Dice Hoarding: Accumulating Treasure

Why We Collect Dice

When I tell people I collect dice, they usually don‘t understand.  I’ve been speculating about why we collect dice – what are our reasons? I’ve identified some factors that compel people to collect. This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a glimpse into why we acquire so many dice.

Gotta Catch ‘em All

When I first began collecting dice, I thought “hey, I can just get them all.” I had this overwhelming Pokemon need to complete sets of different styles. It started with frosted and progressed from there. I’ve since backed way off because there are so many styles and brands, and the amount of dice companies producing unique products have increased even since I’ve joined the DMC. It’s much more realistic to focus on a single brand or even style. And it’s cheaper, if you’re going the Chessex route, to collect the in-print sets of a style. Even the most hardcore collectors in the group (Kevin Cook, Michael Schaffer) can’t get every single die ever made. Between casino dice, promotional d6s, polyhedral sets, board game dice, expensive artisan dice, and more… it’s just too overwhelming. But DMCers get the urge in us to finish collections, check item numbers off a list, and get all the dicey goodness they can.

Variety/Appearance

People are dynamic. We might pick favorite colors, styles, or types of dice, but many of us own a wide variety.  DMC members have different tastes and can collect on a spectrum of colors, styles, and shapes. That’s why you’ll see someone ask something like “I don’t own any purple dice – what do you recommend?” My first set I bought for myself was Chessex opaque grey. Grey is my favorite color, but I still buy sparkly dice, swirly dice, bright pink dice, etc. You know those gamers who have a single set of polyhedral and that’s it? They might have a set that fits them, but they can’t change sets based on mood.

Multiple Characters

People also collect dice for different characters.  For example, I’m a dungeon master in D&D. I might play with my black/red dice if my players are fighting demons. I could bring out teal Borealis for an underwater adventure. When I’m a player, I have 3-4 sets I’ll use for my wizard (and only my wizard); I use my Q-workshop dragons only for my dragon-slayer paladin. So we get an array of dice to represent out tastes, personalities, or character’s personalities.

We like Choosing Which We Are

Though individual dice collectors are more diverse than a single colorway or style, we still like identifying with a certain element or category. I’m in this Harry Potter house. I’m in that Game of Thrones house. I’d be this power ranger. I’m this character in Star Trek. We like to select something that represents us whether it’s a zodiac sign, Meyers Briggs test, or – that’s right – DICE! When the new Chessex test sets came out in 2018, I didn‘t want them all. I saw Marble Oxi-Copper and said “that one is me.” Even when I’m culling my collection, I said the frosted smoke and clear were the most “me.” So, wait… wouldn’t that be the opposite of collecting – just choosing one? Nope! Because I own several sets of Gamescience that are “me.” And maybe I pick an entire Chessex style that is “me.”

Happiness/Mental Health

This is more serious of a subject, but dice bring many of us happiness and stability. It’s a distraction to get online and look at dice pictures, to browse shops for dice, to ink dice, to sort dice, etc. Sometimes it’s a welcome distraction from serious mental health problems, and sometimes it’s a distraction from daily stress in life.  At a time when people plug into social media 24/7 and news can be depressing, it’s important to spend some of your plugged-in time with something pleasant. That’s why the DMC is so important – no religion, no politics, no tragedy – just a comforting space we try to keep drama free. Some DMCers have made substantial connections to other collectors. There are meet-ups at cons, and even friending other members can gain you lifelong friends.

Conclusion

Embrace the hobby! While keeping dice purchases reasonable and on-budget is important, it’s also important to keep yourself happy. Connecting with others in the DMC community is rewarding. So whether you‘re scratching the need for completion, considering color styles, or distracting yourself from everyday life, dice hoarding can be therapeutic! Do you collect for a different reason? Let us know in the comments!

photo credit: Michael Schäffer

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Dice Shipping Tips and Tricks

Before I joined the DMC, I barely ever shipped anything.  But after a few weeks in the DMC, I started doing trades and eventually some sales in the Dice Market group.  Since then, I’ve learned a lot about shipping dice.  I’m sure there’s more out there to learn, but here are some useful tips and advice for shipping dice out.

