Dice Info

Most Popular Dice of 2015

Here at Awesome Dice headquarters we’re full swing into 2016 plans, and part of that includes taking a look at what the post popular dice of the last year were. With the tens of thousands of dice we sell each year, we’re in a unique position to note what dice, types of dice, and colors of dice gamers want — and we love sharing data.

This data is all based on sales on Awesome Dice, and we’re counting number of purchases for each dice type. This data set is looking at all of 2015 sales.

Dice Sales by Gender

Dice Orders By GenderWe’re able to determine the gender of dice purchasers by looking at the first name of the person the dice are being shipped to, and classifying them as male or female names. Names associated with either gender (like “Pat”), or that we can’t classify (like “DragonBlight”) make up the unknown.

This data is specifically looking at number of purchases: so if Cheryl orders 10 dice sets and Bob orders 1 dice bag: that counts as 1 female and 1 male purchase.

We have no idea how accurate an indicator dice sales are for overall tabletop gaming demographics, but a 73%/25% split doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable.

Most Popular Dice Types

Most Popular Dice Types

The ubiquitous 7-dice set used in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder remains by a massive margin the most popular way to purchase dice. Single dice are nearly tied with dice bags as the second most common purchase (though single dice have an advantage in our reporting: a purchase of a 7-dice set counts as 1, while a purchase of seven single dice counts as 7).

Other dice sets actually fell in comparison to the 7-dice set from what we’ve seen in previous years, with 10d10 sets making their poorest showing to date. Digging deeper into the numbers, it appears that the number of 36d6 and 12d6 sets that gamers are buying isn’t actually decreasing; but instead the number of 7-dice sets is surging upward significantly. Propelled by 5e perhaps, or just a general trend?

Most Popular Dice Colors

Most Popular Dice Colors

The most popular dice colors haven’t changed substantially over the years. Blue remains the most popular, followed by red, green, black, purple, and gold. Shifts in 2015 included pink moving up from last place to just below gold, switching places with white dice. Also all the unpopular colors classified into “other” have decreased significantly compared to the most popular colors.

For this data we classify dice by their dominant color: in the case of dice that are black and another color, we credit them to the other color (for example: Gemini Red-Black dice are classified as red dice).

The Most Popular Dice

Okay, enough of aggregate data. Let’s take a look at exactly which dice were the most popular in 2015!

Pound o Dice

#1: Pound o’ Dice

Taking first place yet again this year is the Pound o’ Dice — with nearly twice as many sold as the next most popular dice product. The Pound o’ Dice is a giant bag containing a random assortment of around 100 dice. These dice include a lot of factory seconds, but are also mixed in with high-quality dice from various Chessex dice sets.

It it apparently just too hard for any gamer to resist this quantity of dice (even if you know a chunk of them are going to be ugly — the ugly ones are what you make your friends use when they forget their dice!)

Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

#2: Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

Blue is the most popular dice color, and the most popular of the blue dice are the Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set. These are clear dice with inky blue colors drifting through them.

Fun fact about Nebula Blue dice sets: every now and then you get a die that is entirely clear, or darned close to it. Because this would suck to get, Awesome Dice Receiving actually opens every Nebula Blue 7-dice set and replaces any clear dice with an appropriately inky one. As a result we now have a sizable box of clear and nearly clear dice that we’re debating what to do with.

Scarab Royal Blue dice set

#3: Scarab Royal Blue 7-Set

Here at Awesome Dice we’re big fans of the entire Scarab collection of dice, and Scarab Royal Blue brings follows the blue trend for the #3 most popular dice of 2015.

When viewed closely, these dice are actually a mixture of blue and purple, but from a distance appear just a swirly blue.

Gemini Blue-Steel 7-set

#4: Gemini Blue Steel 7-Dice Set

The Gemini Blue Steel dice are another blue dice set making the top 10 list. These dice are particularly unique in that all set types sell extremely well: 12d6, 36d6 and even 10d10 sets outperform other colors of the same set type (which isn’t always true of the top 10 dice set winners).

Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

#5: Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

The Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set is a personal favorite and the first standard dice set to break out of the blue mold. Nice to see a different color in the top 10 list.

Elven Translucent Blue 7-Dice Set

#6: Elven Translucent Blue 7-Dice Set

The Elven style dice sporting runic designs are all very popular, and so it’s not surprise that the Elven Translucent Blue set makes the top 10 list — of course with blue being the most popular color of these dice.

Mini Gold 5mm 7-Dice Set

#7: Mini Gold 7-Dice Set

The tiny Mini Gold 7-Dice Set are just 5mm in size. While being just under a third the size of normal dice may not sound like much: you can fit this entire dice set on the head of a penny.

A perfect little treasure, these are probably the easiest dice to carry to a game. Heck, you could even put them in your wallet and never be caught unprepared.

Gemini Red-Black 7-dice set

#8: Gemini Red-Black 7-Set

Red may be the second most popular dice color, but it took us until #8 on the top ten list to get to a red dice set.The Gemini Red-Black 7-Set is also a personal favorite. These great-looking mix black and red together to create a darker, fiercer-looking dice set.

Gemini Black Purple 7-dice set

#9: Gemini Purple-Black 7-Set

Given the popularity of the Gemini Purple-Black Dice Set, we were surprised to see that purple was so low in the most popular colors. It appears that if a gamer has a hankering for purple dice, then this is the purple dice set of choice.

Forest 7-Dice Set

#10: Forest Dice

The Q-Workshop Forest Dice set is particularly attractive, absolutely covered in leaf and vine designs. Personally I prefer the green version, but these are undeniably cool-looking dice that will stand out at the gaming table.

Most Popular Dice Bags

As gamers we all love our dice, and we all need something to carry them around in. But just like dice, we gamers want something cool to carry our dice in. So in addition to highlighting the top 10 dice, this year we’re also going to take a look at the top 5 most popular dice bags.

