I recently acquired this game as a rental through Peter at Board Game Rentals NZ. He told me that this was a great abstract game, deep in strategy. That same night I had just purchased Lords Of Waterdeep, so my enthusiasm was all for that. It was a week later, after our games group meeting finished a little earlier than usual, my daughter Micheala and I were at a loose end for about 45 minutes, and she suggested we try Dvonn.
The game requires you to jump pieces around, building bigger stacks or taking over the opponents stacks. Almost sounds like Checkers on steroids, yet there is much, much more to this game. We opened the box, and I am not sure what my reaction really was. Its like looking at a very cool set of Checkers, not really inspiring. I looked through the rules, still not feeling overly inspired, although we were both handlong the tokend, which are a bit like a squashed dounut and designed to stack. They reminded me of a cross between a ceramic and bakerlight. It was only after we set up and started playing that this game struck me, and so did the three successive losses over 35 minutes.
My brain was not connecting with this game and my daughter was thrashing me! Its not uncommon for them to beat me at certain games, yet this was different. Having played many more games since then I have improved. The thing with these abstract games is that you sometimes have to change your over-stimulated gaming mind and put it into a different gear, and I think this is definitely the case with DVONN.
It is a very simple game, only slightly more complex than Checkers, yet oh the depth and variation of each game.
Aim Of The Game
The aim is as easy as the rules, be In control of the tallest stack of tokens at the end of the game. This is achieved by moving pieces or stacks to jump on another token or stack, your own or the opponents, to build a bigger stack.
The rules reccommend that players take turns alternating placemnt of all their tokens and the Dvonn tokens. Maybe this is good for the hardcore player, yet I have found a satisfying game from randomly placing all the pieces, it has the advantage of being quicker. The board itself is made from five parallel rows the longest is in the center, with each successive row being shorter. The look fits very well with the peices, sort of sand like. Setup will remind you of Checkers gone wrong.
Playing The Game
Under the aim of the game I explained basically what we needed to win, now how we do it. This is achieved by moving pieces or stacks the outside edges of the board to jump on another token or stack, your own or the opponents, to build a bigger stack. A single piece moves one space, a stack moves as many spaces (exactly) as the number of tokens in the stacks, and all in a straight line. No move may end off board or onan empty space. Most importantly you may only move the stacks or peices you control, in the case of stacks, which ever side has the top token controls the stack.
The last rule is like a supply rule, there are 3 DVONN tokens (red) that act like a supply source, if tokens or stacks can not trace a uninterrupted line (may include opponents pieces) to a DVONN token then they are eliminated. Dvonn tokens may become part of a stack, however they may not be moved as a single token. The game ends when neither side can move or both sides pass.
The white player starts, and must choose a tile from the outside of the setup. As peices are moved the shape of the ‘outside’ changes, and this opens up the possability of more peices being able to move.
So this all seems very easy, and the concepts are. Executing it is another matter. I shall let the photos show part of a game in action, first 10 from the start, and the some nearer the middle, then the last 8 moves.
If I had to relate this game to another game I would suggest it could be played in two ways, casual and fast like I like to play Checkers, or for those looking for a deep yet lighter choice to say Chess. It makes a good cafe game to play with an opponent over a copy due to the slim, wide board. Playing this game you almost feel like you are back in time, for a themeless game it has a period feel, and that feels old, timeless. I like this game, not because it looks cool or is in the hot list at BGG. No, I like that feel it gives me of a classic game people hundreds of years ago may have played, the depth of strategy is deep enough, and yet the game short enough not to fry my brain. It is a game I could teach almost anybody. This game will not be in my top 20 games, I like theme. Yet it is a game I want in my collection as it is great when you have just 2-players, you want a shortish game like over a coffee at a cafe, or if I am trying to introduce some old fashioned chess or checkers players into something new. You could play this n the office, players making moves when they go past even. Take a look at DVONN. It is different, and fits a niche in my gaming collection, it might be a good fit in your collection.
Game type: Abstract stacking game
Mechanism / Skill: Strategic stacking
Number of Players: 2 Playing
Time: 10-20 minutes
Ease of Play: 5 / 5
Ease of Setup: 5 / 5 (I would rate setup a 4, maybe even a 3 if you use the official method, I prefer random)
Ease of Learning: 5 / 5
Fun Factor: 3 / 5
Replay-ability: 4 / 5
Strategy Rating: 5 / 5 .