Category: Five Star


Warlock’s Work Study

I’m pretty glad to be back to this. Not sure how long it’ll last this go round, but I’m going to do all I can while this little burst of energy lasts. Let’s go with a bit of a trick of a dice set, given that these guys aren’t available on Dice Envy anymore. Similar sets of the same style, Wizard’s Unpaid Intern and Mage’s Indentured Servant, are still available.

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The Warlock’s Work Study dice set is one of those that my camera just doesn’t nearly do justice. Like a lot of the sets I wind up favoring lately, it is full of sparklies that catch the light even when it’s just sitting there and make it look vaguely like it should be a prop in a magical girl anime. The purple star glitter doesn’t hurt that effect either.

This is kind of a thing for me though, even with the sparkling and sort of business that glitter or confetti tend to bring to a dice set, the inking is still nicely clear and easy to read. The gold contrasts nicely with the purple and sort of silver/lavender, making them both enjoyable to look at and to use. And, of course, the inking is well done here with no notable thin spots or overfills.

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As is pretty standard for acrylic dice, the Warlock’s Work Study set feels nice in the hand. In my set at least, there aren’t any places where the star glitter sticks out. The balance on them seems pretty good, no sticking or favorite numbers that I’ve noticed so far.

Warlock's Work Study 1

This is very much a set that leaves me wanting to collect the others that are similar to it, just so that I can compare them. I really like the Warlock’s Work Study set and feel like I’m going to wind up using them regardless of how appropriate they are for any given character. Which means that the Warlock’s Work Study dice set gets a five out of five from me.

Heart Dice

I get to talk about dice again, definitely excited for that. This is the set from September’s Dice Envy Originals box. I’ve been meaning to talk about it for the past couple of weeks, but work and classes and all that stuff. No time like the present to get to them, right?

Heart Dice 1

Not going to lie, the Heart Dice kind of threw me for a loop when they arrived. The theme feels a bit out of season and I had been hoping for something spooky going into October. That said, the inking is really clean on all of the dice and I appreciate the second d20 being a different color. It’s a little touch and not totally necessary, but I still dig the difference for advantage/disadvantage rolls.

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I do like the look of them, separate from seasonal expectations. They’re easy to read. The pattern is nice and simple, it doesn’t crowd out the numbers and gets the point across well. Something about how clean they look is just oddly nice.

Of note, this is a ten dice set rather than the standard seven. I like the novelty of that, it feels like a nice bonus to have the extra d20 and the extra two d6. It’s a set that I could roll up a new rogue with and use immediately without needing to pull more d6 from other sets.

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The Heart Dice set feels good in hand. Pretty standard there, but it always feels worth mentioning. I don’t know that I have a character concept that comes to mind for these. I mentioned a rogue earlier, but the theming seems a bit more appropriate for a cleric or a bard. I do know that I want to use these at some point. I really enjoyed the extra three dice and the second d20 contrasting the other dice. So, I’m going to hold these back until February and give them a five out of five.

Mammoth Bone d6

So, this one is a little different than usual, both because it’s a single die instead of a set and because the material is fascinating.

Mammoth Bone Dice 1

Back during Magic City Con in June Misty Mountain Gaming ran a charity drawing for one of two dice made from fossilized mammoth bone. All proceeds went to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, so I figured I’d buy a few tickets. This is a d6 that I should by no means have been able to get my hands on, the tickets were sold all three days of the con and this one had two winners before I was drawn. Sometimes luck shines through.

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This is a truly gorgeous d6. The colors are amazing and I love the way the brown peeks through the clear bits and the black banding throughout. That it’s all natural just adds to my appreciation of it. The only bit about it that I’m not entirely about is the numbering. While the numbers are well engraved, they’re also very thin and the red of the inking doesn’t show up well against the bone itself which makes it a little difficult to read.