Basic Black Dice Bag

#1: Basic Black Dice Bag

When you’re talking pure quantity of dice bags purchased, the Basic Black Dice Bag was the clear winner by a large margin. Made of cheap imitation velvet, these dice bags are an affordable way to carry your dice from home to the game.

Black Leather Dice Bag

#2: Black Leather Dice Bag

Our selection of leather dice bags actually outsold the basic dice bags as a category last year, and the Black Leather Dice Bag leads the pack complete with that rich new leather smell.

The leather dice bags are probably popular just because they’re so much cooler than the basic. But they also hold more dice, and are far more rugged, likely to outlast several generations of basic bags.

Elven Dice Bag

#3: Elven Dice Bag

This small off-white dice bag with Elvish runes surged onto the dice bag top five this year. Despite only holding a couple sets of dice, there is something very appealing about the Elven Dice Bag from Q-Workshop.

Red Celtic Dragon Leather Dice Bag

#4 Red Celtic Dragon Leather Dice Bag

We carry leather dice bags with a variety of foil-stamped designs, but the Red Celtic Dragon Leather Dice Bag takes home top prize for popularity. It’s the perfect combination of leather, dragons, runes, and the color of blood.

Skull & Crossbones Leather Dice Bag

#5: Skull & Crossbones Leather Dice Bag

Rounding out our top 5 list is the Skull & Crossbones Leather Dice Bag. With the classic skull & crossbones branded into the leather, this dice bag was a hit from the day we first got it in stock.

Do Transparent Dice Roll Better?

This is pure speculation based on how dice are manufactured, but it’s entirely possible that transparent or translucent style dice may technically roll more true than opaque dice.

Opaque & Translucent Dice

I was talking with some dice manufacturers who told me that the plastic used to manufacture dice is actually clear by default, and opaque dice have coloring added. This seemed odd to me, and I asked why basic opaque dice were vastly cheaper than, say, clear dice that wouldn’t require additional additives.

The short answer: opaque dice have air bubbles inside them.

Why it Happens

Air bubbles can form inside the dice during the plastic injection molding process when the dice cool too quickly. With opaque dice, since the air bubbles can’t be seen, dice manufacturers deliberately cool the dice too quickly, which allows them to run more plastic through the molds per hour — thus the cost of the dice is cheaper.

Because the air bubbles form irregularly and in different sizes, an opaque die may well have one side that is lighter than another side, which could cause the die to favor one side.

Now it’s also possible that the premium opaque dice (like the one pictured above) don’t have this issue: they are vastly more expensive than your basic opaque dice, and indeed are more expensive than basic translucent dice. Is this because they aren’t pushing them through the molds as fast as the basic opaques, or just a factor of the difficulty in combining multiple colored plastic in a consistent way?

Does it Matter?

It’s worth stressing that I don’t know of any tests that have been done that demonstrate whether or not air bubbles or density differences actually affect the rolling of the dice. In our dice randomness test, we definitely saw that irregular surfaces on the face of the die affected the roll, but we certainly didn’t test anything with irregular densities.

Interestingly in that test we compared an opaque Chessex die against a translucent GameScience die: the GameScience die rolled marginally more true (other than the side with the sprue), but was it because of the manufacturing method, or was it because the opaque Chessex die had air bubbles affecting the roll?

If I had to guess, I do not think that air bubbles would make a measurable difference. If they did, that difference would certainly be miniscule and irrelevant to RPG gaming (much like we saw in Chessex vs GameScience). But until someone does a giant rolling test of opaque vs translucent dice, the possibility remains that opaque dice roll less true.

Most Popular Dice in 2013

Another year is behind us, and that means it’s time once again to take a look at the most popular dice and dice trends of 2013! With the tens of thousands of dice we sell each year, we’re in a unique position to note what dice, types of dice, and colors of dice gamers want — and we love sharing data.

This data is all based on sales on Awesome Dice, and we’re counting number of purchases for each dice type. This data set is looking at all of 2013 sales.

Dice Sales by Gender

Dice orders by genderWe’re able to determine the gender of dice purchasers by looking at the first name of the person buying the dice (actually the first name of the person they’re being shipped to), and classifying them as male or female names. Names associated with either gender (like “Pat), or that we can’t classify (like “DragonBlight”) make up the 3% unknown.

We have no idea how accurate an indicator dice sales are for overall tabletop gaming demographics, but a 67%/30% split doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable. Keep in mind that this is looking at all dice sales (and dice bags).

Another interesting way to look at it is to break it out by type of dice set — since different sets represent different groups of games and types of tabletop gaming.

Here’s a look at 7-dice sets and 12d6 dice sets. These are the two groups for which we have very strong statistical samples.

7-dice set orders by gender 12d6 dice set orders by gender

Why do 12d6 dice sets swing so much more heavily female than 7-dice sets? Is it because of the wargamers? That doesn’t seem very likely (36d6 sets come out more like the 30/67 overall average). Is it games like GURPS drawing a larger female audience? Or is it that 12d6 dice sets are the “normal” dice and are purchased by a bunch of non-gamers as replacement dice for Monopoly?

Most Popular Dice Set Types

Most Popular Dice Set Types

As always, the 7-dice set of D&D remains the most popular type of dice set by far, which is no surprise. 12d6 dice sets continue to be pretty popular as well, among wargamers and Shadowrun players.

Compared to the 2012 data, the difference between 7-dice sets and everything else has actually grown. 10d10 dice sets used in World of Darkness or L5R remain a fairly small fraction of all dice sales.

Most Popular Dice Colors

Most popular dice colors

This year we thought it would be interesting to look at the most popular dice colors by gender. We can see that in the world of gamers and their dice, gender doesn’t make a huge difference in which colors are most popular.

Blue remains the top color, and is most popular by a larger margin in women than men. Both genders like red a bit less, and men have green in the #3 position, while with women it’s black.

The Most Popular Dice

Okay, enough of aggregate data. Let’s take a look at exactly which dice were the most popular in 2013. For the purposes of compiling this list, we’re excluding the basic opaque sets (otherwise opaque 12d6 sets of various colors would be half the list — they’re a cheap way to get lots of 6-siders preferred by wargamers).

