[All images have been borrowed from BGG, because I took too long writing this article. :| Except for the one above. That's my cool clear die, and my homemade dice tray!]
I love dice. They are the epitome of chance, providing a simple and quick way to determine what will happen to your character after a vigorous toss. In the right environment, dice can truly make-or-break a board game. I can go on and on and on and on...but, instead, I'll list the dice games that I've played that stand out.
Frantic Dice Rolling
Escape: Curse of the Temple
If you want nothing more than 10 minutes of dice hitting the table and friends shouting at each other, then Escape: Curse of the Temple's your game. It's hard to find anything else that's frantic and obnoxiously loud as this. And please, do NOT use a dice tray. I mean, one of the curses is that you lose a die if it falls off the table. OFF THE TABLE! Play with the maximum number of players to get 25 dice rolling all at once!
If you want something lighter with no time limit, yet the same frantic dice-rolling, Bears! may be to your liking. It has a clever dynamic dice-taking mechanic, where everyone rolls at once, pairing their dice with the pool of camp dice in the center. You can either pair guns with bears to take them out, runners with tents to clear those out, or sleepers with tents to ignore bears all together. But be careful; if all bears are left, sleeper + tents pairs get -2 points, as oppose to +5 points if only tents are left. Can you roll fast enough to bend the round to your favor?
For something even more relax and with a simple push-your-luck mechanic, you can't go wrong with Zombie Dice. This simple 13-dice game has you play as zombies, vying for the brains of innocent victims who may run away or shoot you in the head. With the different colors representing the victim's difficulty (each different-colored die has different ratios of faces), and the random drawing of 3 at a time, it's really all a luck of the roll here. It's a great gateway game to get people into something different!
Probably the first game where I was so impressed with the dice that I carried a pair of them in my pocket to show off, Dungeon Dice does not disappoint in its craftsmanship. Seriously, these dice have a hefty weight to them, and roll LIKE A BOSS. It was the reason I made myself a dice tray, just so I can toss them into the plush green felt with confidence. The game is stunningly simple and a great push-your-luck mechanic that challenges you to push your party further into the dungeon.
VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game
I wonder if the dice in VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game were produced by the same people that made Dungeon Roll. They also have a nice weight to them, roll spectacularly, and just feel good in my hands. And their dedication to quality shows, as they've shown time and time again in its kickstarter updates. And the game itself is a nice, quick coffee-brewing romp to make the best cuppa joe in town. The dice quality is worth the price of admission, so give your hands a treat and try it for yourself!
More Than Just Dice
In a nice change of pace, Blueprints has players rolling dice not only for their values, but to use them as stacking materials in your own "building plans." And the different colors represent different building materials, all with different scoring mechanics. There's a balance of not only finishing your building to match the plans with using the materials that will give the best scoring possible. So it really makes you strategize every step of the way, and not just stacking whatever dice you choose.
...Or you can just forego rolling in general and just flick dice at each other, which is what Cube Quest is all about. Each player takes their dice "troops" and lay them out however they want their defenses they want to have, all to protect their "king" die from their opponent. Then the attacks are just...flicking your cube to enemy territory in the hopes of taking out their king. Since the dice are light and hollow, there will be many a time you'll just flick a die straight across the room. And that's enough to give this game a try and have a "dude, I flicked this die straight across the room" story.
What I really love about this game is that the dice are unconventional; all these represent car gears, and the higher the gear, the higher the risk. These dice are not your typical numbered dice. The minimum values of these get higher and higher as you shift gears, making a simple turn in 5th gear a death trap. It's when you decide whether to shift up or down that will determine how you safely drive around the lap.
As Worker Placement
Lords of Vegas
Dice values here determine casino values (with fitted square casinos around the dice....squee!). And you have all of Las Vegas to conquer. I mean, look at the board! Look at how much dice can be laid out!! And you can choose to gamble and re-roll dice to change ownership, improve payout, or just to play craps and win more money! C'mon, it's Vegas! What's not to love?
Your dice represents ships. What more do you want? Rolling your "ships," you use them to gain resources and colonize the alien planet in the center of the board. It really brings the theme home as you work to gain more ships to fly around the planet to do more actions. My favorite is the Terraforming space, where you basically transform a ship into a colony directly.
Finally, there's Troyes, a game where everyone creates all the available resources into one massive pool in which players can use their own or, by giving money to others, buying and using THEIR dice for your own means. This is a real thinker of a dice worker-placement game, because there's a slight co-op aspect in it as you defend against marauders and other enemies, while at the same time work to earn VP to win.