The mammoth bone d6 is also a dice that I’m not likely to use much for a variety of reasons. Largely this is down to the material itself, being made of fossilized bone means that if anything happened to the dice I wouldn’t be able to fix or replace it. It also means that, with bone being porous and the stone filling in being stone, I don’t know how balanced a die like this could be. Testing so far suggests that it tends to land on the 5 side more often than the others, though I would want to do more testing before confirming.

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That said though, I can’t really knock the die for being unbalanced because of its material. And, since I’m not planning on using it much, the numbers not being super visible is only a minor issue. Once I’ve got a good place to display it and a fine enough brush, I might re-ink it in a blue or something that’ll show up better. My score is mostly based on how cool I find the concept of a dice made from fossilized mammoth bone, and I really can’t say that enough because seriously, and how happy it made me to win something like a dice made of fossilized mammoth bone. So, all told, I’m giving it a five out of five.

Divination Dice

Running late, explanations for that tomorrow, tonight I’m gonna talk about dice. And these guys are gonna get a fair amount of talking about. Before that though, there’s a little time left on Dice Envy’s Dumbledice sale, use the code ACCIODICE to get 25% off your purchase. If nothing else, it’s worth checking out to see how they’ve renamed things for the event. Also,  Dougout Crafts is currently running a Kickstarter to do a restock of the Divination Dice, so now is a great time to check that out.

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These were a seriously nice surprise, when the last Kickstarter for the Divination Dice ended I hadn’t been able to back them and it was really disappointing because they looked cool. And I like dice with a nifty theme. So it was really cool to open my dice of the month and see these.

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The colors themselves are a special edition combination, purple dice with tan inking. It works really well with all the detail, they contrast enough for the details to stand out well and not get muddied. Even the really small details, like the d10s being individualized by having a sun on the tip of the planchet for one and a moon for the other. The d4 features each of the four suites for a tarot deck with crisp details on each side. Even the tiny planetary signs for the d12’s palmistry theming are nicely legible. This all, of course, means that the dice are also easily read even with all the detail work going on.

They feel nice to roll and seem well balanced. That second part is kind of impressive given the variety of pattern changes across some of the individual die. And, of course, the changes just makes the whole thing more fun.

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The Divination Dice are definitely a set that I would have gotten even if the Original box for July hadn’t had this particular variation on it. So a lot of my score here comes from having gotten something that really surprised and excited me. But I’m giving the Divination Dice a five out of five. If you like the theme and get the chance, check them out.

Eureka! Dice

Excited to get back into the swing of things here. I’ve been meaning to talk about this set for the past couple of weeks. What can I say, I’m a fan of shiny objects.

Eureka 1

Given how much I liked the Confetti Dice, when I heard about Dice Envy’s Eureka! Dice I really wanted to check them out. Bonus fun there when the page for them contains a blurb about the Gold Rush of ’49 and description of why clear dice with gold flakes and black lettering.

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I really dig the look of these. The clear acrylic is clean and I didn’t see any bubbles. The gold flakes, while tending to gather at one end of the dice, are scattered well throughout and don’t poke through the acrylic. And the paint job on the numbers is well done, there aren’t any notable thin spots or anything similar. The clearness and stark numbering can make these a little hard to read if you aren’t paying attention, but that’s a matter of paying attention rather than a fault in the dice.

The dice also feel nice in the hand. That’s pretty expected with acrylic dice, but still worth noting. Special note here is the second 33mm d20, it’s way bigger than standard and nicely heavy as a result.

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I think I actually like the bigger d20 better than most of the dice I own because it feels nifty. I like the novelty of it and that it was made for this set instead of being a one off dice.

As usual, I find myself really pleased with this set. The quality is good. The set looks good. And the Eureka! Dice feel nice to roll. So, all totaled up, the Eureka! set gets a five out of five.

This is one that’s been giving me all kinds of trouble writing a review for. It’s one that I really enjoyed reading, but that is really hard to talk about without risking serious spoilers. Obviously something I want to avoid there. This one’s courtesy of netGalley. Here’s Mira Grant’s In the Shadow of Spindrift House. Enjoy!

