Computer games are great, but traditional analog games, usually played on a board, can be just as challenging and exciting. DVONN is an abstract, two-player game with very simple rules and incredibly complex possibilities. Game developer Kris Burm created it in 2001 as part of the GIPF series of games [source: Board Game Geek].
DVONN players each place 23 counters on a grid and take turns moving them. The basic idea is to create stacks with your piece on top by jumping and landing on another piece or stack. If you land on your opponent's stack, you take control of it. As a stack grows it can, and must, move one space for each piece in it. Large stacks eventually become immobile -- there aren't enough spaces on the board for them to complete a move. The game ends when neither player can move any stacks. Each player's stacks are piled on top of each other, and the player with the highest combined stack wins.
There's another twist. All pieces and stacks must be connected directly or through a chain of other pieces, to one of three red pieces called DVONN pieces which are also on the board. If they're not, they are immediately removed.
Different strategies are needed in the placement and movement phases. Placing pieces near the edge of the board and keeping pieces spread out are important tactics. It's important not to build stacks too high early in the game, because large, immobile stacks are vulnerable to being captured by your opponent or cut off from a DVONN piece.
What makes the game a mind-bender is that everything can change right up to the last move. For example, you seem to be winning but your opponent makes a move that cuts you off from your DVONN piece anchor, wiping out a crucial stack. The end game can be a stunner.