TL;DR: speed is pretty much equivalent, and unless you're a professional "dice roller and reader" than using dUltimate dice will not negatively affect you or your games!
Many are wondering how the dUltimate design compares to normal polyhedral dice in terms of speed. So, we took it to the test! (Scroll to the bottom if you prefer a video format.)
There are a few different tests that we will execute to compare dUltimate dice with standard polyhedral dice.
Compare "roll & read" times with the d20;
Compare "roll & read" times with randomized dice types;
Compare "roll & read" times with a composite roll: d%.
Compare "roll & read" times with the d20
This one is very straightforward. I've recorded many rolls on video and in video editing software I marked the moment the die left my hand as start and the moment I pronounced the value as end. Subtract those times and this gives us the "roll & read" times below:
Just by looking at that you can see that the dUltimate is just a bit slower when using it purely as a d20. This is mostly due to the fact that it will roll for longer than a standard d20 die.
However, this comparison is the same as comparing how quick you can call someone on a single-purpose push button phone or a modern day smartphone. Granted that you know the number you you will always be faster on the push button because you do not have to navigate to your phone app, then click the keypad, and finally push in the number. Multipurpose items will often lose to single purpose items in a 1v1 speed comparison, but when you compare everything a smartphone can do versus the push button phone, and world map, and compass, and camera, and... then it's a completely different story!
Compare "roll & read" times with randomized dice types
The strength of the multipurpose dUltimate lies in the fact that it can be read as each individual die of a completely polyhedral dice set. This means that even after rolling it you can still decide which dice type you actually need to roll.
What does that mean for your games? You will never have to think or look at your dice before picking one to roll. You can always roll, and then simply read the value for the requested dice type.
This sounds good in theory, but how practical is it? For this I've recently uploaded a video in which I show a dUltimate die being rolled alongside a cube with different dice types on each face:
Then I've compared this with rolling a complete hand of all seven polyhedral dice together with the dicetype-randonizing cube which resulted in the following outcome:
First, this is not only much closer, but the average time and spread is much better for the dUltimate. This is due to the fact that you always know were to look, while on the handful of polyhedral dice they scatter in different directions and finding the right one out of seven is sometimes quick, but more often it was quite slow.
Secondly, I finished with doing all those dUltimate rolls in only half the time it took me to do all those polyhedral rolls. This happened because it was so much easier and quicker to pick up a dUltimate after having rolled it, then picking up a complete polyhedral dice set (especially the d4.)
One might argue that this comparison is strange because you normally do not roll a complete polyhedral dice set only to use a single dice out of it. Normally you would select a single dice, then throw it and read it.
To make a fair comparison I used the same data points I already had from the previous test and then redid the polyhedral values in the following way:
Roll dice type randomizing cube;
Start timer as soon as it shows you which dice type you require;
Select and pick up the die;
Roll & read.
This resulted in the following graph:
A big win for the dUltimate!
Never in the design phase did I expect the dUltimate to win a speed comparison, since after all, it's foremost property is that it's a multifunctional tool. However, apparently it costs so much more time to process the dice type and select the correct die that this results in much slower usage of a polyhedral dice set when compared to a single dUltimate die.
Compare "roll & read" times with a composite roll: d%/percentile
Another thing that gets asked often is how dUltimate dice handle composite or combined rolls. For this the d% roll were compared:
Here two dUltimate dice were rolled, one black and one white. One was used as double digit d10 and the other as single digit d10. As you can see this took slightly longer compared to polyhedral d10 dice. Once again, because one is a single purpose die and the other is multifunctional, thus has more information on it.
I think however that this can be improved upon. For instance, if you roll d% a lot and have two dUltimate dice then I recommend to paint one as double digit d10 and one as single digit d10. That way you never forget which is which and can much more easily read two of them combined as a d100 or d%/percentile!
Is there a difference between "roll & read" times of dice types on the dUltimate?
It's apparently slightly faster to read the d20, most likely because it's a lot larger or because the color I used for the d20 was a bigger contrast to my eyes. However, this will probably mostly depend on what YOU use the dUltimate the most for. If you're constantly rolling d20 in combination with d6, then you will of course become faster and faster at reading those values.
All in all: unless you're a professional dice roller then using the dUltimate will not negatively affect you or your games in term of speed. I will post a video soon with all the rolls and data I used for this blog post.