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 Market Advice

As the DMC has grown, trading and buying/selling have become a bigger part of the group.  We keep buying and selling in the Market only, but trades are welcome on the main DMC group.  We’re happy that members can connect and exchange dice to find the pieces they’re looking for.  But we also want members to feel comfortable making the transaction, especially if they’re less familiar with how to trade or buy and sell online.  This blog will help mention some ways to safeguard yourself and others in a transaction.

They’re Your Dice

Your dice are your own.  The number one most important thing is to not trade dice because you feel pressured to make the exchange.  Just because you might be dealing with someone who “knows more” about dice or has been in the group longer does not mean you have to follow what they suggest or what they say is fair.  

IMPORTANT:  No DMC member should ever message you and suggest that you’re selling for too high a price, or that you’re a bad person for not making a trade.  If you ever receive such a message, please let the DiceManiacsClub – Fanpage know.  Your dice are your own, and no one should be pressuring others to trade or sell.

Ask The Group!

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Do you have dice that you’re not sure what they are?  Or is someone telling you they’re not valuable, but you think they might be?  If you’re curious about general value or identification, the DMC group is more than happy to help.  There are some people who have become masters at dice identification!  And if you explain a trade you’re considering, we can usually chime in and say if it’s fair.  We might not always be able to give an exact value – and it may differ from person to person, but the DMC can help you know if it’s a fair deal.

Use PayPal or Another Trusted Service

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PayPal (and some similar online payment services) have protections built in.  If you buy something from someone, PayPal will reimburse you if you never receive the item.  To receive this protection, you have to pay via “goods and services.”  If you are close enough with the member, you CAN pay “friends and family” if you trust them.  However, you should never feel pressured to pay for dice using anything but goods and services.  Frankly, if someone insisted that I paid “friends and family,” I would become highly suspicious and immediately state that I’m not interested. 

Is PayPal 100% protective?  No.  If the buyer sends something incorrect, I’ve seen people not be reimbursed because there was tracking and a package arrived.  To help ensure that’s not a problem, be clear in the “note” what you’re buying (that might help if there’s an issue).  But never ever send cash or give credit card info.

Check The Feedback!

We have a feedback thread in the market to provide some insight on who are reliable traders.  This is especially important when trading because you are essentially crossing your fingers and hoping that the other person comes through.  To safeguard yourself, find someone who is reliable to trade with.  If the person isn’t mentioned in the comments but has completed successful trades, you can always ask for “references” in the comments.  Some people who have traded might vouch for the person!

Conclusion

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Keeping these tips in mind well help safeguard you in trading and buying/selling dice.  Keeping in mind that your dice are your own, that the group can help, that feedback is available, and that PayPal can help protect you can go a long way from preventing you from being taken advantage of.  But keep in mind that this is not a common occurrence.  If you check the feedback thread pinned at the top of the market, you’ll see that you’re in a group with reliable dice maniacs.  But since anyone can buy and sell in the marketplace, we want to make sure that you have ways to feel comfortable about exchanging dice with other DMCers.

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.