Chances are, you’ve run a session that was less than stellar, and one of your players has given you the most common player boredom clue ever: stacking dice. Now, sure, when you see this cue, it’s important to re-evaluate the pacing of your adventure, but more importantly, you should be evaluating their dice stacking skills. After all, you’re the GM, and a player stacking dice at your table is a challenge, and should be interpreted and dealt with as such. This article and it’s follow-ups are designed to hone your dice-stacking skills so that you can fire back, building your own dice towers, bigger and better than anything your players can build, as they role play, describe their actions, and compete for your attention against your ever-growing plastic cityscape.
This installment of the Guide to Dice Stacking will deal with the basic uses of dice in a normal stack. While we’ll touch on more advanced techniques, you’ll have to wait for our next installment for detailed instructions on advanced gambits.
For the beginner, the d4 is best saved for a capstone piece. Yes, as a equilateral pyramid, the base for many polyhedral solids, the d4 is the base for some of the most complex dice stacking gambits, but until you master the basics, reserve d4s for topping your towers
The d6 is the most stable die, due to the positioning of the foot precisely under the top. This makes them excellent bases with which to start your stacks. D6s also have the largest foot of similar sized dice of all types, making them resistant to table motion. However, they also have the largest and least aerodynamic sides, making them the most susceptible to wind turbulence.
D8s are deceptively tricky to stack. While they have a nice large foot and top, they’re offset from each other by 50%. This means that towers using d8s have a tendency to fall towards the void under the die. When using d8s, try to build mirror stacks side by side so the d8’s prop each other up.
D10s are another die that are trickier to use than they look. While the foot and top are almost perfectly lined up, they’re inverted, meaning that the wide end of the top is balanced on the narrow end of the foot, so uneven weight distribution can easily roll the die to the side.
Along with the d6, the d12 is the best basic stacking die. While it isn’t quite as stable and has a smaller foot, the d12 is much more aerodynamic, making the choice between d6s and d12s for your bases a matter of what kind of table interference is more likely to affect your towers.
The d20 is the third best basic stacking die. It’s foot and top align well, but they’re small and subject to a smaller degree to the same twisting as the d10. They also tend to be the largest die, making stacking them on top of any other die a little more challenging.
There are plenty of other dice types out there, from the ancient d30s to the newer “tube dice” variations of normal types of dice but few are true regular polyhedral solids (technically neither are d10s) and most are inappropriate for dice stacking. Show off your stacks and your oddballs on different days.
That’s all for this installment. These basics should have you making fairly impressive towers to show up that inattentive player in your group with just a little practice. Get stacking!