15 November 2019
A game of observation rather than strategy and planning.
A handsome square box with a minimal cover design showing a beautiful creature in flight – you’d be forgiven for thinking Dust in the Wings is in Wingspan territory but you’d be wrong. This is a charming almost-abstract that bigs up its connections to mancala, one of humanity’s great ancient games, but makes it about butterflies instead.
Dust’s board is a five-by-five meadow of squares with flowers in them and one butterfly per flower at the start, randomly blue, red and yellow. On your turn you take all the butterflies from one square and move across the meadow, putting one down in each space you visit. If your last butterfly is in a space that fits the pattern shown on one of the face-up ‘composition’ (groups of colours) or ‘gathering’ (numbers and arrangements) cards then you get the card and its associated reward.
The ballyhooed link to mancala is only in the way you place butterflies, not in the way you score. This is a game of observation rather than strategy and planning. The board and scoring cards are visible to everyone, so you can’t spend a turn or two setting up a grand pattern because someone else will either spot it and nab it first, or won’t spot it and will blunder straight through it instead, wantonly scattering butterflies as they go.
The rules are short and well explained, and the gameplay is pleasing for those who like visual puzzles. However Dust has the same problem as its stablemate Inuit: it’s a charming and easy to learn game with lovely components and high production values, and a box and sticker price about 65% larger than they should be. At £25 this would be a nice buy and a great present. At its suggested price of £40 we can’t recommend it – though the butterfly meeples are hard to resist.
PLAY IT? PROBABLY
Designer: Dennis Kirps, Christian Krutchen, Jean-Claude Pellin
Artist: Odysseus Stamoglou
Time: 30-45 minutes