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Joe Lee
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Milford
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Die Dolmengotter is a game designed by Thomas Odenhoven for 2 – 5 players that plays in about 30 minutes.

The premise of the game is that each player controls a small group of druids who set about to build the most impressive stone circles in the land.

Components: The components are quite functional for the game and include;

The game board that has a scoring track that runs along the edge of the board surrounding the playing area and the playing are itself. The playing area is made up of all of the stone circles that can be built on the board. There are three sizes of circles and they have multiplier values of 3, 4, or 5 from the smallest circle to the largest. There are also some glyphs along the outside of the play area that relate to movement across the board but I’ll get to that later.

The playing pieces
are the standard wooden bits (red, green, blue, yellow, and natural wood) and include per player 4 druids, 16 stones, and 13 dolmen, the players’ multipliers, with values from 1 to 4.

Game Set-up: Based on the number of people playing each person will receive a certain number of stones and dolmens in their color. Though each player will have the same value dolmen at the start, each player is supposed to keep their dolmen values secret once the game begins so that opponents don’t know what value dolmens are yet to be played.

Each player will place one druid on the start (4 VP) space on the scoring track. Finally in player order each player will take one of her remaining druids and place it on a space on the board. Once all players’ druids are on the board the game is ready to begin.

The placing of druids in this game reminds me of Through the Desert in that you are looking for the most opportune starting spaces.

Game Play: A players’ turn is very simple and consists of one of three possible actions:

1) Walk a druid to a neighboring unoccupied space: When moving to a neighboring space, if it contains another druid you may pass by him to the next space and you can keep doing so until you come to an unoccupied space at which point the druid stops moving. Running through a chain of druids is a very quick way to move around the board.

If a druid is on the edge of the board, where the glyphs are, he may transport from that space across the board to the space with the matching glyph. In the case of the corner spaces of the board they all contain the same glyph so a player may move his druid to one of the other three spaces. This is useful not only to jump across the board but also helps if you managed to get boxed in by stones, which will occur more frequently as the game progresses.

When the druid is done moving the player must either place one of her stones on the space the druid moved from or go back one space on the scoring track but not beyond zero. This allows the player to save a stone she may not want to place at the cost of a victory point. Why would you want to not play a stone? Well for one you are limited to stones and they are going to help you score points and sometimes by placing a stone you are actually helping out an opponent and not yourself.

Finally, a druid may not pass through a space occupied by a stone, nor end its movement on any occupied space.

2) Collect herbs by laying a druid on his belly. This action will allow you to teleport the druid on a future turn.

I’ve used this on occasion when I’ve had a druid trapped by stones and don’t want to move any of my other druids. It’s also the other way to just jump across the board to an area you want to compete in. The down side is it’s a two turn action and I find it tough to use this action much in the game.

3) Flight of the druid allows you to teleport a druid that collected herbs in a previous turn to any unoccupied space on the board at which point you return him to a standing position. Just like walking the player may now either place a stone on the space the druid moved from or go back one space on the scoring track but not beyond zero.

So what is a player trying to achieve by moving her druids about the board? Well she is trying to either have the majority of stones in a circle or tie the person who currently has the majority (Equalizer) of stones.

Majority: A majority in a circle occurs when there are at least two different colored stones in the circle and a player has more stones in the circle than any other player. In this case the player with the majority may place a dolmen (multiplier) face down inside the circle. If dolmens already exist in the circle she may place her dolmen on top of the stack.

If a player was tied and reestablished the majority she may place another dolmen inside the circle on top of the stack of dolmen present. Being on top of the stack is where you want to be since scoring is based on where your dolmen is located on the stack with the top being the most valuable.

If there is another player who is going to allow you to reestablish the majority you may want to think about the value of dolmen you are going to initally place since upon reestablishing a majority you'll have the opportunity to place another dolmen on the stack. In this case you may want to place a lower value dolmen first with the thought of placing a higher valued dolmen on top of the stack when you reestablish majority.

