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User Rating Comment Status
David Molnar
United States
Ridgewood
New Jersey
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9
Feb 2009*
There's just a lot to learn here, and since I play games to learn, I'll play Dots and Boxes pretty much any time. (On paper, of course. The way I figure it, when I mark a game as owned, I'm saying if you come over my place, we might play this. So while the same pencil might be used, Boxes is owned, but Tic-Tac-Toe isn't.)

What makes Dots and Boxes attractive is that is has both strategy and tactics. The "chain rule" tells you how many chains you want to make in order to have control at the end, but it doesn't tell you how to make them, so there's still some tension. And since chain-counting is based on parity, you might change your goal midstream, going for say two chains instead of four.

Of course, since chain-counting is based on parity, the game has little clarity, which is its greatest drawback, and why it is often described as dry and boring. Nobody's going to peek over your shoulder while you're playing and note thoughtfully that it looks like there's going to be an odd number of chains. But so what. It's still a very interesting game.

I found two quotes in David Parlett's The Oxford History of Board Games, in relation to the game of Go, that describe what I like so much about Dots and Boxes:
David Parlett wrote:
To the non-player, the opening moves of a game between experts appears baffling in its inconsequentiality, each in turn placing a stone on the board apparently at random and with no discernable pattern or logic. Gradually out of the mists of formlessness, there begin to crystallize suggestions of small chains or groups...
(Unfortunately, most players of Dots and Boxes are "non-players" in this sense. And the crystallization process happens much quicker in Dots and Boxes, especially on the 5x5 grid that I'm used to from online play, but being less subtle than Go can hardly be considered an indictment.)

Later,
Quote:
The skill of the game, to experts, and its mystery, to non-players, lies in recognizing which areas are safe and which unsafe, and concentrating on the latter.
Possibly this is even greater an issue in Dots and Boxes, since at that stage of the game, the snippets of territory into which the board is divided do net yet belong to one player or the other. Sacrifice is incredibly important in Dots and Boxes, but this takes 50-100 plays to figure out.

I suspect that most variants, such as having different boxes carry different point values, are going to boil down to the same thing mathematically. I suppose once you've mastered a lot of openings, a little Hey-That's-My-Fish-style randomness in the setup could keep things fresh. Nowhere near there.
2009-12-06
Owned
Ralf Gering
Germany
Germany
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8.5
Apr 2007*
Dots & Boxes is called Käsekästchen ("Little Cheese Boxes") in German. The game was invented by the famous French mathematician Edouard Lucas in 1889. The game is much deeper thank you think if you rate it just 5 or even below.
2007-04-28*
Owned
Mark Goadrich
United States
Conway
Arkansas
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8
Nov 2006*
More than just the simple kids game you remember. I still haven't figured out all the strategies. See http://www.akpeters.com/product.asp?ProdCode=1292
2006-11-13*
origami freak
United States
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8
Dec 2007*
I "own" this in the public domain sense - I have pencils and paper. :-)

Never fails to keep kids entertained quietly for at least an hour, and works well with the elderly, too. This is the last thing I ever played with my father when he was 95, and we enjoyed it.

You can print out grids if you go to this website: http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/squaredots

For a fun variation, try triangular patterns: http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/triangledots
2007-12-15*
Owned
Maurizio De Leo
United States
Minden
Nevada
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7.5
Mar 2015
Played a lot in my childhood with paper and pencil and a diamond-shaped starting setup. If you play with the correct rules (not being forced to complete all the boxes) it is very deep in strategy and there is even a book on it (which I own).
However, I usually don't feel the desire to play this, while there are many more deep and abstract games that I love.
2006-02-27*
Owned
United States
Minden
Nevada
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7.5
Jan 2012
A game unfairly judged by it's association with unendurable classroom boredom. Yes, it's usually played as a last resort (to avoid slipping into a coma during Social Studies, for instance), but if anything, that should be a testament to it's versatility and accessibility.

Much like those dry history lessons you willfully tried to ignore, the game is a lot more fascinating and complex than you probably gave it credit for.
2012-01-08
Ron Pfeiffer
United States
Surfside Beach
South Carolina
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7
May 2006*
A whole lot better than the rating number suggests. I don't own the game but I certainly have played the pencil and paper edition many times.
2006-05-07*
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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7
Dec 2007*
Classic abstract strategy game, and very interesting from a mathematical Combinatorial Game Theory point of view. Of course I play with paper and pencil, and not a silly plastic set.
2007-12-13*
ronaldinho @boardspace.net
Taiwan
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7
Nov 2008*
Very good game to get children thinking.

