Lou Zocchi and the Science of Dice

I’m co-opting this week’s Creatures of Genskoyo writeup to show you two videos of veteran dicemaker Lou Zocchi at Gencon 2008. You might know Zocchi as the inventor of hundred sided dice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR2fxoNHIuU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxmkWrDbn34


Comments (11)

Zondath Valo (November 26th, 2008)

I had noticed this before and wondered why the edges of all the dice I could buy were rounded and the ones that my DM had were sharp, he’s right. Mathematically if the dice is egg shaped it will do what he says it will and the smaller sides will appear less, dose anyone know where I can get dice with crisp edges. I’m in England.

Zachary (November 26th, 2008)

GameScience dice are available at gamestation.net. I know they have my endorsement (for all that’s worth)!

And Lou Zocchi is an institution. His dice rock, and he doesn’t mind telling you so. I hope we’ll see him again as a guest at Gen Con.

Samuel Van Der Wall (November 26th, 2008)

Very cool videos! I buy dice for each of my gaming friends every Christmas. I think this Christmas I’m going to be a little more choosey after watching those videos.

bonemaster (November 26th, 2008)

Rather interesting presentation. I hadn’t heard most of this stuff before, but it does make some sense.

Bob (November 27th, 2008)

I now realise why I prefer my sharp edged dice :)

Asmor (November 28th, 2008)

Does it annoy the hell out of anyone else that he keeps using ‘dice’ as a singular?

Brian (November 28th, 2008)

The guy is just annoying, period. He doesn’t offer any evidence of why his dice are “better”, just his claims.

The fact that he advertises himself as a “Colonel” rather than the USAF-retired Sergeant that he really is troubles me, as well.

I have yet to see any issues with Chessex dice favoring any particular results over another.

That said, let’s assume that his dice really do average out better than every other brand of dice. They still look like crap.

Steve @ g2ch (December 2nd, 2008)

I respectfully disagree with the statement that Lou “doesn’t offer any evidence.” I believe you may want to watch those videos again and possibly you may want to stop and talk with him in person at Origins, Gen Con, or any of the other cons he attends. The dice proof is in the product if you are so inclined to measure dice faces.

However, having said that, I would also not put down Chessex or Koplow dice. I think really it is a matter of how accurate you want your dice to be.

If absolute accuracy matters then you probably should accept the bumps and not so pretty look of Gamescience dice, but if the look matters and you can tolerate that the dice may not roll perfectly fair then I would say go with Koplow, Chessex, or Crystal Caste. After all is said and done, these manufacturers do produce good dice and you probably will not even notice that a few rolls come out unbalanced here and there. It really is a personal choice.

But to say that Lou offers no evidence? That seems a strong statement not well thought out. And Colonel is a nickname given to Lou by friends from what I understand. I have a bias here. Lou is a great guy that I have been fortunate to know these past few years. Something always irritates me when someone comes online trash talking him and his dice.

Talk to the man in person. You can walk away saying you do not like his dice, fair enough. But I do not believe you can walk away saying the man has no evidence for his claims.

Oh and Asmor, it does irritate at first, but you will find the majority of dice manufacturing folks use the term dice as a singular and plural. You get used to it after a while. :)

lantern314 (December 19th, 2008)

I have seen it written that using die as the singular of dice is a relatively new affectation and that historically dice was used for both singular and plural.

Little Zocchi (March 6th, 2009)

I think that you should know the differences. If you are going to trash talk my Grandfathers Brother you should get to know him first. Plus you dont know what your talking about when it comes to dice. Some people should try making dice and then see how accurate it has to be.

Quentin Hudspeth (June 23rd, 2010)

"Does it annoy the hell out of anyone else that he keeps using ‘dice’ as a singular?"
Seriously! It really diminishes his credibility.

"…historically dice was used for both singular and plural."
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, dice is the preferred plural of die. But, it does also say that dice has sometimes been used as singular over the years. Doesn’t make it “correct”, though. Dice hasn’t been “officially” taken as singular for the past 600 years or more.

Interestingly, in the second video he does occasionally use die for the singular.

As far as evidence goes, what he presents is an interesting hypothesis, but not evidence. His conjecture that extended-rolling dice are less random than dice that don’t roll much seems faulty. I’d like to actually see a comparison between precision square-edged dice and precision rounded-edge dice (i.e. with identical rounded edges rather than those that result from tumbling. This may not be feasible with current technology).Probabilistically, it seems that the issue is not the extra rolling, but the nonuniformity of the dice. Casinos use the square-edged dice because they can be more easily machined than round-edged dice (i.e., more cheaply), not because they don’t roll as much.
His hypothesis about the “egg-shaped” dice seems sound, though.

What would really do his business some good is data. He’s got buttloads of dice. Roll ‘em and read ‘em. Show us the statistics. Then do the same for his competitors’ dice. That’ll solve it right there.

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