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Subject: The game that makes area control fans happy and Swedes giggle rss

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Björn Hansson
Sweden
Bromma
Stockholm
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Introduction

Contrary to what the box cover might fool you into believing, Dolmen is an abstract area control game.

There. That line will probably be enough to make some gamers shy away from it and head for, what they believe, is greener pastures filled with plastic orcs and lots of dice.

If you are one of the chosen few that have kept reading I say congratulations, you have found an awesome game.

When you open the box

At first glance the thing that sets Dolmen apart from most abstract games is the graphic beauty of the game board. It is a stunning piece of art. Not that us boardgaming connoisseurs care about such things, but it might perhaps let you fool one of your less sophisticated friends to give it a spin.

Gameplay

On your turn you can do one of three things. Place a meeple, move a meeple, or remove a meeple. Easy as pie. Everytime you move a meeple you will hatch a stone of your colour in the spot where you were standing. The goal is to acquire the majority of stones around every area. However, it is not enough to place your own stone. Majority isn't checked until there are stones of at least two colors in an area. With two colours present and with an established majority a player gets to place their "Dolmen" in the center of that area.

The Dolmens have different values and only you will know which ones you've placed in which areas.

If another player later cancels your majority, creating an equilibrium, that player will get to place his or her Dolmen underneath your stone. And if a player then causes another majority situation he or she will get to place thier Dolmen on top of the stack.

Players start the game with five victory points. Points aren't tallied until the end of the game, however a player can choose to move a meeple without placing a stone, for a cost of one VP. The timing of when and where to utilize this option is a key feature of the game.

Game end and scoring

The game ends when one player has placed all of his or her Dolmen. Each stack of Dolmen are then scored. The value of the Dolmen on top of each stack is multiplied with the printed value of the area on the game board. The second highest Dolmen in the stack has its value reduced by one and is then multiplied in the same manner. The player with the most points wins.

My thoughts

Dolmen is a bloody brilliant game. It has very simple rules, but it takes a familiar mechanic and manages to enrich it with some simple tweaks. It makes for a deep and strategic game where you have to read several moves ahead. The fact that it isn't a perfect information game really makes it shine. You must try to use the hidden values of your Dolmens to your advantage. Perhaps fool your opponent into thinking that you are heavily invested in one area, causing him/her to try and counter that, when you are in fact focusing on an area near by.

I often find myself thinking of the Go phrase "direction of play" when playing Dolmen. Every stone has a direction, I want to build shapes that exerts power in a certain direction, preferably while making my opponent look the opposite way.

If you are the least bit interested in area control games you owe it to yourself to give Dolmen a try.

Oh and Dolmen is a Swedish slang word for the male genitalia. There. Something to bear in mind before asking Swedish girls to play.
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Gold Sirius
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taragalinas wrote:
Introduction

Oh and Dolmen is a Swedish slang word for the male genitalia. There. Something to bear in mind before asking Swedish girls to play.


LMAO! Good to know.
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