Keeping Costs Down

A great way to save costs is to keep dice in bubble mailers.  A common reason to use a smaller box instead of a mailer is to ship the cubes that dice like Chessex, Halfsies, and some Koplow come in.  If you’re doing a trade or just swapping with someone who has some extra boxes, you might ask to just send the dice and inserts (labels) without the box.  For example, I don’t keep my dice in boxes, so I’m fine with people shipping dice to me not in packaging.  Boxes make a difference in shipping costs due to weight, and they can often crack in shipping.

Another easy way to keep costs down when shipping is to hit up the dollar store – not Dollar General, but stores like the Dollar Tree where items are literally a dollar.  I tend to buy bubble mailers from there because they have packs of two for a dollar.  These cheap mailers are usually just a bit more padded than a regular envelope, but there are also usually bubble mailers (the ones here are usually bright red) for a dollar that are a little more secure. 

Tape can also be purchased from a dollar tree type store, but I caution you there.  I actually prefer to spend the money on a bit nicer packing tape just because I’m willing to spend a little more to avoid swearing at the tape as it peels off in thin fringes.  However, if you’re careful and patient, you can save some money buying tape at a dollar store, too.

Convenience

My post office is about 20 minutes from my house.  To avoid the drive when I don’t need to leave, I print out labels from PayPal.  It’s really not hard!  The only thing is that you’ll have to estimate weight if you don’t have a shipping scale.   If you ship often, it may be worth getting a shipping scale to get the weight exact.   MAKE SURE you 1) set it to first class, and 2) set the DATE to the appropriate day it’s getting picked up.  If you print it out at 11 o’clock at night, for example, make sure you change the date to the NEXT day.

Important:  You can print a shipping label from PayPal even if you didn’t use eBay and even if the recipient didn’t pay goods and services.  Just go to https://www.paypal.com/shiplabel/create/  

Traveling Dice Boxes and Other Flat Rate Shipments

If you’re mailing a lot of dice, flat rate boxes are an option.  I recommend putting the dice in a box and just having the address handy when you go to the post office.  Ask them to let you know how much it would be to mail in a regular box, and they’ll usually weigh it and give you a price.  That way you can opt for a flat rate box if it’s cheaper to flat rate box the shipment.  Sometimes it isn’t cheaper to do it that way.  But – handy tip – you can request that the post office drops off some flat rate boxes for free (usually in sets of 10).  It’s nice to have extras around sometimes!

Ship Securely!  

Protecting dice is key.  1) Do not ship dice loosely just in the mailer.  Put them in a zip bag, drawstring bag, or wrap them in plastic.  2) Consider wrapping everything in a plastic bag, especially if you’re shipping several sets.  These steps are to prevent dice from falling out if there’s damage to the box or mailer.  3) Take a picture of everything you’re sending.  4) Take a picture of the receipt from the post office.  These steps are in case something gets lost.

International Shipping

International shipping is awfully expensive. If you’re mailing even a few dice from the States to a European country, for example, it’s still going to run I’d guess between $12-15.  That’s why it’s worthwhile to trade in large bunches if sending overseas.  However, you can put a few d6s in a regular envelope.  Note that it’s high risk to do that.  They can get damaged easier, and you never know if they’re going to arrive safely or if they’ll have extra postage due upon arrival.  Do this at your own risk.

Side note about Australia:  Australia is the most expensive place I’ve ever shipped dice to.  So think critically before trading or selling with an Australian location.  And know that if someone quotes you a large price to ship to or from Australia – it’s not their fault.  It really is that high.  Yes, even for Kickstarters.  Yes, even for Australian-friendly KSes.  I’m sure there are some similar expensive locations in Eastern Europe and Asia.  Just be aware that even a small bubble mailer can cost upwards of $20.

Have some additional shipping tips?  Please share in the comments!

