Menu

DABBLE

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(INI, LLC, www.DabbleGame.com, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $24.95)

 

Word games are one of the staples of gaming. There is, of course, Scrabble which leads the way in this category but there has always been a contest to create the next big word game. Along the way, there has been the ever popular Boggle and Sid Sackson’s BuyWord (Fall 2004 GA Report) that went on to be named GAMES magazine’s Game of the Year. But the search for the next new twist in word gaming continues with the latest quality contender being a game that puts a spin on the classic game of Anagrams: Dabble.dabblebox

Dabble, designed by George Weiss, comes boxed with 142 letter tiles (plus 6 additional tiles for Spanish) and a bag to hold them, 4 five-tiered “stadium style” racks, a sand timer and rules (in both English and Spanish).

Each player is given one of the five tiered letter racks, randomly draws 20 letter tiles from the bag and places them, face down, in front of him. When everyone has their tiles, the timer is turned and all tiles are turned face up. Now the race is on!

In Anagrams, players attempt to make words from letters. In Dabble, this is taken one or, shall we say, five steps further. The goal here is to create from those 20 picked tiles FIVE different words: one each of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 letters. As long as sand remains in the timer, players continue to try to complete their set of words. If only one player manages to accomplish this task, he wins the round. But if more than one player completes his set before time runs out, all will score!

Players who win the round collect the points of the letter tiles that the other players were unable to use to make words. Most tiles are worth 3 points but there are blank tiles which may be used as any letter (worth 0 points) and the more difficult letters are worth more (M is worth 9, H 12 while Q and Z come in at 30 points each!). There are even two “apostrophe” tiles (with a 0 tile value), something you rarely see in word games. Even though they don’t have a tile point value, they are usable for making words and potentially valuable in scoring. A player using an apostrophe tile gets DOUBLE points but an apostrophe that has not been used is worth 5 points to the winner(s) of the round. Optional rules are provided to give players bonus points for making words in a particular subject. But suppose no one can make a set of five words?

If everyone is stymied, the round ends, no one scores, and players may toss in as many tiles as they like into the bag, shake it up and then draw new ones. The timer is then turned over for a second time and the players try to compete their task again. On the other hand, if EVERYONE has managed to create a set in time, the rules provide for several options: either no one scores (a tie with everyone earning 0 points) OR the player with the highest scoring word is considered the winner of the round and receives the point value of that high scoring word.dabblepcs

The first player to score 100 points (or 200 or 500, that’s up to you) wins!

The racks are sturdy, perfectly built to hold the tiles, and the tiles are big enough for small hands (and the plastic seems immune to dirty hands too) making the game suitable for young gamers. To heighten the appeal to the competitiveness of adult gamers (and add a degree of frenzy to the game), we play that the FIRST player to complete a set of five words is the winner of the round. Other players can still complete their sets before time runs out but the round winner is the ONLY one to score. By doing this, the other players need to play “defense” to reduce an opponent’s possible high score. To minimize the luck factor (and when you’re drawing tiles blindly out of a bag, luck is definitely a factor), we suggest eliminating the scoring bonus for apostrophe tiles. Getting one of these tiles is purely by chance and to be able grab a big score from their use rewards luck more than skill.

The quest for the next great word game continues. Dabble is an excellent candidate for that honor and if you’re looking for a word game that fits the niche of family game entertainment with enough of a kick to intrigue adult word gamers, then Dabble is worth dabbling in. – – – Herb Levy


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Fall 2012 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (Academy Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 1-2 hours; $69.99) In the early 19th Century, powerful nations in Europe were competing for dominance and that competition led to war. With war in Europe raging between England and its allies and the French forces led by Napoleon, the United States felt the squeeze between these two powerful European juggernauts, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Mayfair Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 120+ minutes; $50) Martin Wallace has a thing for travel. It's not so much that HE is infected with a severs case of wanderlust but more that he's apparently fascinated by the intricacies of the means of getting from one place to another. Already established as a premier designer of rail ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (INI, LLC, www.DabbleGame.com, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $24.95) Word games are one of the staples of gaming. There is, of course, Scrabble which leads the way in this category but there has always been a contest to create the next big word game. Along the way, there has been the ever popular Boggle and Sid ...
Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Czech Board Games/Z-Man Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 90-120 minutes; $64.99) After the great success of Dungeon Lords, it would have been a real shame not to exploit the atmosphere of the dungeons and the neighboring village. It has taken two years to prepare the Dungeon Lords expansion (to be released this year in Essen) but ...
Read More
The Greatest Game Throughout my years with Gamers Alliance and through my interactions with people in all walks of life who know of my love of games, I have always been asked lots of questions. But the one question that seems to appear most is this one: "What do you think is the GREATEST game?" When I first heard this question, I would be (and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg. J. Schloesser EMPIRE EXPRESS (Mayfair Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-90 minutes; $30) [Reviewing a crayon rail game is a bit of a challenge, as all of the games in the series use very similar mechanisms. Usually, there are only minor rules changes, with the major difference being the geographical setting. As such, most of the description of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Andre Bonnet, 2 to 6 players, ages 13 and up, 90 minutes; 65€ in the EU, 77€ outside the EU) Grand Prix Expert is a detailed five player resource management/racing game with the theme of managing and developing a Formula 1 Racing team for 1-3 seasons of racing. The game is self published by Andre Bonnet of France. The game comes ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy INFILTRATION (Fantasy Flight Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 14 and up, 30-45 minutes; $34.95) The time is the future and this future world is a very dangerous place. It is the Android Universe (a dystopian future world postulated by Android, a previous release by Fantasy Flight), a world run by immense corporations involved in android technology. CyberSolutions Inc., one such ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Mayfair Games, 3 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, about 75-90 minutes; $55) Very often in games we see style over substance, particularly when it comes to licensed properties. Generally, the belief is that the license will sell the merchandise no matter what so what you usually get is a picture slapped on a box containing assorted cardboard with very ...
Read More
[In this issue, we welcome Eric Brosius to our pages. Eric Brosius has been a gamer as long as he can remember. When his sister asked him to play Chutes and Ladders, he resisted because there were no meaningful decisions. At the age of 6, he received a copy of Avalon Hill's D-Day from a neighbor family who bought a copy at a local department ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Huch! & Friends, 2 to 3 players, ages 8 and up, 30+ minutes; about $25) Talat is the Arabic word for "Three" and three is the core of the game play here in this abstract game designed by Bruce Whitehill. There are three boards, three sets of game pieces and, while rules are provided for two, Talat is at its best ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans (Krok nik Douil/Huch! & Friends, 3 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 1½ to 2 hours, $59.99) Vanuatu rather snuck up on me – I missed it at Spiel last year, so I was pleased to make its acquaintance when it arrived on the table. The title is, of course, the name of an island nation in the Pacific. Vanuatu, designed ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!