November 30, 2022

Armchair Dragoons Reviews Poly Hero Dice

Michael Eckenfels, 29 May 2022

Are you a diceaholic?

Do you have an addiction to the tactile feel of a whole bunch of them in your hand? Do you get a certain amount of joy when you buy a set? What about at a convention of your choice and diving in with a pitcher to net as many of these bad boys as you can?

How old is your dice collection? Do you remember these?

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click images to enlarge

Yeah, I do. My first ever dice set was one of these. The dice had grooves where the numbers are located, and a yellow crayon to color them in. I’m not sure where my set is now, but I know my d20 was rolled so many times it was worn nearly into a ball shape, so it would roll and roll without stopping.

Most polyhedral dice go with fantasy role playing like peanut butter and jelly. Like arts and crafts. Like me and a game collection. Like Gus and being vertically challenged.

And yet, do I play any of them? Nope. No RPGs here, though I occasionally collect a core or source book just for the reading. My dice collection isn’t legendary, but it’s mostly a collection of themed d6s with military themes – Soviet, American, British, French, German, Italian, US Marine, Israeli, Canadian, Japanese, you name it, I probably have a set of them. I don’t use polyhedral dice too often, but when I do, it would be nice to have something thematic to use.

In fact, there’s ample opportunity to use polyhedral dice in just about any game out there, not just with fantasy RPGs. If you have a large collection, chances are you’re going to need a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and even a d20 at some point. Even better if these dice are themed towards your game, like say having a ‘warrior’ set or a ‘mage’ set. How cool would that be?

Well, hope for cool no longer. Go take a look at the Poly Hero collection over on Tabletop Tycoon for a very interesting take on fantasy-themed dice. In fact, thanks to these folks, I now have a set of five of them, which I (full disclosure) received for free for the purposes of this very review. I tried them out, rolled them around, took stock of them, and have some thoughts on each set. 

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Specifically, I received:

  • An 8-piece Cleric set, in Radiant Rose style
  • A 5d4 Cleric set of ‘Hand Grenades’ (‘Holy Hand Grenades,’ anyone?), in Merciful Gold style
  • An 8-piece Rogue set, in Emerald Emissary style
  • An 8-piece Warrior set, in Steel Grey style
  • And, an 8-piece Wizard set, in Wizardstone style

Note that I think you can select different styles for your dice – I’m not sure, though. These were the ones sent, and I’m pretty happy with them overall.

Let’s take a look at the 8-piece Cleric set, first.

Of course, the Cleric set is all about the two holy symbols, a chalice, a Warhammer, a couple of censers, a mace, and a potion of healing. 

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The 10-sided Holy Symbol dice are the most hefty of the set, and look awfully unwieldy, but they roll pretty well, surprisingly, on a table.

You might need to test where you roll these things, too. I’d suggest getting a cheapo dice tray to throw them into, instead of trying it on your best friend’s nice dining room table. I don’t think they’d put divots into them anytime soon, but I’d wonder if you used these a lot, if that might eventually happen. 

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Like most of the dice in this entire collection – not just this Cleric set – you can pretty much fuhgeddabout putting them into a normal dice tower (‘normal’ being for normal d6 and not steroid-infused megadice like these bad boys).

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The 20-sided Censers are hefty as well, but not as unwieldy as the 10-sided Holy Symbols. However, whereas the 10-sided Holy Symbols feel unwieldy, they at least are structured so they don’t roll for a while. These 20-sided Censers could, conceivably, roll like my well-worn old d20. However, again, a dice tray would be a good thing here, as it is in ANY case, to keep your dice corralled. I mean, what are you, some kind of lunatic rolling dice willy-nilly everywhere?

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And how ‘bout that Holy Grail 12-sided die? Err, I mean, 12-sided Chalice? It rolls surprisingly well and manages to turn tight circles, a nice side effect of its design.

