Knot Dice: Knot What We Expected
Whether it’s the intricate twists and corners, the woven patterns, or the unbroken strands, Celtic knots capture the imagination. Now you can build beautiful Celtic knot designs with Knot Dice, from Black Oak Games.
Knot Dice is not a single game, but rather a platform to play a variety of games and puzzles. The box we received contains 18 identical six-sided dice, 8 tokens, and instructions for twelve games and seven types of puzzles. Many genres are represented in the game guide, although all games are played in under 20 minutes unless they involve multiple rounds. We’ll give an overview of each of the games below.
Kells – a cooperative puzzle game
In the game Kells, 1-3 players cooperate to create a complete Celtic knot design which incorporates as many dice as possible. Each player adds one die at a time to the central design, or discards a die if they are unable to add any. You win if you are able to complete (close) the design while discarding less than 3 dice. Then you score your design based on the length and width (build a compact knot for a better score).
Kells: The Book plays similarly, but allows multiple rounds, permanently discarding unused knot dice after each round. In Kells: The Abbey, players build a the design into a vertical wall, rather than laying flat on the table.
Knot So Fast – a speedy competitive game
In this game, 2 players race to create a knot design using all of their dice. Each player starts with 4 knot dice, but every time they complete a knot, they add another die. Once all the dice have been taken, the player with the most knot dice wins! In the 3-4 player variant, Knot So Fast Too, players play a sort of round-robin tournament with 9 knot dice for each player (with a leveling mechanic so no one can pull too far ahead).
Competitive puzzle games – A Celtic Yarn and Osbox
Both of these games involve sliding a die into a design to change the outcome. Players compete to be the first to “untangle” A Celtic Yarn by creating a single strand that runs through at least 4 dice and exits through 2 sides of the “tangle”. In Osbox, players slide a die onto a bounded grid, trying to create complete knot designs that pass through more than one column and more than one row.
Path-making and racing games – Distance, Trí na Coillte and Snakes
These are three variations on path-racing. In Trí na Coillte (“Through the Woods”), the two players take turns sliding a new die into the “woods” and moving their token along the path. The player who can move their token onto the opposing player’s token wins.
In Snakes, the two players each build onto their own “snake” and move forward in a press-your-luck format. The player who has moved the farthest forward after six rounds wins.
Distance puts a twist on the path-racing by trying to create the longest possible path between two tokens. Each turn, connect a new die to the design, and then move one of your two matching tokens along the path as far as allowed.
Knot the Whole Story
Tell a story with 2-4 players. If you like Story Cubes, you will love Knot the Whole Story. How each player places a knot die determines how they add on to the thread of the story. End-caps bring this part of the story to a close, corner pieces introduce a twist (round corners should be natural changes in the plot while sharp corners should be more surprising), branches introduce a dilemma or decision with two possible outcomes, and crossings (4-way) open the story up wide to many possibilities.
Minarets is a semi-cooperative building game for 3-4 players. Each player builds two “buildings”,cooperating with the players seated on either side. When all the dice have been used, players score their buildings and take the lower score of the two. Minarets is very well-balanced and unlike any other game I have played, but is simultaneously frustrating. The relatively small number of dice and the balancing mechanic (throw out your higher score) means that it is easy to spend a lot of time deliberating over a structure that ultimately doesn’t matter.
As if a dozen games weren’t enough, Knot Dice also comes with a booklet of puzzles. There are completion puzzles, which provide a starting arrangement, which should be turned into a completed knot design in as few moves as possible. Transformation puzzles charge you to transform one complete design into another provided design. Creation puzzles are the simplest – you are provided with the dice to use to create a symmetrical Celtic knot. Construct a given three-dimensional shape with completed designs on all visible faces for a building puzzle. Stretch your brain further with the wall puzzle: find a complete design which can be translated from flat on the table into a different complete design on a vertical wall without rotating the dice. Finally, play Oxvo, the dice version of the 15-piece sliding puzzle. Your goal with this is to create the longest complete path you can in the least possible moves.
Knot Dice allows for so many different games that there is something here for everyone. The knot dice themselves are a beautiful jade color and a bit larger than standard six-sided dice, which allows enough room for the designs to be crisp and clear. At $30, Knot Dice isn’t cheap, but it gives a lot of replay value. Since there are so many different ways to play with these beautiful dice, it would make an excellent gift for anyone who loves Celtic knots, dice, or both.
The Family Gamers received a review copy of Knot Dice from Black Oak Games.
Players: 1-4 (depending on game)
Age Range: 8+ (some games can go younger)
Playtime: 10-30 minutes