Dice Stories: Chasing Unicorn Tears
I was taking a mental health break at work, needing 5 minutes to look away from the standard boards and feeds to refresh myself before diving back in. It was at this time, approximately 5:30 PM, when a beautiful set of dice was advertised within my Facebook feed. It was posted in the Dice Maniacs Group, an aptly named little hobby group, that often shares pictures of their dice and hosts conversations about the quality and release dates of certain varieties. Most of what they talk about is well beyond my level and my interest, but I often have a lot of fun with them. This is what I saw:
From time to time, when there is a new release or a cool Kickstarter, people will post about it so that we all can get in on the bounty. But this one was different. This was a company that I was only distantly aware of, not by reputation, but I had seen another set of their dice months ago. I wasn’t interested in the gaudy set they were selling at the time and so I didn’t take much notice. I am also not usually into getting expensive dice, or even dice that have more than 2-3 shades of complimenting colors. But this image of light and rainbow hues really drew my eye and I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Kraken Dice is a company on the rise, known for quality and beauty. What they make is super interesting and was catapulted into the public eye with a hugely popular Kickstarter in May of 2018. It appears as if they are still growing and do fun releases of their dice, to build anticipation and heighten the sense of scoring a rare set. They have lots of metal dice but their most recent runs have been highly stylized and colorful resin. Because of the limited capacity of their runs, they can only release so many at a time, and so they release 500 sets to their store at one time, and then another 500 sets a few hours later. But we will get back to the alternative side of that idea, here in a moment.
So, the posting of this picture has now caught a few other DMG member’s attention and they are beginning to comment on how the dice look cool, how the previous runs sold out pretty fast, etc. I jump in and chat with them as well. I ask about how much they would probably run, and they say $20-$30. They were discussing how you could only buy one set so that other people had a chance at them, and to help prevent scalping. People were even suggesting ways to speed up the checkout process to guarantee you can get your set without the quantity running out on you. So now I am more intrigued by this company, and by extension, this set of dice.
I looked back over the picture “First 500 sets releasing 3PM PDT 5.29” “Second 500 sets releasing 6 PM PDT 5.29”. It was now time for me to get back to work but I decided to check back if my team was caught up. Luckily work was slow and so I did the mental math and realized we were now about 15 minutes away from the first release. I haven’t spent much on my hobbies lately and this set would be an awesome addition so I thought I would give it a shot. The dice in the picture were actually quite pretty, and the full set would be great either rolling on the table or even on display. I thought they just looked really nice for some reason, I thought I would like to get a set.
I figured I could sit and refresh the page without interruptions, being ready as soon as it popped up! Then, know exactly what I am getting so their is no time for debating and I had just created an account so I could be in and out as fast as it took for me to enter in a credit card number. My billing info would already auto-fill, so I was ready! This would be a piece of cake.
I am madly clicking but nothing is showing up on the main page. It surprised me that I am actually beginning to panic at this point, searching the main page from top to bottom, trying to find where I am missing something. After about 2 minutes I decide to look under their originals tab, and I had to scroll down several layers before I actually found the item. I clicked it hurriedly and was shocked to see that it had already sold out. I refreshed 7 or 8 times before I did the whole search again, and sure enough, SOLD OUT, in less than three minutes. Or so I thought.
The dice actually sold out in less than 1 minute according to some of the group members. The chat began to pick up steam now with people sharing their experiences. Some members were not really all that upset about it, while a few of the others were really disappointed! They had tried getting the dice but they were either too slow, or something messed up with the website that caused them enough of a pause that they missed out. A few people commented that they were discouraged because they would not be able to be around to try again at the next opportunity in three hours. But then, there was an undertow of negativity that came from a few people who were more than a little upset. One guy even shared the response he had received from Kraken Dice only just a moment prior.
He said that the company just didn’t care about their customers and that this was the worst customer service he had ever seen. The remarks were a little over-the-top, but he was heated and his ire inspired other like-minded people to begin sounding off as well. More complaints popped off about never buying from them again, with tech savvy people lambasting the site for not using a system that pulls from inventory to fill carts, only for purchases. It was here when the energy in this little chat group turned from sweet, to sour, and now to extremely bitter.
