Matt Carlson: Review of DGT Cube and Pyramid Game Timers

dgt_cubegametimer

DGT Cube & Pyramid
Publisher: DGT
Players: 1-4 (Pyramid), 1-6 (Cube)
Time(r): yes

Reviewed by Matt Carlson
Review copy provided by DGT

Awhile back, I was given the chance to check out both the DGT Cube and Pyramid game timers. These are colorful cubes and pyramids (surprise) that serve as a game timer for up to 6 / 4 people. Several timing modes are available, giving the timers a wide range of uses. The bright colors, interesting shapes, and fun technology gives the idea of timing turns a slightly friendlier vibe. While the prices are a bit high for some ($25 MSRP for a pyramid, $50 MSRP for a cube), they are solidly made and would easily be my timer of choice over a sand timer or iPhone/iPad app.

Each unit (cube & pyramid) have the same five settings. Once a setting is chosen, a given player’s timer is activated when a player’s color side is turned face up. With the cube, any surface will do, but the pyramid needs its special (clear plastic) holder so that it can be placed “pointed side down” and one color is exposed on top. The pyramid is cool looking and is less likely to cause any momentary pause while one looks for the correct side (it can occasionally take a second to find the right color on a cube) the pyramid only goes to 4 players and I worry a bit about over-aggressive players slamming the it down hard on the plastic stand. I haven’t seen any problems as yet, but one never knows.

dgt-pyramid-2

The five basic functions (common to both units) consist of:

  1. A count down move timer (from 1s to 10 min) that always resets when turned to a new player.
  2. A count down move timer that saves any “leftover” time for future use by a player
  3. A count down game timer that keeps track of time for an entire game (going negative if a player exceeds that amount.)
  4. A count up game timer for each player for the entire game
  5. A simple turn counter/scorekeeper that increases a player’s value by 1 each time a player’s side is placed face up

While the timers don’t do complex calculations (like figure player’s average times, or crazy things like that), I find they are more than complete for any timing needs I have. They make a great replacement for a sand timer in a game since they don’t need to “run down” before being used again. (For those common cases when one doesn’t need to wait for the entire sand timer to run out to continue.) In fact, they often get used for non-game related activities, like a kitchen timer. They’re perfect for timing my younger children (chores, quiet times / nap times, etc…) as they are easy to read and make a soft beeping noise at the end.

They are extremely durable, having survived months of use and abuse by my 3-6 year olds (including in grumpy states…) One face of the cube popped off after angrily being thrown against the wall, but it quickly snapped back into place. I highly recommend finding new gaming partners if that is going to be a major concern within your gaming group.

I have no problems recommending either timer. The pyramid seems to be the better value to me, but gamers who play a lot of 5-6 player games will need the cube. Sure, the timers cost as much as some new games, but there are plenty of gamers out there who have spent more on gaming accessories (I’m looking at you, poker-chip money people…) The timers add a bit of fun and class to games that already require a timer and they give a bit of a softer edge to turn-based timers when they need to be used to gently nudge AP prone gamers along.

dgt_cubegametimer
Opinions from other Opinionated Gamers

Dale Yu: I’ve got a cube – I’ve had it for maybe 4 or 5 years now? I got it after reading about it on a thread on Spielfrieks… you know, that gaming mailing list that was the bridge between rec.games.board (on USENET) and Boardgamegeek. It is a great widget – has always worked when I needed it to, and I’m still on the original battery! As Matt said, it is a very durable object – it’s taken multiple tumbles – both at my hands and at the whims of Delta baggage carriers – and it still works.

Sadly, I don’t use it much for gaming. There are very few game that I play that need a turn timer. I no longer play chess, and I’ve found that constant verbal needling is better for AP players than a timer – though a better solution that I’ve found is to simply avoid playing games with AP-prone folks.

But, I still use my DGT cube 5-6 times a week. It has been invaluable for my workouts. I do a lot of timed workouts, and this little cube is awesome. I have programmed the different faces for different time periods (10 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 60 sec, 2 min, 5 min) – and it’s perfect for using for interval training. The most recent morning warmup is the 7-minute workout – http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/ – and this timer has made it dead simple to keep up with the times.

The timer also has been used in the house when we are trying to limit the kids’ usage of TV or X-box. On days where they get 60 minutes total, we set up the cube and let it go. They know to turn the cube to a different face when they don’t want their time to count down.

So, while I don’t use it much for gaming – the DGT Cube is definitely something that gets a lot of use around the house, and it is something that I can highly recommend.

Ratings Review from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it.   Matt Carlson
Neutral.
Not for me…

About Matt J Carlson

Dad, Gamer, Science Teacher, Youth Pastor... oh and I have green hair. To see me "in action" check out Dr. Carlson's Science Theater up on Youtube...
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