Dokmus by Renegade Game Studios – Review

Theme and What is it?

You are tasked with leading your tribe to glory by returning to your ancestral home, an island called Dokmus. You must explore this island and gain the favor of the island god who was once worshiped by your people. Move across the island and discover the islands secrets and befriend the guardian spirits to seek their help reshaping the island. You must be quick and make the right decisions, because other tribes have also set expeditions to explore Dokmus.  

Dokmus is an area control game for 2-4 players. Players move across the map and seek to gain favor of the island god in the form of victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of eight rounds wins!

Gameplay Mechanics

Dokmus uses area control and grid movement mechanisms. To begin, a 3×3 grid is laid out in the middle of the table using the eight double sided island tiles. The middle spot on the grid is left open. Players select turn order. Then starting with the player on the first players right and going counterclockwise, they each select a guardian card. Guardian cards give the players a special ability for that turn, and they also determine turn order for that round. The guardian abilities will be the process that changes the game board by allowing players to shift or rotate island tiles. Players will then set one of their tokens on the outside edge of one of the four corner tiles. Once a tile has a token on it, it cannot be used as a starting location for any other players. Each round, players have three tokens that they can use. These tokens can be placed on the board to move the exploration further into the island or they can be sacrificed. Sacrifices must happen in some instances to move into certain areas. You must sacrifice a token to enter a forest or to get over a volcano. You must also sacrifice a token to enter a waterway. When a player enters a waterway, they can place a token adjacent to any spot on that waterway. Waterways let players travel over longer distances quickly.

 

The most important areas on Dokmus are the temples. You will discover large and small temples. Discovering (having a token adjacent to) a temple earns victory points and discovering all the temples on a tile will give you a bonus. You also get a bonus for the number of island tiles on which you discovered at least one temple. There is one last area to find on Dokmus and these are ruin sites. If you discover a ruin site, you get to activate an extra guardian ability that round. This can be a very powerful option. Play continues over eight rounds. Each round, players select guardian cards again beginning with the first player of the last round. At the end of eight rounds, players will have run out of tokens. Final scoring takes place. Scores are based on temple discoveries and bonuses from those as well as ruins discovered, and the number of tokens sacrificed. The player with the highest score wins.

Initial Impressions

Directions were straight forward. Set up was easy. We were able to get right into our game in just a few minutes. The idea of having a board that would move around on you was a little intimidating for the first few rounds as everyone was feeling out the game. My daughter struggles most of the game with this mechanism and by the end I was helping her make some shifts to expand her influence into other tiles. The rest of us started to figure out some strategies with how the board could move, to start moving our tokens into new areas. I really enjoyed the way the board shifted part of the game. It allowed me to explore a lot more of the map and discover temples all across the island. Even with it being our first game, the turns moved quickly and the game was done in about 45 minutes. The grownups enjoyed themselves and all said they would play again. My daughter was on the fence until she found out she got 2nd place by one point. After that she thought it was great. 

Game Build Quality

Like most of the Renegade Game Studios productions, Dokmus has very nice components. The boards are very nice, and the tokens are standard wood. One really great feature is the guardian cards which are made from the same stock as the tile pieces. They are very nice, and a great addition. My only issue (probably, just me being picky) is the box size. It is a tall, skinny box. Nothing in the box requires it to be like that. It just sits funny on my game shelf. Again, that is a personal preference. 

Artistic Direction

The art for Dokmus is not very inspiring. It is your run of the mill classic mythology based fare. There is nothing wrong with it, and I actually find that it fits well with the theme. A great graphic artist knows how to make a theme universal and approachable and the art of Dokmus does just that. It feels familiar. The board is very well done and is my favorite artist component in the game. The spaces are small but they do not feel small. It feels like you are looking down on a large island. Overall, Dokmus does not have my favorite art, but it is not off putting and it brings the game together nicely. 

Fun Factor

Dokmus, has a lot of appeal. It plays quickly and is pretty easy to teach. There are a couple of ways to win, but they all involve the same aspect, which is discovering temples. You can go about this a few different ways. Another really fun mechanism is the board shift. This is my favorite part of the game. It makes the game so unpredictable because someone can shift your next move right out from under you. It took a few plays to really figure out how to use the movement to the best of my ability and to maximize my limited tokens. But that was OK because I really enjoyed Dokmus and hope to play it more.

Age Range & Weight

The age recommendation for Dokmus is 10+.  My ten-year-old daughter didn’t really understand the concept of the shifting board and for most of the game she explored in a very small area. It worked out well for her because she took second place. She seemed like she wasn’t having too much fun. I think she felt like everyone else was way ahead of her. When she found out she was in second, she got really excited and said she loved the game. Who knows what ever goes on in these kid’s brains… 

Conclusions

Dokmus almost feels like a gateway game. The reasons I can’t call it a gateway is because territory exploration and control will, most likely, not feel natural to new gamers and the shifting board can be intimidating until you see it in action for a little while. Other wise, it has a bunch of other gateway game qualities. Easy to teach, quick turns, overall quick game and light components and movement mechanics. I would not hesitate to play Dokmus with soon to be gamers, I would just be extra patient with them because there are a few things that may be new or different for them. Even though Dokmus borders on a gateway game, it does not mean seasoned gamers will not enjoy it. There is some great depth and strategic possibilities to be found in the game. Because all the tiles are double-sided and also because of the movement of the tiles, there is plenty of replayability built into Dokmus.
Your expedition has finally arrived at the island. You begin to make your way through the forests and meadows in search of the temples where you can find favor with the island god. Can you become its favorite before other explorers can gain more favor than you? Discover temples and perform the proper sacrifices to win the island!