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Subject: Is this too many custom Dice? rss

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Colin Moore
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Okay. So I just finished some design work on a very early game (vehicular warfare.) The core concept uses custom dice. I sat and finally figured out how many custom dice would be needed in the current conception of the game:

It's 21. 21 Unique Dice. 7 d8's, 7 d10's and 7 d12's, in sets of 7 different colors. Each die has a different load out of symbols on it. No numbers just symbols.

Is this too much? It seems like a lot to me, of course, but I really like the where this game is going.

Is it too much from a gameplay perspective? Would you be daunted or disinterested if a game had that many unique dice?

Is it too much for production purposes? This game is conceived of as a component heavy game, with cards and minis and so one. But does a dice count like this make it totally unfeasible? The only games I can think of with similar amounts of custom dice are things like Roll for the Galaxy, Rattle,battle grab the loot, or the Star wars RPG.
 
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Carl Qwerty
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Some people like rolling lots of dice, some people don't.
 
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K S
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Soul Proprietor wrote:
Is it too much from a gameplay perspective? Would you be daunted or disinterested if a game had that many unique dice?


Wait...is that a thing? whistle
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Christopher Dearlove
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bill437 wrote:
Some people like rolling lots of dice, some people don't.


Misses the point I'm afraid.

If you hang around professional designers (*) and publishers (I know a few) you realise that board games are engineering. Where engineering is about making things to a budget. (The budget isn't always money, it's also about things like power, but here we are talking money.)

Now I'm not either of those two sorts of people. So I can't say for sure. But what I do know leads me to believe you are definitely well over cost. You mentioned Roll for the Galaxy, but that has d6s, which are cheaper than other shapes, has small ones (but I believe Tom Lehmann has said that wasn't a critical factor, which otherwise I wouldn't have known), was aimed at a larger market than you could aim for (there are fixed costs to cover, not just per game costs) and is expensive.

So I would definitely get a ballpark figure from someone (sorry, don't know who) before going much further with the design in that form. Even if you don't plan to publish it yourself. Because offering an uneconomic design to a publisher will fail to sell and reduce your reputation. Which leads to my footnote.

(*) A professional game designer knows enough about these factors to only offer publishers something saleable. That's a significant part of what makes them professional. Since I've only mentioned one designer in this post, while I don't know Tom Lehmann, it's obvious he's a professional in this (and every other) sense.
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Hampus Ram
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I sound like quite a lot. How many different symbols are there?

A production issue? The question, I think, is really how hard it is for new and returning players to "remember" what each die roll means. Will you have to stop and think what each die represents, perhaps even consult a player aid? If yes, then you probably have a problem, but not with production...

However, it seems to me that quite a few dice kickstarters have problems with production of custom dice. It looks like it requires some skill from both designer and the production facility.
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Colin Moore
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bill437 wrote:
Some people like rolling lots of dice, some people don't.


For the record, you only roll two of the dice at a time.
 
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Gil Hova
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From a gameplay perspective, I'd listen to people who play your game (especially blind testers who don't have as much invested in your feelings), and get their feedback.

For production: yes, this is an expensive game, and most publishers will decline it for that reason. Each separate die mold adds to the cost substantially, and the plastic to make the dice isn't cheap either. So if you have two d8s with different faces? That's two different die molds. Expensive.

Alternatives:

* Consider cards instead of dice. You lose the tactile nature, but it'll be much more realistic for a publisher. You may also be able to tap into the "memory" of a deck of cards.

* Consider using traditional polyhedral dice, and have players look up results on tables. Might be more fiddly, but would be cheaper than custom dice.

* Find an IP this might work with. Find a publisher with access to that IP. Don't spend an enormous amount of time on the IP match, but spend enough time to know it will work. (Make sure your gameplay is solid, though) Pitch the game as a possible match. Expect the answer "no", but there's always a chance.

Attaching the game to an IP would raise the minimum print run, which might make production of the game feasible.

