On the Dot
1-4 Players / Ages 10+
Let’s start this review with a quick vocabulary quiz.
Question: What do the words “‘prolixity,” “pleonasm,” and “verbosity” have in common?
Answer: They all mean basically the same thing—using too many words to say something.
Suffice it to say that On the Dot does not suffer from prolixity, pleonasm, or verbosity. It’s purely a game of visual acuity. It poses a very simple question: how quickly can you spot a pattern and recreate it?
The gameplay is also pretty simple. You’re dealt four transparent cards, each with a pattern of colored dots, that you have to rotate, flip, and rearrange to match the pattern of colored dots that’s on a communal “pattern card.” When you’ve completed the pattern, you yell, “On the dot!”
You can treat On the Dot as a brain teaser you play by yourself, or you can challenge your friends and family members. For this review, we played a little game of 1-on-1. (If you play by yourself, you probably don’t need to yell “On the dot!”)
Ivan, Media Coordinator: I wrote the introduction to this review before we actually played the game, and I led with a bit about how it’s purely visual and there are no words. Turns out that’s not true, since we spent most of the last thirty minutes shouting things like, “No! This way! Ahhh, how do I get rid of that dot?!”
Evan, Social Media Specialist: Speaking of words, I completed the puzzle so few times that I’m actually blanking on the phrase one had to say when done…
Ivan: That’s a bit on the nose, isn’t it?
Well, let’s give a quick recap of what just transpired. After completing the first puzzle, I managed to watch episodes I through IX of the Star Wars franchise while you kept working on it. I also won the next two to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Then, you stormed back to even things up, and I took the final two puzzles to win the game 5-3.
Evan: While Ivan took in the adventures of Rey, Fin, BB8, and Poe Dameron (who was named after TIP alum Morgan Dameron, btw), I found myself staring blankly at what looked to me to be just a confusing jumble of dots. This went on for quite a while, leading to fits of anger, brief glitters of hope, and then just plain old apathy.
That was just my first turn, and it was also the first time I had done any kind of visual/spacial puzzle in a while. Eventually, I figured out strategy…or Ivan may have filled me in on his own strategy. Ivan?
Ivan: Well, it turns out my strategy is to play against anyone besides my wife, who is extraordinarily good at this game.
Evan: I resent that. Give them what they came here for. The strategy, man!
Ivan: I doubt my strategy would work for everyone, but I found that homing in on one color and one position led to good things overall.”Oh, there are two yellow dots on the edge? I’ll start by lining up my two yellow dots that are on the edge.”
Evan: Right. I found that it helped to focus on the dots nearest to the edge of the card, similar to how one would start a jigsaw puzzle.
Ivan: I suspect there are people out there—many TIPsters among them—who are able to spot multiple patterns simultaneously. I, for instance, have never learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube.
Evan: Yeah, I think that’s one of the coolest things about this game. When you play with friends, you can see who has a natural knack for spotting patterns and quickly rearranging things without much thought. And you’ll also get to behold others who may not be as quick at first, but who are really good at strategy and adapting.
Ivan: It’s also just a good test of concentration and not giving up. You know, TIP doesn’t recommend any extensive test prep when it comes to taking above-level tests like the ACT or SAT in 7th grade, but I do feel as though playing this game might get you in the right mindset.
Evan: Exactly. By design, you have to fail over and over to get to just the right combination of cards to form the pattern.
Ivan: This game is all about spatial reasoning. There must be some concrete correlations between spatial reasoning skills and future success in STEM fields.
Evan: I love learning about STEM topics, but studies like that combined with my performance in games like these make me grateful to be a word guy!
Ivan: How many dots would you give this game? 1, 2, 3, or 4?
Evan: I’d give it two dots. It’s challenging and fun trying to figure out the strategy. But to me, once you’ve done that, it’s pretty repetitive.
Ivan: I’d give it three dots. My biggest complaint: in the version we got, the transparent cards have red dots and the pattern cards have orange dots. Come on, game! You had one job!
Evan: Orange you glad you played though?