In a world where our tabletop gaming needs are becoming ever more detailed, complex and involved, it can occasionally leave myself feeling a little exhausted and in need of a tonic.
So it is with unbridled pleasure that I can introduce you to my new little friend…Dobble!
Crafted by the genius minds at Asmodee Games, dipped deep in simplicity and smothered wholeheartedly with layer upon layer of fast paced, glorious fun, Dobble, offers so much more than the sum of its parts.
At its roots we have a simple picture matching card game, the sort of thing that has seemingly been around since the dawn of mankind. Match images, collect cards and win the game. But with Dobble, this simple premise is elevated to far greater heights via some imaginative mini-games that offer a constant, delicious pace to the play, gentle competition and tons of laughs.
Playing is quite different from anything I’ve ever really experienced before. The mini-games all take a mere few minutes to complete a round of action, but within those fleeting minutes so much is going on! Every player is active from start to finish, the action never lets up, laughter lights up the table and shifts focus from second to second, and, it’s tense. Like, really teeth gritting, cold sweat tense.
It sounds crazy that a game with such a simple style and childish looks can deliver such levels of tension, but believe me, when you’re down to a stand-off situation with another player, both rapidly scanning each other’s card for the matching image that appears to have become weirdly camouflaged behind a sheet of panic and your eyes suddenly lose all communications with your brain, it gets pretty intense. But, you know, in a good way.
For a moment though let me cut away from what it feels like to play Dobble, and talk about the nuts and bolts of the action.
They say “Good things come in small packages.” I don’t know who “they” are, but they might just have a point. Dobble is a game that can fit in your pocket. A small round, vibrantly decorated, yellow and lilac tin, holding 55 cards, is all you need for a whole heap of magical family gaming fun.
Each of the round shaped cards carries eight symbols, these range from pictures of dragons to snowflakes, and lilac cats to cross-hairs. There are a grand total of 50 different symbols used in the game. Between every single card in the deck there will be at least one matching symbol, meaning that at no point is there a moment where play grinds to a halt because two cards hold entirely different images.
The mini-games take the same matching cards concept and mix it up in some pretty ingenious ways. In some it’s about collecting cards by being first to match a symbol (The Towering Inferno), in others it’s about discarding cards (The Well), and in others you get to inflict cards upon opponents (The Poisoned Gift). What myself and the other players at the table really enjoyed was that there are no weak links in the mini-games. Every one of them holds superb levels of great fun and tiny dramas. This means that plays of Dobble don’t fall back on the same game style time after time and instead enjoy a constant shift of gameplay throughout.
How each session of Dobble is approached is entirely open to the party at the table. The five mini-games can be played as one-off rounds, announce a winner and move on to the next game mode, or, points can be scored for each game and accumulated towards a grand total at the end of the final round. To be honest though, Dobble, is the sort of game that can be played without paying any mind to actual winners and losers, and instead simply embrace the joyous ride and undoubtedly raucous laughter that will fill the room.
The game can be played by two to eight players, which is fantastic for those nights the whole family wants a piece of the action. What we found was that although it is a case of the more the merrier, there is still a lot of enjoyment to be taken from even a two-player run which is something a rarity in my experience.
Alongside fantastic gameplay, Dobble, is also blessed with eye-catching looks. The images are clear, colourful and easy to pick out on the cards, and the decision to go with a round shape as opposed to a traditional card shape proves to be a masterstroke as it gives the game another layer of character and makes it stand out from the crowd.
One for the Kids?
Absolutely! My own plays almost always involve my family getting around the table. This means my better half of course, but also my five children raised under the banner of the nerd. With ages ranging from nineteen down to six I get a pretty good idea of how a game is working for a wide range of ages. Dobble proved an instant hit in a big way!
The game is so easy to learn and quick to play that my six-year-old son was playing unaided right from the off. The rules are minimal meaning the usual quick glance at the rulebook during play was completely eliminated and everyone’s attention was gripped throughout the entire session that involved a good three plays of each mini-game and four of five of the most popular ones!
Dobble is a game that can be played by my youngest children without any adult assistance pretty much straight out of the tin, and that is a real plus. The lack of any real set-up and simple gameplay means within moments a game can be in full flow.
In just a few plays, Dobble, has become a firm family favourite in our house. It’s a great little filler between the meatier games, and the perfect antidote to those more involved games. When all you require is to play on instinct and have a great laugh, Dobble, delivers.
There aren’t really any issues with the game worth mentioning. It isn’t a game you would play for hours on end of course, and neither is it one you would use as the main focus of a game night, but that isn’t what Dobble is aiming for. Instead, Dobble, is a perfect opener, or an intermission delight. A wonderful quick blast game that keeps every player involved and brings huge dollops of fun and riotous laughter with it’s simple, tense gameplay and lovely variety.
Considering the amount of time this game is likely to spend at the table, and the massive entertainment value it holds, a price tag of £12.99, makes this a must have addition to the games collection.
Now, when are the kids home? I think I’m feeling another round coming on!
Grab your own copy of Dobble by seeking out your nearest stockist here
A huge thank you to Esdevium Games who provided our copy of Dobble for review.
With a glorious combination of fast gameplay, simple ideas, elevated tension, and sweet looks, Dobble is a great addition to the games library. An antidote to the serious, and a recipe for laughter, all contained in one cute little tin.