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What we have here is an 8-sided Potion of Healing. It also rolls fairly well; this and the other potion-looking dice are bottom-heavy, meaning they won’t roll in a straight line like a log. They won’t spin right round like a record or anything, but it does roll well.

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And then there’s the 6-sided Mace. Clerics and maces go together, so why not add it in as a die? They’ve attempted just about every other kind of shape, but it’s pretty interesting how these are designed differently across the classes, as you’ll see shortly.

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The 4-sided Warhammer is kind of an odd duck. You look at in and think, there’s no way this can be a die. But it’s weighted just right so yes, indeed, it can. It rolls awkwardly – this is no Grabthor’s Hammer, after all – as it bounces a bit if it lands just right, but otherwise, it’s a cool little addition to this Cleric set.

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And what may go along with a Cleric set better than a set of d4 Holy Hand Grenades? Err, I mean, Hand Grenades? (Did Monty Python ever copyright the term ‘holy hand grenade?’) 

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They certainly look the part.

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The 4-sided Warhammer is nice and all, but these – these are rather awesome. And they roll well, too.

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The interesting thing is it has two faces for each number result, as you can see from the images. So, it can end up with its bottom on the table, or the top. In either case, the result is the same.

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These might actually make a wizard feel less upset about their shortcomings, much less a cleric.

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Speaking of wizards, let’s check out their 8-piece Dice Set!

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Very…purpley.

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I’m not going to indicate their sizes in the following screenshots; the last one will give you a general idea of how large these run. You can also see that information on Tabletop Tycoon’s website, as well.

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The two 20-sided Orbs are nice and hefty, and roll very well. Better than the Cleric’s Censers, at least in my opinion (that is, more like how you’d expect a d20 to roll).

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They look great on the table, too!

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The 12-sided Wand is a bit of an odd duck. It’s more difficult to read, as the dice faces on one side of the Wand are just slightly offset from those on the other side of the Wand. So, it will show just one result, but it takes a bit of getting used to in order to read it properly and be sure you’re seeing the right result.

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The two 10-sided Potion dice are good and easy enough to read. One has dots at the bottom of their numbers, but the other does not, which is strange. It’s all about perspective and clarity might have been best served here by placing that dot at the bottom of both. It’s not too big a deal, though; they look great and they roll well.

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Another view of both 10-sided Potion dice.

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The 6-sided Scroll die looks a lot like the bullet dice from DVG’s original Warfighter game – a great concept, but they did not receive good feedback from players. Those dice were long, narrow, and much more rounded, though, so they’d have a tendency of rolling…and rolling…and rolling, right off the table. These, fortunately, have more resistance to them and roll well.

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The 6-sided Fireball die is interesting. I thought it was another Potion die, but only realized it was a Fireball after looking at their website. Or maybe a droplet of something. I suppose it can be anything you choose to visualize it, as. And despite it looking rather rounded, it does roll well too, though it tends to shift direction easily thanks to its structure. Best to roll this, as well as all of the rest of these, in some kind of dice tray.

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The four-sided Bolt die isn’t bad at all; it’s closest to a ‘normal’ d4 as you’ll get in this gallery of fantasy-themed dice, though I mistook it for a dagger. Indeed, it’s difficult to ascertain the difference, so I had to go to the Poly Hero website (https://www.polyhero.com/) to find the exact nomenclatures. I suppose, though, that if you think it’s a dagger, then by Grabthar’s Hammer, or whatever it is your character prays to, it can be whatever you want it to be!

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Now we’re getting somewhere…the Warrior set of eight dice. I’m more of a tank player than anything else, so these dice should speak to me. I do like these other sets, don’t get me wrong; I might choose to play a cleric or mage just to get out of that comfort zone, and I have done so in the past. But the Warrior dice, that’s more interesting to me. Straightforward. Powerful. Melee. Just bum-rushing in to end an encounter. What better way is there to play DnD, other than to tick off the DM in new and exciting ways?

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This set looks fantastic at first glance. The color of the dice is perfect, I think, as are the number’s color.