In the Shadow of Spindrift House cover

Straight lines don’t exist in nature. There is no place for them among the curves, the twists, the softened edges. The House stands, all ruler straight lines and sharply measured angles, above a dying town that the sea reclaims street by street. The House stands, holding tight to its secrets and waiting. Harlowe Upton-Jones has been searching for answers for as long as she can remember. It’s what found her the teen detective group that would become her family. It’s what she’s good at. But a teen detective group can only stay teens so long and it’s all Harlowe can hope to do is find one last big case. One last big case to keep the band together or give the group a proper send off. One last big case that might find her the answers she’s been looking for since her parents’ murder. The legends surrounding Spindrift House twist in on themselves bending the Answer Squad’s story into something it was always meant to be, something it was never meant to be.

In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant is decidedly Lovecraftian in its horror, which in a lot of ways makes it kind of hard to talk about. The house itself is this inescapable thing for Harlowe, something she’s been keeping back from showing the other members of the Answer Squad for years but that she also knows is the big mystery. The one that could make them hit the big time, the one she hopes will keep her friends together for a little longer. The book is a story of losing battles and inevitabilities, buried family secrets and friends growing up and growing apart.

A lot of the story is driven by Harlowe being desperate to hold on to her present, to avoid facing the future for just a little longer. She doesn’t see any prospects for herself, no colleges that would take her that she could afford to go to, the girl she loves is planning on moving on with her life now that the mysteries are drying up. It’s that desperate fear that takes them to the Spindrift house and let’s Harlowe make excuses to just stay a little longer and a little longer. After all, Addison would be so mad if they left  and missed out on the reward money. Or maybe she just imagined the truly creepy things going on, they should just take a little longer and keep looking. There’s a fair amount of that.

In a lot of ways, the atmosphere of the story builds on mundane fears and frustrations. The Answer Squad are at a point in their lives where they can’t really be teen detectives anymore, and Harlowe feels more than a little trapped by the changes she’s staring down. She’s the one with no plan. She’s the one that weird things are happening to in Spindrift house. In a lot of ways it feels like the mundane is the root of all Harlowe and, by extension, the Answer Squad’s troubles within the story. They’re high school graduates, so the local authorities don’t have as much patience for them solving mysteries the police couldn’t. There aren’t many mysteries headed their way anymore, so they can’t support themselves with it, so Addison is getting ready to go make something of herself and start a career. Harlowe feels adrift and scared that she’s going to lose the people closest to her, so she pulls out the nuclear option of final mysteries.

Then Spindrift house itself has this fantastic oppressive atmosphere. The weight of time and all the fears that have driven Harlowe to lead her friends here. The things that are just off, that are wrong in little ways that add up. Then, there’s a reprieve, a moment with the Answer Squad just being a group of friends. It eases up for a little while to let the reader breath and to restart the cycle of rising tension. The writing in In the Shadow of Spindrift House is tight and satisfying even as a number of things begin to feel more and more inevitable.

This is much further on the horror end of things than a lot of things I read. But a slow creeping sort of horror, an internal horror that’s too big to properly fight, as opposed to something more action oriented. That is absolutely to its credit. Grant did a fantastic job here, especially with regard to the atmosphere. So, of course In the Shadow of Spindrift House gets a five out of five from me. It makes me want more of this setting and this type of horror.

Yellow Sign of Hastur

Late again, late again. But the dice are worth waiting for. I should know, I spend more than a month looking forward to Magic City Con to check out the Infinite Black booth. The Yellow Sign of Hastur dice are from Infinite Black’s Unspeakable Tomes collection. Enjoy!

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These are a fantastically presented set of dice. The grimoire dice box looks fantastic with the Yellow Sign on its spine and cover and the printed on details of the metal latches to hold it closed and the magic symbols on the front cover. It even has printed on page edges, giving it the look of a worn and well read tome. There’s a little bit of resistance from the magnetic closure when you open it, enough to be felt but not enough to be annoying. There’s a fantastic piece of art on the inside cover that’s also used on the “White Night, Black Stars, Dim Carcosa” play mat. All fun stuff.

