Custom Wooden Dice Trays
By Dwarven Sweatshoppe
In Gamer Bling’s house The Gamer Bling Official Companion has decreed that Monday night is game night. She is, of course, correct, because this is when Monday Night Football airs. However, this is not what she actually means, which therefore makes her wrong.
Except that she is also right, because what The Gamer Bling Official Companion wants, The Gamer Bling Official Companion generally gets. And she wants the family to play games together.
Play games–twist Gamer Bling’s arm, why don’t you? (Little does she know that in only a few years, Gamer Bling Expansions #1 and #2 will be ready for role-playing games, and on family game night she, the Gamer Bling Official Companion, will have to participate under the authority of her own edict! Bwah hah hah!)
A standard feature of most games is dice to roll. And Gamer Bling Expansion #1 is growing up to be a regular gamer, because she gets so excited about her rolls that the dice often go flying off the table. Indeed, apples do not fall far from the tree.
At this point, Gamer Bling will mention that family games are generally played at the kitchen table, which rests upon a tile floor. Not that wimpy faux-stone self-stick pressed-latex crap, we’re talking about real ¼” thick ceramic tiles that slab around the floor like a litter of Stonehenge puppies. Or they would, if they hadn’t all been grouted into place. Kind of like that scene in Aliens when the queen redid the brood chamber in an organic human motif.
So why is Gamer Bling waxing eloquent about his flooring? Is it just the chance to make a pun out of “waxing”? No, it’s because if you’ve ever seen a hard plastic die bounce off a hard ceramic tile after being bounced off a hard wooden tabletop, you’ll know that Gamer Bling spends a disproportionately large amount of his Monday evenings crawling around the floor chasing dice (or more accurately, waiting while Gamer Bling Expansions #1 and #2 do so, which saves Gamer Bling’s knees but squanders more time because the Expansions need a few more ranks in their search skill). And sometimes, if the die took a bad hop, Gamer Bling has to empty the shoe basket by the back door.
Why even bring all this up? Because what Gamer Bling needs for his Monday nights, aside from more football, is a way to contain the
Enter the Dwarven Sweatshoppe. Or don’t enter it; sweatshops smell funky.
But what they produce is not funky. Dwarven Sweatshoppe produces custom wooden dice trays with nice 1¼”- to 2½”-high sides and impact-absorbing felt lining across the bottom. Toss your dice into the tray, and the walls keep them where you want them to be, which is pretty much anywhere other than the floor. Or the shoe basket. Or the dog’s water dish. So they more or less act like backboards behind the basketball hoop, without which many shots would fly past the hoop and into the bleachers to bloody someone’s nose, which would probably decrease attendance but increase television ratings.
Dice on the floor and bloody noses are two things Gamer Bling does not like to see at Monday Night Family Game Night, so he decided it was time to take a custom wooden dice tray for a spin. So he put one in his car and drove–
Uh, that is, he started by exploring Dwarven Sweatshoppe’s wonderful website.
It turns out that by “custom dice trays,” Dwarven Sweatshoppe means “no, really, customize it.” Which is good. Because custom is good (in contrast, customs is bad). You can select from 14 different materials for the walls of the tray (three different woods and several different grains, some with ornamentation), 4 shapes (square, pentagon, hexagon, and octagon), six different stains (with illustrations showing how it looks with the wood you chose), and 31 different felt liners. That gives you 10,416 potential combinations, some of which Gamer Bling is certain would look pretty darned ugly, but if that’s what you want, who are they to stop you? I mean, if it’s legal for non-gamers to breed, you should be able to mix pink wood with blue urban camo felt.
But over 10,000 combos does mean that you might well have the only dice tray in the world with those exact specifications. In the WORLD!
The construction is top-rate. The angles are near to prefect (Gamer Bling’s tray had only one seam noticeably off center, and that by roughly 1mm), and the sweaty dwarves made an effort to cut the decorated wood so that the design flows smoothly from one side to the next, which is not necessarily an easy thing to do when the wood is angled or curved. At least that’s the way Gamer Bling’s tray looks, and he is happy with it. The wood itself is smooth and has a nice polish and sheen to it. The corners are slightly rounded, so there’s no sharp edges or splinters or chance of accidentally chipping away a smidge of the wood grain and marring your investment. A little glue can be seen on the interior corners of the tray, but most unrefined, underblinged gamers will never notice.
The tray interior has a felt pad on the bottom. Gamer Bling can detect no trace of glue visible from the top side, and the corners are all securely held down. All of that implies a thin, complete layer of glue holding the whole felt pad down. Good show.
Not only is the interior of the tray lined with felt, but, to Gamer Bling’s delight, the bottom is covered with felt, too! It is securely glued into a slight recessed area, so it won’t come off easily, yet it still extends past the bottom of the wood to provide adequate padding. And, to top it all off, the selfsame felt bottom has been branded with their brand name: Dwarven Sweatshoppe. It appears to have been hand lettered. The only thing that Gamer Bling would have liked better was for their brand name to have been preceded by, “Help I’m being help prisoner in a…” Sadly, Gamer Bling is of the belief that the gnomes who run the Dwarven Sweatshoppe won’t let such pleas for help escape the walls of their underground fortress. But check the bottom of your tray just in case, and perhaps together we can find out whether the Dwarven Sweatshoppe is just a piece of clever branding or a vile bling mill run on underheight slave labor.
