Do you remember those puzzles you had as a kid? The 3x3 grids with one piece missing that you had to carefully manipulate to create the full picture with all the pieces in the right place? I loved how satisfying those puzzles were and was shocked that no one had turned them into a game… at least, not yet. And then I discovered Dokmus. This elegantly simple grid exploration game is everything I could have hoped for. There are a lot of great games available now, but not many that are so easy to learn with such great depth.
Dokmus is a fantasy island where you lead an expedition in search of the ancestral god of your tribe. The eight map tile pieces that make up this island are each divided into a much smaller grid and contain many different types of terrain. Volcanoes, temples, forests, ruins, and water are scattered over the map and you must successfully lead your followers to a variety of different zones to collect a winning number of points. Seems simple enough, right?
So, here’s the catch. On your turn, you place three tokens representing your expanding tribe. Starting the game on one edge, you must always connect future tokens to one of your color to move further. Exploring the map takes far more tokens that you have available, and the game ends when you run out of all your little wooden bits.
Luckily, at the beginning of each round, you draft a special power that allows you to channel energy from this mystical island. This is where Dokmus really shines! These special powers allow you to do a variety of different things, but most of them involve moving the very earth beneath your tribe! Shifting, rotating, and swapping the tiles gives you access to a much larger area of the map and allows your tribe to sneak to temples and sacrifice their friends at the volcanoes, which they’d never have reached without these terrain-shifting abilities. It’s a wonderfully satisfying puzzle!
Dokmus was originally released by Lautapelit.fi at the Internationale Spieltage in Essen Germany in 2016, but has been very difficult to find outside of Europe. Renegade Game Studios is now publishing this strategic game for North America and also brought the expansion, Return of Erefel, to your FLGS.
Return of Erefel focuses on one of the original guardians of the island, Erefel. His task was to help the expeditions to the island in crossing the stormy waters and revealing the way into the dark forests. But he neglected his task, leading to the expeditions suffering. As punishment, Erefel was banished from the island. He would not be permitted to return until he was ready to assist the expeditions again.
Erefel spent many years trying to find ways to make life easier for the worshippers arriving to the island. After traveling far and wide, he discovered a more advanced culture which had developed roads that would survive even the harsh conditions of the island of Dokmus. After presenting his findings to Dokmus, Erefel was allowed to return to his position.
In this expansion, players will have access to a new guardian power, new map tiles, and scenarios that effect the landscape. Erefel is very connected with nature and will protect his followers when they are travelling through water or forests. Usually, a player would have to sacrifice a token to enter these types of terrain, but Erefel leads them safely through.
Many of the new options in the expansion affect movement in new ways. The road terrain tiles help the exploring tribes move more quickly across the land, speeding up access to the far reaches of the map. The three scenarios also accelerate movement in different ways. Ice will freeze all the water allowing it to be crossed more rapidly, but only in a straight line. Winds push players across roads and meadows, skipping spaces as they go. Water acts as a lake, filling the empty space in the grid with water that can be traversed, connecting all the map tiles. While the other possible scenarios affect movement, Sun gives players access to ruins powers across the whole map. When a ruin is activated by a player, a special action may be taken on that particular map tile. With Sun, the action may be used anywhere on the map.
These new scenarios and abilities add more excitement to each player’s turn without adding much complexity. Dokmus is a clean and beautifully designed game that’s even more replayable with the Return to Erefel expansion. Lead your tribe to glory in Dokmus!