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Inside the box, there’s both the dice and a lore card. Describing the Yellow Sign and its effect on those not dedicated to the Yellow King, the madness it can bring, the lore card is well made. It makes me look forward to reading the ones on other sets of these dice.

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On to the dice themselves though. I love the look of these dice both the places where the yellow and black clash and the parts where the black just sort of seeps through like an infection or a creeping mold. It’s lovely and bright and just pleasing to look at. There is the downside of the coloring though, that the gold inking is really hard to read from any distance. There’s not really a good way to fix that though and, I admit, I like the gold for thematic reasons

The Elder Dice sets come with the standard seven dice as well as two more d6, for a grand total of nine dice. Which is useful. The dice are pretty standard as far as feel goes. The inking is even and the detail on the Yellow Sign on the high sides is fantastic. They seem to be well balanced, though I haven’t tested these as much as I want to yet.

YSoH 1

So, I’m definitely going to be getting more of these. This particular set I feel like I would use for a character who’s having a face heel turn or who’s being revealed as an antagonist. The packaging makes for a fantastic display piece, I like the dice themselves, and the issue with the inking is something I can work around. So, yeah five out of five.

Hey all, running late because of job hunt related stuff. Things are turning out pretty well just now. In any case, it’s time for dice. This set’s a little different from others I’ve reviewed because it’s from the Dice Envy subscription service and isn’t available for ordering yet. I lucked into a subscription before car issues ate my savings, so I’m planning on reviewing the monthly set until the subscription runs out. Enjoy!

Cyclone 1

The Dice Envy Cyclone Dice set is an interesting thing for me. I’ve never done much with metal dice before this set. Ease of use on getting other materials and all that. Now, something that’s just really cool for me is that the mold on these is split between the Sixteen Candles set and the Oathkeeper’s Armor set. It makes for a fantastic design clash. The difference in the blue of the Oathkeeper’s sides and the purple and teal of the Sixteen Candles sides works really well for that.

These dice are super heavy compared to acrylic or resin sets. It’s a nice difference and makes them feel much different. Admittedly that’s kind of an obvious thing to note, but it’s still pretty nice.

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I do admit that the weight is part of why I haven’t tested these as much as I usually do. I don’t currently have a dice tray and didn’t want to risk damaging my table. Four of the points on the d8, in particular, are very pointy. They still seem to roll just fine, from what I tested they don’t seem to get hung up on numbers. The big exception to this is the d4, it was miscast, but Dice Envy is already aware of that and is replacing that dice with the next month’s set.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the Cyclone dice set. They’re something very different from anything else in my collection and, while I don’t have any particular plans for a character for them, I look forward to trying them out. Just for the niftiness of design and that I’ve enjoyed what testing I’ve been able to do with them enough to be planning for finding a dice tray, the Cyclone dice get a five out of five.

Magic Missile Infinity D4

Running late this week, but I’m doing something a little different this time. When it comes to dice, standard d4 are probably my least favorite. They’re odd little caltrops of dice that function fine but just don’t quite work for me. So of course I wanted to check out Dice Envy’s Infinity d4, and since they have a fantastic sale on a set of the Magic Missile Infinity d4 this seemed like the time to give them a try. Enjoy!

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I’m not super sure how to talk about this set exactly, but I do like them quite a bit. The dark blue and gold is a pretty standard color pairing that works really well together. I like the way the magic missiles are engraved into the dice rather than painted on. Both the decoration and the numbers are fairly deeply engraved and have awesome visibility.

Now, the big thing with these dice is that they aren’t standard d4. Obviously. A standard d4 is, of course, a sort of pyramid with the numbers assigned to each angle. I’m not a huge fan though I’d be hard pressed to say why exactly, I think part of it might just be that they aren’t as satisfying to roll as other dice. That’s not a problem with the infinity d4 because they roll a lot like a d6 and just feel nice to roll.

