It has been a while now, since D&D Beyond created their digitial dice. I haven’t used them enough to get a sense of whether they actually roll in a truly random manner (some dice rolling apps don’t), but I have used them enough that I can confidently say that no other dice rolling application or tool I have ever encountered has ever felt as close to actually rolling dice as theirs does. The click-clack of tossing a bunch of dice down to roll them is an essential part of the experience, the key to the feeling of satisfaction, and D&D Beyond delivers. Even more so if you roll them on a phone. There’s the perfect amount of vibration when you roll on your phone so that it feels like you just shook up a bunch of dice and had them clatter into a box in your hand. It is so incredibly satisfying.
I much prefer rolling physical dice to rolling digital dice, even ones that feel as real as the experience provided by D&D Beyond, but that preference shifts as you add more and more dice to the pile. In my early days as a DM and player, I derived immense sastisfcation from being able to roll every single d6 for my fireball and disintegrate spells at the exact same time. That was forty d6 at once, at the highest level I ever cast the spell. It took ten minutes to find them all after I dumped them out, finish rolling them, and then add up all the numbers, but that moment of horror on my players’ faces when I poured a double handful of dice onto the table was worth it.
Nowadays, I much prefer digital dice for rolls that big. It is a relief to know I don’t need to do the math myself and to be able to trust that the system is doing the math correctly. I’m still good at sorting, adding, and parsing numbers provided by dice, along with keeping track of what each die represents (an essential skill when rolling a bunch of saving throws for a group of mooks who just got thunderwaved or fireballed), but I still leave the big stuff to a computer. Helps keep me focused.
Still, I don’t think digital dice will ever fully replace physical dice. Though D&D Beyond has done a great job of creating varying sets and cool dice with neat digital effects, there’s just a part of me (and a part of a lot of people, considering how ubiquitous this response is) that demands something physical for me to hold while gaming. Also, it is difficult to follow the myriad dice superstitions if your dice are digital. You can’t set a collection of digital dice so that their highest number is facing up or down or in whatever compass direction your beliefs require. You can’t soak digital dice in moonlight or the warmth of the sun at its zenith. You also can’t put digital dice in prison or a cup of water or under your mattress or whatever you feel constitutes punishment, either.
It also doesn’t help that digital dice give me the same problems that digital-only anything gives me. I just forget it exists after a bit. If it wasn’t for the fact that I log into Steam daily and all my other game launchers weekly to check for updates, I’d forget about so many games I’ve bought. Hell, I worry constantly that there are games and launchers installed on my computer that I’ve just completely forgotten about because I stopped updating them and can no longer find the launcher I need to run them. Mostly because it happened once, but also because I know how forgetful I am about digital stuff. I’ve got a dozen or more sets on D&D Beyond because I’m a subscriber who preorders stuff, and I couldn’t tell you what any of those sets looked like except the healing potion set and I’d only be guessing for that one based on what they’re called. I don’t actually know.
Really, digital dice are a wonderful tool to have in my arsenal, but I think I’m going to stick with the phsyical ones for now. Even if they take up a bunch of space after a decade of collecting them, at least I don’t forget they exist the instant I stop looking at them.