Pound o Dice

#1: Pound o’ Dice

The single most popular set of dice is actually the Pound o’ Dice — and it’s in first place by a pretty large margin as well. The Pound o’ Dice is a giant bag containing a random assortment of around 100 dice. These dice include a lot of factory seconds, but are also mixed in with high-quality dice from various Chessex dice sets.

The Pound o’ Dice topped last year’s list as well, and we imagine it’s going to continue topping lists in coming years. It’s just hard for any gamer to resist this quantity of dice (even if you know a chunk of them are going to be ugly — the ugly ones are what you make your friends use when they forget their dice!)

Mini gold dice set

#2: Mini Metal Dice 7-Sets

The second position on the most popular dice list are the tiny 5mm Mini Metal Dice. These dice sets come in both gold and silver colors and both options made it onto the top 10 list, but we’re combining them into one (if you’re interested, gold sold one more set than silver).

These dice are small enough that you can actually just about fit the entire set on the surface of a penny.

Gemini Black-Shell 7-dice set

#3: Gemini Black Shell 7-Dice Set

A nice change from the typical bold and strong colors, the Gemini Black-Shell 7-set swiftly became a favorite a gamers. We started carrying this set halfway through last year, where it snuck onto the bottom of the 2012 top 10 list, and now with a full year of availability it jumped up to #3!

Gemini Blue-Steel 7-set

#4: Gemini Blue Steel 7-Dice Set

The Gemini Blue Steel dice are ones that we’ve carried since opening Awesome Dice, but recently they have surged in popularity.

Scarab Royal Blue dice set

#5: Scarab Royal Blue 7-Set

Here at Awesome Dice we’re big fans of the entire Scarab collection of dice, and Scarab Royal Blue brings in the top spot as the 5th most popular dice set.

It’s probably not surprising that once we hurdled the Pound o’ Dice and mini dice, the next 3 most popular sets were all blue dice. The favorite color statistics don’t lie — both male and female gamers love their blue dice!

Elven Glow in the Dark 7-Dice Set

#6: Elven Glow in the Dark 7-Dice Set

These dice are ridiculously popular. The Elven Glow in the Dark Dice are also historically very difficult for us to keep in stock, due to a combination of manufacturer outages and the fact that they have to be imported from Poland.

The truly impressive thing about these very awesome glow in the dark dice is that they’ve only been in stock about half the year, and still managed to make the top 10 list!

Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

#7: Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set

The Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set is a personal favorite and the first standard dice set to break out of the blue mold. The entire Scarab series of dice by Chessex do very well indeed, and with good reason. These are some good-looking dice!

Gemini Black Purple 7-dice set

#8: Gemini Purple-Black 7-Set

Given the popularity of the Gemini Purple-Black Dice Set, we were surprised to see that purple was so low in the most popular colors. It appears that if a gamer has a hankering for purple dice, then this is the purple dice set of choice.

Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set

#9: Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set

The second green dice set to appear on the top 10, the Gemini Green-Black 7-Dice Set offers a slightly more distinct separation of colors than the Scarab Jade above does.

Despite red dice being the 2nd most popular color for both men and women, green sets managed to claim two of the top 10 spots, while red got none!

Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

#10: Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set

Rounding out our top 10 list we get back to blue, with the very cool Nebula Blue 7-Dice Set. These dice are clear dice with an inky blue drifting through them.

Most Popular Dice Bags

As gamers we all love our dice, and we all need something to carry them around in. But just like dice, we gamers want something cool to carry our dice in. So in addition to highlighting the top 10 dice, this year we’re also going to take a look at the top 5 most popular dice bags.

Basic Blue Dice Bag

#1: Basic Dice Bags

When you’re talking pure quantity of dice bags purchased, the Basic Dice Bags made of cheap fake velvet are the clear winners. Within this category the color preference goes Black (by a wide margin), blue, green, burgundy, and gold.

However, since these basic dice bags are kind of boring, we decided to clump them all into the number one spot to make room for some other more exciting leaders in the dice bag category.

Black Leather Dice Bag

#2: Black Leather Dice Bag

Our selection of leather dice bags have been very popular, and the Black Leather Dice Bag leads the pack complete with that rich new leather smell.

This dice bag is so popular that it actually outsells some of the basic ones, including the red and green — beaten only by the black and blue basic dice bags.

Black Dragonscale Dice Bag

#3: Large Black Dragonscale Dice Bag

Certainly one of the coolest looking dice bags in the world, the Black Dragonscale Dice Bag is handmade with anodized aluminum scales woven into the bag itself, and a thick yarn interior to prevent dice from getting scratched on the scales.

Like the Glow in the Dark Elven dice, the truly impressive thing about the black dragonscale dice bag is that it made it onto the top 5 list even though it’s out of stock at least as often as it’s in stock.

Blood Spatter Dice Bag

#4 Blood Spatter Dice Bag

The FFG Blood Spatter Dice Bag remains a steady favorite of gamers who like their slaughter visceral and bloody. This is essentially a substantially larger basic dice bag with a cool blood spatter design printed on the front.

Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag

#5: Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag

Rounding out our top 5 list is the Cthulhu Elder Sign Leather Dice Bag, the dice bag of choice for Call of Cthulhu enthusiasts. This is a high-quality black leather dice bag with an elder sign hot foil stamped onto one side.

Our only dice bag with an elder sign on it, it’s the only one that will protect your dice from being cursed by a Great Old One.

New Candidate for Oldest Dice Found

Haluk Sağlamtimur of Ege University reported to Discovery News that they found ancient dice at a dig site in Turkey dated at around 3000 BCE. Along with the dice they found 49 stone game pieces carved into numerous shapes, including pigs, dogs, and pyramids:

World's oldest game pieces
Dozens of elaborately carved game pieces found along with ancient dice in a 5,000 year old dig site in Turkey.

