Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Fabulous Dice Rolling Doohickey

Repeat after me... DICE and MINIATURES do not mix. At least from a physics perspective!

Imagine the scene. You're playing a tabletop miniatures wargame, or a board game whose pieces are miniature soldiers, monsters, tanks, planes, ships, or wooden blocks. The time comes for your opponent to perform his moves or resolve his attacks. He grabs a handful of colorful dice and then, to your utmost horror, the idiotic lunkhead hurls those cubes across the table mowing down scads of tiny soldiers. After viewing the carnage, the players frequently start asking questions like "exactly where was my goblin skirmisher unit located?", or "how many strength points did this block of English Knights have left?", or "wasn't my giant robot standing on top of a hill when he attacked rather than lying in the lava pool next to your Obsidian guards?".

If you're a miniatures gamer, it's even worse. Let's say that you have spent 6 hours carefully painting your Swamp Troll hero, or spent $50 on eBay to buy an expertly painted Knight mounted atop a charging Gryphon. The models look awesome. And then the Dice Jackass strikes and rolls ten D6's into your tiny works of art, chipping the paint off or snapping a weapon in the process. I can feel my hands clenching and an irresistable urge to strangle someone as I'm writing this.

In my house, rolling dice recklessly across the game table is a NO-NO. That's why, for any game where miniatures or blocks are used and handfuls of dice are going to be rolled, I pull out my trusty dice tower.

On my 43rd birthday (a year ago), my lovely wife satisfied my inner geek and got me a very cool looking dice tower from Vixen Tor Games. My tower is one of the earlier Deluxe models called the Dice Dungeon. I've included a picture of it here. The tower is attractive and I'm very happy with it, being a big fan of fantasy/horror themes in general. It's also functional and works great. You can drop a big pile of dice in the thing and they come out fast and safely contained in a nice little wooden tray. Even the sound that the dice make when they bounce off the wooden ramps inside the tower is fun to hear.

My only complaint about the tower is a very small, niggling one. Sometimes when the dice roll into the tray, they nestle into the corner or side of the output tray and you cannot see the dice result unless you're sitting/standing right next to the tower. It's really a minor quibble, and not certainly something that would prevent me from buying the tower. In fact, some day, I'd like to get a 2nd one! A second tower would be especially handy for 2-player miniatures games played on large 4 foot by 6 foot tables (or bigger).

Vixen Tor makes the nicest towers of anyone I've seen to-date. They're not cheap by any means, running about $40 for most models. If memory serves me correctly, they used to be more expensive than that and I'm pretty sure that the price has dropped since last year. There are other cheaper alternatives such as the plastic "Dice Boot", but as they say, you get what you pay for. The Vixen Tor towers are just so much cooler. And let's face it, what gamer doesn't want to show off his or her cool toys or gadgets sometimes?

Anyway, if you're a minis gamer or a board gamer who plays lots of mini-based or block games such as Warhammer, Blood Bowl, Warmaster, HeroScape, Battlelore, Tide of Iron, Hammer of the Scots, Wizard Kings, Axis & Allies, War of the Ring, etc., then do yourself a favor and get a dice tower. The little men on your game board will no longer shudder when the time comes for some spastic gamer to roll his meat-hook full of six siders!!

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