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All laid out, ready for battle!

The two d20 ‘spiked balls’ look aggressive, dangerous, and roll oh so well. Very satisfying for a budding warrior to use.

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The 12-sided helmet takes a minute to identify; I figured it out before checking the site, just from the slit in the helmet, but it otherwise looks like a keg. Which, when you think about it, isn’t too far from the Warrior’s truth.

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It can even do a nice impression of an Easter Island stone head.

These are two 10-sided gauntlets. It’s hard to tell but the fist part is a bit misshapen, though otherwise it’s clever. I imagine a more realistic fist there may both cause rolling issues and perhaps misguided adventures of a different sort. 

The two 8-sided maces are pretty nice. One would think they would belong in the Cleric set, but they work here, too. Blunt instruments of mayhem notwithstanding, they have more of a dangerous aura about them in a Warrior set. They also roll well.

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The 4-sided Dagger looks a lot like the Wizard’s Bolt d4. Semantics. Like I said, they’re whatever you want them to be!

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The 6-sided sword die is pretty hefty, but how do you otherwise represent a sword…as a die? This is how. Another nice die in the set.

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Last but certainly not least (especially in avarice) …the Rogue Set. 

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A nice, sickly green hue for these dice works wonders if you have an aversion to Rogues of any stripe. I’m not saying it’s gross – just saying it’s very, very appropriate!

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With any of these sets, you either love how they look, or you hate them. I can’t imagine much reaction in between, especially with loyal RPG’ers. Nevertheless, this set does look pretty slick.

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First, you have a pair of 20-sided powder kegs. An interesting interpretation of the Rogue class, but one perfectly pictured considering the nature of this as a trap. The things roll awkwardly, though; note that it’s difficult (for me, anyway) to tell which number is up. That would either be the ‘top’ or the ‘bottom’ of the barrel. It takes a bit of getting used to, to read it correctly. 

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Then there’s the 12-sided jewel die. The view you see here was, more often than not, the result of my roll. The awkwardness of this one is easily the worst of all the sets, but you cannot beat the theme. The gem…the target of any self-respecting thief. I mean, Rogue. It had to be attempted, I get it. I just wish I was better at rolling it.

The two 10-sided loot bags are nice; they are, like many dice in these sets, going to roll in a circle when you use them since they’re bottom-heavy, but that’s perfectly fine. I like the effect and can imagine any Rogue character wishing these full of hard-stolen gold.

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The 6-sided poison vial is thematic enough; it looks like it belongs on a poster for the play, Arsenic and Old Lace. Which is, ultimately, a good thing in my mind, considering they’re not exactly healthy drinks. Very thematic and a decent die to boot.

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The 6-sided crossbow bolt is very, very much like the DVG bullet die (sorry, Dan, it had to be said, ha). It rolls well enough though, considering the barbs at the end keep it from rolling like an unstoppable log, right off a table.

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Then, we have the dagger. Or bolt. Or whatever the heck you say it is. It rolls well, looks good, and is a nice addition to the set.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, if you’re addicted to dice and love to collect them, you certainly should take a look at these when you can. The Tabletop Tycoon website has many, many more sets you can ogle over and, if you’re lucky, can find them actually in stock. At about $10-35 per set, you could spend more, you could spend less, but for the price point, it’s a great selection of some very thematic and fun dice. Just know that you cannot use a dice tower with these, unless it’s an oversized one, so some kind of rolling tray will be needed, as I mentioned earlier.

I don’t do much in the way of RPGs these days, but I have a figurative ton of fantasy-themed board games that these would do very well with. 

If you’re not much of a dice-o-holic, but do enjoy the occasional game of DnD, you might consider grabbing one set at least, just to have them. They do look good on display, even if you don’t roll them a lot. The potential is good. The feel is terrific; the tactile feel of these dice are off the chart. I highly recommend them if you’re into any kind of game that requires polyhedral dice.

 


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