Dimension – That’s How the Ball Stacks
Dimension is a real-time puzzle game in which players, racing against the clock, attempt to build an 11-ball pyramid without breaking any of the current 6 rules. The player who’s the most successful at this over 6 rounds of play, wins the game.
Players begin the game with a rule reference card, their own trivet, and 15 colored balls: 3 each of black, white, blue, green and orange. The balls have a nice tactile and hefty feel, though that doesn’t prevent them from occasionally trying to escape by rolling off the table. The trivets are pretty good at keeping them in line, most of the time.
Each round, you’ll turn up 6 rule cards from a deck of 60 cards. There are basically three kinds of rules: proximity rules, quantity rules and stacking rules.
Proximity rules specify which color balls may or may not touch each other. For example: the first card shown here says that every green ball on your trivet must touch an orange ball and every orange ball must touch a green ball. The second card indicates that no green ball may touch any orange ball on your trivet and vice versa.
Quantity rules specify how many balls of a certain color(s) must be used. For example: the right card below specifies that you must use exactly one blue ball, while the middle card indicates your sum of blue and green balls must be 4. That is, you could have 1 blue ball and 3 green, 2 of each, or 3 blue and 1 green. Of course, if both cards came up in the same round, you’d have to go with the first option of 1 blue ball and 3 green to abide by both rules. The card on the left says you must have more orange balls than black balls. One or more orange balls and no black balls would satisfy the condition, as would 2 orange and 1 or 0 black, 3 orange and 2 or fewer black.
Stacking rules specify whether any other balls can be on top of or beneath a particularly colored ball. For example, the left rule card below says you can’t stack any balls on top of Blue balls, while the right card says that you may not stack Orange balls on top of any other balls.
Now these rules all may seem simple enough by themselves, but when you combine 6 of them randomly, the real fun of the puzzle begins. It’s possible to have contradicting rules. We often play with a house rule that if a card contradicts a previous rule card, we throw it out and draw a new one.
To play a round of Dimension, turn up 6 cards then start the timer. The sand timer provided runs for about 1 minute. Players then scramble to build a pyramid using as many balls as they can without breaking any of the currently displayed rules. When the timer runs out, players must immediately stop.
Dole out point tokens out, maximum of 11, to each player based on the number of balls they used. If you placed 10 balls on your trivet, you get 10 points; 5 balls, 5 points. Then check the rule cards one at a time. If you broke a rule, you lose 2 points and turn in the appropriate tokens. If you placed balls of all 5 colors on your trivet and you didn’t break any rules, you receive a bonus chip. You need to have at least 3 bonus chips by the end of the game or you lose points. If you manage to acquire all 6 – I haven’t so far – you earn 6 bonus points. Here’s the chart.
My only gripe about the game is that they didn’t print this chart on the reference cards. I recommend leaving the rulebook open to that page or printing your own reference. I also recommend using a timer app with a sound warning during the last 10 seconds. Otherwise, it’s easy for the sand to run out without anyone noticing: you’re so busy concentrating on your board – who cares about the timer!
Dimension is a lot of fun. You can play it in a leisurely manner, taking your time discussing each card and giving everyone a chance to absorb the current rules before turning over the timer. Or you can flip up the cards quickly and start the timer immediately making everyone feel frantic from the get go. I recommend the former style of play, with a practice round before that, when introducing Dimension to new players. Coupling your style of play options – leisurely to frantic – with the randomness of the card combinations make for great replayabilty.
Dimension supports 1 to 4 players ages 8 and up. You can play it solo! While I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 4 – the balls are small enough to present a choking hazard – young kids should be able to play it just fine. Get them puzzling out logic early. Dimension is very quick and easy to teach and learn. In fact, having just read this article, you should be ready to play right now. Mastery, however, may take some time. That’s how the ball stacks.
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