Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Knot Dice’

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Knot Dice
Knot Dice prototype sample provided by Black Oak Games. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If you love fancy, custom dice, here’s a Kickstarter project you won’t want to miss: Knot Dice. Designed by Matthew O’Malley (Between Two Cities), these dark green dice have Celtic knot patterns on the faces, and can be used to play several different games.

At a glance: Knot Dice can be used for several different games (with more to come), so player count and time varies from game to game. The pledge level for a full set of dice is $29, though you can get a half set of dice (without box and stretch goals) for $15. (Or you can get a double set of dice plus an embroidered bag for $55.)

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Knot Dice
Playing with patterns. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Components:

  • 18 Knot Dice
  • 4 wooden discs

The box set will come with some scoring discs for use in some of the games (the scoring track is on the back of the rulebook), and rules for six games and six puzzles. Additional games and puzzles will be made available online, and possibly printed in the rulebook if stretch goals are hit.

Knot Dice
Knot Die, with standard meeple and six-sided die for size comparison. (Dice prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The real star of the project, of course, is the dice. I got a prototype set to try out, and they’re gorgeous. First: they’re large. At 20mm, they’re significantly bigger than standard six-sided dice. The dice are a swirly pearlescent green, and the knot patterns are etched and painted silver. The patterns go all the way to the edges of the dice, and are arranged in such a way that the lines flow from one face to another. Each of the six faces is different.

KnotDice-Gamestorm
Playing ‘Knot So Fast’ at GameStorm. (Two people compete at a time.) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

How to Play

You can download a draft of the game rules here, and the puzzle rules here.

The Kells games are cooperative and involve using the dice to form closed patterns (without any loose ends) without discarding too many dice. The Knot So Fast games are real-time games that involve making finished patterns with your dice as quickly as possible. Distance is almost a tile-laying game, where you add dice to a central pattern but are trying to move your tokens as far apart as possible. And Osbox is a sort of competitive puzzle game, where you push dice onto a grid, trying to complete loops.

Completion Puzzle
Completion puzzles: how many moves will it take to change these into closed patterns?

There are several types of puzzles, too: some will have you start with a grid of dice in a particular orientation, and you have to use particular types of movements to wind up with a completed figure–it’s kind of like a Rubik’s Cube. Another type of puzzle is more like those sliding-tile puzzles, where you have a grid of dice with one open space, and you try to form a completed pattern by sliding the dice around. And there are “transformation” puzzles, where you work to turn one completed pattern into a different pattern.

Knot Dice
Playing ‘Kells’ at GameStorm. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Verdict

Matthew O’Malley of Black Oak Games has been working on Knot Dice for a while–I forget when I first heard about them, but I remember seeing them at Gen Con at least. They’re the sort of thing that makes you stop and ask if you can play with them because they’re just so striking.

I got a prototype set from O’Malley and I can confirm that the quality of the prototypes is very nice. I took the set with me to GameStorm and we tried out several of the games there. I think I particularly liked Knot So Fast, but I’m a sucker for real-time games and frantic dice-rolling. The puzzle games are fun, too, and can be played solitaire or with a few friends cooperatively. I haven’t tried all of the games yet, but I like that there are other designers who are also creating new games to play with the dice.

Knot Dice
Making designs with different numbers of dice. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The dice are fun to play with even without any particular organized game, too. My kids and I had them on our spring break trip, and while we did play some of the games, we also just spent time making various patterns, stacking them vertically, and just trying out various ways to assemble them.

The one drawback is that, because there aren’t numbers on the dice, you can’t use them in your other games in place of your regular six-sided dice. I did see on the Black Oak Games website that O’Malley has an idea for numbered dice–there are some small dots in between the knots–but that’s apparently for later.

If you love beautiful dice, take a look at the Knot Dice Kickstarter campaign!

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