Better Late than Never

As Gamer Bling’s most loyal Gnights of the Realm may recall, a while back Q-Workshop, that batch of self-stylized crazy Poles making capitalist dice for the proletarian masses, ran a dice-design contest. Gamer Bling’s original post is here; the rules are here.

Gamer Bling was asked to assist in the judging, which he did. He even wrote  a long, rambling diatribe about it which, he has surmised, never saw the light of day the dark interior of the Intertubes. His opinion is given below; and one of Gamer Bling’s selections did indeed win.

Thus Gamer Bling presents you with this priceless priceful worthless curious piece of history.

Gamer Bling Sits in Judgment upon Mortal Dice Designers

As Gamer Bling exercises fiat over the finalists for Q Workshop’s dice design contest, he is struck by several realizations.

First is that although he’d been certain that he could arrange things so that he’d win, he probably should first have placed an entry into the contest. Think, then cheat. Think, then cheat! It’s not such a hard concept, is it?

Second is that he still has some recourse: as one who has pledged prizes to the winner, he must use his evil influence to ensure that postage is as low as possible. Thus all entries from Tasmania and Sri Lanka must be immediately rejected.

Third is that although his pronouncements are crassly late, he may well still be the first judge to turn them in. Such is the price of volunteer work.

Fourth is that he really needs to update the Q Workshop review page.

With these pyrite nuggets of wisdom thus passed like gallstones, Gamer Bling shall flay the finalists alive adjudicate this contest in a tasteful and reprehensible responsible manner. And the finalists shall be considered in the order the folders appear in the virus-infested e-mail I got from Q Workshop. (Just kidding guys; Gamer Bling knows there were no viruses in your zip file. Although the instructions for the Storm BotNet were very interesting.)

Gamer Bling of course needs to decide on a scoring method, and, to be fair, it must be decided upon prior to judging the entries. Thus he chooses five categories, each of which will be rated on a score of 0-2. These categories are important to all dice design, and the scoring method allows for scores from 0-10.

  • Originality: How unique is it? Includes an automatic deduction for depicting another over-endowed barbarian chick in a chainmail bikini, as well as for emulating an extant Q Workshop design.
  • Artistic Merit: Does it look cool? It is well presented? Includes an automatic bonus for depicting another over-endowed barbarian chick in a chainmail bikini.
  • Simplicity: Gamer Bling strongly believes that in the arena of dice design, less is more.
  • Proper d4 Alignment: Do they read like caltrops? Is the number at the top and upside right?
  • Legibility: Can Gamer Bling’s two-score-and-five-year-old eyes read them? Are they in another numeric system?
  • Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: This is a bonus point awarded if someone goes out of their way to kowtow to yours truly. Thus someone who plays to the judges—well, this judge at least—can score an 11.

Good luck to all contestants, and enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame. Such as they are.

Finalist #1: Adam Janiszewski

Adam has apparently been playing a lot of Fallout as he chose a rustic rusty radiation icon for his theme. The execution is nice, with a good post-apocalyptic look. Sadly, he does not apparently read Gamer Bling, as his d4 numbers are all wrong, and some of his numerals look as beat up as the radiation symbol.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 1
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 2
Proper d4 Alignment: 0
Legibility: 1
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #2: Alvin Helms

The talking chipmunk pet of former senator Jesse Helms, Alvin Helms has come a long way from a miserable kids movie. He chose a Piratical theme, complete with a Jolly Roger on the money side of every die but the d4 (Gamer Bling still can’t understand why someone who’s had the skin flayed from his skull can be so jolly). With parchment-y borders and antiquish numerals, this one scores high. Although putting a Jolly Roger on the d00 doesn’t strike Gamer Bling as too smart, so Alvin loses a point on artistic merit.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 1
Artistic Merit: 1
Simplicity: 2
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 2
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #3: John Blackthorne

Aside from being a character suspiciously similar to the protagonist of Shogun, John Blackthorne is also a detailed die designer. He included alternate versions of his dice, as well as a FUDGE die and an explanation of what the heck the alternate dice were. His Celtic design had nothing to do with the Boston basketball team, but his dice didn’t sell out an arena, either. His d6 were gorgeous, but would have to be large to be truly appreciated.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 1
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 1
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #4: Karol Kujawa

Did anyone other than Gamer Bling notice that Karol’s name spelled backwards is Ajawuk Lorak? Probably not. And there’s nothing more to say about that, other than if you see a fantasy author use this name for a minor character in an upcoming novel, you know that that author reads Gamer Bling. Karol chose a strong motif with stripes and chevrons as well as Roman numerals. Unfortunately, the two elements clash. Also, one must remember that the chevrons point down in order not to confuse XI and IX, which have no other factor keeping them from being read upside down. A similar problem arises with XIX and… um… never mind. This set would look best with two different colors, one for the stripes and one for the numbers.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 2
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 0
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #5: Kathy Lauritzen