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I like how clear the numbering is on these, even with the decorations, they’re super easy to read. I like how they feel in the hand and just enjoy rolling them. This is a set of one single type of dice that makes me want to find an excuse to use them, like I found myself wondering what kind of character I could use these for while I was playing with them for the review. For the feel of them and the novelty of how they’re shaped, the Magic Missile Infinity d4 get a five out of five.

This feels like way more of an accomplishment than it really should. But, for this week at least, I’m back to book reviewing! This one’s courtesy of the nice folks at Entangled Teen. Here is T.H. Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni’s Prom-Wrecked. Enjoy!

Prom Wrecked cover

Prom wasn’t supposed to end in a jail cell. Riley Hart is the co-chair, the vice president, the planner for more clubs and student organizations than anyone cares to count. But when senior prom is cancelled due to lack of interest and funding, she has to step up for the first time in her high school career. With the help of her gaming buddy, the utterly off limits Owen Locklear, she’s going to make prom memorable for everyone involved. Missing deposits, elderly musicians, uncertain community donors, missing deposits, or even venue destroying acts of nature or not there will be prom.

T.H, Hernandez and Jennifer DiGiovanni did a number of nifty things with Prom-Wrecked. The split point of view between advertised protagonist Riley and her former best friend Catherine showing the reader different aspects of prom planning and the various characters is used fantastically. Add on to that, both points of view feel like very different coming of age stories that complement each other well. It was a really fun read.

One thing that I think worked to the book’s favor was the bit at the beginning where the reader is shown how prom ended. All the major characters are in jail, a number of them are roughed up, and the reader knows nothing about how a high school prom went so wrong that it ended up like this. Roll back to the day that prom’s cancelation is announced and read every bit of everything going wrong and the kids in the jail cell trying to make it work anyway. It simultaneously takes away the worry about Riley and company failing while also promising ridiculous events on the way there.

The two separate coming of age stories thing that I mentioned earlier is also worth noting. Both Riley and Catherine are sort of stuck in their respective social niches. Riley is in everything but avoids leading anything until the prom committee, while Catherine is one of the popular girls but stuck with friends she isn’t really friends with and trapped by her mother’s expectations. One has to learn to lead and deal with other people’s expectations, the other has to learn to embrace what she enjoys despite expectations. It works. More so, it works while still feeling like a single cohesive  story rather than two partial stories stitched together.

Extra special bonus points to the Catherine chapters. As the former best friend who dumped the protagonist to hang out with the popular girls, she could have easily been a one note mean girl character. Having her be the deuteragonist neatly avoids that, gives the story a character who’s invested in prom happening and has the connections to attempt things that Riley couldn’t, and makes the love story bits more interesting and satisfying. She might actually be my favorite character.

The romance aspect that generally is something that elicits an eye roll and a fair amount of disinterest in both YA and contemporary novels is present here. And it did initially get an eye roll. But then something happened. Riley kept a lid on her crush on Owen and was as good a friend as she could be, supporting his relationship with Catherine and joking around with him, listening to his ideas for Morp and spinning them into something workable. It’s a lot of fun and leaves him the one pining for what can’t be. More even than that, on Catherine’s side of things we have her realizing that her relationship with Owen isn’t what either of them really wants. The lack of an antagonist within the romance narrative works for me really well, as does the way Riley and Owen and Owen and Catherine feel like friends who care about each other instead of points on a triangle.

If I have one quibble, it’s with a bit towards the end where better communication could have avoided a lot of stress for a number of characters. But that feels both in character and like it paid off pretty well, so it’s kind of a nothing issue. If I have a second one, it’s that some of the music references felt kind of forced. That might have just been because I’d only heard of a third or so of the artists referenced though.

So, Hernandez and DiGiovanni’s Prom-Wrecked is very much not my usual cup of tea, being a YA contemporary romantic tragicomedy about the rise and fall of a canceled senior prom. It’s not the kind of book I would usually pick up or, really, give much thought. But it was absolutely the book I needed to break myself out of my reading slump. Prom-Wrecked was just fun and I’m ready to look for other things either author has written. Five out of five.