d20, which made for an interesting design challenge for effects that could scale to 20.

Due to its connection with D&D and its use in both Dungeons & Dragons sets, rolling a d20 has a Storm Scale rating of 5.[25]

Unfinity

Unfinity heavily featured rolling with six-sided dies, with the following variations:[26][27]

  • Rerolling — When you roll dice, sometimes you roll poorly, so some effects let you reroll the dice to see if you can get something better.
  • Additional die rolling — These are effects that let you roll an additional die or dice when you roll a die, and then allow you to pick which roll you prefer.
  • Die adjusting — These are effects that let you add or subtract 1 to a die's roll. And yes, they can allow you to get die rolls of 0 and 7.
  • Die triggering — These are triggered effects that happen when you roll certain numbers.
  • Die rolling to see if an effect happens — Some effects don't happen unless you roll a certain outcome. The Attraction artifacts use it to slow the turnwise advantage that would otherwise accumulate, with none triggering on 1 and all triggering on 6.
  • Die banking — These are effects where, after you roll the dice, you put the rolled dice on the cards to signify what's been rolled. Sometimes this is used to dictate how the permanent is affected, sometimes it tells you when and how other effects happen, and sometimes it even lets you use those dice rolls for other purposes.
  • Dice thresholds — These are effects that get triggered if you roll a certain number of dice in a turn, usually three.
  • Different outcomes — Different die rolls can sometimes affect exactly what a card does, in effect, and not just in numerical value.
  • Roll a die, and only some results produce effects — This was a new vein of design discovered for Unfinity. Instead of requiring effects that care about die rolls to use a chart or scale, some of the cards have you roll a die and only have a mechanical outcome if you roll certain numbers.
  • Additional outcomes — Some die rolls will cause additional things to happen to the effect that calls for a die roll.

The biggest difference between Unfinity and past die-rolling sets is that, previously, sets tended to have a theme that rolling higher is generally better. Because Unfinity is playing around with different types of die-rolling effects, what die rolls are better isn't as consistent. More cards reward you for rolling a 6 than not, but there are plenty of cards where what you want to roll can be a number other than 6.

Unfinity even features cards called Six-Sided Die and Pair o' Dice Lost.

Secret Lair Commander Deck: Angels: They're Just Like Us but Cooler and with Wings

Arden Angel, formerly an exclusive designed-for-digital card from the Magic: The Gathering Dreamcast game, was included in the Secret Lair Commander Deck: Angels: They're Just Like Us but Cooler and with Wings. To work with modern rules its ability was changed to use a four-sided dice, retroactively making it the first card in Magic to do so.

Universes Beyond

As of 2024, six-sided dice rolling can also featured on Universes Beyond cards (e.g. Mr. House, President and CEO and Luck Bobblehead).

