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English language edition

List Price: $34.95
Your Price: $27.99
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(Worth 2,799 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
9+ 30 minutes 2

Designer(s): Kris Burm

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Don and Co

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Product Description

DVONN is a challenging stacking game with very simple rules. It is played with 3 red DVONN pieces, 23 white pieces, and 23 black pieces. The players must try to control as many pieces as possible by building stacks, preferably by jumping on top of their opponent's pieces. While doing so, pieces and stacks must remain linked to the red DVONN pieces. If not, they are out of the game! When no more moves can be made, each player puts their stacks on top of each other. The player with the highest stack wins the game!

GIPF is the first and central game of Project GIPF, a series of 6 games for 2 players. TAMSK is the second game, ZRTZ the third, and DVONN the fourth. The Project is a system that makes it possible to combine games--not only the games of the project itself, but any game or challenge. This system is based on the use of potentials. Each game of the project introduces its own new potential into GIPF.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Game of the Year, 2003
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2002
Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 2002
International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game, 2002

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Kris Burm

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Don and Co

  • Year: 2001

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 9 and up

  • Weight: 1,031 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #33

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.7 in 13 reviews

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Superb game
October 24, 2003

An easy game to learn but difficult to master.

The game consists of two phases. The first phase involves laying out coins on the board. The second phase is the movement phase. Ease of playing during the second phase is determined by how well you have set up your coins in the first phase.

I am still trying to figure out the optimal way of laying out the coins in the first phase.

Highly addictive game, although I keep losing to my wife.

Awesome game, great workday diversion.
September 17, 2003

I play this game with a coworker between 5 and 6 times per day. How can you play so much you ask, we use a chess clock. Three minutes each on the chess clock makes for a frantic quick thinking game, where 'timing out' is always on the back of your mind. We have recorded all 250 games that we have played and keep detailed statistics via Microsoft Excel.

What I love most about this game is how seamlessly it integrates tactical (of or relating to small-scale actions serving a larger purpose) and strategic movements. For an abstract game I feel it closely mirrors what battle planners must go through on the battlefield. Every game is uniquely setup and as such has a different set of tactics and strategies that must be employed to win.

This game is a blast to play, it is my favorite game by far.

by Kitty
easy to learn, hard to master
May 24, 2003

It is a very good game, easy to learn, but hard to master, yet addictive to play. Pieces are beautifully done with nice heavy feel to it. It should be and probably will become one of the classics. Highly recommanded to gamers and non-gamers. This game will keep you thinking all through the game and really draws you into it.

5/5 says most of what you need to know...
April 15, 2003

I don't generally believe in 5 star reviews unless I think a game is truly exceptional and the cream of the crop, but I think Dvonn deserves its 5 stars.

Before we get as far as playing it we start off by paying a very reasonable price for a box which turns out to hold some beautifully designed pieces. Not only are they functionally effective and look to be well up to the rigours of repeated play, but the pieces also feel nice to handle and the textured surface creates a good degree of visual appeal compared to the more austere though equally well built pieces of GIPF (same goes for the board, where DVONN's is as easy to use as GIPF's but just has that extra something, purely from a bit more time spent on the graphical aspects).

So physically it's great, and then we get to play it, and that turns out to be simple in terms of understanding the rules but as in most classic abstracts, not so easy to actually play *well*. The game has a fair degree of depth (I'm not sure exactly how much compared to other abstract classics, but at least enough for most of us, I'd think) but still proceeds in a reasonable time to an inevitable conclusion (the effective play area and number of possible moves shrinks with every turn, it's impossible to just dilly-dally).

It's a classic 'black vs white' affair with capture of pieces, but every piece you capture modifies the mobility of the capturing piece which makes for a more interesting time of things. Mobility is also modified by the need to maintain links with 3 red pieces on the board, which can sometimes act as a restriction and sometimes as a powerful weapon.

So, it's fairly cheap, reasonably quick, physically very nice, technically simple and yet strategically deep; 5 good things together to give you a 5 star game. Highly recommended unless you simply *have* to have theme and/or luck in your games (I generally like a little luck and a good theme, but that hasn't stopped me liking this a great deal).

