Rolling the Dice on Kickstarter

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I’ve backed enough Kickstarter projects by now to fully understand that it’s not really a “pre-order” site. You’re supporting a concept, a product, or an idea, and hopefully said concept, product, or idea comes to fruition. As a wiser person than I once said, “You pays your money and you takes your chances.”

Indeed, of all the Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, only two have, thus far, delivered, though I’m not worried quite yet. I knew the lead times would be long, and my investment is hardly large. I received my most recent Kickstarter backer rewards just last week, a set of four Precision Machined Dice, and the results are quite stunning.

Precision Machined Dice

These anodized aluminum dice were machined from solid blocks of aluminum and have significant heft (and sharp corners). They’re not really practical for actually rolling, but they make lovely display pieces. I consider them propitiations to whatever forces control the flow of luck in the universe.

Thankfully, though, the creator of these dice, Amber Rix, has launched another Kickstarter project for Precision Machined Metal Gaming Dice, a little smaller (at either 16mm or ½”) than the casino sized dice from the original project and with rounded edges. As with the original project, they will be available in a variety of metals and, for the aluminum, a variety of colors. Plus, looks like you could roll them without damaging a table, though you’d still likely put your glass dice cup at risk. The creator of these projects has also mooted the possibility of metal polyhedrons as a future Kickstarter project. Yes, please!

Because at a certain point in every gamer’s life, you have to ask: Why roll plastic?

Game Artifacts: The Twenty-Sided d10

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Twenty sides, ten numbers.

While inventorying my game collection, I opened up a recently acquired copy of Fantasy Games Unlimited’s solitaire-friendly Star Explorer (1982) to verify the contents.

Map? Check. Countersheet? Check. Log sheets and rulebook? Check. Two six-sided dice? Check. One twenty-sided d10? Um, check?

I’ve worked with all manner of odd polyhedron in my time, from oblong d3s (which have more than three faces) to those hundred-sided “Zocchihedrons” that never quite stop rolling. But a twenty-sider that serves as a d10? New one by me. Silly me—I’ve always used a ten-sided die for a one to ten random distribution.

The typical twenty-sided die, in the shape of an icosahedron, caries the numbers one through twenty, one number per face. The twenty-sider in Star Explorer carries the numbers zero through nine, each number appearing on two faces.

The oddity of this die required special rules for its use in Star Explorer:

1.2 Game Equipment and Scale

[…]

6) Dice. Two six-sided dice and one twenty-sided die are included. The twenty-sided die is labelled 0-9 twice. When a roll of 1D10 is required by the rules, players should roll the twenty-sided die, treating a roll of 0 as a roll of 10. When a roll of 1D20 is required by the rules, players should roll the twenty-sided die and a six-sided die. If the six-sided die roll is 1, 2, or 3, the twenty-sided die is read from 1 to (1)0. If the six-sided roll is 4, 5, 6, the twenty-sided roll is read from 11 to (2)0, creating a range from one to twenty. (Players also have the option of coloring in one set of numbers on the twenty-sided die with a fine point felt-tipped marker and reading the colored numbers as 11-20, while the uncolored numbers are read 1-10.)

Ostensibly, providing a single twenty-sider (albeit with oddly numbered faces) to serve as both d10 and d20 proved less expensive than providing a separate d10 and d20. Indeed, SPI stopped providing any dice at all with their games at one point in the 1970’s, blaming the “world-wide petro-chemical shortage,” but likely owing to cost [1]. Whatever FGU’s reason, this little die provides for a great bit of rules verbiage, even if I will break out my own d20 and d10 when I play Star Explorer.

[1] Balkoski, Joseph. "The Perils of Youth: The Lighter Side of SPI." Strategy & Tactics: 128 (Origins 1989), 48-49.