Rules

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

  • 706. Rolling a Die
    • 706.1. An effect that instructs a player to roll a die will specify what kind of die to roll and how many of those dice to roll.
      • 706.1a Such an effect may refer to an “N-sided die,” “N-sided dice,” or one or more “dN,” where N is a positive integer. In those cases, the die must have N equally likely outcomes, numbered from 1 to N. For example, a d20 is a twenty-sided die with possible outcomes from 1 to 20.
      • 706.1b Players may agree to use an alternate method for rolling a die, including a digital substitute, as long as the method used has the same number of equally likely outcomes as the die specified in the instruction.
    • 706.2. After the roll, the number indicated on the top face of the die before any modifiers is the natural result. The instruction may include modifiers to the roll which add to or subtract from the natural result. Modifiers may also come from other sources. After considering all applicable modifiers, the final number is the result of the die roll.
      • 706.2a Modifiers may be optional and/or have associated costs. If a modifier has an associated mana cost, the player who rolled has the chance to activate mana abilities before applying it.
      • 706.2b If two or more effects are attempting to modify the natural result, the player who rolled chooses one to apply, following these steps: First, consider any effects that modify the result of a die roll by rerolling that die. Second, consider any effects that modify the result of a die roll by increasing or decreasing that result by a specified amount.
    • 706.3. Some abilities that instruct a player to roll one or more dice include a results table.
      • 706.3a The results table appears as a list or as a chart with multiple striations. Each list item or striation includes possible results and an effect associated with those results. The possible results indicated could be a single number, a range of numbers with two endpoints in the form “N1–N2,” or a range with a single endpoint in the form “N+.” Each one means “If the result was in this range, [effect].” After a die roll, use the result to determine which effect listed on the results table happens, if any.
      • 706.3b An instruction to roll one or more dice, any instructions to modify that roll printed in the same paragraph, any additional instructions based on the result of the roll, and the associated results table are all part of one ability.
      • 706.3c Some effects in results charts include the text “Roll again.” This additional roll uses the same kind of and number of dice originally called for, including any applicable modifiers.
    • 706.4. Some abilities that instruct a player to roll one or more dice do not include a results table. The text of those abilities will indicate how to use the results of the die rolls, if at all.
    • 706.5. One card (Celebr-8000) has an ability that instructs a player to roll two dice and has an additional effect if that player “rolled doubles.” A player has rolled doubles if the result of each of those rolls is equal to the other.
    • 706.6. If a player is instructed to ignore a roll, that roll is considered to have never happened. No abilities trigger because of the ignored roll, and no effects apply to that roll. If that player was instructed to ignore the lowest roll and multiple results are tied for the lowest, the player chooses one of those rolls to be ignored.
    • 706.7. In a Planechase game, rolling the planar die will cause any ability that triggers whenever a player rolls one or more dice to trigger. However, any effect that refers to a numerical result of a die roll, including ones that exchange the results of that roll with another value or compare the results of that roll to other rolls or to a given number, ignores the rolling of the planar die. See rule 901, “Planechase.”
    • 706.8. One card (Centaur of Attention) has an ability that instructs a player to roll dice and “store” those results on it and another ability that allows a player to reroll any number of those results.
      • 706.8a To store the result of a die roll on a permanent means to note both the kind of die rolled and the result of that roll. That noted information is considered a “stored result” of that permanent, and the result is the “value” of that stored result.
      • 706.8b To reroll one or more stored results of a permanent, roll one of the kind of die noted for each of them. If one kind of die is noted for more than one of those results, roll that many of that kind of die. The results you rerolled stop being stored results, and you store the results of each of the new die rolls on that permanent.
      • 706.8c If a permanent has an ability that stores results on it and another ability that refers to the stored results, those abilities are linked. (See rule 607.2e.)

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Roll a d20
To roll a twenty-sided die. Similarly, a d4 is a four-sided die, a d6 is a six-sided die, and so on. See rule 706, “Rolling a Die.”

From the Tournament Rules (May 13, 2024—Outlaws of Thunder Junction)

  • 3.9 Die Rolling
    Some game actions use a die roll to determine their outcome. Any method may be used to simulate this as long as all results have an equal chance of occurring. For example, using a 20-sided die to simulate a 6-sided die by dividing by 3 and rounding up (rerolling on 19 or 20) is acceptable. Dice with similar numbers clumped together (such as a spindown life tracker) may not be used for these actions.

    Dice must have clear and easy to read values, and not be so large as to be disruptive when rolled. They must be rolled from a discernable height. Dice that leave the playing surface after landing, become mixed with similar dice, or do not land flat are ignored and rerolled.

    Players are expected to be clear about why they are rolling a die. A player who wishes to respond to a die roll is expected to prevent the rolling player from taking action, but the rolling player cannot rush through to preempt responses. A die roll is complete once the result is visible to the opponent.

    Some actions may require multiple dice to be rolled. If additional rolls would have no impact on the game, the player skips them. If a player rolls too many dice at once, all those dice are ignored and the correct number of dice are rolled.

