Dao: Marble edition
with Jingly Balls!
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from 2 customer reviews
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Average Rating: 3 in 2 reviews
What makes it feel like luck is that while you are busy strategizing your next move, there is a very good chance that someone will do something that throws your plans completely askew. You'll need to remember what has happened and what is yet to come. It's a great game to play if you need something to kill time or liven up a party, it's just about perfect. The time it takes and the situations that come up lend themselves well to those settings.
I was introduced to Dao a few days ago, and I have found myself thoroughly unimpressed with the game. The literature shows you 4 ways to win: Get your pieces in a straight line orthogonally, in all 4 corners, forming a 2x2 square, or forcing your opponent to trap you in a corner with three of their pieces. That's just too many ways to win for a 2-player strategy game. Many of the great 2-player strategy games I've seen have only one goal:
Chess: Capture the opponent's king
Backgammon: Get your pieces home, then take them off the board
Abalone: Push 6 of your opponent's marbles off the board
Quarto: Make a line of 4 pieces in a row of any one type
I could go on for days. I know, it sounds like a ridiculous point to make. However, if you play the game, you'll see what I'm talking about. It's easy enough to try before you buy so you can see what I mean- on a 4x4 board (circles on a piece of paper work just fine), place 4 pennies along one main diagonal, and 4 nickels along the other diagonal (yes, you can use whatever else is handy. I won't be looking over your shoulder.). Take turns moving pieces by sliding the piece horizontally or vertically until it either runs into another piece or the edge of the board. First to achieve one of the four victory conditions wins. Notice how it feels like you're going to win on the next move since there's all the victory conditions you can go for but can never quite make it?
The main thing that gives Dao its one-star rating from me is that it just isn't very much fun to play. You are limited in your choice of moves because every time you move a piece, you must move it as far as it can go until it either is blocked by another piece or the edge of the 4x4 board. This results in numerous spots during the game where you can only make 3 moves, and one of them will give your opponent the win. A game like Abalone gives you many more opportunities to try different strategies, and therefore doesn't become stale nearly as fast. It's definitely worth saving your money and getting any of the superior 2-player strategy games listed here on Funagain, such as Abalone, Quarto, or anything in Project Gipf.