Category: Five Star


Electric

Look at me being late with this again. I swear, I’m not trying to do this, it just sort of keeps happening. Busy with work. Busy with other stuff.  But I’m here now and I’ve got dice to talk about. These guys are Dice Envy’s Electric set, initially from this January’s subscription box, you can currently get your hands on a set of them at the site. Let’s roll!

Electric Boogaloo 3

The entire black and yellow electric theming for the Electric dice set is something I enjoy, like it makes me think of Saturday morning cartoon rival characters and comic books and any number of things that are a little silly to associate with this particular set of dice but that make me smile nonetheless. What can I say, some times it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

The little lightning bolts that surround the numbers bring the dice character without making them so busy that they can’t be easily read. Which is helped along by the contrast between the black and yellow. Much more, I feel, on the main set than on the mostly yellow advantage d20 but the contrast is good and most of the set winds up being highly readable from a good distance. The exception here being the d20s and that is mostly down to the size of the numbers for them rather than a pattern flaw.

Electric Boogaloo 2

The inking is done in a thick paint that has a few pits or cracks throughout the set, but it doesn’t seem like it’s in danger of falling out or wearing away any time soon. The material used though does mean that, if I wanted to, I’m not sure I would be able to re-ink these without prying the existing paint out and risking damaging the dice. Not a real concern for me, but I also kind of want a set in black and blue now.

As to feel, they’re pretty standard for acrylic dice. There’s the occasional rough bit from the inking that’s texturally interesting. They’re nice and light and seem to roll well, no notable favored sides with this set. So definitely enjoyable to use.

Electric Boogaloo 1

So, of course I love this set. They look nice. They feel nice. Even with the inability to reink it if I chose, the Electric set is just overall one that I enjoy. So it gets a five out of five.

I really want to use this set for an engineer or hacker rapscallion type in Starfinder or maybe build my own Tracer and go for a speedy tech rogue. They do feel more sci-fi than fantasy for me despite having the advantage die for 5e, so it would definitely have to be a sci-fi campaign either way.

Running late with this. I had something important earlier in the day and just sort of checked out afterwards. It was an exciting thing, but kind of exhausting. Away from that and on to the dice, these guys are from Dice Envy, the Carina Nebulaset. Let’s roll!

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These dice are sharp as all get out. The red solid red and translucent black with its included glitter and the silver inking work together so nicely. The swirling folds of red in the black give this nice sense of depth, playing into the nebula theming. It kind of makes me want to just sit and turn them in my hands, there were no bad sides on any of the individual die.

The silver inking stands out fantastically against both colors, making them easy to read. They’re nice and fairly neat, there’s no places where the paint used comes out onto the dice themselves. Though there were a couple odd places where it looked like a little extra paint had dripped into the numbers themselves. It doesn’t effect reading them and it doesn’t seem to effect the way they roll, so no real issue just interesting. I’m left curious how it got that way.

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As is expected of acrylic dice, the Carina Nebula set feel nice in hand and roll enjoyably well. It almost feels like there’s a little bit of bounce to them, which is fun. They don’t seem to have favorite sides. There’s plenty of random chance to how these dice land so they should be more than fair for game night.

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I would like these dice even if they didn’t roll acceptably for game night though. The Carina Nebula set is just so pretty that it makes me want to find one of those jumbo d20s in this style to add to my display set. It also makes me want to get my hands on one of the other sets that are in this same general style but different colors to see if they all turn out this well. I give them a five out of five.

I’m thinking that I would wind up using these for a spell caster of some sort, probably a sorcerer or a warlock. Something that has an inborn or traded for style of magic rather than a learned style. Maybe a character that splashed rogue in with the casting class. It’s the swirls and the glitter I think.

Ghibli Dice Set

Another Monday, another chance to talk about dice. I don’t really have anything else to put here, so let’s get into it. These are Dice Envy’s Ghibli set. Let’s roll!

Ghibli 1

Blues and greens and sparkly things are all qualities that make me happy when it comes to dice. The Ghibli dice set has all three of those things in concert if not in abundance. This is a set that combines a deep blue base with thin swirls of teal and enough micro glitter to make the whole thing sort of remind me of a night at the beach. I will note that, while the glitter is much more impressive in real life, the teal green stands out more in the pictures.

