Rolling Tools Review

Hi All. Sorry for the long lapse between posts. I honestly thought I could keep up my schedule indefinitely. I’ve been super busy and traveling. I hope to get one post a week out now through Halloween and then back to twice a week starting in November, as well as regular contributions at rpgmusings.com.

It was a funny coincidence when I was asked to review two different iOS die-rolling apps in the same day. I accepted their offer (full disclosure: I got a free copies) and thought it’d be interesting to see how they stacked up against some of the other die rolling app’s that I’ve had on my iPod touch for a long time.

Let me start off by saying that I prefer physical dice to electronic. I love the colors and sounds of the physical act of rolling. Plus, my dice have sentimental attachment. And there’s somehow a sense that physical dice are fairer than the electronic ones, although I’m pretty sure that the electronic die are probably a lot closer to random than my physical ones (even the Game Science dice).

Dice have one big problem… I have to remember to bring them! This past week I forgot my bag with character sheets, minis, dice, etc. Fortunately I go everywhere why my cadre of pod touches and iPads, so I was able to pull up my electronic character sheet on i4e (where is the iPad version??) on the iPad and the rolling apps on my Touch and was ready to go.

I tried out these apps under various conditions. I’ll list the various things I liked and disliked about them, but leave it you to decide which ones, if any, are right for you.

  • Dice Bag [iTunes]. I’ve had Dice Bag on my iPod Touch since I got the thing, maybe 2 years ago. This is a great app that does just one thing: rolls a die. It has one screen with a picture of a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and for you old school D&D’ers, there’s a percentile, 3d6, and a 4d6 drop lowest. The graphics are so-so and the die sound is a little hallow. On the positive side it’s very easy to use and free. It currently has 2.5 stars on iTunes review.
  • Mach Dice [iTunes]. Moving a step up, for $0.99, this app lets you roll an arbitrary set of dice, so you could for instance roll a 2d4 + d8 damage with one go. You roll by shaking the device, which gives a nice physical feeling to rolling. You can pin a subset of dice to reroll just a few. You can customize a ton of the graphics, from the die color, background textures, pip types, etc. However the dice are surprisingly aliased looking. It also gives you several fields of dice, so you can have one screen that rolls your attack and another for the damage die. The roll action makes a good craps table noise. The die rolling is fun, but a bit sensitive. It’s a good general purpose app that you can use for Yahtzee or other games as well. The app currently has 3.5 stars on iTunes review.
  • Feudz Dice [iTunes]. This is a new-comer the app store. It is $1.99 but also has a free version [iTunes]. Feudz Dice combines the best aspects of Dice Bag and Mach Dice. The top screen has your choice of single die (d2-d100) and under the “Complex” tab is the ability to put in up to 7 multi-dice expressions (5 in free version). If you pay for the full version you don’t get ads, and there is a 3rd screen where you can save “groups” of rolls. This lets you create a custom roll for each power, for example and save them as a group. This lets you put in variables such as “level” and “base attack” into that expression. Finally there’s a “Tavern” tab which is just extras and settings. The graphics are top notch and well-themed for D&D, but the rolling sound is too mechanical, and there are no animations. The app launches quickly, which is a plus. I’m not sure I’d use the more complicated die rolls, since its pain to input all the information from my character sheet. I’d rather just press the die number several times, or use a character sheet tool for rolling powers. 5 stars on Itunes reviews.
  • iTools Game [iTunes]. This $1.99 app has one thing going for it that the others don’t. It comes with both English and Italian versions, which you can choose at startup (instead of it using the normal iOS localization route). Unfortunately the English translation is not that good, which can be distracting for some users. The App also unfortunately has a more complicated navigation system with inproper usage of UIActionSheet and other iOS menus. One thing I do like is that on the “Advanced” Die screen, which has your choice of various-sided dice, there is also a bar to let you quickly choose the number (so you can do 3d6 with two taps instead of three and having to total in your head). It unfortunately has a separate views for d6′s, and d2′s. The app suffers from trying to do too much. It has a generic score-keeper, but not as nice as the Score app, and it also has other modes for Dungeons & Dragons and magic. The Magic view has life and mana counters, as well as text fields for some other use. The D&D views have hard to navigate forms to replicate a character sheet. And this being a dice app, it’s unfortunate that you can’t even make rolls for the stats once you put them in. The graphics are okay, except that the “rolling” animations are dizzying spins and go on too long. The dice sounds is pretty good, actually. No ratings on iTunes.

Overall these apps do exactly as promised, but none are as fast or satisfying as rolling actual dice. In a pinch, I’d put on Feudz or Dice Bag, especially since they are both free.

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6 thoughts on “Rolling Tools Review

  1. I’m not a fan of e-dice. Since I am barely above the tech level of a hooting caveman, I don’t feel I can trust them. It’s still nice to see the reviews so I know what’s out there, since e-dice are better than NO dice in a pinch! Thanks for letting us know which ones you got for free, by the way. Very professional.

  2. Admittedly, I like my dice because it was the very first gift my fiance gave me. However, since I’m relatively new to D&D, I don’t have the nostalgia tied up with it that others do, so the e-stuff sounds great to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped dice and had to try to beat my kitten to them.

  3. Thanks for the review on the dice programs. I’ve tried a few of them, and ultimately landed on “diceshaker” as my app of choice. I agree with you that the majority of them SEEM like a good idea… but entering in all your player data (ie in “initiative” you’d have to enter in all the different enemies etc) always seems to end up costing more time than simply rolling some dice and doing a bit of math in your head.

    Still, the ability to roll dozens of d6 at once is handy, as is having a searchable pdf of the player’s handbook, monster’s book etc.

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