Dotzee is a coffeetable-worthy strategy game for 2-6 players. Sixteen large, colorful dice with serious heft nestled into a wooden tray – ah, and again ah. Lovely to look at. Fondle-beckoning. And a genuinely absorbing, easy-to-learn thinking game with just enough luck so that if you lose you don’t have to blame it on yourself.
One side of each die is blank. At the beginning of the game, all dice are placed blank-side-up. On your turn, you take any die that is on the outside of the array, roll it, and slide it back into the tray. Removing the die creates a blank space. Putting the die back in, you push a row or column of dice, closing the blank space, much like you do in a sliding-block puzzle. This is almost fun enough in itself. Especially if you’re younger than 5.
As players take turns picking, rolling, sliding and placing dice, from time to time they may just happen to notice that a row or column of dice are aligned in such a way as to be: all the same number (four of a kind), two pairs, all the same color (a flush), or a sequence of 4 numbers (a straight). Each and all scoreworthy events. And, from time to happy time, it may even happen that more than one row and column are simultaneously aligned.
That particular fun of pushing cubes around could, and the sheer elegance of the design could very well remind you of the Major Fun Award-winning game Quixo. Which explains a small part of why this game is as much fun as it is. But only a part.
And so the game goes, players taking turns, racking up points, and engaging in much self-congratulatory dialog. Sometimes one fails to notice that the dice are favorably aligned and scores less than one might score had one in deed noticed before the next player started her turn. Hence, one could think that the promptness with which said player began her turn was somewhat strategically motivated.
You could play more cooperatively, should you be so bent. You could help each other figure out the score. Or, as illustrated above, you could be, shall we say, a tad competitive. Or, if you don’t like keeping score because you’re just that kind of person, you could decide that whoever scores the highest on a single move wins. Or, well, that’s the point: Dotzee is such a simple game to learn, so elegantly designed, that you can tune it so that it becomes just the kind of game that the people you are playing with want most to play.
Designed by Mark Fuchs, available from Maranda Enterprises, as much fun for an eight year old as someone as old as your local Major. Dotzee is just the kind of game we call Major Fun.