Going safely from one side to the other. There is nothing easy about that. It’s only ten steps to take, but it may seem like an eternity with all the danger involved. Each step can find you fall into a hole and just luck or really good plan can provide you with safe way across. Today, however, you do not need to take chances. You have spies in the dangerous area – critters, that will give you instructions, how to safely cross this treacherous abyss.
Because Slovenian author Sergej Bočko (you will look in vane for his name in the rules or on the box) did not offer us any story, we had to make our own. With a little help from animals, that stare at players from box cover with their square portraits. Box bears name Decadolo and was published through Kickstarter by company Razvojna liga in Ljubljana.
After lifting the lid of beige box, we find four parts of game board, which are dual-layered and allow firm placement of stones. Simultaneously each tile has one notch and one protrusion on its sides, so it can be easily connected into a single map measuring ten by ten spaces. If you are thinking, why is the material so strange, you should know, that the board is eco-friendly materials and therefore in this case made of recycled paper.
Accessories represent a large pile of wooden blocks. Specifically hundred of them, which could thus fill completely all the squares on the board. Each of the stones then has two sides – one side is covered in white and second has turned black. An essential component are also cards (fifty of them), which represent already mentioned animals, that at the top and bottom edge offer a sequence of symbols.
At the beginning of the game, players fill the entire board with stones, so one half is filled with black and the other with white color. Only now can both players agree, who will bear which color during the duel and sit accordingly. They place shuffled deck of cards beside it. From there, both parties get to draw two cards and find a way to begin the match.
It’s all about the interplay of chance and tactics. Player must always use one of his cards and according to its pattern flip a few stones. But chosen ones always must be connected with his color at least in one space. Player wants to change stones to his color and thereby create a column in one color. Such a bridge is untouchable ever since and players can only continue turning the other stones.
At the end of each round, player draws a card, that replenishes his card hand back to two cards and allows selection in the upcoming round. Duel continues until supply of cards runs out. Now it’s time for both opponents to figure out their collected points. Each full column in player color is worth one point, while having several adjacent bridges enhances this, raising it to a power. Player with the highest total sum is winner of the game.
Decadolo should be fun for all abstract thinkers. Players use cards to turn different sets of stones, which then create a pattern in their colors, almost like Tash Kalar. It’s not particularly original or impressive, but it could work. Abstract games powered by cards are now really in.
But you will encounter first shortcoming even before you start playing. English rules are not clear in many cases. Hard to say, if it is the ambiguity of the rules in general or is it a problem in the English translation. Players, however, will not know for sure, if it is possible to play more cards per round (phrase „at least one“ explains nothing) or how to deal with laying the stones across locked columns.
It is quite possible, that original intention was to play multiple cards in the round and create combos. Hinting at this is existence of action card Spaceman, which allows a player to draw two more cards into his hand. We tried to play one game like this and it still works, but it seemed to us more random, while also more dynamic.
It is good, that there are more types of cards, so players can cleverly manipulate with their stones and plan their turns. They have choice of at least two cards, but later even more, so you can reasonably use tactic thinking. Game can not find itself in an impasse of repeated moves simply because each opponent has different options in hand. And it is up to him, how he uses them in his favor. Players usually affect several columns simultaneously and that is the best way to go.
Game also offers a tricky combos in the form of a turning the entire column. But sometimes, players have to cope even with bad luck in the form of devil card. This reflects probably the biggest influence of chance during the whole gameplay. While it is possible to work with other cards and use them differently, loss of turn is simply lost chance to play, and if player receives more due to bad luck, he has a big disadvantage against rival. It is therefore not bad to exclude these cards from the deck, if you do not want to lose because of bad luck.
Time required to get to the end of this is quite high. Fifty cards mean same number of turns, which players must undergo. And one round may take even a minute, because there simply is a lot possibilities on such big board and players must somehow cope with it.
Decadolo looked very interesting. And we believe, that it could be a really nice game, but it condenses to a diameter of unnecessary mistakes. However, even length of the game itself is nothing to commend this box. As a result, it eventually unfortunately comes only to average outcome. Decadolo is puzzle game, that will probably soon be forgotten by most.
Decadolo is a puzzle game, that is played with cards. Symbols on them allow players to rotate stones on the table in their favor and thus create columns in their color. Most of the time, game is quite tactical, but a few random elements also extends to the game progress, making it less fun. In addition, entire duel can unpleasantly stretch. Game has quite the potential for two and nice processing, but holes in the rulebook do not help clarity and go against your good experience. Decadolo remains halfway on a way to a good game and provides only average entertainment.