Sağlamtimur presented the find at the annual International Symposium of Excavations, Surveys and Archaeometry. He said he believed the pieces belong to a complicated chess-like game. If so, this would be evidence of a game more complicated than other ancient games like Senet or the Royal Game of Ur. His team is trying to puzzle out the rules of a game that would use all these pieces — though notably no board was found.

Ulrich Schädler, director of the Swiss Museum of Games in La Tour-de-Peilz, argues that it is unlikely this is a game of higher complexity and suggests instead that they found pieces for several different games all stored in one place. In particular he pointed out that the pyramids found look like the dice used in the Royal Game of Ur.

This site is dated to “nearly” 3000 BCE, which would make these the oldest confirmed dice. The next closest are the 4-sided dice (though they worked a bit differently from ours) found in the Royal Game of Ur dated at 2600 BCE. Games of Senet have been found dating back even farther, to 3100 BCE, but we don’t classify the 2-sided pieces as dice. The oldest d20 dates from 30BC – 300BC.

We have updated our History of Dice post & graphic to incorporate this new credit for the oldest dice.

World's oldest d20
World’s oldest d20, found in Egypt and dated to 30 BCE to 300 BCE. We have no indication of how these ancient d20s were used.
The Royal Game of Ur, dated to 2600 BCE and on display at the British Museum.
The Royal Game of Ur, dated to 2600 BCE and on display at the British Museum.

 

History of Dice Infographic
Awesome Dice’s complete history of dice, including every major dice find & first sighting of each type of dice.

Custom Dice Manufacturing

We get a surprising number of inquiries from people who want to have custom dice manufactured, either for a special event or a game they are designing, and a surprising number of magicians who want trick dice. Unfortunately we do not manufacture custom dice, but we can certainly point you in the right direction.

First, let’s stress the difference between custom dice, and customized dice.

  • Customized Dice are dice that have already been made that then have your custom design laser etched onto one or more faces. You are not doing custom colors/shapes, and the customized faces are not fully beveled, but instead the design is laser etched into the surface so it doesn’t sit as deeply as molded dice. You can get dice customized in small quantities, including just a few dice, for reasonable prices per die. The cost will, of course, be higher than the retail price of dice, and large quantities don’t get much of a price break. You are limited to the colors of stock dice that the manufacturer has available.
  • Custom Dice are dice using custom molds. With a custom mold the dice can include any kind of design, number of faces, fully beveled, and any get combination of dice color and inking color. This is the method required if you want a unique size or number of faces on the dice. There are substantial set-up costs and you must print very large quantities.

Custom Dice Manufacturers

In our experience, people who want to manufacture custom dice often have unrealistic expectations — that they will be able to print only a few hundred dice in a unique shape, and for a cost of less than the retail price of standard dice.

Customized dice can be made in quantities as small as just 10 dice, and the cost will be around a dollar per face being customized. You are limited to the color of dice and inking available.  You can get price breaks with larger quantities, but never down to only pennies per face, and the cost is never going to be like getting dice wholesale. You can get customized dice in a variety of styles from:

  • Chessex: They offer customized dice in a large variety of d6 colors and sizes, with customization on the 1 or 6 face; a more limited variety of d10s, with customization on the 10 face; or opaque white dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 & d20) with customization on all faces. Turnaround for small orders is a few weeks.
  • Q-Workshop: They offer customized dice in a large variety of colors and sizes for every type of die (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20) including customization of all faces. Turnaround for small orders is a few weeks. As long as you want standard dice shapes, Q-Workshop customization will essentially let you get almost entirely custom dice without the huge cost of building your own molds.

For truly custom dice you will need to pay to create a custom mold, which will cost you thousands of dollars at a minimum. Your minimum quantity will be at the very least 1,500 of each die. Manufacturing will happen overseas, so you’ll also have to pay for shipping, which will likely be another several thousand. If you want to find a US plastic injection molding manufacturer to make your dice, figure you’ll have to pay ten times as much for your setup and significantly more per die.

That said, if custom dice sounds like what you’re looking for, you can go through PandaGM for your custom dice manufacturing. They have manufacturing sources in China. They have a very good reputation and the lowest minimum quantities of anyone I’ve ever worked with. Most game printing companies can source custom dice. Do not bother them if you don’t want thousands of each die.

GameScience Dice Shortage

April 2014 Update: Lou Zocchi now once again controls GameScience. However, GameScience dice are still not being manufactured, and there is still no way to predict when they will be.

Jan 2014 Update: GameScience dice are still not being manufactured. There is no predicted date on when they might be able to start making them again; however, GameStation confirmed that they are no longer the GameScience manufacturers: “I can safely say that we will not offer Gamescience again.

We are currently unable to get our hands on any GameScience dice, and GameScience dice are not being manufactured at this time.

Our distributors have been out of stock of most GameScience dice for some time now (though they still have the occasional odd-sized “Zocchi Pack” set at hand (update: these are gone too) they have no 7-dice or other sets). In frustration we finally went direct to GameStation, the company that purchased GameScience some five years back. The response we got was:

Unfortunately, we are currently not shipping out to retailers or distributors at this time.  I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.  If you would like, I can email you when Gamescience Dice will be available to you again.

This was a strangely vague response. I replied asking for even the roughest ballpark timeline of when they would be back in stock, and got no response at all. Adding to the strangeness, GameStation had taken down their video of Lou Zocchi giving his GameScience spiel at GenCon.

So we did a bit more digging, reaching out to some contacts. We were able to confirm that in fact no GameScience dice are currently being manufactured at all (including the d100), and it’s unlikely that manufacturing will start up for at least a month or two until next year at the earliest. However, everyone one we spoke with was hopeful that manufacturing would start up again this year, but no one was willing to hazard a guess when, or whether the full color assortment would become available at once (there were some suggestions that manufacturing might start up one color at a time – but that is not at all certain, they could all come back at once).