Ghibli 2

The gold stands out really well against the blue, meaning that the Ghibli set reads easily from where ever they land. The inking is crisp and clean with no noticeable spill over or thin spots. I find myself happy to leave the inking on this set alone rather than thinking about other colors I might use on it, so bonus.

These dice roll nicely and don’t seem to have preferred sides, so they’re definitely random enough to use in game. Hand feel is good and they roll well.

Ghibli 3

I like the Ghibli dice set, I think I would have preferred more of the teal in them but that’s sort of a luck of the draw thing on swirled dice like this. The blue still looks good, especially with the gold inking, so it works out. There’s nothing bad I can think to say about them, five out of five.

I admit, they sort of make me want to use them for a sea side druid or, failing a campaign that would allow for that, maybe a fae pact warlock. Something that I could tie those lovely deep colors and the sparklies into.

So this is the first set of dice I’ve received from my Libris Arcana subscription. It’s also the last set of dice before their Premium subscription flips over to being mostly exclusive resin sets. We’ll see how that starts off later in the month. For now, let’s roll!

Ice Steel 1

So, the combination of a deep blue and the silvery grey are already something I knew I liked. It’s a good combination and works especially well with the translucent blue here. The way the two colors are folded around each other gives a sense of depth and the impression that there are more shades of blue than were actually used. If the light catches them just right the blue almost seems to shine.

The inking is highly visible and quite neat, with no major thin spots that I could see or places where it had been over filled. Full points there. I do sort of find myself wishing that it complemented either the blue or silver a little more, but anything I come up with wouldn’t be as readable as what’s already there. And it does have the effect of contrasting with the swirling colors of the dice, leaving a sense of something like controlled chaos. I might be being a bit poetic there, but I do like it.

Ice Steel 2

The dice feel nice in hand and do not seem to have any preferred sides. There seems to be a little less bounce to them than some sets I have, they like to hit the table and stop. So it might be worth using a dice cup or just shaking them more to ensure more fair rolls.

Ice Steel 3b

Overall, I really liked the Ice Steel set. The colors are good, the feel is good, the inking is well done, and if I ever decide I want to re-ink them there shouldn’t be any issues with doing so. They get a five out of five and I’m left excited to see what comes next.

As to what sort of character I want to use these for, I think I would go paladin. Assuming that I’m using this character for Pathfinder, I’d probably lean towards a neutral good paladin of Shelyn, the goddess of art, love, and beauty. Assuming Dungeons and Dragons, I might lean towards Tyr and make a paladin who came into it from a less than savory back ground, do the whole path of redemption and justice thing while still being able to interact with my game group’s generally chaotic tone.

Special bonus, the Libris Arcana Premium subscription comes with a bonus die from their “big bucket o’ random dice” that could be any number of things. Mine this time was a Joe Fixit die from Marvel Dice Masters. It’s a fun extra that leaves me curious about what’s going to be included next time more than anything.

 

OGND Dice

I have been busy today. I got some gardening done while the sun was out, got some cleaning done, all that fun stuff. Now I get to talk about dice! These are Dice Envy’s OGND set. If you like them, you can use the promo code NOTEARS for 10% 0ff your order. Let’s roll!

OGND 1

OGND is sort of a throw back to the dice available in the 80’s when D&D first came out, so they’re pretty simple and straightforward. Red acrylic, white inking, though the acrylic itself does have some variation in color. I’m fairly certain that variation is on purpose to make the set seem a little more like the mismatched sets from back in the day.

OGND 2

The white inking is a good continuation of the simple throw back idea and it’s nicely visible against the red acrylic. The inking is well done, no notable over or under fill, I didn’t notice any major thin spots. It works.

As expected for acrylic dice the OGND set feels nice in hand and does not seem to have preferred sides when rolled. So they roll acceptably randomly.

