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Bernd Eisenstein (who doesn't know him?) is the creator of Discordia. A particularly likeable and modest personality who you might have met at Spiel where he (how could it be otherwise) had an equally modest spot.

We will come back to that Discordia (and its fine expansion) in detail shortly. This piece is about Ploc, a delightful two-player game that simulates a tug-of-war with meeples and dice.
Curious as to whether there is a deeper meaning behind the word Ploc, I enlisted the help of Google and came upon the website and read the following:

A PLOC is essentially a cross-cultural reunion where members come together to discuss topics related to the broad field of linguistics and cultural studies or to just chat about a topic altogether, in whatever language inspires you!

Before I knew it, I had forgotten what I was doing and my ADD head was luring me from page to page and from one parallel universe to another. Most ADDers must recognize this. That you suddenly come to your senses in your tunnel an hour later and think, "What was I working on again?"

Every year, the two villages of Plockton and Broadford send their best athletes to compete in the tug of war. Each village prepares well to win the duel.
Ploc is a fast-paced dice game for two players. Athletes must be deployed at the right time to show their strength when it counts. Risk-taking is also necessary to leave the field as winners. The player who still has athletes on the field after two games wins.
Look, if I had read this first, I would have finished this review by now. Now I have yet to begin.

Plockton and Broadford
I looked that up as well. After all, a person has to know whether these places really exist or whether the game designer is just making up the game mechanics as well as the theme and placing it in a fantasy world that exists only in the depths of his (or her) mind.

But no: Plockton and Broadford do exist. Plockton is on the Scottish mainland and Broadford on the Isle of Skye, which we know again from Alexander Pfister (when you have vacationed there yourself - but that aside).
Still not entirely reassured, I asked Google for some more information about that annual tug-of-war competition because I thought it would be informative to include with this piece a summary of the results of recent years. Which would also give all this some historical perspective.

But then Google was at a loss for words. "Plockton, Broadford, Tug of War" took me back to two little texts, both by Bernd Eisenstein, who turned out to have sucked the whole story out of his thumb and thus presents the inhabitants of Plockton and Broadford as much more heroic than they really are.
Immediately I thought: should I share this with readers? Because. don't let the truth spoil a beautiful story!
After all, something that can also annoy me enormously when Mrs. Verschuur does zilks after I have told a fantastic, fascinating and humorous story: "None of it is true.... he's making this up on the spot!"

By now you have an idea of the setting in which the game is set. We are at the Highland Games somewhere in a hole in Scotland, it is drizzling, most of the spectators are besotted and we are looking at two rows of checkered men and women with square heads. They all have red hair, are unshaven and are standing on what we used to call "army boots."

In reality, in front of us, on the table; two sets of 18 meeples, 9 dice and a brief instruction manual. With these we are going to recreate the imaginary tug-of-war between our two villages:

What's the idea?
The two players choose a color and the 18 meeples that go with it. They also each take 3 of the 9 dice.
The dice are rolled and the result is added up. The number of pips represents the strength of a team. You may field (call it) as many Highlanders as the result of your roll. You place the remainder of your highlanders on the reserve bench.

The rolled dice are placed in a row/column by each player on his/her side.
One of the players takes the 3 remaining dice and then the proverbial tug-of-war for the win begins.
The dice are rolled and placed next to or below the three dice already there. You may roll a six again if necessary, but if the result is six again you must accept it.
For each of these 3 dice a player can choose from 3 actions:

1. Eliminate a player from the other team
When the chosen die has at least the value of the adjacent die in your column
then you remove a highlander from the other team.
You can also remove a tired highlander from the other team with a roll that is up to 2 less than
the adjacent die in your column (see also action 3).

2. Strengthening your own team
You may exchange the newly rolled die with the adjacent die in your row. For that die you place one highlander from your reserve bank to your team. When the value of the new die is higher you may place more team highlanders: as many athletes as the difference between those two dice.
When the value of the new die is lower, you must return highlanders from your column to your reserve bench/ As many as the difference between those dice.

3. Weaken the other team
You use one of the new dice to weaken a highlander from the other team: the opponent must then flatten one of his highlanders. You can permanently eliminate this
a subsequent turn permanently with a second death kick (see 1).

Then there is also the so-called "Death or the Gladiolis action":
When you roll the same number of eyes with all 3 dice and this value is equal to or higher than the lowest
die in your column, then you may send 4 highlanders from your opponent to the reserve bench. It does not matter whether this result was achieved on your first or second turn. You must roll all 3 dice again.
After this it is the other side's turn.

What do we think?
Ploc is a delightful game for the café. It seems simple at first glance, but it is not easy to play tactically and use your dice cleverly. Of course, every game with dice has a big luck factor, but using your dice results smartly requires insight and cleverness.
Since you can get results in this game even with low results, I would argue that luck in Ploc is not that bad.

Ploc is available as a free print and play. You can also put it together yourself with your own meeples and dice. You can also order it from the creator. Then you get the nice box, the rules in German and English + all the goodies sent in an envelope with real stamps because Bernd Eisenstein is one of the last people who still use real stamps and a handwritten address. I also find that sympathetic.

Ploc gets a 7.5 and is definitely going into our Fleeing Car's game box!

  • Rating:
  • Author: Bernd Eisenstein
  • Artwork: Klemens Franz
  • Published in: 2023
  • Publisher: Irongames
  • Game Category: Card- and/or Dice Games
  • Weight: 1.5 / 5
  • Number of players: 2 spelers
  • Best with: 2 spelers
  • Game time: 15-20 minuten
  • Age [EN]: 8+
  • Board Game Geek:
  • Video#1:
  • Photos: Bernd Eisenstein, Dick Verschuur
  • Disclaimer: The number of stars in a rating is related to the game category.i.e.: A family game with 8 stars will not always be a better game than an expert game with 7 stars.This said: each review is an opinion of just one person.

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