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Alexander, the Great King, will visit the Oracle! Apollo, God of Clairvoyance, help us! Why this is bad? Well, as high priest of the oracle, it is your craft to tell the future. No issues there. But it will be hard to tell only that part of the future that the King wants to hear. Because if the prediction displeases His Majesty, your own future may not look too bright....
In Oraklos, players predict the future by throwing many-colored dice onto the table. By gazing at the resulting pattern, they simultaneously try to find elements of the prediction Alexander wants to hear. The fastest sweet-talking soothsayer wins the game.
Apart from the standard game, Oraklos contains 2 variants. Oraklos Junior, an easy variant, is suited for children from 6 years onwards and children will often beat the adults! Antipodes is a more difficult game, suitable for players from 10 years onwards. All variants take about 15 minutes.
Depending on the number of players, you might have 20 dice thrown out onto the table, say with 4 of each color. (In fact, using the beginner's rules, this is always the case.) Statistically speaking, about a third of those will have holes facing up, rendering them uneligible for inclusion in a match. That means, on the average, a total of two or three dice of each color will be eligible for a match, with a significant percentage of the resulting quadrilaterals being ineligible because other dice intrude in the pattern.
With our three players, we had nine cards to try to match. With four different casts of the can of dice, we never had a single match, and we were very careful to take our time and prove to ourselves that there were no matches.
With matches this rare, it is hard to feel like there is any point to the game.
Now for something really completely different.A pack of 70 cards each depicting four colours in the form of a square, plus 52 wooden cubes in the same four colours. Each cube has a hole through the centre as though made to be threaded on a cord - though you'd need a perverse taste in costume jewellery to wish to do so. There are also two additional cubes that need to be threaded onto a piece of cord, forming a "doe het zelf" checking device. So, let's play. The blocks are more or less shared out, with each player also being dealt three of the cards that are placed face up on the table. Each player then secretly places a specified quantity of blocks into a shaker (not supplied). This means that you end up with a shaker containing roughly 20 blocks of mixed colours. The game leader then shoots these out of the shaker so that they spread themselves in a reasonably widely spaced group over the table. (A certain amount of skill is required for this operation, with some players being better at it than others. But you soon improve.) Assuming half the blocks haven't ended up under the furniture, this is where the fun starts. Each player now tries to find a group (or groups) of four blocks precisely matching the requirement of one (or more) of his cards. They do not have to be in an exact square, of course. But they must be in a geometric formation comprising four corners and four sides, even though the sides can be of unequal length. In fact, two blocks could be almost next to each other whilst others are on the other side of the table. (There is probably a technical term for such a shape - 'quadrilateral' comes to mind - but if I don't know it the chances are you won't know it either.) And should your card read in clockwise order "red/red/blue/yellow" that is how they must be. Red/blue/red/yellow simply won't do. But things are not quite that easy (I use the term loosely). No extra block may intrude itself onto this pattern (the purpose of the 'checking cord' should disputes arise) and no block in the pattern may have the hole top-side up (more on this anon). When you think you've spotted such a group you go whoop for joy and grab one of three scoring plaques. The first whooper gets 3 points, the second 2 and the third 1. But if it transpires you have been less than accurate you lose an equal number of points instead. Players then take back the requisite number of blocks (their choice), cards are replaced, and the whole thing is repeated. The winner is the first player to 10 points, or - should you happen to be a party of total no-hopers - the player with the highest score wins when the cards run out three days later. There's a certain amount of decision making in selecting which colours to put into the shaker. If you look around and see that a lot of yellows are needed by your opponents you could, maybe, sling in a handful of blues because you also need these; hoping, of course, that the others will contribute a goodly number of yellows. But they might be thinking along similar lines, of course. We had great fun but it was not without its problems; problems you would do well to heed should you intend buying a copy. Understandably Tamara Jannink and Joris Wiersinga used the components that were available. In fact, for all I know Splotter might have got hold of a job-lot of would-be beads and instructed the inventors to find something to do with them. And what they have come up with is certainly totally original. But the holes through the blocks are extremely small. This means that whilst there is no problem with the light colours it is most difficult to see the hole through the dark blues, whilst being nigh on impossible to see it in the blacks (increased to 'totally' impossible if you happen to wear reading glasses). I need reading glasses, which are never of an ideal focal length both for reading and for seeing the other side of the table, so the first part of each turn saw me like some questing bumble-bee hovering over the blocks trying to sort out which had holes showing. Meanwhile, of course, the other players who were better sighted got on with the business. Even more significantly, after the game was over the other player on my side of the table - who is normally as sharp as a needle I should add - commented that whilst the two dumbos sitting opposite had a combined score of 20 points we two could only muster minus 2 between us (we having got it wrong so often)! Thinking over what he said I went back and sat on the other side of the table. It was a revelation. By sitting opposite the light source the blocks had a shine on their top face, which clearly showed which had holes. But for us with our backs to the light, the holes in the darker colours were pretty-well invisible. So be warned. Don't sit with your back to the window. Clearly it is a game with no intended hidden depths. It's a case of what you see is what you get. I have now put some white paint round the holes on the dark blocks and we shall certainly be playing it again; although I might change my seat - one can never be too careful. Learning the rules, plus the mistakes and resultant arguments, meant our game took about 45 minutes. Next time (thanks to my white paint) I should think 25 minutes would be ample, which is about right. English rules are included.