OGND 3

All in all, I like this set. It’s way different from most of the sets I collect, given its simplicity, but I like the differences in the dice and how clear the inking is. As a retro throw back the OGND set is basic in the best way, with super clear numbers and nice casting. So they get a five out of five from me.

As to what kind of character I would use these for, I’m thinking a Human Fighter, probably Lawful or Neutral Good. I’d probably go for a sword and board build, something that would let me tank.

So this is something I’ve been excited for for a good while, it was originally a Christmas gift from my Mom. I wound up waiting to order it until after I’d moved and then it’s just been waiting for me to figure out which set of dice I want to put in it. Figured that I would skip that bit for now and talk about it anyway because it’s my birthday and I want to talk about it. This is one of Elderwood Academy’sHex Chest Dice Boxes. Let’s roll!

Yiggdrassil Dice Vault 1

So, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a new dice box since the one for the giveaway awhile back and anything I had heard about Elderwood Academy’s stuff was excellent, plus they have a bunch of options for customization. I went with aromatic cedar for the wood and their Yggdrasil art for the pattern, I’m a big fan of how their interpretation of the world tree turned out. The laser engraving is super sharp so the details all come out really well. It leaves me thinking that next time I’ll want to get side engravings as well.

Yiggdrassil Dice Vault 2

I’m really impressed with the construction on this thing, the bottom and lid are both made from single pieces of wood, so the dice chambers are super solid. The magnets hold super firm, there’s some resistance to opening it but not so much that it’s hard to open. The outside of it is also just satiny smooth and pleasant to touch.

I will note that dice rattle around a bit in it despite the foam insert in the top. That shouldn’t be a problem give it’s construction, but with metal dice it might be worth keeping in mind if you’re worried about them dinging up your dice box. I’ll likely update with more on that one next time.

Yiggdrassil Dice Vault 3

This is something I’m talking about because it makes me happy, I started out this review knowing this was going to be a five out of five. The Elderwood Academy Hex Chest Dice Boxes are on the pricey side, but they’re well made and there’s tons of options for personalizing them. I’m definitely planning on getting another one of these later on.

Back to talking about dice! These guys are another set from the Ice Cream Dice Kickstarter, Bubble Candy. Since today’s my birthday, this is going to be one of two reviews today. It’s a break in form, but I felt like having a little fun and changing things up a little. Let’s roll!

Bubble Candy 1

While pastel dice aren’t generally my thing, but I rather liked the candy vibe they gave these dice. The combination of bubble gum pink with a sort of soft blue raspberry blue works nicely.These are just as polished to a shine as the other Ice Cream Dice sets I’ve reviewed, so they catch the light quite well.

Bubble Candy 2

The white for the ink definitely stands out better in real life than it does in the pictures here. I’m not likely to re-ink these, though there are a few over filled or thin spots that I might try fixing. Nothing that should throw off the rolling though.

The Bubble Candy set feels nice in hand, if a little lighter than I’d usually expect. They roll nicely and don’t seem to have particular favorite sides. So, acceptably random for game use. And they’re pretty readily readable from the table.

Bubble Candy 3

The Ice Cream Dice Bubble Candy set gets a five out of five from me. They’re a fun color combination that reads easily from the table. They feel nice to roll. I like them quite a bit!

I feel like I would want to use these for either a neutral good cleric of some stripe or as a back up dice set for the catfolk baker fighter I want to roll up soon. Maybe as a back up set for if I wanted to copy one of the gals from my game group’s magical girl warlock. They definitely give me either patisserie or magical girl vibes, probably both.

Sometimes I’m lucky enough to read two wildly different genres by the same author. The last time I had the chance to review one of Myke Cole’s works was a couple years ago, this is actually his first book with Angry Robot. I got to read it for review thanks to netGalley, here’s Sixteenth Watch. Enjoy!

Sixteenth Watch cover

After a riot between Helium 3 miners evolves into a brief, tragic armed conflict between American and Chinese naval forces career Search-and-Rescue woman Captain Jane Oliver is returned to Earth and a teaching position away from the sixteenth watch and the death of her husband. But tensions remain high and the best hope of preventing the first lunar war rests with the Coast Guard. Oliver has a new mission, return to the moon, get the Coast Guard SAR-1 team ready to win this year’s Boarding Action, and prove that they are the right force to keep the peace.

