8/21/2015

Frugal GM Review: Dice Chest from Dog Might Games

Frugal GM Review: Dice Chest from Dog Might Games
At the Origins Game Fair last June I decided to be a bit "adventurous" and splurge for a new Dice Box, primarily for use with my home game. There were several vendors at Origins selling what I was looking for, ranging from relatively cheap (not inexpensive, but cheap) wooden boxes to some really high-priced top-end dice trays. My wife got a beautiful leather-lined tray exquisitely made with some gorgeous hardwood, but I didn't have that kind of cash and I wanted something more along the lines of a full-on box.

My dice box
I ended up getting a good end-of-con deal on a dice chest from Dog Might Games. You might remember these guys from one of three gaming box Kickstarters (dice chests, deck boxes, and adventure cases). These guys sold just shy of $135,000 worth of product on those crowd-funding efforts.

bit of a side viewWhat I picked up was a white ash box stained in dark walnut, with red felt, nickle pedestal legs and an aluminium helm logo. The regular retail for this chest is a whopping $64.90....$60 if I had bought it as part of the Kickstarter. After reviewing the Kickstarter campaign and video it is clear that Dog Might Games only used the platform for sales....there wasn't a single reference to needing funding to purchase supplies, new tools (plant), or anything that needed to be "funded".....I realize that a Kickstarter Rant isn't the purpose here....so I'll let this matter drop. I will though, review this item like I had purchased it for full price....


The amount of dice I could cram in and still use the lid
The lid slides into place over a box that is 237 mm by 127 mm (roughly 9 3/8" by 5") and is 22 mm (7/8") deep. You can fit a decent amount of dice inside. While you can fit a lot of dice inside, realistically you are looking at 2-3 sets of standard dice as a good amount, unless you want to have a mound of loose dice piled high on your playing area. Odds are if you are ok with this, then you have all the real estate you need at the table and a dice chest is little more than a fancy Dice Rolling Zone (DRZ).

One set of standard dice in the tray
The absolute best thing I like about the dice chest is using it as a DRZ. The thin layer of felt over the ash gives my tosses a nice bit of bounce without an associated loud noise. My 1st attempt at a travel DRZ was a little monkeywood bowl I picked up on a vacation in Hawaii...worked great, but man was it loud and the Gamescience dice I used pocked it up terribly.

The base has a groove for the lid to serve as a privacy screen of sorts. It is supposed to be an optional thing, but this really leads to the beginning of the many small nitpicks/gripes I have about the dice chests.

1st of all, if you want to use the dice chest lid as a privacy screen you need to flip the box around after opening it. Assuming you are right-handed, or just have an emblem on the box like I do, that notch is going to be in the lower right-hand corner and it needs to be in the upper left for your lid to be seated properly. The lid itself is tapered so it has to fit into the groove one way. If they had made the groove differently (like thicker, deeper, and on the top right corner) you could open the chest and place the lid in place with that "handle" acting as a catch of sorts. As it is the whole affair just feels awkward.

If you don't want to use the lid as a privacy screen you now have to figure out what to do with the damned thing. If you are carrying a fair amount of dice I guess you can try to find room at the table to pile your dice on top of it? Since I have the elevated legs I can kind of lay the lid underneath, but most likely I leave it in my office and just carry the DRZ tray out to the table.....and I have plenty of room at my table  for extra crap.

I'll have to admit that I wish the dice chest was a bit deeper. If you play any RPG that uses "odd" dice, odds are (pun not intended) that your beloved d30 will not fit in your dice chest and the d24 would be questionable as well.

Extra felt
On my model I wasn't impressed with the slightly hap-hazard manner the felt was laid down. You can see a bit of that in the larger picture above, but here is a close up of one corner. Pretty much the entire piece of felt is too big for the box and creeps up on all sides.

Another corner of feltLast, but not least is that I felt the finish was applied a bit sloppy. the outside corners have bad finish marks which makes it look like the finish was roughly applied and not sanded. I pretty much saw this on every vendor of cheap wooden boxes at Origins, but it was not something I expected on a $65 dice chest. Some minor finish sanding would have gone a long way. Please don't get me wrong, the finish wasn't horrific or anything. I noticed they took the care to fill in some nail holes/gaps left from affixing the helm log, but they did that after applying the finish. These two things are a bit sloppy and not something I'd expect from a quality piece of wood work.

Frugal GM 2 Star Review: Dice Chest from Dog Might Games
Overall I really like the dice chest as a tray to roll my dice in at the table. It isn't deep enough to store my game dice and the privacy feature of the tray isn't that big of a deal to me. Now I didn't pay the full retail for this.....I never would have because for a few bucks more I could have purchased that high-end dice try that my wife had bought. The dice chest from Dog Might Games seems like a good idea, but falls a bit short in the execution and isn't something I'd recommend for most gamers.

2015.08.23 EDIT:
As far as price goes for a dice tray, the "high-end" tray I was referring to is $60 at Wrymwood Gaming.