While both manufacturers and distributors are out of stock, it is not possible for us to get any GameScience dice of any kind, and it will likely be a long drought before they’re available again.

Thanks to Welbo to providing the updated GameStation quote.

Most Popular Gaming Dice

It’s no secret that we gamers love dice — heck, we built a business around it. So we thought it would be fun to take a look at exactly what kinds of dice gamers like the most. With the tens of thousands of dice we sell each year, we figure there aren’t many businesses around that sell more dice than we do so we’re in a unique position to know what kinds of dice are most popular to gamers. And we love sharing data!

This data is all based on sales on Awesome Dice, and we’re counting number of purchases for each dice type. This data set is looking at all of 2012 sales — if there’s enough interest, we’ll continue posting this kind of information every year.

Most Popular Dice Set Types

Most popular dice set types

Starting at the top we’re looking purely at the kind of dice sets that gamers buy. It’s probably no surprise that 7-dice sets of classic D&D dice are the winner — these dice are used in countless RPGs from Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder to Earthdawn and Call of Cthulhu. What is a little surprising is that 12d6 dice sets weren’t as far behind as we’d have thought. This is largely because when wargamers buy 6-sided dice, they buy a lot of them. It’s not uncommon for us to get orders of ten or twenty 12d6 sets at once — almost always of plain opaque dice.

The 10d10 sets are a small fraction of dice sets sold, far diminished from the glory days of World of Darkness back in the late 90s. The odd dice are the sets of unusual-sided dice (d3, d5, etc) sold by GameScience.

Most Popular Dice Colors

Most popular dice colors chart

Here we’re taking a look at the most popular colors of dice out there. For purposes of this data, a die that is blue and red, for example, counts as both a blue and a red die. However, dice that are black and red would just count as red. Our logic here is that the black & red die is considered a red die — someone is buying it because it’s a cool-looking red die, not because of black. So the dice counted in the black column are dice that are predominantly black.

Blue is the clear winner for most popular dice color. From there red, green, black, and purple all steadily decline until the big drop-off. Glow in the dark dice sell surprisingly well, especially considering the difficulties we have in keeping the coolest glow in the dark 7-dice sets in stock. The Other column includes orange, yellow, gray, bronze, teal and other minor colors.

Most Popular Dice

Okay, enough of the charts of aggregate data — let’s take a look at what are flat out the most popular single sets of dice! For this we are excluding the cheap opaque dice. I think we can agree that there’s nothing particularly appealing to the opaque dice other than their price, but by numbers alone they would control half of the top 10 list, and that just isn’t terribly interesting.

It’s much more fun to look at the dice that gamers choose based on appearance, rather than price. Well, perhaps we should make an exception for number 1…

Pound o DIce

#1: Pound o’ Dice

The single most popular set of dice is actually the Pound o’ Dice — and it’s in first place by a pretty large margin as well. The Pound o’ Dice is a giant bag containing a random assortment of around 100 dice. These dice include a lot of factory seconds, but are also mixed in with high-quality dice from various Chessex dice sets.

Gamers cannot get enough of Pound o’ Dice. As owners of several of these ourselves, we can understand why. The Pound o’ Dice is a great and cheap way to stock up on a bunch of extra dice to replace the ones that are lost under furniture or provide dice to the people who forgot their own.

Mini gold dice set

#2 & 3: Mini Metal Dice 7-Sets

The second and third positions on the most popular dice list are the tiny 5mm mini metal dice. These dice sets come in both gold and silver colors (silver is #2, and gold is #3) and these dice are small enough that you can actually just about fit the entire set on the surface of a penny.

There’s just something about making something really, really small that appeals to people (remember the mini PHB & DMG?). In practice these mini dice make a very easy set of dice to carry with you anywhere.

Glow in the dark 12d6 dice set

#4: Glow in the Dark 12d6

Glow in the dark dice are just awesome. The 12d6 version earns its position in the top ten due to the combination of awesome glowiness and affordable price… and perhaps because we managed to get a particularly attractive photo of them glowing.

To be fair, the Glow in the Dark Elven Dice would very likely be in the top 10 if we could just keep them in stock. Every time we get more of these in from their manufacturer in Poland they blow out in a few weeks and it takes months to get more back in stock.

Elven translucent blue dice

#5: Elven Translucent Blue 7-Set

The Elven Translucent Blue dice are truly awesome. While the exact appearance varies from set to set, these dice feature cool designs inked in blue on a clear die. As a result, you can see the elven writing through dice dice, giving an elven feeling background to any given face of the dice.

These dice are works of art, and we totally get why they’re so popular.

Scarab Royal Blue dice set

#6: Scarab Royal Blue 7-Set

Here at Awesome Dice we’re big fans of the entire Scarab collection of dice, and Scarab Royal Blue brings in the top spot as the 6th most popular dice set. The Scarab dice in general do a really good job of mixing a solid color with black to give a darker, textured appearance.

It probably isn’t surprising that the Scarab Royal Blue is so popular since, as we’ve learned, blue is the most popular dice color of gaming dice.

Scarab Jade dice set

#7: Scarab Jade 7-Set

A personal favorite, the Scarab Jade 7-Dice Set is to green what the above set is to blue. Jade is the right word to describe these dice, making them perfect for everything from L5R characters (they come in 10d10 sets as well) to any wilderness characters. Or heck, any character at all — they’re just very cool-looking dice.

Gemini purple black dice set

#8: Gemini Purple-Black 7-Set

Given the popularity of the Gemini Purple-Black dice set, we were surprised to see that purple was so low in the most popular colors. It appears that if a gamer has a hankering for purple dice, then this is the purple dice set of choice.

Gemini Shell-Black dice set

#9: Gemini Black-Shell

A nice change from the typical bold and strong colors, the Gemini Black-Shell 7-set swiftly became a favorite a gamers. This is particularly impressive since we didn’t stock this dice color until halfway through the year! It will be interesting to see how it performs this year with a whole year to compete for the top 10 spot.