I like all of the GIPF games, but if I were to only be allowed one for some reason it would probably be DVONN.


by MR
Wonderful adult game
November 23, 2002

Want a game to keep a bunch of 20-, 30-, and 40-somethings occupied for hours? Here's one! It takes about 5 minutes to learn the rules, 15 minutes to play a game, and hours to scratch the surface of understanding the game. The strategy-thinking begins to hurt after the first few moves and gets more intense from there. I'm very happy with my first new game purchase in years. Next, I'm buying Zertz.

Excellent, elegant, accessable
April 14, 2002

Very nice pieces, very quick play. People who don't like abstract strategy games still gravitate towards Dvonn because of its look.

I've played it now about a dozen times and its destined to be a classic. It is very much like Go, in that each move is full of angst with moves and counter-moves like a hall of mirrors.

And there's something very soothing about 'cleaning up' the board down to the inevitable handful of tall towers.

The big question: will *anyone* every understand a strategy for initial placement? I suspect so ... but it won't be me!

by Scot
Great 2-Player game!
January 22, 2002

This is a great game for couples after a long day. DVONN has a great deal of depth to it but the play is relatively fast-paced. The rules are easy to learn. It is not as overwhelming as some other two-player games which take longer to play.

The games do not play the same way twice. I'm sure that as I keep playing this, I will see more nuances that hadn't been apparent before. The pieces are beautiful and well-designed. The spaces on the playing field (which looks like the moon's surface), however, could be highlighted better, but this is a minor flaw in an otherwise great game.

by Tarot
the 'speed ball' in the series ...
January 18, 2002

... and an unbeatable speed ball, that is.

The first three GIPF project games are of the 'curve ball' type: GIPF is a very deep game of which the strategy is somewhat difficult to grasp, ZERTZ is a puzzle-like game with long sequences of forced moves (playing a game of ZERTZ is like solving and building a series of mate-in-N chess puzzles), and TAMSK is a most unusual game which has incorporated the time aspect into the core mechanics.

In contrast, DVONN tastes closest to the popular classics such as Chess, Go and Othello. Unlike GIPF, the strategy in DVONN is more tangible, yet very deep since it is loaded with many traps and tricks. It is simply amazing that Kris Burm has managed to achieve so much in a game with such simple rules: the rules are simpler than Chess, Backgammon and Bridge, the playing time is much shorter than Go yet the game has considerable (if not comparable) depth, and the game is more aggressive and thus clearly better than Othello. DVONN is one perfection of the abstract game.

DVONN is a two-phase game like Bridge. Just like in Bridge you have to know the value of the cards in the trick-taking part in order to understand one's aims in the bidding part, in DVONN you need to understand how the stacking phase works in order to understand how to best place your pieces in the placement phase. This two-phase aspect is one of the great things about DVONN: it easily gives the game tons of depth.

The pieces and the board are beautifully crafted. The elongated hexagonal shape of the board is, I believe, ingeniously designed to optimize this game.

It is recommended that one reads the strategy hints in the rulebook. Here are some more strategy tips for beginners:

1. In the early and mid-game, do not worry too much about seizing tall stacks, but concentrate on eliminating your opponent's mobility by playing atop his low stacks (which are usually more mobile than tall stacks). Since one can reverse the control of a tall stack with one move in the endgame, it is the mobility which really counts. (If you know Othello, you should know what I'm talking about.)

2. Don't get encircled! The rules specify that you can't move a piece which is surrounded on all six sides. If a group of your pieces are encircled by enemy pieces (and stacks you can't move, such as single DVONN pieces and immobilized stacks), those pieces cannot move until your opponent sets them free - and of course he's not going to do that for you, so they're effectively done in. In fact, having your pieces encircled is worse than having them cut off and removed from the board, perhaps 1.5 times or twice as bad! Having a group of 3 or 4 pieces encircled is probably decisive. Be sure to put enough pieces on the edges of the board (especially in sections close to the DVONN pieces) to prevent encirclement. (And to effect it against an unwary opponent!) If your opponent is developing an encirclement threat, be sure to respond timely to prevent it. (This applies to both phases of the game.)

I highly recommend DVONN. The only reason one would not want to get this game is because one does not want to think when he's playing games!

Another Winner from Kris Burm!
November 25, 2001

Elegant is the operative word for Kris Burm's games. GIPF, TAMSK and ZERTZ all make the most of simple rules and complex strategy. DVONN follows the family tradition perfectly. Only TAMSK was a bit on the awkward side, with its fragile timers and the importance of dexterity. But I think that adds a level of variety which gives the series a certain amount of color.

