I’ll admit: when I first saw GoDice, I was intrigued, but not entirely sold on the practicality of them. There’s certainly novelty in the idea of electronic dice that wirelessly, automatically transmit roll results to a tablet, but what is the practical benefit of this over simple analogue dice or fully digital dice built into whatever game you’re playing? After spending some time with a set, my honest answer is “not that much, really”: nifty as they are, GoDice aren’t going to revolutionize the way we play board games. But not everything needs to be revolutionary, and this is still a fun little gadget that’ll only get more so as new games and features get added to the software side of things.
The basic idea behind GoDice is simple: a set of physical dice that connect wirelessly to a phone or tablet and, when rolled, send the results of the roll to whatever game you’re playing. But making that idea actually work in practice is a trickier task. Not only do you need to get a Bluetooth transmitter, accurate gyroscope, and battery inside each die, and figure out a charging mechanism, you need to do so without throwing out the perfect balance that a functional die requires. Build the electronic components in a way that unintentionally loads the dice, and the whole concept is dead in the water.
In that respect, GoDice hits the mark. The dice feel appropriately weighted and balanced, and in the time that I’ve been using them, I haven’t encountered anything to suggest that some sides are getting more results than others—granted, I haven’t done any rigorous scientific testing, but at least from general use and observation, they seem fair. The gyroscope is reliable and accurate, whether you’re shaking the dice to hell and back or, if you’re feeling like a bit of a cheat, manually placing them down. (Don’t cheat, folks.)
Each GoDice set comes in a sturdy, hard plastic carry case that doubles as charing dock, with connectors tucked away in the dots of the 5-side of each die. Press the die into the charger for a until it lights up—around 20 seconds—and you’re ready to go, with a full charge lasting around two hours. The same charging mechanism also doubles as a quick, easy pairing mechanism, putting the die into pairing mode and automatically connecting to the GoDice app.
It’s a rather impressive technical achievement, held back by one noteworthy flaw: the Bluetooth connection can be unreliable, at least in the set that I got to review. I tested across a few different devices, and momentary disconnects were a relatively common occurrence. Most of the time, they’d automatically connect again after a second or two—not the end of the world, but still mildly annoying, especially if it happens mid-roll and results in an incorrect result. In a few more annoying instances, I had to force a reconnection by pairing the die again—again, the easy pairing process means this won’t completely disrupt a game, but it’s still less than ideal.
At the time of writing, the GoDice app includes a dozen games, from board games like Yahtzee (called Yatzy here) and Backgammon to folk dice games like Pig and Ship, Captain, Crew. There are a couple of kid-oriented originals in the mix, too, like one where you need to create a bug by rolling dice to select different parts, and even one that doesn’t involve rolling the dice at all—rather, it uses coloured lights inside them for a sort of musical chairs. For the tabletop RPG players, there’s even a tool to help calculate rolls, with optional shells you can buy to convert the standard d6 into other sizes (though I haven’t tried these myself). It’s not a huge selection of games, but what’s there is fun and varied, and more are gradually being added over time.
The biggest potential for GoDice, I think, is in the possibility to blend physical dice and a digital game together. You can see glimpses of that already: that bug game I mentioned is a dice game in that you roll to see which part of the bug you can modify, but the different options—and the final result—are purely digital. GoDice’s variation of Pig has an optional “math mode” where you have to successfully complete a math equation on screen before you can bank your score. I’d love to see future games lean into that more heavily: think digital game books or dice-based RPGs. Maybe that’s a lot to ask for the GoDice app itself, but work with other developers to make these dice compatible with their games, and you suddenly get a much more compelling prospect.
Because, like I said at the start, GoDice’s biggest hurdle is that it’s doing something that isn’t really necessary. Regular physical dice work perfectly fine for board games, and on-screen digital dice work perfectly fine for their digital equivalents. The case for GoDice is one of novelty: the convenience of digital dice mixed with the authentic feeling of rolling real ones. As it stands, the app gives a taste of that, but there’s a lot more untapped potential in the idea—so long as the dice can hold their connection.