Scarab Blue Blood dice set

#10: Scarab Blue Blood 7-Set

Rounding out the top 10 list is yet another in the Scarab collection, the Scarab Blue Blood 7-set. To us, this is the true Scarab red die type, and it’s interesting that it’s the only red dice set in the top 10, considering all red dice combine to be the second most popular color.

Most Popular Dice Bags

Night Sky Dice BagWe’d like to be able to do a similar analysis of dice bags as we did with the dice, but we feel the data is pretty skewed on the dice bag front. We spent a good amount of time last year sourcing new cool dice bags, and as a result most of the dice bags were available for radically different periods of time — we didn’t even get our leather dice bags or chainmail dice bags on the site until early this year.

That said, the basic dice bags all took the top spots, including the metallic gold dice bag. The most popular non-basic dice bag was the Night Sky dice bag (pictured to the left).

If the emails we get are any indication, the Dragon Scale Dice Bags are the most desired bags, but their hefty price probably prevents them from making the top-selling list. Our new selection of leather dice bags have been incredibly popular, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them topping the list in 2013.

What Do You Think?

What do you think should have made the list for coolest gamer dice but didn’t? Do you think there are other ways we should have looked at aggregate data? And most of all, is this kind of information the kind of thing you’d like to see us do more of at Awesome Dice? We’re always eager to dig into any kind of dice-related data that we can (such as our randomness test) but don’t know if most gamers get quite the enjoyment out of these statistics as we do.

New World’s Oldest d20: Egyptian d20

Almost 10 years ago an ancient Roman d20 was found dating from 100 AD. This totally awesome 20-sided die sold at auction at Christie’s for $17,925 and at the time was the oldest d20 ever found.

Well — move over Romans, the Egyptians now take the title for the oldest d20 with this awesome ancient d20 dated from 300 to 30 BC, from the Egyptian Ptolmaic period. This sweet die is now housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has apparently been there since 1910 without any gamer knowing.

World's oldest d20

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this die was collected between 1883 and 1906 from a missionary in Egypt and is a part of their Egyptian Art collection. We can only speculate on what the die was used for, but it certainly looks incredibly cool. The Egyptian d20 is carved from serpentine rock.

Many thanks to Geekologie for the heads up, and we have updated the History of Dice to include this piece as the world’s oldest d20.

d20 Dice Randomness Test: Chessex vs GameScience

Do Your Dice Roll True?

The founder of GameScience, Lou Zocchi, has long claimed that GameScience dice roll more true than other gaming dice. In a well-known GenCon video Zocchi explained why GameScience dice should roll more true.

His logic is that due to how dice are made, traditional RPG dice are actually put through a process similar to a rock tumbler as part of the painting and polishing, and this process  causes the dice to have rounded edges. In theory the uneven rounding gives the dice an inconsistent shape that favors certain sides. GameScience dice are not put through this process, which is why they retain their sharp edges and is also why their dice come uninked.

While Zocchi’s makes a good argument about egg-shaped d20s, what was lacking was any kind of actual testing of how the dice roll. Nowhere were we able to find any tests of d20s — either GameScience or traditional d20s — to determine whether or not they roll true. As giant fans of dice and an impartial third party, we decided to run a test ourselves and see just how randomly RPG d20s really roll.

We pitted GameScience precision dice against Chessex dice (the largest RPG dice manufacturer) to see what science has to say.

Test dice condenders

Methodology

For the principle test we used one Chessex d20 and one GameScience d20, both brand new right out of the packaging. The GameScience d20 was inked with a Sharpe to make it easier to read the results, but the dice were not modified in any other way.

The dice were rolled by hand on a battlemat on a level table. For this experiment the dice were rolled on the surface for at least two feet and had to bounce off a flat backstop before coming to rest. This is similar to the requirements of craps tables in casinos. Our logic is that if this method successfully prevents cheating with six-sided dice, it will more than suffice for d20 dice being rolled without any intent to alter the results. (Since casinos are not losing money on gambling, we assume they know what they’re doing).

Each die was rolled 10,000 times, and the results recorded.

Test Results

After an insane amount of dice rolling, here is a quick look at the results for each die:

d20 dice randomness test results

A casual analysis of the results suggests that neither die is rolling randomly.

If we had a d20 that rolled perfectly, each face would come up 500 times. But of course randomness isn’t perfect and we’d expect some deviation: over the course of 10,000 rolls we’d expect, with 85% confidence, that each face would be within about 33 of 500 — so anywhere from 467 to 533 is within the bounds of randomness. (At 95% confidence the margin of error is 45). Neither die falls within these bounds.

The Chessex d20 had a standard deviation of 78.04, and the GameScience d20 had a standard deviation of 60.89.

While neither die rolled true, it’s certain that the Chessex die rolled less true, with a greater degree of deviation from the expected range across more of the dice faces. Interestingly, the GameScience die actually rolled very close to true except for the number 14 which rolled vastly less often than it should have, farther off than any face of the Chessex d20. Applying the results to a Chi Squared test also confirms that neither die is rolling randomly (even if you ignore the 14/7 on the GameScience die).

GameScience d20 flash
Closeup of the flash where the GameScience d20 is removed from the mold. Click to Embiggen.

GameScience 14 Theory:
We have a theory as to why the 14 rolled so infrequently on the GameScience d20. Every GameScience die has a small chunk of plastic that sticks out of one face. This flashing is from where the die was removed from the mold. It occurs on all dice, but in Chessex dice this flashing is removed in the polishing process.

On GameScience 20-sided dice this flashing is on the 7 face — directly opposite the 14.

It seems likely that it is more difficult for the d20 to land on the face with the flashing sticking out, pushing the GameScience die off that face. In other words, this flashing makes the 14 roll far less often than it should. Since the flashing position is set from the mold, all GameScience d20s should have the flash in the same position (and all in our inventory do).

