Review of Knot Dice, A set of custom knotwork dice with a number of games and puzzles to play with them

Knot Dice was originally launched and funded, on Kickstarter back in 2015. This set of custom knotwork dice is sold to be used for playing games, for puzzles and also just as an art piece.

Having a set of these in my hands I can see why some people use them as a display piece. These are beautiful dice featuring Celtic knot patterns on all sides, which also come packaged with a number of games and puzzles to be played with them.

Disclosure: Thanks to Black Oak Games for sending me a review copy of Knot Dice. Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What do you get with a set of Knot Dice?

The Knot Dice Box. Knot Dice was designed and published by Matthew O’Mally under his company Black Oak Games. These dice were Kickstarted in 2015 but didn’t hit the market until 2016. A single set of Knot Dice includes a number of games and puzzles for one to four players with the play time varying greatly by game. All of the games are quicker filler-style games and most if not all can be played in well under half an hour. 

The highlight of this game is, of course, the eighteen Celtic knot pattern dice which you can see for yourself in our Knot Dice unboxing video on YouTube

The dice are thick, chunky, and larger than your average six-sided die. They are 20mm square which makes the pattern on the dice easy to see and also makes the dice easy to manipulate and stack. Each die is identical with six different knotwork patterns on them that can be combined to make larger knotwork shapes. The dice are coloured to look like Connemara marble and the patterns are etched and inked in silver.

The wooden counters included in a set of Knot Dice from Black Oak GamesIn addition to the dice, a box of Knot Dice also contains eight wooden two-sided tokens in four colours. One side of each token features a knotwork pattern. You will find both these and the dice in a basic thin card box insert that does a decent enough job of stopping things from bouncing around. Under this insert, you will find two rather thick books. 

One of these books is the Games Book which features twelve different games you can play with your set of Knot Dice. The other is the Puzzles Book which contains seven different puzzle types for playing solo with your Knot Dice.

What kind of games can you play with Knot Dice?

Here are six Knot Dice showing the different sides face up.One of the things that I found impressive with Knot Dice is just how good they look. These are a set of dice that you can leave out on a coffee table which I am certain guests will pick up and play with. Just fiddling with the dice and making different patterns is an enjoyable activity on its own.

Once you get tired of making up your own patterns and have gotten used to how the dice fit together, I suggest checking out the Puzzles Book. 

This book has seven different types of puzzles for you to play with your Knot Dice.

These include Completion Puzzles where you will set up dice in a pattern specified in the book and then manipulate that pattern following a set of rules. The initial completion puzzles allow you to swap dice in the corners and to translate an entire row of dice from one side of the pattern to the other and that’s it. Completion Puzzles Two add in the ability to rotate some of the dice. Your score is based on how many moves you take to complete the pattern.

An example of some of the puzzles in Knot Dice.Transformation Puzzles have you set up the dice in a completed knotwork pattern and then transform that into a different pattern. This follows most of the same rules at the completion puzzles but allows for you to flip dice to other sides. Scoring again is based on how many moves you make. 

Creation Puzzles give you a set number of dice set to specific sides which you then have to make a pattern with. This puzzle type is great for learning how the dice can fit together.

Building Puzzles have you try to complete three-dimensional objects either with a single pattern on each visible side or with one complete pattern covering the entire stack. 

There are two more puzzle types that I will leave for people who pick up these dice to check out on their own.

Each set of Knot Dice also contains a Games Book with twelve different games. Each game is quite different from the next. They each have variable player counts with many being able to be played solo. The max player count for any of these games with a single set of Knot Dice is four but some of the games can go up to higher counts if you have more than one set of these dice. 

Here is an overview of a few of these games:

Playing Kells a game for Knot Dice.Kells is a cooperative game where players work together to make a single knotwork pattern. Players get a hand of dice and each turn they will add one die to a central pattern. Ponts are awarded for the number of dice used and the size of the finished pattern.

Kells The Book is a longer version of Kells where players try to make multiple patterns. At the end of each round, any dice not used in the current pattern are lost and you start the next round with fewer dice. You play until you can’t make any more patterns, scoring each completed pattern each round. 

