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Archive for the ‘Dice’ Category

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a dice post.  Seth Owen’s Pawnderings blog has posted a nifty link to a detailed analysis of 6-sided dice done by an engineering professor at ASU who happens to be a tabletop miniatures gamer.

It turns out that many 6-sided dice are not particularly good when it comes to the statistical liklihood of the 6 possible outcomes; ideally each numbers should be rolled 16.67% of the time but in reality he found that Chessex, Games Workshop, and other dice with rounded corners actually roll ones a staggering 29% of the time!  Dice with square corners were much closer, with 1s being rolled only 19% of the time.  Certified casino dice used for craps were just about dead on.

This is pretty disappointing as I really like dice with rounded corners, they just feel and look better than dice with square corners.  Not only that, it is somewhat counter intuitive as it seems like dice with rounded corners tumble better, so you would think that would lead to better randomization of the results.  Instead it seems like the mass distribution of the dice after the pips have been hollowed out and the corners rounded off produces this very uneven result.

So it turns out that if you want more fair results from your D6’s you better be using dice with square corners and the heavier the better.  Or, if you are really particular about your dice, you better be using Casino dice which it turns out are pretty pricy.

Anyways it’s a fascinating little article, definitely check it out if you play any sort of games with dice rolling.

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Roman D20

I wasn’t aware that the D20, of Dungeons and Dragons fame, actually goes way back to Roman times.  Christie’s auction house sold a glass Roman D20 for around $17,000.  It’s unknown what game it was used for but apparently the Romans were very fond of gambling with dice so its possible it was a gambling dice game.  The British Museum has had Roman dice on display for decades, including a 20-sided die.

The twenty-sided die, in the geometric shape of the icosahedron, is one of the Platonic Solids so it’s shape would have been well understood by academics in Roman times.

Dungeons and Dragons was the first game to popularize the use of the D20 (as well as others such as the D4, D8, and D12) which is very common in games now and provide a lot more options to the game designer in terms of probability spreads than just D6’s can.  Nowadays gaming dice are big business.

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