Gamescience Numbers Part 2: Paint Markers

Not to be overlooked, the first step of coloring in any Gamescience or precision edge numbered dice is to choose a color.  I find that asking for suggestions in the DMC can lead to ideas that never crossed my mind.  But then, every once in a while I get a set that inspires me enough, and no suggestions are required.  So for my discussion on inking Gamescience, I’ll be showing some examples of inking an orange set with a couple of stray green d20s.

Cleaning the Dice

I have a confession to make.  I don’t clean my dice before I ink them.  I know it’s a common practice in painting miniatures as well as dice inking.  But the only time I’ve cleaned dice before inking them was with a visibly dirty old bunch of Windmill dice.  Otherwise, I’ve never bothered.  So while some dice-inking veterans would start with this step, know that it isn’t a dire requirement.  It honestly has to do with your own preference and how clean the dice are to begin with.  If you do decide to ink them, the preferred method seems to be lukewarm water and dish soap then setting them out to dry.

Tools of the Inking Trade

One of the most common questions in the DMC are “what do you ink dice with?”  As you may have seen in Part 1 of this series, even crayons will work.  So I encourage anyone wondering that question to instead think “what do I WANT to ink them with?  When I ink Gamescience, Windmills, or Diamond Dice (or if I had Armory), I use Uni-Posca paint markers with an extra fine tip.  I like how they feel when they ink the dice.  However, I used to use Sharpie paint markers with an ultra fine tip, and they’re very similar.  I have had great success using regular Sharpie permanent markers (not paint) on acrylic dice, but I personally prefer paint markers for precision edge.

What else can be used?  Some DMC members have used gel pens, regular pens, regular markers, and jars of acrylic paint.  My recommendation is to start with something you already own.  If you don’t have anything available or wish to move onto something else, I recommend finding a craft store with a simple color of sharpie paint marker like gold, silver, white, or black – something you might use often.  Try them out.  But if you already have gel pens or something felt tip – try it out.  Just try it on dice that you’re not attached to – something that can be messed up, just in case.

Removing Ink

To clean up after myself, I use 90% rubbing alcohol and paper towels when using paint markers.  But that’s with my own ink.  I’ve never had to remove ink from a polymer set.  For that, I’d recommend trying rubbing alcohol first with either a toothpick or q-tip.  ALWAYS test any chemical solution on a die you aren’t attached to.  Some DMCers have used acetone or nail polish remover, but with mixed results.  

Technique

It’s honestly hard to explain how to ink dice.  For one, it’s something you have to do to understand.  For another, there’s no widespread consensus.  I, personally, slop my paint marker on the numbers without concern or care.  I especially don’t try to be “pretty” with d20s because the numbers are smaller, and there’s no sense in fussing over it when it wipes away so cleanly.  However, there are some exceptions.  

First, d4’s – they’re sometimes a little more shallow, making it easier to wipe off paint.  With practice, it’ll be easier to clean up without wiping the ink out, but when starting out, being careful on the d4 will save you some headaches.  Second, d24’s – they’re the absolute worst to ink.  If you’re focusing on regular polyhedral dice, then you don’t have to worry about this at all.  But if you have Zocchi sets of Gamescience, be very careful with the d24.  It’s the most difficult die to clean up after.  Sometimes it’s worthwhile to very carefully ink the numbers and not clean up at all.  So inking the d24 is more of a skill.  Finally, the d3 can be a bit of a challenge.  The numbers are fine – very easy to ink.  But the letters (R, P, S for rock, paper, and scissors) are less deep.  This takes some practice, and I’d rate it more difficult than the d4 but not as difficult as the d24.  Again, if you’re working with standard polyhedral, it’s not a concern.

So, how do you actually do it?  I, personally, slop the ink on.  It doesn’t have to be perfect at all because it’s easy to clean up: 

I then put some rubbing alcohol on a piece of paper towel.  I try to make sure it isn’t soaking, but I make sure there’s a decent amount.  When I wipe off the number face, I sort of visualize just wiping off the surface.  It’s not about pressing down, or you’ll get the alcohol into the groove, which isn’t what you’re trying to do.  I just wipe away from myself, flat, as though I’m wiping just the surface and nothing else.  If you do wipe a little too much off, that’s okay.  You can do touch-ups after the ink dries a little.

