LEGO Accessories for Board Games

A blog devoted to discussing the creation of LEGO custom components and accessories for various board games, hopefully of interest to fans of LEGO bricks and people who enjoy the hobby of creating items to aid in the organization and play of our favorite board games.
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A Survey of LEGO Dice Towers

The rwinder
United States
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Come read my Arkham Horror stories on Twitter @ArkhamHorror
Image courtesy of Smizmazmarlemagne
So I'm back at last after being under the weather for close to a month. In this entry I wanted to expand the survey of LEGO creations outside of just my own creations to what others have achieved, while still keeping the focus on dice towers for now, since this is quite a well represented and useful application of LEGO bricks with respect to board games.

Many of these dice towers are covered in my GeekList on the subject as well: LEGO Dice Towers. Here I provide some added description as well on general speculation that might assist people looking to make their own towers.

A Dice Tower for the Lazy

This competes for being my favorite LEGO creation on the site and it is certainly my favorite dice tower, a self-loading dice tower. Well, not really, you have to pull a lever, but it does beautifully lift the dice in its well and drop them into the tower with one motion. A solution for those too lazy to pick up the dice and drop them, a situation that I'm sure we've all been in, right? I encourage you to look at the image itself, by the way, as the creator has links to more information on the tower. I'm quite impressed by the mechanics of this, though I've yet to try to duplicate it myself.

Someone actually has proposed a dice tower for the extremely lazy, where the lifting and rolling of dice is accomplished by a button push rather than activating a lever. With the MINDSTORMS sets, this is possible...

Thematic Towers

One of the nicest aspects of LEGO as a medium is that you really are limited only by your imagination (and the smallest sizes of the shiny plastic elements, of course). This means that it is feasible to create a dice tower for any theme you so desire. My own inclinations run to towers for the dice-fest games like Arkham Horror or Descent, such as is the case with the two towers below.

I'm sure that if I owned War of the Ring, you'd be seeing Barad-Dur or Orthanc themed towers from me too, though I doubt either would be as big as what you'd see here:

But perhaps the easiest way to go is to build using one of the themes already available in LEGO by buying up sets in a theme to get pieces to have a consistent look, like with the Harry Potter LEGO tower.

Of course your mileage may vary depending on the theme and sets purchased. Naturally castle structures are more inclined to being made into dice towers, but you can do a lot with imagination such as with this futuristic dice "boot" that uses a lot of trans-color space pieces.

Making a "Simple" Dice Tower

Doing a themed tower is not the easiest thing in the world as it requires a lot of imagination, practice, and the right pieces. However, people have made very attractive dice towers by just keeping a consistent color theme. So if you have an abundance of a color, using it or a consistent small set of colors, will usually end up looking sleek and good for a variety of games.

Towers Made in LEGO Digital Designer (LDD)

Of course, it's quite a commitment to buy and build with LEGO, but fortunately, there's a good free software package LEGO provides that will let you build virtually (and of course upload to LEGO to buy, though the price is usually hefty). But this is still a good way to explore what can be created, and there's many instances of these virtual dice towers on the site. These can get quite impressive, like the large dragon one, but I find the dice trays interesting as well, though I prefer having a single outlet for the dice to land in.

Issues with LEGO Dice Towers

Despite how cool the dice towers look, they are not ideal. For one thing, making a dice tower with a consistent look or with a theme will require a lot of specific bricks and while there are avenues to purchase bricks that are not grossly expensive (either the pick-a-brick wall in LEGO stores if you don't mind the limited selection or are the first that come to mind), my preference is to just use what I have on hand, and I lack the patience for buying specific bricks in advance. This subject though is best explored in a blog entry all its own.

In addition, an experience common to my dice towers, I find it is difficult to ensure that dice will not fly out of the well after landing there. The smooth plastic tiles really tend to make dice "bouncy" and if you drop dice into most of the towers I have made a certain way, you can actually ensure dice will fly out of the well. On the other hand there are also ways to drop the dice such that they will almost certainly not bounce out, but one simply needs to be aware of this when using the dice towers. And there are some dice towers that have well walls so low, that they aren't really useable without further modification such as my zombie tower, which is really more a cosmetic lark of mine than a functional dice tower.

One way around this is to build higher walls, but that makes it harder to get the dice out. My best solution was the first I tried in the exploding cult building where the end of the tower's well was a tall gate. The walls are fairly low, but the dice rarely ever escape because the gate is tall enough to block them.

In the future, I might try my hand at creating a dice tower that only requires bricks from a single source (one of those buckets or boxes of normal bricks) and give more specific guidance on how to make it. This might be a helpful beginning point for those who want to make one, but have no frame of reference for what it takes. I know it can be more or less done, as evidence has been provided:

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