Some Confirmation

Since this test was simply one d20 from both manufacturers, it’s possible we just happened to choose the only Chessex d20 that didn’t roll true, and the only GameScience d20 that rolled far fewer 14s. As a check on our results we took another new d20 from both Chessex and GameScience and rolled each under the same conditions.

After 1,600 rolls the same pattern emerged (incidentally, the standard deviation after 1,600 rolls was almost identical to the 10,000 roll test). The Chessex d20 still had more deviation from expected than GameScience, and the GameScience d20 rolled massively fewer 14 results. Both dice still rolled sufficiently out of true to be beyond the margin of error. So this quick (well, not so quick) double check is some confirmation of the 10,000 roll test.

So Which Dice Are Better?

It’s worth stressing that based on our tests you would need a lot of dice rolls before you saw a meaningful difference in any of these gaming dice — roll a thousand times and maybe you’ll see 5 or 10 less of a given number than you’d expect (or more). So for gaming purposes both dice will work just fine. Seriously.

But that said Chessex dice (and in theory any rounded-edged dice) are going to roll less close to true. Because of the randomness of the process that changes the shape of the dice, there’s no way to predict which faces are going to roll better or worse. Indeed this means that you could have dice that are “lucky” and roll high more often or crit more often, and “cursed” dice that seldom roll 20s and fumble more often.

With GameScience dice, on the other hand, you know that the 14 will roll substantially less than any other result — so technically the dice will roll low, but the 20 should roll just about as often as the one, or the 10. If you carefully cut off the bump on the GameScience dice with a sharp box cutter or exacto knife you should get a result that is very close to being truly random.

Raw Data

Here is all of the data from the 10,000 roll test, so anyone who wants can subject the numbers to their own statistical analysis. We’re including in here the percentage that the rolls of any given number deviate from the expected number of 500 per face.

Chessex d20

Number  Qty Rolled   Deviation from Expected
1 395 21.00%
2 417 16.60%
3 576 13.19%
4 567 11.82%
5 488 2.40%
6 622 19.61%
7 396 20.80%
8 443 11.40%
9 542 7.75%
10 581 13.94%
11 544 8.09%
12 554 9.75%
13 399 20.20%
14 411 17.80%
15 562 11.03%
16 593 15.68%
17 561 10.87%
18 558 10.39%
19 383 23.40%
20 408 18.40%

 

GameScience d20

Number   Qty Rolled   Deviation from Expected
1 508 1.57%
2 564 11.35%
3 496 0.80%
4 532 6.02%
5 488 2.40%
6 492 1.60%
7 503 0.60%
8 580 13.79%
9 474 5.20%
10 555 9.91%
11 533 6.19
12 486 2.80%
13 463 7.40%
14 295 41.00%
15 491 1.80%
16 499 0.20%
17 443 11.40%
18 602 16.94%
19 522 4.21%
20 474 5.20%

 

This is Just One Test

In the world of science, this is just one very small test. To have relatively certain results we’d need to replicate this test across many different Chessex and GameScience dice — if anyone is interested in running their own test to corroborate or contradict our results, we would love to hear about it!

Once our wrists recover from all the rolling, we may consider a second test ourselves — specifically to confirm the theory that the flash on the GameScience die is what is causing the 14 to roll so low: we want to carefully sand the flash down and retest the same die to see if it then rolls more true.

Disclaimer: we have made every effort to ensure that our testing methodology was as fair and accurate as possible; however, without much more testing we cannot say with certainty whether one kind of dice roll better or worse.

Dice Quotes

They say that if you don’t know history, you’re doomed to keep using cursed dice and get your character killed off. Here at Awesome Dice we already dug into the History of Dice, and in the course of our digging we came across a bunch of famous quotes involving dice. At first we were going to incorporate these into the history, but in the end we decided there wasn’t enough space to squeeze them all onto the graphic.

Rather than let them go to waste, here is a collection of famous (or not so famous) dice quotes, dating from more than 2,000 years ago to today. Personally, I think that for the most part the quotes improve as time passes.

Dice Quotes

“It is easy to see the faults of others, but difficult to see one’s own faults. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning gambler conceals his dice.”
– Buddha, Gautama Siddharta (563 – 483 BC)

“These can never be true friends: hope, dice, a prostitute, a robber, a cheat, a goldsmith, a monkey, a doctor, a distiller.”
– Indian Proverb

“The dice of Zeus always fall luckily.”
– Sophocles (497 – 406 BC)

“Alea jacta est.” (The die is cast)
– Julius Caesar (49 BC)

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”
– Proverbs 16:33

“Be these the wretches that we play’d at dice for?”
– William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

“He hath spoken true; the very dice obey him.”
– William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

“Whose game was empires and whose stakes were thrones,
Whose table earth, whose dice were human bones.”
– Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)

“The dice of God are always loaded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

“Give me today, for once, the worst throw of your dice, destiny. Today I transmute everything into gold.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche (1882)

“Appeal: In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.”
– Ambrose Bierce (1881 – 1906)

“God does not play dice with the universe.”
-Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“All the evidence shows that God was actually quite a gambler, and the universe is a great casino, where the dice are thrown, and roulette wheels spin on every occasion.”
– Stephen Hawking

“God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the players, (ie everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”
– Neil Gaiman / Terry Pratchett

Golden d20

This is a large foam d20. It is not gold, and that's a problem.

Here at Awesome Dice we were working on a project for which we really wanted a large golden d20. Unfortunately we’re not aware of any manufacturers that make anything of the sort. Incredibly tiny gold dice we can get, and there are manufacturers that make regular sized golden-colored dice, but nothing over the standard 16mm dice.

What we do have, however, is a very large hard foam d20. The size is good, around 7 inches, but it’s green instead of gold. With nothing much to lose (other than a perfectly good giant foam d20) we decided to try spray-painting it.

We hopped over to the local hardware store and bought some metallic gold spray paint, took it and the foam d20 out to the driveway and followed the instructions. Somewhat to our surprise, it worked incredibly well.

After just one coat of plain metallic gold spray paint, we had a lovely gold d20.