It takes some practice, and the paper towel can’t be drenched.  Also, you can only do it so much before you need another paper towel piece, especially if you’re working with a bright or metallic color, and especially if you’re not being careful with the inking (like I’m not).  I can do a die with a little piece of paper towel, maybe two.  But I usually get a new scrap of paper towel after a d20 or anything really messy.

Conclusion

There you have it!  This is by no means a comprehensive or advanced look at dice inking, but it’s a thorough overview with some advice for people new to dice inking.  Remember if you’re interested in using crayon on the number to check out Part 1 of this article:  Gamescience Numbers Part 1: Crayons.  Though part 2 completes this pair of articles, I’m a bit of a Gamescience fangirl, so there will certainly be more precision-edged dice articles to come.

Gamescience Numbers Part 1: Crayons

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Photo by Tom Hack

One day in the DMC, Tom Hack said that he couldn’t be the only one who uses crayons on dice. Jon McDaniel contributed an expertly crayoned Gamescience set using white crayon. The thread was inspiring, with many dice maniacs providing advice on crayoning.

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Photo by Jon McDaniel

I’ve used crayon before, but it was on early polyhedral dice from AD&D sets that were rough looking to say the least. Back then, the junk crayon use was a formality to get the numbers colored in just enough to read. They weren’t pretty. It was like coloring a beach ball with chalk.

Fast forward a few decades later, and why wouldn’t I try crayoning my Gamescience? Because of a gaudily-garbed druid NPC named Lucynil Font, I had an ever-growing set of “ugly” opaque Gamescience, and many in that expanding set still needed some coloring. So I set on my task to try crayoning in the numbers on precision dice.

Lessons Learned

IMG_3785Effort: Technically speaking, crayoning dice is much more hard work. You need to press down hard to get the wax into the crevice, and sometimes you need to go over it multiple times to replace wax that comes out. You need to get at the grooves from different angles. At first I was trying to “color” in the numbers, but I soon realized that it wasn’t a matter of filling it in. It was more like scratching off a lottery ticket.

Technique: In addition to mastering the different angles and applying more pressure than paint markers, I also had to learn how to clean up the waxy mess. With ink, I usually made a hot mess with the paint and cleaned it up with some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. Being a parent, I turned to wipes to clean off the wax. That was a mistake. Wet cleaning does NOT work on wiping wax clean as well as dry paper towels or napkins. In fact, I soon learned to place the die on a napkin or paper towel and wax away. Then throw the wax-covered napkin away and replace it. Then keep it on the clean napkin while cleaning it off with a new one – and repeat. The idea is to keep the napkin clean because if it’s too covered in wax, it gets right back onto the die.

IMG_3825Tools: The only crayons I had on hand were Crayola and Playskool. Crayola seemed to cause less of a mess, and there were obviously more color options there. Playskool seemed to go into the grooves much easier (with less pressure), but the chunks also came back out of the grooves more often. So Crayola wins that battle. I didn’t notice any difference in ease of coloring between colors of the same brand.

Zocchi: Much like with inking, certain dice were more difficult to master than others. Just like with inking, d24s are a pain. I actually gave up on the d24 and opted to ink it instead. It was a dark purple, and colors wouldn’t show up with waxy crayon as well for some reason. The d3s took some finesse to learn, but it was actually easier to crayon in the R, P, S letters than it was with paint marker. Zocchi d5’s were comparable with crayon as with ink – no problems there. The d14s and d16s seem easier with ink; those are super easy to do with a paint marker. But chunks of crayon seem to come back out of the deeper grooves for those.

Fun: The first night I tried out crayoning, I accosted my 6-year-old son’s box of crayons. I set out a bunch of colorful dice, and of course he wanted to be part of it. So we sat there and colored in the dice. He had trouble coloring in the whole thing, so I kept him to d6s and dice with less sides. He wasn’t as patient with the process as I was, but he had a lot of fun helping me choose “ugly” combinations. I couldn’t let him color in with ink, or I’d have a huge mess. But the crayon is more kid friendly, and without the lingering smell of rubbing alcohol when it’s clean-up time.

