This is a basic overview of how to play and board game review of Disuko!, a game by Benjamin David Torrie.
I really enjoy a good abstract game. When I was contacted about the publisher about reviewing Disuko!, I decided I would be interested as it is an abstract and two members of my household enjoy sudoku and we all enjoy dice games.* Here are my thoughts on the game after several plays.
First though, let's talk about how to play the game. Disuko! is a simple abstract game which follows roughly the same rules as Sudoku with competitive changes. It is a 2-4 player game that takes about 15-20 minutes. It is recommended for players 8+, but I can easily imagine younger players grasping the rules if they have played Sudoku or a game of chess.
If you are playing with with two players you use 18 dice each, 3 players use 12, and four players use 9 dice. Everyone rolls their dice and you are ready to start the game. There is no hidden information in the game and all players have a roughly equal chance of winning. The starting player, according to the rules, is the one who rolled the highest die on a single roll before rolling to set up the game.
If you have played Sudoku before, you know that every row, column, or box may only have a single number in it once. The same is true for this game. Once a player makes a move and their hand leaves the die, their move is completed and the next player may take their turn. Each player initially gets only one action per turn. These basic actions are: 1. Place a die in a valid spot. 2. Reroll as many of your dice as you would like 3. Move one of your or a single opponent's die to another valid spot on the board.
It's important to note that even when you gain additional actions (more on that soon) you can only move a particular die once per player turn. A die that is part of a completed row, column, or box can be moved.
Whenever you complete a row, column, or box by placing the sixth die, you immediately get another action. This can result in several combination moves.
If a mistake is ever made, die is returned to the offending player and their turn ends. However, if a mistake is made and no one immediately recognizes the mistake, each player with a die that violates the traditional Sudoku rules will roll a different die not currently on the board. After comparing their rolls, the player with the higher number gets to keep their die on the board. If both dice were the same color, the owner of that color simply removes one of the two dice.
The first player to place all of their dice on the board wins the game. If two players each have one die left and there is no way to complete the game in two turns, the game ends in a tie.
What did we think of the game? It's deceptively simple and quick playing. Those are both advantages for the type of abstract game we often like to play. Turns don't take long and each player can start planning a couple places they would like to place a die. It's an enjoyable time killer with low stakes. The strategies are always similar, but that's ok because the game doesn't drag on. For those who don't want an extended ruleset (the rules are a single page, double side), they will probably enjoy an abstract like this game.
As with any game like this, the question is going to be- why would I buy this versus just buying some dice and making my own? People who like the game will probably do that. People still buy Sequence, chess, checkers, Tenzi, and backgammon even though they can make their own versions. This game will be like that and the creator will still benefit from sales. I know that's not really a review of the game, but I also know some people will ask why they should buy it. I can't answer that other than to say the question isn't relevant in terms of abstract games' longevity in general. This is enough of a game that it will likely join the ranks of all those other games where you could just buy it, but there is something interesting here so there will be a broad appeal of people playing and enjoying this game.
Is it the first thing I want to play? Probably not. Is it the first thing other people will want to play, I actually think the answer is "yes." And, as far as the general abstract question goes, I would rather play this than chess or Parcheesi. There isn't much more to review, but that is a plus for most people. Did game night need another light abstract? Disuko! answers that questions with a resounding "Maybe!"
This game will be for families, friend groups, and game cafes that need a light puzzle game with enough depth to make interesting while simultaneously not overwhelming people with rules.
Disuko! isn't for those who dislike abstracts, want a longer game, and get frustrated by dice in any way. You might just keep rolling things you don't need and the game will end with you seeing your opponent place what you needed by sheer luck of the dice.
One thing which could have been improved is the clarity of the boxes. Boxes are made up of six smaller areas and they are hard to see from the simple CNC cut of the wood. Other than that, we found the components to be just right.
Thanks to the creator for my review copy!*
Disuko! by David Benjamin Torrie
Time 15-20 Minutes
*This copy of the game was provided by the publisher as they prepare to take the game to a wider audience. My opinions about the game are my own though and I have received no additional compensation.