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Dice — It’s How We Roll

In the world of tabletop gaming, dice are essential tools. They’re either your friend or bitter enemy, depending on what you roll. In this installment of “An Ogre-View”, we cover an intro to the complexities of dice in tabletop gaming.

So Many Types!


The most common kinds of dice are made from some form of plastic or polymer and come in various styles — clear, opaque, sparkly, shimmery, glow-in-the-dark, speckled, marbled or swirled, and more.

Metal types are, of course, much heavier, and are also more “destructive” when you roll them. If you do get a set, it’s best to keep them separated from your plastic ones. And you want to roll them on a padded surface so you don’t ruin the corners and edges.

High-end varieties are crafted from other types of natural materials. You can find them available for purchase from online artisan stores.

Wooden dice are created from exotic woods, which may also be used to craft dice trays and towers. You can also find dice fashioned from semi-precious stone material (malachite, jade, azurite, etc.). Be aware, however, that both types tend to be more expensive, ranging from $30 to over $100 for a complete set.

Shape and Classification

6-siders (also called “pips” because of the dots) have — you guessed it! — six sides. They are standard, and the kind you’re probably most familiar with because they’re used in many classic board games and casino games.

Polyhedrals are sets of (normally) seven differently-shaped dice, each with a different number of sides (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20, and a Percentage Die).

Some dice are game-specific. They either come with a particular game, or need to be purchased separately as starter or extra sets. Star Wars Destiny, Blood Bowl, and Warhammer Underworlds are a few examples.

Which Ones Should You Use?

If you play miniature wargames such as Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar, Bolt Action, Konflikt ’47 and the like, you will need multiple sets of 6-siders, or D6s. Believe it or not, depending on the units (miniatures) you choose to make up your army, you might need to roll anywhere from a dozen to 60 dice in one turn. The standard size is 16mm. But many gamers choose to use 12mm pips in wargaming because of the quantity you need to roll.

Some wargames, like Bolt Action, also require special Orders Dice. These are 6-siders that have action words printed on them, such as “Rally”, or “Advance”. On a player’s turn, someone draws one of these out of a bag to determine who gets to give their unit an order, or action.

For tabletop role-playing games, you need at least one set of polyhedral dice. They determine your character’s actions, as well as outcomes of challenges presented to you by your DM. It is not uncommon to have several sets of polyhedrals on-hand while you are playing an RPG, or at least several different D20s. If you keep rolling low, you may want to retire a particular die or even a whole set into what is known as dice jail. Then choose a “fresh” one from your stash!



Don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to collect dice. It happens to everyone. Truly, you can never have just one set! And that means you’ll need decent storage.

Dice bags range in size, style, shape, and material. Whichever one you choose comes down to personal preference, as well as how many dice you want to store in one bag. Some bags can store well over 100. There are also custom-made bags which have individual compartments sewn into the inside to separate your sets.

Trays and Towers

You use dice trays and towers during gameplay. Both are containers in which you roll dice so they don’t roll or bounce off the table. Neither trays nor towers are necessary to play any tabletop game, but they do add an element of fun.

Learn a Game and Roll Some Dice

If you want to start rolling some dice of your own, you can get started any time at the Den. We recommend taking an Intro to D&D Class and have fun with polyhedrals. Or, if wargaming sounds more interesting, schedule a game demo and learn what all those 6-siders do!