I have a mixed history with abstract games. I often enjoy them but find them very hard to get others to join with, and being a man of simple pleasures I'm won over by theme and art. Yet I keep coming back to the depth of play and ease of learning that a good abstract, like Onitama or Kumo Hogosha, offer.
OX The Game is a two-player game with flashbacks of Backgammon, that fits in a small pouch and plays in 10-30 minutes.
The handmade board and pieces are all of a leathery material or wood, and the single lane board unrolls on the table looking like Wolverine's belt. There are eight spaces on your side and a wooden central piece. Cleverly your tokens are slotted into the board's spaces, and all have the OX logo on them.
On your turn you roll the two dice and either move one of your pieces the total amount or two tokens. One of the available dice face each forward only, with the aim of getting all eight of your tokens off the other end of the lane/board. If you roll a double you can immediately take another turn.
If you land on the opponent's token you capture them and send them back to their pile, but this can be prevented by creating groups of tokens in a row. You may also stack one token on top of another, but these tokens are only protected from capture in rows of the same height.
All this creates one of those rare games that seemingly balances out luck and strategy. You end up trying to slowly creep groups of your tokens towards the goal without breaking them up into easily captured islands.
OX, like any dice game, can be swingy but in the many games I played the dice only seemed to win the game once. The rest of the time the victories were down to making the right choices at the right times to take best advantage. As you score your tokens you have less options, which creates a natural catch up mechanic and means that players usually remain closely matched through out.
OX The Game is what it is, and that is in no way a bad thing. A light game for two players that engages the brain but isn't too deep. It rolls up and can fit in a pocket and the developers have expressed a desire for an app that replaces the dice to make transportation even easier.
If you like what you've read keep an eye on the OX website for more updates and details of the Kickstarter campaign.