After the complaints were leveled, the Defenders came out and spoke their peace in defense of the small company. They argued that the company was growing so fast that Kraken Dice can’t possibly keep up and so it wasn’t their fault. The angry mob counter argued that the company had made over 3 million dollars in the last year, plus the 1 million dollar Kickstarter, and so they have the financial ability to increase production to meet the needs of demands. One lone reasonable person cited that there would be another 500 sets releasing in an hour and that everyone had another chance, but their civil comment was stepped right over and the confrontation continued.
One defender called an angry guy “condescending” for talking down to them, saying that the guy couldn’t comment on the production abilities of Kraken Dice because he does not know the costs of their Point Of Sales, their storage and distribution space, and employee wages. Angry guy fires back that the defender is relying only on the information she has regarding Facebook likes indicating company size or success, and counters that the company has had similarly bad releases in the past and should have grown to meet those demands, not remained slow to react.
A few other angry voices called out almost in chorus, “They don’t care about customers,” and “Just take my money!” The negativity was palpable and it was sparking others to rally behind them. But then, a small squadron of calm minded and sympathetic people showed up and earnestly said, “Let’s take it down a notch. Its dice xD”. Then, just as quickly as the anger had grown, it quickly drained away and civil conversations began again. The topics shifted to the methods of eCommerce, that the company had grown due to celebrity endorsements, etc. That is when someone snagged this image from one of Kraken Dice’s social media pages.
The conversation simmered down even further and was extinguished within an hour as people went on about their lives and prepared for Round 2. Me? I was also preparing for the second round of sets and I got all of my ducks in order.
After getting home and having dinner to keep my fighting strength up, I laid out my plan. If the set was 24$ and some change, and shipping was a flat $5, then I could buy myself a Gift Certificate at $30. A Gift Certificate has a string of numbers and letters, but unlike a credit card, there’s no expiration date or security code number. That saves more time than you think. I also made sure I was logged in, had the code copied into the clipboard, ready to be Ctl+V’d in place. I made sure I was logged in on the site, started refreshing 2-3 minutes in advance, and kept a close eye on the time.
Fast and furiously, I refreshed and clicked, constantly assessing if anything about the page had changed, and it wasn’t until about 45-50 seconds into the first minute did the Out of Stock message disappear. I added to cart and moved on to the checkout page, everything looked great so far. Then I let autofill take care of my address, I pasted in my gift code, clicked the last few boxes, and hit Complete Order. And then, nothing. I hit it again, and nothing at all happened. There was no error message, there was not pending icon, it was just still sitting as if nothing happened. Panic sunk back in I thought to myself, what do I do with this Gift Certificate if I don’t get my dice? What if the system basically eats the money with a computational error? How can I not have been any faster? Why did I even want these dice in the first place?
Then the page when white……. and it just held there for a few moments……. An unknowable and indecipherable screen of snowy white. It held within its blank expression both possibility and failure, and I sat there too nervous to even try to predict what it could have meant. I was at the whims of this website and I continued to sit there, dumbstruck. But the blank screen held on and after a moment longer I pulled up another tab and looked at the page. SOLD OUT.
All of the pressure released like an air brake. It was a nice effort and an interesting attempt. I have never really done anything like that before so it was good to have a new experience. Coming to terms with the feeling of missing out, I considered what to do with the Gift Certificate. There was another neat little set of dice I saw earlier that was in stock that I thought I might like, and I am sure I could find another set too and just be happy with those. Maybe that cool bluish green set or the….
Wait.... what? Confirmed? I did it. I DID it! I WON! Okay, I didn’t win, but I got in there somehow. My purchase was just going through and it was taking a while for the processing to happen with so many other people buying at once. I got a set of dice! I mean, I spent money on them but I still felt like I won something!!! I thought I would go and mention it on the DMG page, and just let my friends know that I was one of the lucky few to sneak through and get a set. But then I thought how that might seem mean spirited, as if I was hanging my accolades over them in an antagonizing manner.
So for now, I will sit and watch the web drama continue and bide my time until the dice arrive. I will be excited to share them with you all once they arrive, and let you know if these Unicorn Tears are actually lucky or not. They sure were an adventure in the gathering, so I expect big things out of them in the future.