Conclusion

I will not be forsaking my paint markers for crayons. Even though wax is a fun alternative to paint, it’s a lot more difficult. However, I will be returning to crayons eventually. They were a good fit for the “ugly” dice theme because they offered more color options. Putting tan crayola on permafrost felt deliciously heretical. And the nostalgia factor is real. I haven’t crayoned dice since the 80s. But I would recommend limiting crayons to a single color on a single set to minimize effort and mess. Keep in mind that it does take more pressure and time to wax in the numbers and clean up the mess than it does with ink.

How does inking differ? Stay tuned for part 2!
Want to write an article of your own on your precision-dice inking experiences? Contact Joss Hevel in the DMC.

Rainbow Dice

One of the more common questions in the Dice Maniacs Club is “where can I get rainbow dice?” or “what rainbow dice would you recommend?”  With pride month upon us, this article takes a look at some of the many rainbow dice options.  It’s important to keep in mind that the rainbow styles available are often available across several different retailers.  The goal of this article is not to sell you a particular set from a particular store. Instead, this overview should provide you with a lot of options and some brightly colored dice shinies for your viewing pleasure!

Exclusives

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Over the Rainbow by Kraken

 

 

There are two stand-out, exclusive rainbow sets among the many rainbow options.  First, Kraken has a set of polymer rainbow dice with the Kraken symbol on the 20 face, gold inking for numbers, and a semi-translucent style.  Though currently sold out as of this post, they are not planned to be a limited edition and should be back in stock eventually.  The dice come in 11-piece sets and are available at krakendice.com

 

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Gemstone Metal Rainbow by Die Hard Dice

Looking for a metal option?  Die Hard Dice is currently offering a metal gemstone line, and a rainbow set (one of each gemstone color) is offered as a mixed set.  The gemstone glitter is an exclusive Die Hard Dice creation, and rainbow dice purchases during June support The Trevor Project.  The 7-piece set can be found at dieharddice.com along with an expansive rainbow dice selection.

 

Scorched

A metal rainbow set that can be found almost anywhere is the “scorched rainbow.”  The metal poly looks like an oil slick-style rainbow singed material that has been wildly popular among gamers.  The set is typically available with scorched-looking numbers, golden numbering, or white numbering depending on the retailer.  Kraken put their own twist on the set by branding the Kraken logo on the 20 face, and Die Hard Dice has a set that’s in the shape of their popular forge line, where the sharp tips of the metal polyhedrals are truncated.

 

HengDa and other Rainbow Polymer Sets

 

Beyond the exclusive rainbow sets, there are several rainbow polymer options that can be found at different retailers.  HengDa already had a rainbow set – one of the first mass produced – and have since added the translucent rainbow to their ever-expanding lineup.  

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There is another rainbow option with more of a tie dye feel and slightly brighter tones than HengDa’s sets.  This set can be found on sites like wish, aliexpress, amazon, and a few U.S. retailers like 6d6Studio.  The set offers a brighter alternative to the HengDa coloring, but with wavier lines between the layers.

An Underrated Option

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Koplow’s Rainbow Dice from DarkElfDice

Amidst the plethora of rainbow dice options sporting sparkle, glitter, metal, icons, and translucence, this little set from Koplow doesn’t get much love.  The plain white opaque dice are often overlooked in lieu of more obvious rainbow options, but the subtle styling of inked numbering in different colors makes Koplow’s rainbow dice a unique option.

 

Recent and Upcoming Kickstarters

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Bescon’s Midnight Candy from Amazon

 

C-EL is a recently-delivered Kickstarter by Bescon and designed by the Dice Maniacs Club’s own Hague Nikolayczyk.  C-el is a glow-in-the-dark polyhedral project including a rainbow set of dice called Midnight Candy.  The kickstarter page can be found here, and the dice are now available to the masses at Amazon by searching for Midnight Candy.

