This is an English translation of a review I did for the Danish board gaming website Germangames. The website is mostly targeted for non-hardcore gamers, and the review is written with that target audience in mind.
Also, bear in mind that English is not my first language, so I might have overlooked a grammatical- or spelling-error here or there.
In 2006, Jeffrey D. Allers and Bernd Eisenstein gave each other a challenge: Create a 2-player dice game, and let's see which game is better. The game Jeffrey created got more work in the end, and ended up becoming a published game (Alea Iacta Est), while the game Bernd created became Tug of War, and was made available for free.
What do I need?
As this game is classified as a Print and Play game, you might think you need to craft a bunch of items yourself, in order to play the game - but that is not the case at all! The game is more in the vein of "Do it yourself" than "Print and play" as you don't really need to craft anything at all - you need 36 pawns in 2 colours (18 of each colour) and 9 dice. In fact, all you need to print is the rules sheet, but once you've read it once or twice, you won't need that afterwards - it's quite the simple game.
Short, simple - and to the point
Each player represent a team of athletes, competing in a tug of war competetion. Each player takes a hold of 3 dice and 18 pawns (athletes). The goal is to be the only player, with athletes still standing around holding the imaginary rope.
The way you do this - naturally - is by rolling dice. You roll your three dice once - for each 6 you roll, you're allowed to reroll one of your dies. You then have two choices: Replenish your active athletes, or knock out your opponent's athletes.
For each die you roll, with a value higher than the dice your opponents has lying in front of him, you can remove one of his athletes from the active competetion, and into the reserves.
If you chose to replenish your athletes, you take a look at the middle of the table. Here, you find 3 dice. You can exchange your own dies for the ones in the middle.
If you exchange your dice with a dice that has a lower value, you get more athletes. The number you get, is equal to the difference between the two dies +1. If you exchange your dice with a dice that has a higher value than your own, you remove athletes from the active game into the pool. The number of athletes you remove is equal to the difference bethween the 2 dies -1.
Once you've done everything you want to do with your dice, you take the dice, and let them lie in front of you - and then it's your opponents turn. In other words, your dice rolls carry over into your next turn - and that is why you might want to lose an athlete in order to gain a better die. It's also why it's not always good to gain more athletes - but you might need it to gain enough athletes to be able to survive another round...
A very well done two-player game.
Tug of War is a simple game - but a very fun one at that. There's enough thought in the game, that it's more than just rolling dice; but still enough randomness that even the best laid plan can be destroyed in a single tuen.
The game plays quickly - a game normally doesn't take more than 10-15 minutes.At the same time, the game has very few components, so normally it won't take up a lot of space in the cupboard (or in the bag). It's a great fun game, that is great for when you've got a short while before other's finish their game, or when yuo're on vacation or the likes.
The game is free, and the rules can be found on the files section here on boardgamegeek. At this great price I'd recommend this game to everyone, even if dice games aren't normally your bag.