Myke Cole’s Sixteenth Watch feels like a bit of an odd duck when it comes to military science fiction. It feels more character focused and less hard sci-fi than other military sci-fi I have read in the past. How things are done is important, but pulling the team together is more so. Each member of the SAR-1 team is the best at what they do in the Coast Guard, but they have issues jelling with each other.

This is also the most anti-war military sci-fi that I have ever read. The entire reason Oliver is there is because the Coast Guard are a better fit for policing the folks avoiding quarantine without starting an armed conflict than the Navy is. The goal is to avoid a war, to keep things cold as it were, to keep people not only on the moon but also back on Earth safe.

But the only way to convince people to take them seriously is to win what is essentially a massive sporting event, so she has to get the Coast Guard team ready to secure a victory against the Marine team that has won several years running. It kind of winds up being funny, how the ability to keep war from breaking out on the moon is dependent on them winning what’s essentially a sporting event, but it is treated dead seriously and a lot of the challenges Oliver faces wind up being in service to getting her team the kind of practice they need to come together as a team. In a lot of ways that takes the place of a proper antagonist, no single person is standing between the SAR-1 team and active work and the Marine team is brilliantly good at what they do rather than antagonistic. That lack of a direct antagonist feels to the book’s credit. It would be weird if there was just one person actively pushing for the Coast Guard team to fail, rather than any number of people following orders that happened to get in their way or following their own need to see someone else succeed or getting wrapped up in the idea that a war is going to happen so they need to be backing the Navy over the Coast Guard. It is a complicated situation that Cole chose not to simplify.

This actually stands in something of a contrast to the pacing and the characters other than Oliver and her XO. At several points in the plot I found myself naming off the part of the hero’s journey that was coming up. This is very much not a complaint, the hero’s journey is the basis for a lot of stories, but it did make the flow of things a little predictable. I would have liked to have seen more character for the SAR-1 team, a lot of Sixteenth Watch is focused on Oliver working towards getting the team ready and working through the trauma of the events of the beginning of the book, which does not leave much space for the Boarding Action team. I would have liked to have seen more of them growing together as a unit and more individual growth for each of them. But, again, that is mostly a personal quibble the team are not the focus of the book. Oliver is the protagonist, so of course she gets the most focus on her arc.

Ultimately Sixteenth Watch leaves me wanting more, if not a further series with these characters, then more writing in a similar vein from Cole. He is definitely an author I am going to try and keep a better eye on now. This one gets a five out of five from me.

So, it’s taken me awhile to get one of these written, hasn’t it? I don’t know that I’m back back, but I feel like at some point with this one I fell back into my groove. That should make it easier to keep going. Anyway, this one’s Grady Hendrix’s We Sold Our Souls. Enjoy!

We Sold Our Souls cover

The Blind King is rising one last time, a final five nights of Koffin before they close the crypt for good. Millions of metal heads across America are desperate to see Terry Hunt perform before he retires, to be part of what promises to be rock and roll history. The advertisements for it are the ugliest thing Kris Pulaski, Best Western night manager and once band mate of the Blind King himself, has ever seen. She’s tired and buried in stress and the ad reminds her of Dürt Würk, the band that had so nearly taken them all to the top back in the nineties. The band that nearly had something great with Troglodyte, that last album that never was. The band that had been torn apart on contract night, when Terry sold out paving the way for his solo career.  As she sets back out to try and set things right Kris starts to realize that Terry might have sold more than the band’s credibility for his own success.

We Sold Our Souls is a book that simultaneously makes me wish I had started reading Grady Hendrix’s books way earlier and a book that I’m not quite sure how to talk about. This is a book that I both want to fangirl over some of its character work and that I also want to dig into and dissect other aspects of the writing.  It’s an interesting balance.

See, We Sold Our Souls is a horror novel that can feel far more urban fantasy than I’m entirely used to in the genre. The character work is the focus here with the horror following from the past, from things that were forgotten and choices that characters made in the intervening time. It builds as Kris meets with more of her former band mates and the audience learns more about Troglodite, the album that wasn’t.

