I’ve been wanting a dice tower since I compiled my gamer’s gift list. It’s not that I don’t have room on the table to roll dice, or that I have more money than sense and just want to accessorize something I could do just as well by hand.

For me a dice tower was for dealing with dodgy dice-rollers. You know the type. They waft their hand about an inch over the table and just lay the dice down. I mean why not just place them on the table at the value you want?

Although this rarely happens (and when it does the culprit is usually vociferously berated and/or tarred and feathered), an Anti-Cheating-Bastard dice device seemed like a good idea.

Besides which I’m a sucker for shiny toys.

Marketplace

Most designs take the “tower” part a bit too seriously with “table castle” approach, or they’re a little theme or genre specific. Or they’re just a bit too MDF. I’m a little picky.

Dice Towers for every taste and theme.

I did get a folding tower from a Kickstarter campaign that thankfully didn’t sport crenellations, but it was too small, too bland, too crap and certainly not the table centrepiece that I was looking for.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - CMON dice tower

The standard CMON Kickstarter dice tower. Handily portable but pretty basic.

Then one day I saw what looked to be the answer to my prayers: the Crystal Twister from Blackfire Entertainment. Elegant, transparent, not too expensive and featuring a spiral staircase (two in fact) that dice roll down in a glittering sparkle of tilting steps. Nine inches of loveliness. Ooer missus.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Constructed Tower

The Crystal Twister Dice Tower from Blackfire.

Not only would this cure any future cheating git problem, but as dice towers went it managed to give a nod to the castle tower look without going completely Warhammer Scenery.

And what’s that? £15* you say? Don’t mind if I do. In fact I might have one for each end of the table.

Assembly

The first thing you have to realise about the Crystal Twister is it’s self-assembly, and you’ll have to set aside at least an hour to get it built. No you didn’t read that wrong. An hour.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Product Box

Flat Pack. It’s like the Ikea of Dice Towers. But Kallax are good, yeah?

The tower components arrive on two roughly A5 sheets of acrylic, which you then punch out into their component pieces. As with the rest of construction, the main thing to remember is: BE GENTLE! The finished tower is fairly robust but the individual pieces are vulnerable to being snapped or damaged when punching out of the sheets or during construction.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Component parts

You’ll also find a painted piece of MDF with the Blackfire logo on it that serves as the dice tray. And two rubber bands. DON’T THROW THEM AWAY.

As with most commercial acrylic/perspex items, the component sheets come with plastic stuck on both sides. It would be great if you could peel the plastic off before detaching the components from the sheet, but sadly this isn’t possible as the plastic is attached at manufacture and before cutting.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Acrylic Sheets

Thus it’s a long-winded 40 minute process to peel the plastic off both sides of each individual piece of the tower prior to construction. Sure, it’s a complete pain, but it’s better than having scratched up tower pieces.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Plastic covering

If you have nails then it’s not too much of a drag, but if you bite yours like I bite mine, you’ll be wanting to use a blunt butter knife or some sort of plastic spatula (like a clay sculpting tool) to curl up a corner for you to get hold of.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - Plastic Sheet Pile

It’s a chore for sure.

Once everything is peeled, you can start constructing, which is actually easier than it might look at first glance. The instructions are pretty good in fact, and guide you through the process fairly painlessly. There are really only three things to watch for:

  1. Make sure the verticals are correctly placed. There are guide marks on the bottom. Use them but also ensure the holes that mount the “steps” are ascending/descending right, just to be safe.
  2. Make sure you mount the steps the right way round, and the same way round all the way up the tower.
  3. BE GENTLE. If you make a mistake with the verticals then press together the flanges at the bottom to extract the piece from the circular base.

The supplied tool is essential for putting the steps in place, as is one of the rubber bands that came in the box (remember I told you not to throw them away?). Use both these aids well and construction takes way less time than the prep work.

Blackfire have helpfully provided a video tutorial on assembling the tower, so check it out if you’re unsure.

Performance

I’ve found the Crystal Twister performs pretty well. You can dump a reasonably hefty handful of dice in the top and they almost always run through without a hitch.

I’ve had jams right at the top where I’ve dropped two dice directly into the opening at the side of a step and the gap is *just* too small for them to both make it through. Even then a tiny shake gets things back in order again.

If you let the dice out of your hand in a more controlled way rather than just ramming a fistful of dice straight in, you probably won’t have an issue.

I was a little worried the dice would always descend the steps in a fairly standardised way and you’d be able to cheat it by dropping a die in with a certain face up, but there seem to be enough variables for this not to be the case. The twin helical runs and the swivel to the top step give enough randomness from the drop anyway.

It’s certainly looks cool too, glittering away after each drop. So is it that design grail combination of form and function? Well, not quite.

Gripes

Firstly the tower opening at the top could be ever so slightly bigger. The diameter is *okay* but I’d prefer to be able to chuck some dice in with a little more carefree abandon. It would also give the dice more room to move and so make them less likely to stick, plus of course each die could be slightly bigger.

Secondly, it’s loud. But then all dice towers are pretty loud. I guess the structure of the Crystal Twister strings out a roll a little longer than most towers, so you notice the noise more. The steps squeakily swivelling for a while after the dice have stopped doesn’t help either, although that’s actually kind of cool.

The biggest gripe (and potentially deal-breaker) is that it doesn’t work with all die types. It doesn’t work at all with d4s. Now personally I don’t think d4s roll for sh*t even by hand, so I’m happy to halve a d8, which rolls down the Twister well enough.

That said the d8 is still prone to getting stuck mid-tower. With a single die his might happen once in a while. A small shake will send it on it’s way, and to be perfectly honest, I so rarely use a d8 (let alone a d4) that this has never been a deal breaker for me. It still rolls d8s better than I do across the table, and looks better doing it.

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - d8 and d4 dice

The troublemakers.

However, if you plan on rolling handfuls of d8s (such as in Mansions of Madness) your likelihood of a jam will go up drastically. Basically, I can’t recommend it as reliable for d8s.

So if you’re hoping to use a tower for the full gamut of polyhedrals for your favourite RPGs (obviously not that d20 system crap), then you’d best look elsewhere.

The Low-down

Crystal Twister Dice Tower Review - In Action

Overall I think it’s a great-looking and well-performing dice tower for the majority of dice, and at a price that’s good value considering the competition. Sure, you’re going to have to put aside an hour for assembly, but at the end of it you’ll have something that will work well, look pretty funky on the table and be a talking point at your games night… at least the first time folk see it!

That said one can’t overlook the fact that it can’t handle certain types of die. Admittedly it caters for what the majority of gamers use, but if you’re looking for a tower that covers all the bases, I can’t recommend this. But if you’re just rolling handfuls of d20s, d12s, d10s or d6s though, you can’t go far wrong.

Pros:

  • Looks cool.
  • Works well with d20s to d6s.
  • Pretty cheap compared to the competition.
  • Good assembly instructions.

Cons:

  • Takes a good hour to build.
  • Fairly loud.
  • No d4 support and d8 can be problematic, especially in quantities
  • The top could be *slightly* wider.

[*Prices vary: Boardgame Extras — £15+£2.75 shipping; Amazon (affiliate link) — £20.41+Free Delivery]

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