By Tom Kruszewski
1. Out of the Box:
The box itself is a very clever design; it opens like a book to reveal all of the components held snugly inside. The board folds out to reveal a 9x9 square board with a hex overlay. But the board is a perfect square, meaning that every other hex on the sides is a half-cut hex, with the other half on the other end of the board. And there is a red hex in the center, different from all the rest.
The game also comes with 20 D6 dice. Twenty! Ten for each player (red and blue), and what’s more is that the dice aren’t meant to be rolled, even once, throughout the game. No, the dice serve as the playing pieces themselves.
I’d be remised if I didn’t complain about the fact that the game doesn’t come with any sort of player aid describing/depicting the different types of moves possible (more on that later). But I guess I can’t have everything.
- Components are a board and some dice, what more can be said?
The rules are brief and concise. They explain the different moves that are possible with the dice. There are a few black & white illustrations, and there are even a couple of examples of play. Since this is an abstract game, there isn’t much room for misunderstanding. The game is simple enough and the rules clarify the few ambiguities, if any, that may arise.
- Rules are clear and easy to understand
3. Ease of Play:
Normally I won’t go into much detail about game play. But in this case, since this game is a little hard to come by, I thought I’d outline the basics for people to understand what kind of game it is:
Each player starts with a row of 9 dice on their side of the board, numbered: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, totaling 25. When a die loses a pip, it must be absorbed into another die. A 3 becomes a 2? Then a 4 somewhere else must become a 5. That’s a basic principle throughout the game. The object, then, is to make it impossible for your opponent to have a total of 25 showing with however many of his dice are on the board. This number is usually four, since (4 x 6) can never equal 25.
There are seven different moves a die can perform, and they are as follows:
1) Normal move: A die can move exactly the number of pips showing on top in any one direction, into unoccupied hexes.
2) Wraparound move: Think of the board as an unfolded spherical surface for this move. A dice can move to the edge of the board in a given direction, and then continue its movement (if it has any pips left) on the opposite side of the board. This only pertains to the sides of the board.
3) Ricochet move: A die can move to the top or bottom of the board and reach the edge, and then continue its movement (if it has any pips left) in another direction off of the last hex, essentially “bouncing” it in another direction.
4) Exchange move: Two dice that are adjacent to each other can swap points of speed between them. Such as, a 3 becomes a 4 and a 4 becomes a 3; or a 3 becomes a 5 and a 4 becomes a 2, etc.
5) Capture move: When a die moves exactly the number of pips onto an opponent’s die, it is captured, and the amount of the lost die must be absorbed into the opponent’s lowest die available. If the lowest die cannot absorb all of the captured die’s points, the remainder goes into the next lowest die, and so on.
6) Bump move: If a string of dice are adjacent to each other, a player can move one die over, “bumping” every other die over one hex space.
7) Chamber move: Perhaps the most complicated move (relatively speaking), when a die enters by exact count into the red hex in the center of the board, it must be “split” into two dice on either side of the hex line through which the original die entered.
Once these seven moves are mastered, the game is fairly straightforward. Though, I must admit, it took me awhile to keep in my head the seven different possibilities for movement and how they all work together to form a “strategy.”
- A little like Chess, but a bit more streamlined, and certainly less arbitrary
4. Weight/Length Ratio:
At approximately 30 minutes, this game is a good length for an abstract strategy. Downtime doesn’t really exist, since it’s 2-player and each moves one move at a time. Analysis paralysis isn’t there either, unless you have trouble keeping track of the different moves at first, as I once did. Overall, There is quite a good little bit of strategizing in this game.
- The feel of Chess, without the weight and length of it
5. The “F” Factor:
Not what you’d first expect; not your mother’s good-times, dice fest. This game is definitely fun. The game is small, so it travels easily, and it can be played on a relatively small playing area. I don’t know if this is in print these days, but if you find it in a thrift store or something, I’d say it’s worth picking up. This is a hidden gem from the 80’s that’s an oldie but goodie.
- Last edited Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:30 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:58 pm
Best use of dice, EVARRR!