Equalizer: If a player ties the majority she may place a dolmen facedown inside the circle underneath the stack of dolmen.

It’s not always a good idea to tie for majority since it will give other tied players a chance to regain majority and place another dolmen in the circle on top of the stack. This not only allows your opponent to score more points but it will reduce your points in that circle as well and potentially bring about a quicker end game.

An example of dolmen placement using two players: Red moves and places a stone on a space. Blue moves and places a stone on a space on the same circle. Red moves and places a stone on the same circle and now has majority in that circle so he may place a dolmen inside that circle. Blue moves again and places a stone on the same circle she may place a dolmen in the circle under the dolmen already present. The next player to move and place a stone on that circle may place a dolmen on top of the stack since they would then have majority of stones in that circle.

Except for the outside spaces of the board all spaces attach to either two or three circles so it is possible that when a player moves they will give another player majority in a circle. When this occurs the player who gained the majority may place a dolmen in the respective circle even if it isn’t his turn. It is possible that multiple dolmens may be placed by the movement of one druid.

Scoring: This takes place when a circle has all of its stones in place and at end game at which point even incomplete circles will be scored.

Remember that the circles have values of 3, 4, and 5 points based on their size. And each player had dolmens valued from 1 – 4 points.

When a circle scores you take its value and multiply it by the value of the dolmen in the circle. However, only the topmost dolmen gets the full value of the circle all other dolmens are multiplied by the circles value -1 for each level below the topmost dolmen the scoring dolmen is.

An example of scoring: Let’s say that we are scoring a larger circle value 5 and there are 4 player’s dolmens in the circle in the following order top to bottom blue 4, red 4, green 2, and yellow 1. The scoring would be as follows:

Circle value 5 x blue 4 = 20 points
Circle (5-1)= 4 x red 4 = 16 points
Circle (5-2)= 3 x green 2 = 6 points
Circle (5-3)= 2 x yellow 1 = 2 points

Once the scoring is done all dolmens scored are removed from the game.

At end game the same scoring method is done for all incomplete circles that have dolmen in them.

End game: The game ends in one of two ways:

1) A player places her last dolmen. All other players have one final turn and the game ends, or
2) All players have played all of their stones to the board at which case the game ends.

I have yet to play a game of this where everyone has run out of stones. I have seen what we’re calling the dolmen dumper strategy whereby the player is looking to get into circles as quickly as possible and burn though his dolmens faster than everyone else. Now that does seem to require assistance by the other players in allowing him to get into ties and reestablish majorities so I expect this to become more difficult with experienced players.

Opinion: Overall I’ve enjoyed playing this game. I think the stated game time is spot on and much like Through the Desert I’m always up for a rematch after playing it. The scoring mechanism whereby there must be at least two players involved in building the circles in order for them to score makes for an interesting dynamic where you must work in conjunction with your opponents to score points. The learning curve is not steep and the decisions to be made keep me interested.

I give this one a big thumb up.

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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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joelee wrote:
Overall I’ve enjoyed playing this game. I think the stated game time is spot on and much like Through the Desert I’m always up for a rematch after playing it.


I agree: this is a great game. However our play times are usually around 45 to 60 minutes.

I also find the game best with either 3 or 4 players and to be actively avoided with 5.
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Nick Fisk
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Stoke on Trent
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That's weird. This bit used to mention Shire Games, and tell you all how wonderful we are. But it seems to have got deleted. Let's see what happens this time ....
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We've not had the game take more than 30 minutes, from 2 to 5 players.


N.

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J C Lawrence
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Moviebuffs wrote:
We've not had the game take more than 30 minutes, from 2 to 5 players.


I am somewhat surprised. Dolmengotter isn't the simplest and lightest of games. There's a fair bit to consider each turn as the balance and sway of incentives and disincentives for each player's druids in their various positions changes with every player's move. It is a relatively delicate puzzle.
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