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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
Xavier Jiménez
Ecuador
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8
Jul 2014
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
Àlex Sierra
Andorra
Barcelona
Catalonia
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7.5
Mar 2007*
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
Adam Glass
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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7
Nov 2005*
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
Wouter
Belgium
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7
Oct 2011
Jiri Bauma
Czech Republic
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7
Feb 2012
C. C.
Netherlands
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7
Mar 2012
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
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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7
May 2015
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
Brad Oliver
United States
Glendale
Arizona
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6
Nov 2007*
Bjorn Larsen
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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6
Mar 2008*
Ava Rose Molnar
United States
Connecticut
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6
Jul 2009*
puzzle pieces
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6
Aug 2009*
Jan Bazynski
Poland
Warsaw
Mazowieckie
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6
Nov 2009*
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
Andrew Hodkinson
Canada
Kemble
Ontario
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兵者,詭道也。
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6
Aug 2010
Thomas Johansson
Sweden
Göteborg
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6
Jul 2011
s m t
United States
Portland
Oregon
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His heart was growing full of broken wings and artificial flowers
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6
Sep 2011
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
Tim Koppang
United States
Westmont
Illinois
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"It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy..."
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"For the listener, who listens in the snow, and, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is." -- Wallace Stevens
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6
Nov 2013
river tam
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6
Jun 2015
kid's rating
2015-06-20
Prev. Owned
Will Pirnasch
United States
Florida
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5.8
Dec 2009*
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
Jason M
United States
Raritan
New Jersey
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5.25
Nov 2009*
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
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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5
Oct 2006*
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*
Andrew Butler
Australia
Hawker
ACT
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5
Sep 2007*
Owned
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*
Warren Sistrom
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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5
Jul 2007*
Ryan Olson
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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5
Oct 2009*
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*
Jake Drake
Germany
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5
Apr 2008*
Prev. Owned

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