Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dice Delve: Chessex Pound-O-Dice

I am going to break the format slightly for the purposes of this bulk dice review. A lot of people are buying mass quantities of dice, either for new players or to bolster existing collections. As a game master, I like to have a lot of options available for me to match my admittedly capricious moods, and I also like to hand out new dice to beginning players, since it's easier to simply give them what they need than expect them to know what they need. 

These days, thanks to lax international shipping and a variety of online shopping sites, starter dice sets are very cheap. Cool dice that you really want to play with cost a little more and are a really personal choice for each person, but for new players, all you really need are the correct sizes and shapes and you're good to go.

Still, these bulk buys are not without their charm, especially when you have a company like Chessex, who are known for their awesome speckled dice, offering a big-ass bag of them for a relatively low price. Sounds great, right? 

from the front
from the back
 This bulk buy of factory seconds and one-off dice from Chessex includes a bonus 7-dice Speckled set not found anywhere else. Over 100 dice! Some of them good!

Let’s break this product down and see if it’s worth buying. Specifically, I'm going to see how many sets of dice I can make out of this pound-o-dice. They don't have to match (how could they, really?) so we are just looking for usable random number generators.

There were 97 loose dice in the bag, along with the unique Speckled polyhedral set, bringing the total up to 104 dice. Over a hundred? Check! Here was the breakdown:

D4           11
D6           14
D6 pips   6
D8           12
D10        20
%10        10
D12        7
D20        19

As a group, this is a nice looking bunch of dice. 
With only 7 d12s in the bag, this means if we just clump dice into random sets of 7, you could make 7 sets, for a total of 8 sets (including the special Speckled set). That’s a little more than three bucks a set for your buy-in. Economically, that's great value.  The vast majority of the dice (66) were Chessex's house brand Euro-dice in both opaque and speckled dice, so they are high quality.  Another 15 were high impact plastic and 17 were clear plastic or acrylic.


Dear God, what am I looking at? Seriously.

Unfortunately, those 8 sets would all look pretty hideous. Sure, they still generate random integers, but what about the children? In this case, their eyes should be protected from the clash of colors. Many of the d20 dice were failed Gemini experiments or cast-offs. The speckled dice, all 56 of them, were nearly completely colors I’d never have bought for myself in a million years. 

The worst of all was the Mystery Speckled set. Look at that pink on pink monstrosity. LOOK AT IT!  I chose the d20 only so as not to expose you to the horror all at once. I can’t even take it all in. It's making my eyes explode, on the inside, just a little bit. I feel as if I am being punished by an indifferent and alien god. 


These are some attractive colors. Also, complete random
one-off colors. No way of getting a full set. 
The Pound-o-Dice used to not be this way. It used to be a way to restock loose dice for retailers who sold such things in the clear acrylic trays. As such, it was a nice spread of speckled and opaque dice, designed to add a random mix to old or picked over loose stock. Now that the Pound-o-Dice bag is a consumer product, aimed a dice collectors, maybe they are selling it on the strength of having unique and unusual and rare dice colors included. If that sounds exciting to you, then I daresay, you will not be disappointed. 


As it stands, this product is not my cuppa. I realized something about myself while sorting through these dice: I need a little color coordination in my life. Not much, but some. A mix is okay, if it's pleasing to the eye. With this product, I can’t pull a cohesive color-coordinated set out of 104 dice (and yes, I’m including the “Poltergeist Closet Esophagus”-colored special Speckled set in that statement), and so I consider that a serious strike against it. Out of all of the dice, I’m adding maybe 20 to my loose dice collection. The rest are going into my spares and trades box. That’s not a good value for me, not at all. 

While charmingly ugly, at least these d20s are the
same material as the regular Chessex opaque dice.

Recommendation: while I didn’t like the Gemini dice and most of the speckled combinations in my Pound-o-Dice, I realize that many collectors would, in fact, like them, for exactly the same reasons that I don't. Unless you agree with me. And then you won’t.  If you just need bulk dice to bolster your collection, this is a cheap way to get some classy shabby-chic dice. Treated as unicorns, these interesting Speckled dice are great for adding flair to your dice horde or giving away to friends to start them in dice collecting (you filthy enabler, you).  But if you’re looking for a bunch of matching Speckled dice colors, here’s what I would suggest you do instead:

You can purchase bags of 50 Speckled dice in every style from D4 to D20. It WILL cost you way more, but the thing is this: those dice are made up of existing and current speckled dice stock, so they will (A) match sets you already have, and/or (B) bolster sets you already have by adding affordable multiples. And get this: on the label, it tells you what colors are included and how many of each color! These bags cost $25-$30 bucks or more, per polyhedral, but again, it’s centered on dice in the current styles. That way, you’re sure to get more of what you can really use.


These few translucent dice
made it into the bag.
These two-color fake-metallic dice made me angry. I wanted
them to not actually exist. And yet, they thwarted me. If
I could punch these dice, I totally would.


And just in case you forgot what the mystery bonus set looked like:
AIEEEEEE! IT BURNS! MAKE IT STOP!

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