Giant gold d20 diceYou can see the crackled creases of the foam highlighted by the metallic gold, but we decided the effect was pretty cool. We were so pleased, in fact, that we grabbed one of the 47mm d6s and tried a coat of gold spray paint on that one. The effect on the hard plastic was a die that indeed looks like it was molded out of gold.

We tried some test rolls: the foam gold d20 works great and the paint seems to hold on well. The d6, on the other hand, is so heavy that in addition to gouging notches in delicate tables, it also chips the gold coating off of the polished plastic surface. Of course for our use we don’t actually need to roll them, but if you want to do this for anything other than looking cool sitting on a shelf, go the foam route.

As a final note, be sure to lay a good expanse of cardboard or something on the surface that you’re going to paint on — don’t be an idiot and spray paint with the dice laying directly on your concrete driveway, because then you’ll end up with golden circles on your driveway. You know, kinda like ours.

History of Dice

Dice is all we do here at Awesome Dice, and as often as we talk about the bad old days of coloring in dice with crayons from the Dungeons & Dragons boxed set, that was actually very recently in the history of dice. As it turns out, dice date back about as long as human civilization does, with the earliest dice found in Egyptian tombs and archeological digs in ancient Sumeria.

Here is a brief timeline of the history of dice. Below we’ll talk about some of the sources and debunk a couple of the false claims of oldest dice.

History of Dice Infographic

Sources

Because we’re big fans of good science here at Awesome Dice, here is the complete list of all dice facts from the History of Dice infographic along with the source for each piece of data. After this we’ll address some of the info that didn’t make it into this history, and why:

History of Dice

Dice have been used in games throughout the history of civilization, from ancient Egypt and Sumeria to Dungeons & Dragons.

  • 3100 BCE: Earliest hieroglyphics representing Senet boards found. Senet uses 2-sided playing pieces for randomization. Source: In Search of the Meaning of Senet.
  • 3000 BCE: Oldest confirmed dice found in a dig site in Turkey along with other game pieces. Date cited as “near” 3,000 BCE — could be a bit less. Source: Discovery News.
  • 3000 BCE: Holes are found punched into clay floors in the Mexico Tlacuachero site, similar to modern dice game score boards. Source: National Geographic.
  • 2600 BCE: Oldest confirmed dice. Pyramidal d4s found in the board game, the Royal Game of Ur from ancient Sumeria. Source: Brittish Museum.
  • 2000 BCE: Cubical dice found in Egyptian tombs. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 1333 BCE: Knucklebones — primitive dice shaped like animal bones — found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. Source: Egyptian Museum Cairo
  • 1188 BCE: Approximate date that Sophocles said dice were invented by Palamedes during the siege of Troy. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 900 BCE: Tuscania dice found near Rome. Cubical dice with standard pip markings. Source: Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations
  • 600 BCE: Cubical dice found in Chinese excavations. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 400 BCE: Oldest written records of dice, in the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 300 BCE: Oldest d20 from Egypt dated from the Ptolmaic period. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • 150 BCE: Egyptian d12 found from the Ptolmaic period. Source: Dicecollector.com
  • 100 AD: 2nd oldest 20-sided die. This ancient Roman d20 sold at auction for $17,925 in 2003. Source: Christie’s
  • 1000 AD: Dice buried in Viking grave mounds. Source: Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 14
  • 1600 AD: Dice first subject to mathematical analysis by Galileo and Girolamo Cardano. Probability mathematics conceived. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 1888 AD: 8-sided poker dice. Source: Dicecollector.com
  • 1906 AD: 10-sided dice patented in the US. Source: US Patent Office
  • 1950 AD: Oldest plastic d20, numbered 0-9, patented by Tokyo-Shibuara Electric Company. Source: Dicecollector.com
  • 1974 AD: Dungeons & Dragons published and sells a set of polyhedral dice. D20 numbered 0-9 and no d10. Source: our memory.
  • 1980 AD: At GenCon the first 10-sided dice claimed to have been invented. Source: our memory.
  • 1985 AD: The zocchihedron, d100 is released. Source: US Patent Office

Some Debunking

ancient roman diceGamers doing some cursory poking around on the internet might notice a few claims of older dice that are not included in this history. Certainly if you know of something we missed, please drop a comment with a link to the sources! However, there are some seemingly official-looking stories out there that don’t withstand scrutiny. Here are the big ones:

Burnt City Dice: If you go looking around online for the oldest dice found, you will inevitably stumble on a site talking about the world’s oldest backgammon set found in the Burnt City, along with the oldest set of dice. Every report of this find can be sourced back to a single Persian Journal article from 2004 (no longer online). This story has been repeated and scraped and reposted countless times across the internet. I have not been able to find any reports confirming the dice from the Burnt City that doesn’t take its text from the Persian Journal article.

Over at Chess Quest this article does a pretty good and well-documented job of debunking the reports of the Burnt City backgammon set & dice. Furthermore, it looks like the photo of ancient dice used in the article and every other repost of the article were actually taken from this site. The dice are from a collection of ancient dice and are actually roman dice made of bone dated from 100 BCE to 100 AD, and have nothing to do with the Burnt City. Thus this story doesn’t hold up enough to be included in the history of dice.

5000 BCE Dice: There are a handful of sites out on the web that claim that dice have been found dated back to 5000 BCE, and of course none of them list any sources. I’m pretty sure that this mis-dating also comes from that pesky Burnt City Persian Journal article. The article made reference to dice from 5,000 years ago. I strongly suspect that someone misinterpreted that as meaning 5000 BCE, and like the Burnt City story itself, the misinformation spread across the web.

Updates

11/11/2012: Added new oldest d20 for Egyptian d20 at Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5/26/2012: Added Tutankhamen knucklebone reference.

If you are aware of an oldest dice find or a significant archaeological find that you think should be added, please drop a comment with a link to the source and we’ll get it added if we can verify the info, and if we think it’s significant enough to squeeze in.