Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Wargaming Infrastructure: Skimpy Dice

 I adopted the heading "Wargaming Infrastructure" here because it is more imposing than "improvised daft bits and pieces", which was another possibility.

In a dark cupboard, I am still working on my Prinz Eugen rules. The Close Combat rule is now a derivative of Stryker's Muskets & Marshals melee system, and is shaping up nicely. This uses comparison of individual dice rolls, and I realised that for the way I propose to use these I need to revisit an old concept I used years ago - that of fractional dice.

Once I had a couple of varieties of these, nothing very scientific, but very useful in some situations. They were generically known (by me) as "skimpies", and there was a Half Dice (numbered 0-1-1-2-2-3) and a Quarter Dice (0-0-1-1-1-2). Anyway, they are long gone, but I realised that the current draft system for Prinz Eugen would benefit from the presence of some of my old Quarter Dice, so I have quickly (and cheaply) knocked some up, and they seem to be doing the job OK thus far. The "cheaply" bit is partly because I may change my mind about what is needed, but is mostly because of my lifelong devotion to being a skinflint.

Once upon a time, my friend Chris worked in a place that tuned racing motorcycles, and he had all sorts of fancy kit for hand-fabricating parts for carburettors and all that. He could produce custom dice for me at the drop of a hat, during his lunch hour - I would supply blank dice (which in those days you could only get from educational suppliers) and he would drill them with great precision, and fill the holes with coloured resin, as required. Quality.

This time round, I opened one of my spare packs of 16mm blank dice (how did you guess I would have quite a few of these?) and marked them up with a Sharpie pen, which lacks the elegance and the accuracy of Chris's lunchtime specials from the 1970s, but otherwise ticks all the boxes for St Ebenezer.

So here you have them - Quarter Dice - "skimpies" to the initiated. They may be featured in the coming rewrite of Prinz Eugen.

Footnote: Friend Chris later became a big-deal DJ on a local commercial radio station, and left the petrol-head workshops, and I lost touch with him. Eventually, as does happen, he was required to step down to make room for someone younger, and he vanished so completely that I have failed to trace him subsequently, though I have tried chasing up former mutual friends. No-one knows what happened to him. You don't suppose commercial radio stations do something sinister with their ex DJs, do you?


  1. So sawing them into halves and thirds didn't even get approval for a test?

    1. Hi Ross - if it had been easier than adding Sharpie pen dots, the sawing would have been considered very seriously!

  2. First your post and then Ross' comment; I am laughing my head off!
    Right... got my composure now. I really like the idea of this development and greater use of the ever-good D6.
    Regards, James

    1. In fact Chris the madman would have sawn up dice like a shot, even if that were only what he thought I might have asked for, and they'd have been beautiful, though, apart from earrings, I'm not sure what they could be used for. I mentioned to a mate that I was using a Sharpie to mark up blank dice, and he said, "but it will rub off, in time", and he's right, but I suppose having to touch them up with the Sharpie is as bad as it might get. The ink seems rather harder wearing than I expected, and it isn't going to rub off all in one go - I would expect to detect signs of fading before the marks disappeared...

      While I was thinking the best way to do this, I came across this, which must be one of the most unhelpful how-to YouTube clips around - worth a watch, you can probably apply most of the content to peeling potatoes, so keep the link handy

    2. Thank you Tony and especially thanks Dean. I can die now, satisfied that I know how...

    3. I suspect that Dean just really wanted to show off his big drilling rig (as it were). I watched the clip again, just in case I had imagined it, and I am sure that the dice moves while he's drilling it. Anyway, the stuff about the goggles and all that was good.

  3. I remember many years ago getting a few of the dice blanks that we had at work and drilling them out so they had two sixes … when I got bored seeing how many more double sixes I could roll I somewhat mischievously popped them into the big jar of dice we used for playing games…
    I think it’s been about fifteen years and no one has said anything ūüė≥

    All the best. Aly