Above all: playtest, playtest, playtest, and look for opportunities to streamline all those different dice into fewer custom molds.
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Ken Lewis
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That sounds like a lot of custom dice.

I think the first thing you need to do is determine how essential the dice are to your design.

Then you need to determine the absolute minimum you would need in your game, with the understanding that the dice can be shared among players and multiple dice can potentially be condensed into 1 die, if they aren't being used in ways that would require a player to hold on to them.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that, when testing your game, you should try and test alternate mechanics to see how they affect your game. Too often I see a designer holding on to a design choice that winds up negatively affecting their game because they refused to change something they considered unique or crucial.

Also know your target market, and look at similar games in that market to see what players like and dislike about them. For example, if similar games that are popular use mechanics that require less luck, and yours requires a higher degree of luck, it might not go over so well with that market. That is one of the reasons blind testing is so important, it not only helps you balance your game, it helps you learn the preferences of players.

 
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"Too many custom dice" is like too many pretty girls.

S.
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Jeff Wood
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Consider Dragon Dice, Star Trek: The Next Generation Collectible Dice Game, and Quarriors!.

All these games feature custom dice (usually d6, but some d12) with a plethora of icons. Each new expansion requires a new set of dice moldings. I always need a cheat sheet to figure out what I've rolled.

Yes, at the other end of the spectrum are the 20(21?) custom dice of Seasons which has excellent iconography.

It is getting easier to do custom d6 sides these days, from what I've seen, hence why Seasons is profitable. Other types of dice not so much...those you find struggling on kickstarter.
 
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Ken Lewis
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The above post makes me ask, what type of game are you designing?

Is it a dice game?

A miniatures combat game?

A combat board game?

etc...
 
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James Arias
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For me it would depend on how many unique symbols I have to remember. E.g. Descent /SWIA have a lot of custom dice but they're all d6, differ only by color and in aggregate have a finite number of symbols you have to remember. The old GW games like Space Crusade just renumbered the sides.
 
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Andy Holt
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I believe I heard it said that the mould for the custom D12 in the deluxe versions of Discworld:Ankh-Morpork cost £1500. Loads of different dice is going to be prohibitive.
 
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Ben Pinchback
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When we did Floating Market with Eagle-Gryphon https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170202/floating-market we were talking somewhere between 25 and 30 total NON custom D4 D6 D10 D12 and the MSRP based on production costs ended up at something like $50. And that was non custom. The polys aren't cheap. Reading through your design, personally I would take some of the above advice and try to get your total dice count down significantly. But ultimately you'll have to decide how that would affect your gameplay.
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Isaac Shalev
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That does seem like it's
- a lot of dice
- polyhedral
- custom faces, many molds
- multiple colors, which means cleaning costs between presses

It's sort of like all the ways to make dice as expensive as possible. And that's not your whole component load either. So yes, I think your current approach is going to pose challenges to publication.
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Colin Moore
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To answer a few questions:

Giant_Monster wrote:
The above post makes me ask, what type of game are you designing?

Is it a dice game?

A miniatures combat game?

A combat board game?

etc...


A vehicular miniature combat game in the vein of Wings of War or Attack Wing with a couple of vehicles per side and template based movement. and custom dice used to determine attack success. Of course, Like any miniature game, bases/tiles can substitute actual minis.

Several have asked about how many symbols there are to memorize. The symbols don't have any inherent rules meaning, they are arbitrary. You are just looking for a match. There are wild and automiss symbols, so I suppose you could say you have to memorize the meanings of 2 symbols, Wild and Automiss, but I think those are common enough concepts that that won't be a problem.

I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm thinking of ways to reduce the dice count. I think a minor change could reduce it to 14 dice, and the element that adds those other seven dice could be added back in later as an "expansion".

This game is just in the conceptual phase. Its not going to be playtested anytime soon. I have paid design work to focus on right now, and this expensive project is kind of pie in the sky right now.

 
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