Many games of Nim interacting in a two dimensional grid at the same time.
2008-04-21*
Owned
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
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7
Dec 2012
it has some relationship to Go, and you should play it where large boxes (more than four points) can also count. It is probably quite deep.
2013-05-29
Dave Heberer
United States
Redmond
Washington
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6
Sep 2006*
I'm not listed this as owned, since I have no published version of this game. However, I used to play this a lot with my mom or dad while waiting for food at a restaurant on the paper napkin always around in not so nice American restaurants.
2006-09-06*
koen verstraete
Belgium
ruddervoorde
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6
Sep 2006*
as a child I liked this game, so it's a bit of nostalgia.
2006-09-07*
Owned
Dan
United States
Sacramento
California
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6
Apr 2010
A quick little pencil and paper game like tic-tac-toe that you can play anytime. A good game to play with children with a little more strategy than tic-tac-toe.
2010-05-22
Dario Delfino
Italy
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6
Jan 2010*
Paper and pencil used very well. Probably, if I played more, rated more
2010-04-11
Owned
Sarge in charge!
Germany
Bremen
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Ash nazg durbatulûk
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Why should I fret in microcosmic bonds / That chafe the spirit, and the mind repress / When through the clouds gleam beckoning beyonds / Whose shining vistas mock man's littleness?
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6
Jun 2010
Played this quite often as paper and pencil version at school and had lots of fun with it! Official versions have a limited board size and shape, while you can make up your own shapes, even giant maps are possible. Once we played this on milimeter paper - it took ages to complete, but was just hilarious!^^
2010-06-18
Prev. Owned
Clark D. Rodeffer
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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6
May 2015
Nice public domain area majority abstract strategy game.
2012-04-15
Owned
Jeff Hardcastle
United Kingdom
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6
Nov 2012
on nintendo ds
2012-11-21
Owned
river tam
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6
Jun 2015
kid's rating
2015-06-20
Prev. Owned
Alexis Benz
United States
California
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5.5
May 2009*
I've always heard this called Dots, but whatever. Not an amazing game, but noteworthy for the fact that you can play it with a piece of junk mail with one blank side and one pencil for two people and it will kill 45 minutes that might otherwise have been tedious.
2009-05-15
nathan king
United States
Unspecified
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5
Aug 2005*
Have played this since being a little kid. While not the best game, it works great at boring meetings or other places where you find yourself with nothing else to do.
2005-08-28*
Owned
Juuso Mattila
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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5
Jan 2006*
I played some games in high school with pencil and paper. An ok game.
2006-01-13*
Ian Lynagh
United Kingdom
Oxford
Oxfordshire
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5
Mar 2006*
As a way to pass a few minutes with only paper and pens at your disposal, you could do worse than this. Not much to it without going far deeper than people are likely to care to, though.
2006-03-02*
Glenn Laurent
United States
Lakewood
Colorado
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5
Apr 2007*
Paper & Pencil
2007-04-26*
Owned
Chris Talbot
Canada
Fort Smith
Northwest Territories
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Be seeing you... -Alphonse
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5
Jan 2008*
This is one abstract that felt a little dull. I'd give it another try, but I wouldn't suggest it.
2008-01-11*
Todd Sweet
United States
Geneva
Illinois
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5
Jun 2007*
Great game to play as a filler while waiting for dinner at a restaurant. Especially when it's on the children's menu already!

