It’s hard not to like a game that can basically be carried in your pocket.
Knockabout has such simple game components that it really comes down to a game board printed on a piece of cloth about the size of an old-fashioned mens’ handkerchief, and then add a fistful of dice.
The game is nice since it plays with only two players, but also accommodates three, which is actually rather rare in the gaming world. Unfortunately the three-player variant rules are not in the game package, but can be found at http://www.pair-of-dice.com/games/knockabout/knockthreeplayer.html
Each player starts out with a handful of dice, a selection of four, six, and eight-sided dice. Those dice are laid out on the board in predetermined positions.
From there, Knockabout which was created by Greg Lam in 2001, and is produced by Pair-of-Dice Games comes down to a strategic game that is reminiscent of sumo wrestling in the most abstract fashion.
Players are trying to push the other players pieces (dice) off the hexagonal board. On a turn a player is allowed to move one dice. The dice move in a straight line as far as the number on their top face.
The fun starts when a dice bumps up to a second dice during its move. Whenever a die hits another piece your own or the opponent's, it stops, and the hit die continues the first pieces move. As an example you have an eight-sided dice showing a six. You begin to move it and in two spaces it collides with an opponents dice. Your piece stops, the six-sided dice must now continue the move, in this case going four spaces.
It is of course possible to set off a chain reaction involving multiple dice of both your own, and your opponents.
The last die to move as a result of the collision gets rerolled. That is the extent of the randomness the dice impart on the game, and in this case the changing values add a lot to the game.
Pieces knocked into the outer ring are eliminated from the game. Dice pushed into the gutter can prevent future pieces from being knocked into the same spot.
In two-player action the first player to knock five out of his opponent’s nine pieces into the outer ring wins.
The game can be learned within minutes — the rules are on one side of a single sheet of paper — and that is a good thing in terms of introducing new players.
This is not an overly deep strategy game, but it plays in about 20-minutes so as a coffee-time filler it’s a great option.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan 13, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada