Dice are one of the most classic elements of board games, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt and the board game found there, Senet. Dice are a great way of representing a random element in a game, giving everyone the opportunity to either profit from good luck or suffer from bad luck. Just as random chance plays a large role in true life, the world that board games represent often tries to respect that quality. Therefore, dice can come into play with board games for any number of reasons.
Most often, they will represent the movement of a player's token along the board. This can either take them to the end faster or help them to land on either beneficial or harmful spaces. Dice can also be used to represent other elements of chance, such as the outcomes of battles or the likely success of a gambling taken. One thing known, however, is that dice have a number of different forms and purposes depending on the game it might be used for.
The traditional form of dice has six sides and on each side is a representation of a number from 1 to 6. When rolled, one of these six numbers will land face-up and this is what determines the purpose of the roll, traditionally for movement purposes. However, many games will make use of dice which do not follow this specific pattern.
Some games have the need for dice which will fulfill specific purposes. These can be six sided dice that do not have the traditional number values on each side. Dice of this nature can be labeled with colors which might represent something in the game or special instructions, such as "Roll Again" or "Lose a Turn." Other possibilities are that the dice might not have simply six sides.
There are many dice available which have more than six sides, with eight-sided and ten-sided dice being some of the most popular. Dice with 20 different sides have been known as well, although rare, a 100-sided dice has been known to be used. These dice are more typical in role playing games, where a large number of factors can come into play based on the direction that the game might be heading.
As stated, however, the dice themselves might have any purpose of movement. Role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, will use dice for multiple purposes. Sometimes dice are the best way to determine the outcome of a battle. Other times, they can be used to help understand what the outcome of a spell might be or to decide how many accessories could be equipped. Risk uses dice to determine specifically the number of dice which can be used for the outcome of a battle. Depending on how many armies are attacking or defending a certain territory, the number of dice rolled will be affected. Defending dice have an advantage over attacking dice, giving players a fair opportunity for defense. As shown, though, dice have any number of either sides or functions and can be used to enhance nearly any board game.