It’s funny how things happen in groups, whether you expect them to or not. We have runs on finding abstract games at thrift, try out series of card games that are meant to go together, and now happen across another title that fits two soft spots when it comes to games. Knot Dice by Black Oak Games not only is Celtic-themed, but utilizes dice as its main only mechanic!
If you remember our article about Tenzi from a few years ago, it is a package of six-sided dice in various colors that includes a booklet with a number of different games and challenges to play. They even have an expansion of sorts which adds another 77 games you can play with any of the Tenzi sets.
Knot Dice follows in the same vein, but instead of fancy-colored dice with pips, it features ones simulating marble with each face containing part of a traditional Celtic knot. Two versions of Knot Dice are offered, a standard box with 18 dice, and a deluxe version that comes with 36 dice and a custom embroidered velvet bag to hold them all!
Also included are two booklets – one for games and the other for puzzles. Each puzzle challenges you to build patterns and shapes using the included dice, and has its own set of rules. As an example, one requires you to construct a 2x2x3 cube, making sure all of the faces connect correctly. While another tasks you to see how few moves it takes to rearrange the cubes to complete a design from a pre-mixed arrangement. These are all great single-player challenges, something many games do not include.
The real stars are the twelve games (by eight different game designers) inside the game booklet. They all range in complexity, length and number of players (up to four), but are simple to learn and teach. Our favorite 2-player game is called “Knot So Fast” and lasts under 10 minutes. Each player begins with four dice and an additional nine are set in the center of the table.
Players race to roll their dice as many times as they like until they can create a complete design without any open ends. The first person to accomplish it calls out “Knot Done!” and their design is checked for correctness. Once verified, you take an additional die from the center of the table and another round begins (obviously, you have five dice to now complete). This continues until the last die is taken from the center of the table and the player with the most dice wins.
When we’re playing with more than two, “Kells” is our current favorite, probably because it is cooperative. All of the dice are put in the center of the table and each player takes two and rolls them. These are kept in front of them for the time being. Then on your turn you’ll take one more from the center, roll it and add it to your other two dice. From these three dice you pick one to add to the community design.
You and your friends are trying to complete a large knot using all of the dice. Instead of placing a die into the design, you may choose to discard one from the game. But be warned, you and your team may only discard two dice during the entire game – a third die causes you to lose. And when you complete your knot, if there are dice left over that didn’t make it into the design, those too will have to be discarded (and possibly cause you to lose the game)!
Kells includes scoring so you can see how well you did as a team. Take the number of dice in the design and subtract the value of the longest side to get your score. A score over 13 is excellent, while 10 and under definitely needs some work.
And remember, that’s only two of the twelve included games in Knot Dice! Others have you building walls or using included tokens to drive a ‘snake’ out of Ireland and farther than your opponents! The sheer variety of games makes Knot Dice well worth the $40 price on Amazon. But if it were me, I would spring for the Deluxe Version on their website for only $18 more. It gives you the option of playing many of the 2-player games with more people, since you’ll have more dice to hand out!
This may be Black Oak Games’ first product, but that doesn’t mean they’re new to the game industry. The designer behind Knot Dice was also a listed designer on Between Two Cities and a couple other games issued by other publishers. So be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter so you can find out what their second title will be?
Do you like games that have more than one game inside?