Battle Dice - the original GMT 18mm (black) & my proposed 19mm replacement
I have received my set of Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (hereafter CCN) from America, and am impressed with it. I haven't had time to get on with all the stickers yet, but I hope to do some of that this weekend. I checked the contents, and everything looks very good, and the quality, as always with GMT, and as is almost always true with American games, is excellent.
Since I have spent a little time gawping at the pre-release discussions on various fora, I was aware of some concerns about the quality of the battle dice. Now I have to say right up front that if I hadn't read about this, it would not have occurred to me when looking at the supplied hardware, and much of the prejudice which I have read about seems to come from the Ancients version of the game. Yet I can see that the dice might wear a bit.
In case you do not spend much time reading discussions about the quality of dice in a game you do not own, a quick explanation might help. The game uses special Battle Dice, each of which carries 2 infantry symbols, 1 cavalry, 1 artillery, 1 crossed sabres symbol and 1 flag, all of which (obviously) have a defined meaning in the rules. The dice are supplied blank, with stickers to be applied by the purchaser (or his kid brother, if it is that kind of family).
The discussion threads on GMT's site and at boardgamegeek.com get into odd areas such as whether people prefer the feel of wooden or plastic dice, whether dice with stickers attached can ever be truly dynamically balanced, whether wood swells with the weather conditions, etc - you know how these discussions develop.
The dice provided - and there are 8 of them - are black plastic, 18mm across, with very slightly recessed areas to take the stickers, which are shiny printed paper, each one being 14mm across. I can see that the edges of the stickers might wear a bit - the indentation is shallow, and the thickness of the paper will protrude a little. It is entirely probable, of course, that the dice as supplied will work excellently well for many years, but I am such a worrier - and then I read the misgivings of all these other people - oooh oooh.
I do have some alternative blank dice. I purchased some samples of various types of plain dice, quite a number of years ago, and (naturally) they are still lying in the Diddy Box in their original packets, untouched. Amongst these are some slightly larger dice - 19mm - which have deeper indentations, and the indentations would fit 14mm stickers perfectly. OK. Unfortunately I only have 5 of these, but I have ordered a couple of additional packs on eBay, from a firm which specialises in educational toys. Given enough of these alternative dice, my plan is to fit GMT's stickers onto them, the deeper indentations will protect the edges nicely, and I might also apply a bit of acrylic varnish over them (subject to a bit of preliminary testing). If all this works, I should have dice which will be the envy of all. Dice of Thunder. When the smoke clears after World War III, my dice will be the only undamaged objects they find around here.
Only potential fly in the ointment is that the supplier cannot guarantee that the dice will all be the same colour, but they are hoping that will be possible. Let's see what I get.