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The ultimate strategy test of balance, movement, point and counterpoint, Dao blends the basic simplicity of tic-tac-toe and the intricate complexity of chess -- a true classic in the making.
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 recently purchased this game to go along with my other "travel tube" game Pente. And I gotta tell ya, it was a great purchase! It almost fits into the Pente tube as well! I haven't tried it yet, looks like it might not work and even if not, who cares, it fits into my back pocket whereas Pente does not. The tube in this game is half as tall the Pente tube, and will fit inside, you just won't be able to fit the Pente board if you do (I just checked). On the flip side however you CAN fit the Dao board, it's pieces, and the rules in the Pente tube, so if you want, you could throw away the Dao tube.
I've played it twice, both times at Hooters, and both times I lost virtually every game. First I played my friend Chris, I won the first game, and I think the second one, after that he crushed me every single time. It was his first time playing (mine too). Although I do have an advantage in my favor, as in gaming much more often than Chris (he's not a gamer) and yet with the odds in my favor I lost the next 6 games in a row against him.
The next time I played against my friend Liz who also claims to not be a "gamer" yet says she likes games. Well I won the first game, and then she won every single game after that for a total of 7 in a row!!!! This was also Liz's first time playing Dao too hmmm.... Maybe I should pit Liz against Chris and see who's winner of that match-up? Actually I'm going to challenge Liz to another match, but this time I'm bringing Pente. Yeah she'll probably beat the crap out of me again too, but at least I'll get to prove my theory that she's actually an excellent gamer.
Well anyway, Dao is a pretty fun game, and they say it's like chess meets checkers. I don't see the Chess analogy, there is no "taking" of pieces. Neither do I see the Checkers aspect of it as in, you can't "jump" pieces. But it's marketed as a cross of the two. I beg to differ, I think it's more like Go, meets Tic-Tac-Toe, and has aspects of Connect-4 as well. The object of the game is territory control (Go, Tic-Tac-Toe) as well as alignment (Connect-4, Go, Othello). If you can box your opponent in and move your pieces to any of the 4 corners, make a straight line (of 4) or make a square with your pieces you win. BUT! Watch out, if you are forced to trap one of your opponent's stones in one of the corners, THEY WIN!
This truly is a good game, the rules are simple, learning it is a breeze, and it's surprisingly small too. The pictures on Funagain here are a little misleading (unintentionally I'm sure) the gem stones in the picture have the appearance of a palm sized stone, but they are more like a .50¢ piece. The board is very small also, takes up very little space and should play well in a large backseat, on a plane food tray (when they let you have them down of course), in a boat, this game can go everywhere it's that small. Sure, it seems to have the appearance of becoming repetitive like Tic-Tac-Toe but that's the beauty of it, would you rather the kids pester you with, "Are we there yet?" every 27 feet? Or would rather they spend the next 2 hours playing a game???? By the time you get to Granny's you'll probably have to pry them out of the backseat anyway because they're still playing the game!
One suggestion I can make to add a little more fun to Dao, make it a collectible game. If you (or your kids) really like it, you all go out and each purchase your own set of stones, you can find Gemstones of this type (or a suitably cool set of rocks) in a variety of colors anywhere, and as you play and loose, you have to give your stones to the winner and vice-versa. Thereby having different colors, and adding an aspect of penalty, the loss of your favorite teal gemstones! So, basically I'm suggesting, adding yet ANOTHER simple, ancient child's game, MARBLES! Think about it, you could, if you're a good player, have a Dao game with 20 different sets of stones. I think that would be a great idea to keep it fresh. On the downside I suppose if you suck like I do you'll wind up with just an empty tube with a set of rules, a rolled up board, and an empty gemstone bag. But at least you had fun... I hope.
There is a "bamboo" edition but I have not seen that for sale yet check Reveal Entertainment's website for more info but, it seems to be bigger and uses "river stones" instead of flat glass marbles. All in all, It's a good game, at a good price, and worth getting. Especially if you're a traveler, bring it with you to break up the monotony of a plane flight, or another 2 hour layover at the airport. You really won't do any wrong by getting this game. It is however,when you get it, packaged oddly. The travel tube comes in a "collector's" tin, but the inside volume of the tin could hold, like a dozen of the tubes!!!! IT IS NOT a portable tin so, keep the tin at home (put your dice in it!) and take the travel tube with you... EVERYWHERE!!!! My momma always s-said, "Life was like Monopoly. You never know when you're gonna pass GO!"
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.