Thursday, June 27, 2013 09:18:30

Review: Doublemill 2 Turns An Ancient Board Game Into a Modern Classic


Doublemill 2 is actually called Doublemill 2 Nine Men's Morris. If the full name doesn't mean much to you, don't worry: It meant nothing to me, either. And yet, turns out this is a really addictive board game -- there's a reason it's still being played today despite being thousands of years old.

I found Doublemill 2 on Ustav Gupta's Holo UI channel, where he described it in the following words:

Doublemill 2 brings the world-famous Nine Men's Morris game into your hands. Enjoy a modern-looking game with precise controls and fluent graphics.

What can I say? Ustav knows what he's talking about.

Gameplay and AI


Doublemill 2 offers three gameplay modes.

If you don't know Nine Men's Morris, don't worry: Doublemill 2 will teach you how to play. It took me about five minutes to grasp the rules. The Challenge mode is a good way to learn: It pits you against progressively harder levels of AI. The first couple of levels are very easy, so you can focus on understanding the simple rules behind Nine Men's Morris. I won't explain the rules here, because that would scare you away: It sounds much more complicated than it really is.

The closest analogy I can come up with is that Nine Men's Morris is a bit like checkers, but with way more strategy thrown in. Gameplay consists of three distinct stages: First you place your pieces, then you move them around, and finally, one of the sides can "fly" pieces to any vacant spot on the board, once they're down to just three pieces and are close to losing.


Once a game is over, Doublemill 2 lets you review your moves and hopefully learn from your mistakes.

The AI is very, very good: I made it all the way to level 8, and that's where I'm currently stuck, despite playing again and again. Losing can still be an interesting experience, but when it gets old, you can always use Freeplay mode to dial in the level of AI you want to play against.

Finally, if you're lucky enough to have another human to play with, the Heads Up mode lets you both play on the same device. There is no network play -- one of the game's few weaknesses.

Graphics and Sound


Don't worry, Nine Men's Morris is simpler than it looks.

I can understand why Ustav put Doublemill 2 on his Holo channel: It's a very Holo game. The graphics feel like Android. Very elegant, simple, and schematic. While there is a banner ad in the main menu, gameplay itself is mercifully free of ads (that would have been annoying). As you progress through Challenge mode, the colors the AI uses vary to show its level of skill. It starts somewhere around cornflower blue, getting progressively redder as the difficultly ramps up.

The graphics are second only to the excellent AI in making this game so addictive. Their minimal simplicity lets you focus on the moves: The game doesn't try to pretend it's a real board, and there's no skeumorphic attempt at faking wood or felt or anything tacky like that. Bare-bones beauty.

When it comes to sound, Doublemill 2 lacks any pretensions: It uses default Android system sounds, so that a game sounds a bit like an intense texting session.

Final Thoughts

Doublemill 2 introduced me to an ancient, and amazing, board game I didn't know about. It's a great way to get into Nine Men's Morris, and can be immersive and fascinating whether you play on your own or with a friend. If you like checkers and chess, this is a game you have to try.