Knot So Fast is a competitive real-time game where players are rolling their own set of dice trying to be the first to complete a pattern using all of them. When a pattern is completed play stops and the player with the completed pattern takes one more die. Then play continues. Once the last die is taken the winner is the player with the most dice.

A Celtic Yarn starts with a random three by three grid of dice made up of ends and chains. Players each take and roll a die. Each round they will add a die to the pattern by sliding it in from one edge and taking the die that comes out the other end. The winner is the first player who can make a path going in from one side of the grid, passing over at least four dice, and coming out another side.

Snakes is a push your luck game where players start off with a string of chains. Each turn they roll five dice and can add any chains or curves to their growing snake. Any other dice are useless. Each roll players must add at least one die to their snake. If they ever bust by not rolling any eligible dice they get bit and lose any dice added. If a player passes before busting, they move up their token on their snake to the new “head” and replace their spent dice from the “tail.” The winner is the person who’s snake has gotten the furthest after six rounds. 

Playing Distance a game you can play with Knot Dice dice. Distance has you starting with two markers per player at opposite ends of a string of four cross pieces. Each turn you roll then add a die to the pattern. Then one of your markers travels along a path of your choice. If they hit an opponent’s marker they bounce back onto the path and can continue. The goal is to have your two markers as far apart as possible by the end of the game. 

Knot the Whole Story is an improvisational story game for up to four players. The game starts with an end placed on the table. Players split the dice evenly and roll them, Player decide on a genre, a setting, a basic premise and a character or two that they want in their story. Each round players will add one die to the growing pattern and tell part of the story based on what side of the die they used. End caps bring part of the story to a close, while chains continue the story in a logical way, whereas corners introduce a twist, and branches introduce a fork in the story, etc. The group as a whole wins if they manage to finish off with an end cap and bring the story to a logical conclusion. 

I was really impressed by Knot Dice, here’s why:

IMake great looking Knotwork patterns with Knot Dice. think the most important thing about Knot Dice is, of course, the dice. And these dice are excellent. They are big and chunky and have a nice solid weight to them. They are a joy to hold. They look fantastic and I love the fact that they are being considered art objects by some people, a consideration that is well deserved. It was my wife, Deanna, who pointed out that the colour and style they went with was attempting to match Connemara marble, and I think they nailed it. I also appreciate that these dice are etched so you don’t have to worry about the patterns wearing off.

I honestly think that this set of dice is worth the price just for the dice as a stand-alone item.  Having a set of these on a desk to fiddle with and for people to admire would be enough for me. If we had a coffee table in our entertainment area I would just leave a set of these out for guests to interact with. 

However, this isn’t just a set of pretty dice. There’s a game here as well as some puzzles.

Starting off with the puzzles, I was impressed by the variety here. Some of them are quite simple and you will breeze through them. The creation puzzles, in particular, were not hard at all, though they are great for getting to know the dice (and that’s actually where I recommend someone checking out a set for the first time start). Other puzzles are HARD. The Creation puzzles, in particular, seemed to use a part of the brain both Deanna and I need to exercise more. Overall there’s a lot here to keep someone busy with enough variety to keep it interesting. 

Just starting a game of Knot Dice.While the puzzles were an interesting distraction the real fun to be had with Knot Dice is in the games. We’ve now tried most of them and every single one of them is fun and engaging. Some are easier and quicker than others but there weren’t any that weren’t fun to play through at least a few times. 

Despite being dice games I was surprised to find that most of the games weren’t overly random. Yes, the push your luck game Snake is definitely high on the random factor but many of the other games were much more about thinking ahead and predicting your opponent’s moves. A Celtic Yarn, in particular, had a very chess-like feel to me. 

A stack of Knot Dice.I was very impressed by the variety here and the number of different ways the dice could be used. I was even more impressed by how much of a change it was using the dice in three dimensions. Stacking the dice and making patterns on the side actually feels quite different and more difficult than just making a top-down pattern.

Overall I’m extremely impressed with my set of Knot Dice. While I was expecting a great looking set of dice, I wasn’t expecting the sheer number of different ways you can play with them. There are some really solid engaging games and activities here which makes this so much more than just a set of pretty dice. 

There are a number of popular dice driven games out there. Roll and Write style games, in particular, seem to have really taken off in the last few years. What’s your favourite dice driven game? Let us know in the comments!

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