Anyway, Gamer Bling recently used the dice tray for family game night, playing a game of charades. That didn’t work out too well, since charades doesn’t use dice. But the next week, we played a board game.
The evening started out inauspiciously as Gamer Bling Expansion #1 tossed the die into the tray… and it bounced out, arced gracefully over the edge of the table to the floor, where, with a series of plastic-on-ceramic clicks, it bounced around for awhile until it came to rest near the shoe basket. On Gamer Bling’s next turn, he, while reaching across the table, shot low and actually managed to hit the outside of the dice tray’s 1¼”-high side. He doubts he could do that again if he tried. With such back-to-back faults, he was considering slinging lessons for his whole family…
Fortunately, the dice tray is light, so we moved it back and forth across the table whenever Gamer Bling Expansions #1 or #2 had to roll, and the rest of the evening went just fine. But it does bring up the fact that rolling dice into the dice tray requires a softer touch, or at least a good angle of attack so your die ricochets off the walls of the tray (interior walls, that is) and stays contained.
Later, Gamer Bling brought his neat custom dice tray to RPG night, by which he means the definition of RPG that is not rocket-propelled grenade. Although if someone wants to invite Gamer Bling to rocket-propelled grenade night, he’s all for it.
In bringing this tray, he broke with his long-standing tradition of bringing a dice tower to intimidate his felllow gamers, and the timing couldn’t have been better.
The gamemaster, in a lame attempt to counter-intimidate yours truly, brought his own (unvarnished, undecorated, unrefined, and definitelty underblinged) handmade dice tower to the table, at which point your humble reviewer was able to riposte with, “Pfft! Dice Towers are so passé.”
Gamer Bling’s dice tray did an excellent job of corraling Gamer Bling’s dice, as well as holding down the corner of the vinyl map closest to Gamer Bling and providing a handy stand for Gamer Bling’s pizza plate (he doesn’t like to put pizza, even shielded by a plate, on his books). Better yet, this new arrangement made for a vast improvement over a dice tower in the line-of-sight department; Gamer Bling’s seat had a de facto view easement of the map. Hooray!
And thus did Gamer Bling make the switch from dice towers to dice trays.
The biggest weakness is that these trays are fairly large—roughly 9″ in diameter, more or less, especially considering that regular polygons don’t have diameter in the first place—and they do not collapse into a small portable shape. C’mon, now, if a Transformer can reshape itself as a subcompact, why can’t a dice tray become a #2 pencil?
Second, the dice tray walls are somewhat lower than those of a craps table, with a resultant increase in the odds that, during an important roll, you’ll throw the dice with a leetle too much exuberance and they’ll bounce out of containment like the Chernobyl reactor core. At the aforementioned RPG night, Gamer Bling also found that there seemed to be a “sweet spot” for dice to escape, and that seemed to be for 7/16″ round-cornered six-siders. It seemed that larger dice had too much mass, smaller dice had too little, and dice with more sides tended to roll more than bounce. Very strange, but an effect pointed out by one of Gamer Bling’s gaming compatriots (and, curiously enough, the gaming companion that whines the least about how the poor, pathetic, underblinged game group is portrayed on this website, which is a little morality lesson in itself).
The trays go from 4-sided, through 5- and 6-sided, then take leap right over to 8-sided. Heptagonophiles got screwed! And seven is supposed to be a lucky number! Unless you’re playing craps.
The burnt fabric from the branded logo on the bottom increases the chance that your table might get scratched by the dice tray by an infinitesimal yet theoretically calculable amount. Not that anyone cares; if you’re using the table for role-playing, you can’t care much for its finish what with bouncing dice and metal minis and pens and cold drinks and greasy chips and such.
And, um, the interior sides aren’t felted, which Gamer Bling is sure has to be a weakness, just as soon as he figures out why that would be the case.
Fairly pathetic weaknesses, wouldn’t you say? Now you know why they got a 10 on quallity.
The Bottom Line
If you’re not worried about people trying to manipulate their die rolls, these are great. They contain the dice, they’re easier to port than a tower, and they just look elegant. And they give a cushy landing spot for your favorite easily bruised dice. So get your custom tray right now while you’ll still be the only one in the world to have one. Once the Sweatshoppe sells 10,416 different styles of trays, yours can no longer be original, and you don’t want to be called a copycat.
If you’re a family game night sort of person, get the low-walled octagon, as it’s the one that makes the dice easiest to read across the table. Otherwise, get a high-walled fancy one. Heck, get both.
Bling Factor: 9 (includes a +1 bonus for unnecessary doubled consonant and silent “e” at the end of their company name)
Price: $20-$40, depending on the wood you choose
You need: 1… unless you’re either very possessive or have a lot of dice superstitions, in which case at least 1 per person
As of the Christmas Season of 2009, there is no Dwarven Sweatshoppe website, however you can request a catalog from them by emailing them.
There is talk about Dwarven Sweatshoppe dice towers. Gamer Bling would be very excited to see them.
And Dwarven Sweatshoppe has thrown out a challenge to anyone wanting anything made of wood to contact them for a bid, but since Gamer Bling’s ex-wife’s head is already made of wood, Gamer Bling has no personal need for this service.
Yes, that was cheap. But then, so was Gamer Bling’s ex-wife.