Kathy has the initials KL, which sound suspiciously like “kale,” a type of cabbage; or “kill” when being drawled by a backwoods Southern boy on whose property you have inadvertently set foot and who is now commanding his dawgs to remove you forthwith. Kathy chose an interesting undersea theme. Her set had different imaging on each die, which when gathered together made a cohesive whole. Sort of like how a die has different numbers on each side, yet they all mysteriously hang together through the miracle of plastic. Unfortunately, in many cases the art left little room for numerals that Gamer Bling could read in the dank cell in which he is allowed to game.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 2
Artistic Merit: 1
Simplicity: 0
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 0
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #6: Lisa Farris

In what can only be described as nepotism, Lisa Fairies Farris made an entire set of Farris Fairy dice. On the other hand, dice featuring naked chicks with long air are always good in Gamer Bling’s book. As with certain other entries, though, the art took the majority of the space, leaving little for the numerals. And being outlined, the numerals are even tougher to read. Though in this case, Gamer Bling does not mind taking a closer look.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 2
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 0
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #7: Maciej Tyrala

Names like this make Gamer Bling wonder if indeed the zip file he received from Q Workshop was, after all, infested with a virus. There’s just no way for normal people to create a name like this. It’s like Maciej has irritable vowel syndrome. Really, doesn’t “maciej” looks like a list of missed guesses in Hangman? This entry is a post-apocalyptic set featuring LED numerals, radiation symbols, and Phillips-head machine screws. So perhaps Maciej is a common name in the grim future of gaming.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 2
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 2
Proper d4 Alignment: 0
Legibility: 2
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #8: Shannon Couture 1

“Couture,” as well all should know, is French for “culture,” as in “haute couture.” Or, if your translation software is bad, is also means “yogurt.” “Shannon,” of course, is a nickname for Ireland. So basically, what we have here is someone whose name means Irish Culture. Which, although it’s not as bad as haggis and bagpipes, nonetheless has not quite managed to reach the pinnacles of, say, Plato’s Greece. Rather, they content themselves with Plates of Grease. To their credit, they invented the Irish Pub, so all is not lost, and Shannon now owes Gamer Bling a beer.

Shannon submitted three entries, all of which made it into the finals based on their strength (which has been likened to someone’s breath after a dinner of Guinness and haggis).

The first is an imp motif. Now Gamer Bling just isn’t that keen on demonic shtuff, especially since they’re as overdone as chainmail-bikini barbarians are underclad, but this design features nifty barbed tails that flow off one side of the die to intertwine with other tails on a different side. Sort of like fiendish opossums maybe. It’s a new shtick that Gamer Bling hasn’t seen elsewhere, and even if Shannon doesn’t win, you know Q Workshop will find a way to employ this technique.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 1
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 1
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #9: Shannon Couture 2

The second design is a steampunk design of the sort that might be used by the Clockwork King, for those of you who play City of Heroes. Think H.G. Wells and Jules Verne: gears, machine screws, pipework, and things like that make this a fun set. The d6 might be a little overdone, but strong numerals are visible throughout.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 1
Artistic Merit: 2
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 2
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

Finalist #10: Shannon Couture 3

The third entry hearkens back to the good old days when Viking Raiders placed their axes and hammers in all sort of things that would these days be considered inappropriate receptacles. Like people’s skulls. With dark, textured backgrounds and the aforementioned axes and hammers, this is an old-fashioned set. Unfortunately, Gamer Bling has concerns about the numerals, which are made to look like crudely carved runes, and read just as easy, especially since in the d00 they overlap.

The Bottom Line
Originality: 2
Artistic Merit: 1
Simplicity: 1
Proper d4 Alignment: 2
Legibility: 1
Gamer Bling Fawn Factor: 0

And the Winner Is…

Well, no one did any brownnosing to Gamer Bling. Other than Q Workshop to get him to volunteer for this. So in a sense everyone loses. Especially Gamer Bling. Because the glass is half empty and we need a federal bail-out.

The points scored are tabulated as follows:

Finalist #1: Adam Janiszewski – 6
Finalist #2: Alvin Helms – 8
Finalist #3: John Blackthorne – 7
Finalist #4: Karol Kujawa – 7
Finalist #5: Kathy Lauritzen – 5
Finalist #6: Lisa Farris – 7
Finalist #7: Maciej Tyrala – 8
Finalist #8: Shannon Couture 1 – 7
Finalist #9: Shannon Couture 2 – 8
Finalist #10: Shannon Couture 3 – 7

So, in the end, it comes down to Alvin Helms’ Piratey Thing, Maciej Tyrala’s Post-Apocalypso, and Shannon Couture’s Steampunk Espresso.

So Gamer Bling applies the acid test: would he actually buy these dice? The answer in each case is yes.

And, since Gamer Bling is in favor of crass conspicuous consumption, he awards all three sets gold ribbons.

Your mileage may vary.

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~ by Gamer Bling on 18 February 2009.

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