Dobble seemed like a game that was going to be far too simple to hold our attention for very long, but it defied the odds and has become something we reach for whenever time is short or if there is a bit of travel happening. It was actually a welcome break from the more in-depth games that we tend to try out or play regularly and served as a good reminder that a great gameplay concept is what really matters when it comes to having fun and not how big the box is or how many accessories or models you get inside!
What’s in the box?
I should say, ‘What’s in the tin?’, as Dobble comes in a small round tin and contains 55 round playing cards (with 8 cartoon images on each one) and a mini instruction leaflet. That’s yer lot!
But that’s all you need…
Basic Game Overview
The instruction leaflet details five different ways to play Dobble, so Dobble itself is a bit of an umbrella name for a series of mini games. All of the games share a common theme which is related to the very, very clever way the cards have been designed. Each card has eight symbols on it, but there are loads of different symbols across the entire deck of cards. The clever bit is that every card has only one symbol in common with every other card. Oh, and the symbols are all different sizes across the different cards and in different positions. So a snowman symbol might be small on one card and then big and turned a different away on another card. Having the ability to spot the common symbol between two cards quicker than your opponents is the basic aim of the game.
Sounds easier than it actually is…give it a try on these two cards:
If you spotted it straight away then you might be a natural genius at this game, but when the pressure is on and your opponents are trying to do the same thing then your brain can quickly start to let you down…at least my wrong-side-of-40 brain does anyway, especially when playing against the kids!
Generally the games rely on a communal card being shown and then the players race against each other to declare the matching symbol they have on their card, and this is played through until you have a winner…sometimes this is the person who gets rid of all their cards, and in other play styles it is the person with the most cards.
What’s it like to play?
So, we have a very straight forward game. It is about as complicated as Snap, but it is a sadistic twist on Snap. Game play is frantic and that is why the game is so darn addictive. Really addictive.
The mini game we play most is simple to set up; all the cards are dealt out to the players except the last card which is left face down. When everyone is ready then that card is turned over and the first person to match a symbol shouts it out and places their card on top of the communal one…and the games carries on straight away and you keep going until one person has placed their last card on the table. There is no pause, no respite, no toilet breaks; just quickfire play that can get quite stressful but is a whole heap of fun.
The other version we like is the flip of that…all of the cards are placed face up in a stack on the table and each player takes a card and turns it over so the symbols are hidden. When everyone is ready they turn their cards over and try to match a symbol on the top card of the stack on the table. Whoever wins that hand takes the top card and then play continues. When all the cards are off the table you count up and the person with the most cards is the winner. Again, nice and simple but great fun.
The games works with two players and goes up to eight. Eight is hard work as the competition is fierce and you have to be super quick to beat seven other people. Two players is still fun but not so good if you are the constant loser, but you do get better and faster when there are less players. We have found that a group of four or five people is the sweet spot but I must stress that it works really well with any number.
Who would like it?
Every family should have a tin of Dobble as it is hard to dislike and it can keep a couple of kids entertained and can also be brought out for larger family gatherings. The suggested age for playing is 6+ and this feels right (certainly no younger) but it is a better game to play when everyone is around eight or nine years old or more (through to adults). It is heartbreaking watching a pensioner trying to keep up with kids though! Whatever your experience of playing games unless you have been locked in a cupboard since birth you will have played Snap at some point and probably enjoyed it when you did. Unless you absolutely hate a game like Snap and cannot stand interacting with friends and family then you will have a good time with Dobble and you won’t get bored of playing it.
A small tin of cards with little cartoon pictures on them had me expecting something I wouldn’t bother reviewing, but I was very wrong. Dobble is simple genius executed perfectly. The small tin is really nicely designed and small enough to carry around with you if you are travelling or visiting friends or family. The gameplay is pure fun and you can play for ten minutes or you can blast it out for a couple of hours. The low cost of the game also means that it is within reach of pretty much any family and is perfectly priced for gifting and you wouldn’t be disappointed if you received it as a present. The low cost in combination with the endless hours of entertainment that Dobble brings is why this very straightforward game scores highly with us. It is no Carcassonne or Catan and has nothing like the depth and background that Warhammer 40K has, but it’s really good fun…and that, really, is what counts.
Scores 10 out of 12 as a really great value family or kids game!
No. of Players: 2 to 8
Recommended Age: 6+
Time To Play: 10 minutes to hours!!