I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game…it seemed too simple a concept to hold anyone’s interest for long, let alone a mix of adults and 9 to 11 years olds who are more used to fighting it out over bigger boxed games or playing Minecraft! Within minutes of the tin being opened though we became addicted and remain so a few weeks on. Hope you enjoy this Dobble card game review.
No. of Players: 2 to 8
Time To Play: From a few minutes to as long as you want!
Suggested Age: 6+
Where To Buy: Buy Online from Zatu Games
Dobble seems so innocent. Inside a rather attractive lilac and yellow tin are 55 round playing cards each with 8 very childlike and harmless different sized cartoon images on them. That’s pretty much it…just a pretty tin with some pretty cards. Nothing about the presentation suggests this game is anything but a childlike trifle for some kids to while away a few minutes here and there.
But like those innocent looking twin girls in The Shining there is a hidden sinister edge…
…Dobble is Evil Snap!!
Setting Up & How To Play
Getting started with Dobble is really easy and straight forward. There is no long rule book to read and digest, no pieces to build or tiles to stick together. Just pop open the tin and get the cards out and you’re ready to rock and roll.
There is a mini rules leaflet inside the tin that explains how 5 different mini games can be played and it takes seconds to investigate these versions. We have played all five of them but our favourite is the one that is the most frantic.
I mentioned above that each card has 8 symbols on it. I was maybe too simplistic…
Yes, each card has 8 symbols on it but that is 8 symbols from a selection of many more than 8. Not all the cards have the same symbols on, but every card does have one (and only one) symbol in common with every other card.
That is where the genius of the game lies and that is why a small round tin of 55 cards is well worth the asking price!
I have tried to get my head around the design process and logic required to make this game but I keep mentally crashing and have to reboot each time. It hurts to think about, but the game designer managed to get his or her head around it and produced this crack-cocaine of a game.
The whole concept of Dobble in any of the different ways to play it revolves around your brain having the ability to spot the one symbol that is common between two cards.
It sounds so easy, but have a quick look at the photo above and see if you can quickly spot the common symbol that matches on the two complete and prominent cards towards the bottom of that picture. This is a fairly easy one too!
That example is relatively easy because the matching symbols are more or less the same size on each card and actually more or less in the same position in that photo. If you are still trying to work it out then I will put you out of your misery and tell you that it was the purple scissors.
If that example was too easy for you then try and quickly spot the matching symbol in the following cards:
See…not so straight forward!
The symbols aren’t all the same size across the cards and they also aren’t all in the same position. At first blush Dobble feels like an advanced game of snap, but it’s this brain-meltingly frustrating feature of the differences between the sizes and positions that leads me to say this is Evil Snap!
Playing Dobble can really hurt and be really frustrating, but hurty in a good way, a bit like that curry that is actually too spicy hot to eat but you kinda like the pain it brings.
It’s an evil game because it should be easy to play, but something in the human brain seems to turn to jelly when you have to match that one symbol on your card with the one on the table when you know everyone else you are playing with is trying to do the same thing but quicker than you.
Playing with children is even harder. I am the wrong side of 40 now and the old grey matter isn’t as nimble as it used to be. I am an oil tanker compared to the speedboats of my older kids when it comes to Dobble. I did win a game last week, but I reckon I will be averaging one win a year at this rate as they are getting faster and faster whereas I have plateaued somewhat.
(If you are still trying to match that symbol on the last picture above then it was the music sign…and that was an averagely difficult one to do)
Anyway, back to how to play…
The version we like the most is where all the cards are dealt out in turn to each player except for the last card which is left face down in the middle of the table. Everyone holds their cards face up in a stack in their hands so the symbols on their top card are visible to them. The card in the middle of the table is turned over and the first person to match a symbol on their card with the shared card shouts out which symbol it is and places their card on top of the one on the table.
Instantly the game continues with players trying to match a symbol on their card with the new card that was just put on the table. There is no pause, no resting, no relaxation…it is just bang, bang, bang until one person manages to place their last card on the table. They are the very worthy winner of that round.
Such a simple game, but so heart-poundingly exciting. As soon as one round is over pretty much everyone is demanding another one. You always feel like this next game will be the one you will win and even in the disappointment of losing (again) the adrenaline keeps you happy.
Remember that this game support up to 8 players. With that many people trying to place their cards you have to be quick with the eye and the hands. We haven’t played with 8, but when 5 of us played together it was glorious bedlam.
Another way to play the game is actually a reverse of the method I just described. This time all the cards are stacked in a pile in the middle of the table and each player takes one card off the pile and immediately turns it over in their hand so they can’t see the symbols. When everyone is ready the signal is given to start and each player tries to match the symbol with their card and the one at the top of the pile on the table. When you spot the match you shout it out and take the card of the pile in the middle. This reveals the next card and the games carries on like this until all of the cards have gone from the table. Count up the cards in each player’s hand and the one with the most is the winner!
As you can hopefully tell from this Dobble card game review we simply love the game. I had such mediocre expectations for Dobble. My two older kids like Minecraft and Warhammer and I looked at the tin and the cartoon pictures on the cards and figured we would reject it as a game that was too young for us to play as a family. I also expected that my kids would patronise me by pretending to play and enjoy it but then never play again of their own volition. How wrong I was. We can’t get enough of it. I hear the kids playing and shouting upstairs or in the living room when I am doing things in another part of the house and I usually try to find a reason to stop what I am doing and join in. It’s addictive fun – I am terrible at it but that’s ok, it’s still fab.
Every family should own Dobble and it is such a small game in its tin that it is easy to carry around and take on holiday as well as play at home. For the price too it ticks the box for what to buy other kids when yours get invited to birthday parties. No-one will be upset by getting this as a gift, not once they have played it.
The suggested player age of 6+ feels about right. There is actually a version for younger children called Dobble Kids and the suggested age is 4+ years old. The main difference seems to be that there are 6 symbols on each card instead of 8 which will make the game a bit easier for pre-schoolers.
So…that was Dobble. It scores very highly and that is because for the low cost of the game combined with the hours and hours of family fun I have to give it maximum points. It is not a sophisticated game, nor is it a complicated affair; it is what it is and it does that perfectly.
Dobble Card Game review score – 10 out of 10!
Hope you enjoyed reading through my Dobble Card Game review. You can find out more about it and order online at Zatu Games.
Disclosure: Zatu Games allow me to buy games at a discount in return for a review (good or bad). I choose the games I am interested in and Zatu Games has no editorial control over the reviews so everything you read in this Dobble Card Game review is my honest opinion.