2007-06-13*
Owned
Chris Long
United States
State College
Pennsylvania
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You know, like, for realsies.
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Vaughn had always been a good student, but now it seemed as though he mastered his lessons too quickly.
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5
Mar 2009*
Can't believe they actually made a board for this. I've always just played it on a piece of paper.
2007-06-19*
Jim Carvin
United States
Hamburg
Pennsylvania
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5
Oct 2007*
Logic based game that we used to play on graph paper when I was a kid. Fun game but only when you're REALLY REALLY bored.
2007-10-07*
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
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5
Aug 2009*
This game is just too difficult, no kidding. If I were a better player or if I at least knew how to become one, I would rate it higher.
2008-10-06*
Owned
Jeremiah
United States
Madison
WI
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5
Nov 2009*
A decent game to play when you only have paper and pencil. Put a "grid" of dots on the paper and play.
2009-11-10
Alfred Das
Netherlands
's-Hertogenbosch
Noord-Brabant
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5
Jan 2011
Good to play with the 5yo.
2011-01-31
Matthew S.
United States
Fairfax
Virginia
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5
Dec 2011
How I keep my kids busy in restaurants. Learned and always played on a 7x7 grid of dots.
2011-12-03
Ryan Keane
United States
Medford
Massachusetts
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5
Aug 2013
Useful as an educational game for children and can be played on restaurant napkins.
2013-08-16
Ryan Hackel
United States
Falls Church
Virginia
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5
Sep 2014
One of the better popular pencil and paper games for kids, where they can still earn at least a few points against an adult.
2014-09-08
Owned
Ola Mikael Hansson
Sweden
Perstorp
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4.5
Oct 2009*
While there is undeniably skill, and one can build up expertise in this game, it does not get me excited. The early part feels like one is putting out walls at random, the endgame is just a matter of analyzing who will get that. The transition from middlegame to where the chains and loops forms is where non-trivial player skill comes into play, but it all ends up just feeling dull to me. Not a game I want to spend time and effort to improve at, and thus, not one I chose to play.
2008-03-10*
Juan José Fernández Quiroga
United States
Miami
Florida
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4.5
Jun 2008*
Classic Pencil & Paper game
2008-06-05*
Thijs Lauwbierkoffie
Netherlands
Amersfoort
Utrecht
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Kom spellen spelen bij de Spellenclub Apeldoorn!
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4.5
Feb 2012
Good to pass some time, game is more about avoiding to get hurt, than to hurt the other player
2009-10-26
David Schwenker
United States
Albany
New York
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4.5
Jan 2012
Has the advantage of being playable anywhere as long as you have a writing utensil and a surface to draw on.

The game itself... "eh"

Own as Dot-To-Dot
2012-01-29
Prev. Owned
Michel Yannakis
Canada
Terrebonne
Quebec
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4
Jul 2005*
The only pen and pencil game I know with TIC-TAC-TOE. This one is a lot better.
2005-07-11*
Mike Cross
United States
Atkinson
New Hampshire
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4
Oct 2005*
A fun little game if you're a kid, but it always seems to boil down to whoever has to place that final mark that sets off a chain reaction for the other guy.
2005-10-28*
John Squires
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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4
Oct 2006*
A pretty good pencil and paper game. I'll have to remember this one next time in at the airport with graph paper.
2006-10-03*
John Farrell
Australia
Aspley
Queensland
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Averagely Inadequate
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Buster Keaton from 'Go West'
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4
Nov 2008*
As used for punishment on the 7th layer of Hell.
2007-03-11*
Prev. Owned
Tim Mossman
United States
Gaithersburg
Maryland
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4
Jan 2007*
The kids have discovered this game and enjoy playing. As a bonus, it's free to play with pencil and paper. A little tedious for adults.
2007-01-22*
James Davis
Australia
Canberra
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4
Jun 2007*
Another time waster in school. Not a bad introduction to the abstract world actually.
2007-06-27*
Badger
England
London
Enfield
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4
Nov 2007*
I own it in as much as I have paper and pencil.
2007-11-06*
Owned
David Kahnt
United States
Laurinburg
North Carolina
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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4
Dec 2007*
Better than tic-tac-toe... if you have the space.
2007-12-22*
Owned
David Dolzan
Slovenia
Komenda
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4
Dec 2007*
A paper and pencil game that doesn't really get me. Somewhat boring and tedious.
2010-07-31
Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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4
Aug 2008*
waste of time game. You don't need anything but a piece of paper and a pen(cil). play on facebook.
2008-06-26*
Martí Cabré

Terrassa
Catalonia, Spain
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4
Jul 2009*
Public domain.

Just play it with paper and pencil.

I played it as a kid and then it was fun, but when you see it as a kind of Nim, you can break it.
2012-01-02
Owned
Let's Play Two!
United States
Collinsville
Illinois
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4
Jan 2012
More palatable than tic-tac-toe for those times when we're stuck waiting in a restaurant with the kids.
2009-11-08
Juan Carlos Goyes
Colombia
Bogota
Cundinamarca
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It’s true hard work never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance? - Ronald Reagan
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4
Feb 2012
2011-07-20

Initial Rating: 4

I had a blast playing this between (and in classes ) classes in my school. It was fun to play but that time is long gone. There is absolutely no reason to play this anymore.

I have at least 100 plays before 2010 thus I have not logged them.
2012-02-01

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