Rulings

  • Each die is identified by the number of faces it has. For example, a d20 is a twenty-sided die. Each die must have equally likely outcomes and the roll must be fair. Although physical dice are recommended, digital substitutes are allowed, provided they have the same number of equally likely outcomes as specified in the original roll instruction.
  • An ability that tells you to roll a die will also specify what to do with the result of that roll. Most often, this is in the form of a "results table" in the card text.
  • The instruction to roll a die and the effect that occurs because of the result are all part of the same ability. Players do not get the chance to respond to the ability after knowing the result of the roll.
  • An effect that says "choose a target, then roll a d20" or similar still uses the normal process of putting an ability on the stack and resolving it. Choosing targets is part of putting the ability on the stack and rolling the d20 happens later, as the ability resolves.
  • Some effects may modify the result of a die roll. This may be part of the instruction to roll a die or it may come from other cards. Anything that references the "result" of a die roll is looking for the result after these modifications. Anything that is looking for the "natural result" is looking for the number shown on the face of the die before these modifications.
  • Some abilities, like that of Pixie Guide and Barbarian Class, replace rolling a die with rolling extra dice and ignoring the lowest roll. The ignored rolls are not considered for the effect that instructed you to roll a die and do not cause abilities to trigger. Once you determine which dice count, the extra dice are never rolled.
  • Some effects instruct you to roll again. This uses the same number and type of dice as the original roll, and that roll will use the same set of possible outcomes.
  • While playing Planechase, rolling the planar die will cause any ability that triggers whenever a player rolls one or more dice to trigger. However, any effect that refers to a numerical result will ignore the rolling of the planar die.

Dice interaction

Eternal
Acorn

Gallery

References

  1. Mark Rosewater (August 5, 2023). "Is die rolling still a 10 on the storm scale?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  2. Jess Dunks (July 12, 2021). "Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Release Notes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (September 05, 2015). "I was under the impression that black border doesn't roll dice.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  4. Mark Rosewater (September 05, 2015). "Do you see it happening anytime soon?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Mark Rosewater (May 04, 2009). "Kind Acts of Randomness". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (December 15, 2016). "What has kept die rolling out of black border Magic?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  7. Mark Rosewater (June 08, 2017). "Do you think Jumbo Imp could get black bordered in some form?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. magicthegathering.com staff (August 10, 2009). "Planechase Rules Revealed". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Mark Rosewater (August 31, 2015). "What were some mechanics for BFZ that just floundered?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  10. Mark Rosewater (September 05, 2015). "What IS the hedronize mechanic?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  11. Mark Rosewater (September 01, 2015). "What kind of things hedronize could do?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  12. Mark Rosewater (September 05, 2015). "I'd still really love to get some Hedron dice.". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  13. Preview Your AKH Event Kits
  14. Mark Rosewater (November 20, 2017). "The Un-Ending Saga, Part 3". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Mark Rosewater (November 22, 2017). "Unstable FAQAWASLFAQPAFTIDAWABIAJTBT". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Mark Rosewater (March 11, 2018). "How do you keep each color from feeling monotonous with every deck doing everything". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. Mark Rosewater (February 25, 2020). "Unsanctioned FAQ". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Mark Rosewater (July 12, 2021). "D&D-esign, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Mark Rosewater (August 9, 2021). "Odds & Ends: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Matt Tabak (June 24, 2021). "Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Corey Bowen (July 1, 2021). "Quest for the Dodecahedron". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Mark Rosewater (July 9, 2021). "Hey mark ive got some dice related questions for...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  23. Mark Rosewater (June 26, 2022). "Hi mark if a card in a theoretical upcoming...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  24. Mark Rosewater (May 17, 2022). "First Out of Baldur's Gate". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Mark Rosewater (December 29, 2021). "So in February 2020, you mentioned that die rolling was a 10...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  26. Matt Tabak (September 20, 2022). "Unfinity Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Mark Rosewater (September 26, 2022). "Making Space, Part 2". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.

External links

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