Tuesday 14 August 2012

Dice! Thousands of them!


Hello.  My name is Hugh and I'm a dice collector.  It started when I was a child; about the same time that I began to play wargames.  Now I have more than I'll ever need...

Let's leave out dice games, at least from this article.  Yes, I have a fair number of these, from straightforward sets of poker dice to a modest collection of collectable dragon dice (and much else in between).  However, for now I'd like to talk about general-purpose dice.

The "Ready Box"

This is my "ready box".  It contains all the dice I need for the various miniatures games I play, either at home or at my local games club.  Of course, it's about 5 times bigger than it needs to be and contains a certain number of fancy dice that never get used in "anger".  These do have a purpose, though: if the box is left uncapped at the edge of the table then it tends to attract interest from some of the younger club members.  Once they've come over to have a look, they'll often stay for a while to observe whichever game I'm hosting.  And who knows, they might then decide that it looks like fun and want to join in, if they can get over their bafflement at the lack of Space Marines.  This isn't quite as partisan as it might sound; my official title at the Helensburgh club is "Gamesmaster" and it's my job to involve the shy, the newcomers and the undecided.

Contents of the Ready Box

So, how many of the dice in the box do I really use?  It depends on the game, of course, but roughly speaking, this many:
  • Multiple small d6s in 2 different colours are useful in ATZ (especially for melee), for Full Thrust and for the Rules with No Name.  From memory, most other games I play typically use only 1 or 2d6 at a time.
  • Direction dice are very useful in ATZ when spawning new zombies.  I measure 12" from the spawn point in the direction indicated and place the new figure there.  To save time, if the indicated location is impossible (off the table or in the middle of impassable terrain, for example) then I just select the diametrically opposite direction instead of re-rolling the dice.
  • Percentile dice are something I use only occasionally; a few rule sets need them.  Tooth and Claw springs to mind.

The Home Collection

Most of my dice don't travel much.  Instead they are kept in dark boxes at home, only to be brought out on rare occasions when I feel the need to gloat.  They're all mine, preciousss.  Oh, yes...mine!

However, today I'm feeling generous and I'll let you have a look.  Here's a sampler:

Dice with varying numbers of sides:

 From left to right, top to bottom:
  • d3, d4, d5, d6, d7, d8
  • d10, d12, d14, d16, d20, d24
  • d30, d100

Dice with unusual distributions:

- On the left are some weighted dice.  These are watched carefully when they come out of the packet, so as to make sure they don't get mixed up with any regular dice!
- On the right, from top to bottom:
  • Average dice (2,3,3,4,4,5)
  • Demon dice (1,1,2,2,3,3)
  • Extreme dice (1,1,2,5,6,6)

Dice with unusual shapes:

 Casino dice, bouncy dice, "bone" dice, round dice.

Double Dice:

Translucent dice enclosing another dice with the same number of faces: 2d10, 2d12, 2d6.

Decision dice:

Where to go, what to drink, how to spend the evening, what to have for dinner.

 Dice with unusual faces:

Artillery dice, weather dice, mood dice, direction dice, blank dice.

Dice made of unusual materials:

Wood, rubber, stainless steel, pottery.  The rubber dice lights up when it is thrown.  The steel dice would probably kill someone if thrown hard enough (it's very heavy).  The pottery dice might break if thrown; I've never dared!

Barrel dice:

Just to show that a dice doesn't have to be a regular polyhedron.  d4, d6, d6, d8, d12, d20, d%.

Big dice

There's a regular 10mm at the bottom of the picture to give the scale.  The digi-die is electronic; you press the button rather than throwing it and the lights show the result.

And finally...

Fluffy dice.  A present from my loving wife, who thinks that I'm bonkers.  They roll really poorly...

So, what's in your collection?  Do you stick to "working" dice for games, or do you have a vanity collection as well?  Do you call a single one "a die" or "a dice"?  It's not a subject I've seen discussed much by gamers, yet it is central to our activities.


  1. What a great collection !
    I had some unusual d6's from a football board game called "Wembley", many years ago, they were colour coded(for divisions andwhether youwerplaying "home"or away"; they had varying numbers on them.
    I also remember the first percentile dice to hit the market (probably for Wild West Skirmish and they were awful btw)
    Thanks for re-awakening some happy memories !

    1. I'm guessing that this is the game you remember: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2721/road-to-wembley . It's not one I've heard of, but I can imagine what it might have been like!

    2. It certainly is, my version was the Ariel one, third in the list. - the game itself was rubbish, but kept me amused for hours.

      Some recent games (Doom the board game for example) have dice which have multi-symbols on them iirc.

  2. That could actually be fun to gather the dice.
    Block dice, artillery dice, sustained fire dice....

    1. Well, some of the good things about collecting dice are that they are relatively cheap, don't take up much space and provide quite a talking point!

  3. Nice collection. Like the 2D12 dice within dice never seen any like that before! I only have standard d6s, D10s some little artillery and scatter dice from GW thats about it really. there are some spiffy dice sets out there

    1. It sounds as if you have more a dedicated gamer's set of dice. I expect that you actually use most of yours, though. After all, when will I ever use a d14?!

  4. Love the double dices! :O

    As for dice or die, I try to use "die" as I've heard it is correct.

    As far as my "collection" goes, I have just some wermacht and US dice for FOW (from their store, 6 is changed for balkan cross or star), 6 small D6 from WH40k starter, few D10s for NMRIH and something I am sure you dont have...a unique D6 with Triglav (Three-peak, mountaint with 3 peaks) instead of 6, that our gaming club made so they can roll internationals with style! :D

    1. Double dice look pretty, but they're really not very practical to use!

      It's always nice to have something unique, isn't it. Club dice are a very good idea.

  5. I thought I had a large collection of assorted dice but you are in a different league to me! I have d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and d30 plus scatter dice and average dice. I also have some d6 with the numbers 1,2 and 3 on twice so I can use them as d3. I've never seen some of your more unusual dice before. What a great post. Very entertaining, sir!

    1. I'm thrilled that you liked my post, but perhaps a little nervous to discover that I may be one of the more extreme dice collectors! I had always assumed that there were others with just as many as me, if not more :-) .