I love dice. I love how they feel in my hand as I shake them; I love the anticipation that builds before letting them roll free. As far as random number generators go, dice have got to be the best.
There are six-sided dice, three-sided dice, 20-sided dice. Dice with numbers, dice with pips, custom dice with special symbols or words. Multicolored dice, dice in black and white.
Dice! Dice! Dice!
Because of the element of chance that they bring to the table, dice are frequently pooh-poohed by those gamers who seek to eliminate as much randomness from play as they can. Over Christmas break, I purchased Escape: Curse of the Temple with the thought that I could play with my family and friends over the holidays.
“You just roll dice?” my eurogame-loving brother asked, a tad dismissively.
“Yeah. You have to roll certain combinations in order to make your way through the temple,” I explained. “But there’s a time limit, so you have to roll as fast as you can.”
He was hesitant, but I dragged him to the table anyway.
“Escape!” boomed the game’s soundtrack/timer. And we were off. The sound of dice clattering on the tabletop was punctuated with squeals of joy and groans of frustration throughout the ten minutes of gameplay. The game ended with my cousin, Christina, trapped in the temple. We had lost.
“This is so dumb,” my brother laughed. “Let’s play again.” And again we did. Five more games that night alone. We added the curses and treasure modules, proceeded to lose some more rounds, and then win a few. It wasn’t until a few months later that I knew my brother had been won over. As we packed for a weekend visit at my sister and brother-in-law’s place, he asked me, “Can you bring Escape?” I smiled in triumph.
I love dice games. I love that dice can be the entirety of the game, such as in Yahtzee or craps. I love games that utilize dice in creative ways like using d4s as pyramids in Kemet, d6s as literal building blocks like in Blueprints, and even dicebuilding games like Quarriors! or Marvel Dice Masters. And I love games with custom dice. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I adore quality game components, and those wonderfully chunky, colorful dice from Seasons are among my absolute favorites.
Sure, dice bring randomness to gameplay. But they also bring excitement, tactility, and suspense. If you’ve played any sort of tabletop game before, odds are you’ve had a memorable experience with dice — whether it was a victorious moment when you rolled exactly what you needed, or a moment of utter calamity when you cursed your misfortune and the piece of plastic that caused it. If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! What are some of your dice-related memories?