There are between chapter bits that sort of introduce the weirdness and horror aspects a little at a time. It works well for pacing, starting slow and then ramping up as things get more serious. Though the content of some of them feels at odds with Kris and some of the other characters, I’m sure this is purposeful, I’m just not sure that aspect of it works for me. It can also wind up feeling a little on the nose further into the book. There was also this bit that I really loved, a call back between various former members of Dürt Würk about how they used to quote The Runaways’ “Dead End Justice” back and forth to each other. It was used sparingly but well and it added to the reality of the characters, giving them a sort of in joke from when they were still a band. It was also a nifty character bit to see how they invoked or reacted to it from character to character.

The end, while I don’t want to talk too much about it for fear of spoiling the experience, made for a fantastic tying together of the various plot threads that lead into it. And it was a thematic fit for the rest of the story that wasn’t exactly difficult to see coming but that was still more than narrative expectations might have lead it to be. It made me want to go grab my guitar and start practicing again.

We Sold Out Souls was definitely a right book at the right time thing for me. Having read it, I’m definitely going to go check out some of Hendrix’s other books and keep an eye out for if he has anything new coming out soon. It gets a five out of five from me.

This is a thing I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to do more often. There are a lot of subscription services for dice and other table top accessories. I adore that I want to talk about as many of them as possible. This week, the nice folks at Awesome Dice sent me March’s “Death Metal” subscription box to check out. Let’s roll!

Box close up

Right, going to start with a quick overview here. The Awesome Dice Monthly Box of Awesome has a curated collection of two to five items per month, with each month’s box having a core theme that everything is centered on. The contents of each box are guaranteed to be valued at at least $30 USD and are selected by either the folks at Awesome Dice or selected members of the Table Top RPG community. It’s a really cool concept and, something I appreciate, the boxes can contain both dice and other Table Top accessories.

 

Everything Posed 2

I feel like the “Death Metal” box was all but ideal for a first review. Counting the Awesome Dice stickers it has three items, but those items are really solid picks and feel like they were paired together for a reason. It’s also curated by Awesome Dice themselves, so it feels like a good example of what they meant the Box of Awesome to be.

The dice themselves were surprising on a couple of levels. As a pleasant surprise, it’s a metal set and contained in a tin box with a really solid foam liner. The box was a really nice touch, this is the only metal set I’ve ever gotten that included something like that. It means that I’m not worried about accidentally damaging my dice just moving them about, which has been part of why I don’t generally use my metal dice.

The other surprising bit was the colors of the dice. My camera did not capture the colors as well as I would like, but these are brass and a rather nice royal purple with an almost scale pattern in the purple bit. Not colors that I tend to think of with relation to death metal, but a lot more fun than anything I’d imagined before the box arrived.

The other item was an excellent inclusion here and ties into one of the other reasons that I seldom use metal dice. I worry about damaging the kitchen table, it’s probably a little silly, but a nice dice tray goes a long way towards solving that worry. This dice tray feels rather nice, it’s sturdy and held up nicely to my testing the dice in it. Having it set up for a long while, it still unfolds flat. I like the black and red contrasts for the out and insides, it’s a bit more what I expected of the theme while also being the Awesome Dice logo colors.

So, where does that leave me? At $29 USD plus shipping per box, the price is pretty reasonable compared to other dice subscription boxes. That said, the value guarantee is still much appreciated, I feel a little silly admitting that but still. The “Death Metal” box again feels like an ideal box to have being introduced to the Box of Awesome with because the metal dice alone would meet their guarantee, but then the dice tray makes it feel like they thought ahead for something their subscribers might need with the metal dice. It feels like both an added value and like the folks behind the box have thought through their customers using the items in the box. It leaves me wanting to subscribe as soon as I’m able. So, five out of five.

One more thing I want to note before signing off. Something cool they do is that they rotate through who curates their boxes. The April “Pixie Stix” box is going to be curated by Roll for Dameage‘s Amanda McKnight. You can find her thoughts on the “Pixie Stix” box here.