 

 

 

One of the more popular posts ever to grace the DMC group was a recent glimpse at an upcoming Kickstarter for LGBT flag colored dice.  The teaser revealed five sets of dice with hearts on the twenty-face.  The dice colors represent groups like bisexual, pansexual, and asexual.  Hailed by many DMC members as a much-needed representation in gaming dice, the Kickstarter is bound to be a popular KS for the LGBT and its allies.  This KS is currently planned for the end of June 2018.

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The End of the Rainbow

That concludes the DMC blog’s look at rainbow polyhedral sets.  Keep in mind that there are variant options out there like translucent mixed sets, unicorn dice in one of each translucent colors, and many brightly colored homemade ETSY creations.  This article serves as a glance at some currently popular options and is not a comprehensive look at every rainbow die ever produced.  Whether you’re looking to celebrate pride month or just add some bright colors to your gaming arsenal, rainbow polyhedrals are a trend in gaming that have been a long time coming.

Q-Workshop Dragons

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Q-Workshop announced a new variety of dragon dice coming soon.  The teaser image showed a metallic gold dragon symbol on a black die with some green coloration.  The new design is still currently being produced, but this is a great time to look at the dragon line from Q-Workshop, which according to a Q-Workshop representative, is “one of the most popular sets we’ve ever had.  At the same time it’s one of our oldest models.”1
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The image gracing the box of Q-Workshop’s dragon line is by Anne Stoke’s and is “probably one of the most famous dragon images”1

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Q-Workshop currently produces the dragon dice in five colors:  white with black, black with white, red with black, black with red, and black with yellow.  Anyone interested can order those directly from https://q-workshop.com/en/55-dragons

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From Q-Workshop.com

However, for those of you seeking out previously produced color options, the hunt is a little more complicated.  There are some full sets that have been confirmed by Q-Workshop1:

  • Set of White & Black Dragon Dice
  • Set of Black & Blue Dragon Dice
  • Set of Black & White Dragon Dice
  • Set of Black & Red Dragon Dice
  • Set of Black & Yellow Dragon Dice
  • Set of Red & White Dragon Dice
  • Set of Red & Black Dragon Dice
  • Set of Blue & Black Dragon Dice
  • Set of Yellow & Black  Dragon Dice
  • Set of Gray & Black Dragon Dice
  • Set of Green & White Dragon Dice
  • Set of Green & Black Dragon Dice

 

 

 

Collectors might also want to track down some of the singles that slipped into loose bins and Q-Workshop bulk jars.  These include a reddish-pink color with blue, of which a Q-Workshop representative said “Nope, we never had full sets like that. You may only be able to find [them] in jars.”  Others, according to Q-Workshop, might be production errors2.

 

 

 

In addition to the current sets, previously produced full sets, production errors, and samples, there are also Q-Workshop brand dragon dice with a slightly different logo dating back to 2004 according to Kevin Cook’s renowned dice database.  Some of the singles and loose dice can be found there:  http://www.dicecollector.com/THE_DICE_THEME_Q_WORKSHOP_DRAGON.html

Q-Workshop’s dragon line are a favorite for a reason.  The engraved delicacy of the artwork connect with the fantasy backdrop of many RPGs with a quality that dice lovers and game players have come to expect from the brand.  Though we weren’t lucky enough to get more of a sneak peak of the upcoming dragon line, we can’t wait to see more images!  Stay tuned to Q-Workshop’s social media for further updates and images of the new dragon line:  https://www.instagram.com/alldicetellastory & https://www.facebook.com/QWdice

References

1Katarzyna Zięba (June 2018).  E-mail communication.

2Jagna Przychodniak (April 2017).  Facebook post.  Dice Maniacs Club Facebook Group.

Photo Credits

Image 1 – Q-Workshop.com
Image 2 – AnneStokes.com
Image 3 – Q-Workshop.com
Image 4 – Liz Rushing
Image 5 – Joss Hevel
Image 6 – Katona Kamilla
Image 7 – Joel Fitzpatrick

DMC Discussion Threads

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/1870465929660915/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/1631443396896504/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiceManiacsClub/permalink/2197367336970771/