When it’s all about the die
Dice have been around for thousands of years, and are often used in games of chance and for betting. The most common modern die is 6-sided, shaped like a cube and with square faces.
The name of the die comes from an old French and Middle English word, and the term “dicing” is now used to mean to cut something into cubes, reminiscent of the shape of a 6 sided die.
While most modern dice are made from plastic, other materials have been used in the past (and some continue into the present) – wood, metal, even bone – but the most cost-effective way to manufacture dice on an industrial scale these days is with plastic.
Many games are played with the assistance of dice, including classics like Monopoly, Ludo, and Yahtzee. Tabletop war games and Dungeons and Dragons also use dice, but they don’t always have six sides.
Standard dice, no matter how many sides they have (as long as it is an even number), always have numbers that add up to one more than the highest roll on opposing sides. For example, the 1 is opposite the 6 on a standard 6 sided die, giving a total of 7 – one more than the maximum roll. The other opposites are 2 and 5, and 3 and 4, all of which add up to 7.
The more sides a die has, the more spherical it becomes. By the time you hit 100 sides, the die looks more like a golf ball than anything else – and it can be quite tricky to determine what number you landed on.
Always make sure you know where dice have come from if playing for money. It’s quite easy to tamper with a die to get the number you want to come up, so if you know someone who always wins and they always use their own dice, you might want to check them out and see if they are cheating!
Dice games aren’t always just a matter of chance, as there is an element of probability and statistics in every roll. If you roll two dice, you might think you have a one in twelve chance of getting any number – but you will never get a 1, and there are more combinations to make 7 than any other number – and there’s only one way to make 12…but there’s also only one way to make 2, so don’t just assume higher numbers are harder to get!
Dice are easily portable, easy to obtain, and don’t cost too much. You can have hours of fun playing many different games, and it’s quite amazing that so much entertainment can be made from something so small.
If you’ve never played a game involving dice, you don’t know what you are missing! Now is as good a time as any to start, so pick up some dice, and get rolling.