DVONN is more along the lines of ZERTZ. The two players alternate placing discs on the unusual elongated board. Then the white player starts the moving phase by stacking one of his white discs from the board's edge onto an adjacent piece. Black follows suit. The play continues, tending toward higher and higher stacks of discs. The stacks must be moved the number of spaces equal to their number of discs. Thus tall stacks may become locked. The turns go thus until neither player can move any discs or stacks. Along the way, 'isolated' stacks were removed from play. Isolated stacks are stacks that are not connected through adjacency to one of the three red DVONN discs--rather like isolating marbles in ZERTZ, except that the player creating the isolation does not keep the discs.

DVONN's rules are simple and quick to learn. There is absolutely no element of chance. All the GIPF games are pure strategy--strategy which I doubt that I will ever master! My game shelf has all four of the games in the series, plus the GIPF set 1. I am very glad I busted loose the money for these new classics. They are all well worth the price!

I can very highly recommend DVONN!!

by Jeff
Great strategy game
October 20, 2001

Each player takes one set of tiles and one red dvonn tile. White takes an additional dvonn. With White placing first, each player fills the board with pieces. When all of the rings have been played, the players now start moving the rings. Rings must be stacked on other rings (including dvonn) and can only be moved the number of rings in the stack. Furthermore, they must always remain connected to the dvonn through any ring. Disconnected pieces are removed from the board. The player controlling the most rings at the end wins.

This is a great game. Strategy varies. One can try to control the dvonn and isolate the other player's pieces. Another strategy is to try to build and protect large stacks of rings. This requires the tactical ability to project future moves and rewards a sound positional strategy. Well produced, this game will be a favorite in the years to come.

Kris Burm just keeps on rolling ...
October 31, 2001

This game is in rather a hard spot, because its precursors in the GIPF series--GIPF, TAMSK, and ZERTZ--have been nothing short of sheer brilliance. The series so far has managed to go where no abstract game has gone before, melding the subtlety and texture of the more mainstream modern family games with the raw intellectual challenge of Chess or [page scan/se=0599/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Go.

I mention all this just so you know that when I say DVONN doesn't quite live up to its parentage, it could still be awfully good--which it is. Like ZERTZ, it accelerates towards an inevitable conclusion as the playing area constricts, and, as such, it's no more than a 15-20 minute game. However, it's a much more incremental game than ZERTZ. Building up the board is very subtle, as there are such small differences between each individual move that it's very challenging to get a handle on which one might be better than the others.

The actual moving of the pieces once the board is set up is more traditional, with each move stacking up pieces and limiting players' options; as is a theme in the GIPF-series games, the last player with mobility will typically win.

At any rate, this is a fine addition to the GIPF series. Like the other games, the components (especially the actual pieces) are models of form and function. It's recognizable enough as part of the same series of games, but is different enough to give players of the series a very new and different challenge. It doesn't seem to quite have the subtlety and depth of GIPF, or the flair of TAMSK, or the elegance of ZERTZ, but it does have elements of all three.

All in all, if you haven't tried these games, you absolutely should. GIPF and its sister games have taken a while to get there for me, but now have earned a spot on my list of greatest games of the 90s. They show remarkable depth and subtlety, and get the highest recommendation from me.

Again an intriguing boardgame in the GIPF project!
October 18, 2001

The look and feel of the material is very nice, especially the stones are classy. The first few games I've played seemed rather random; I could not directly figure out a good strategy. After a game of five, the general strategy became slowly somewhat clearer. The game seems a little bit deeper to me than Zertz, 'cause I think there are more possible good moves in each stage of the game than you have in Zertz. I will certainly play this game a lot, even without a partner, because figuring out some strategy is a very nice game itself!

Ok, nice, but not great
December 07, 2004

I heard a lot of good reviews about this game, and it was the game of the year for Games magazine, so I was assuming this would be a great game. I picked it up, and tried it out with my wife and other family members. We played it through about a dozen times over all, and we all agreed that it was interesting, but not really fun. And mostly it went back on the shelf, and no one has requested it come down in a long time now.

The game is good, but for only two people, with nice pieces, fairly easy to learn, and quick with a full match taking 5-15 mins. But in the end it just wasn't actually fun at all, just interesting. With all the great reviews of this game, I thought I should add my experience that the game is fairly blah, and no one I saw play it thought it was all that good at all.

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