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DOODLE DICE

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Jax Ltd, 2-6 players, ages 6 to adult, about 30 minutes; $7.99)

 

Games are generally categorized by genre and there are plenty of genres in the World of Games. You have your wargames, your sports simulations, abstract games of all kinds and, of course, this is merely scratching the surface. Somewhere, in this glut of genres, are dice games. But for Doodle Dice, we may have to create a sub-category to dice games: cute. For Doodle Dice is a cute, light game that handles dice in a clever way.

Doodle Dice comes with a deck of cards, a dice cup, one page of rules (in both English and Spanish) and a set of six six-sided dice. Unlike conventional dice which display numbers, these dice display designs. Each die face contains one of six designs: a diagonal line, a straight line, a wavy line, a curved line, a black circle and, what looks like, a stylized face. Putting these designs together is the core mechanism of the game.doodledice2

The card deck consists of over 60 cards (66 according to the instructions in the box, 65 according to the company’s web site). The cards are divided into colored groups (orange, red, yellow, green, blue and purple) and each card displays a “doodle” made up of dice designs. As you go from color to color, more dice are used to create the design (from one on the orange cards up to six for the purple ones). The doodle design on the card is labeled and, believe it or not, you can really tell what the design is supposed to be.

Six cards, one of each color, are drawn from the deck and placed face up for all to see to create the “Gallery”. The rest of the deck is shuffled and placed face down to form a draw deck. On turn, a player draws a card from the draw deck and adds it to the Gallery. He now rolls all six dice. The goal is to duplicate any design appearing on any card in the Gallery. A player may roll the dice up to three times, saving some dice, rolling others and even rolling dice saved on a previous roll. If, by the end of the third roll, if not before, a player is successful in matching his dice to any of the Gallery cards, that player claims that card. (Should a player be unable to roll a matching design, his turn ends, no card is collected and the dice and turn passes to the next player on the left.)

Rather than try for a card in the Gallery, a player may opt to try to steal a card from another player. All he needs do is declare his intention along with which card he is gunning for BEFORE rolling the dice. The standard dice rolling rules apply and, as in standard play, if the player is unable to match the card, his turn is over.

As cards are drawn, a player may draw one of the two types of special cards: free roll and block a turn. A free roll allows a player to make FOUR rolls on a turn instead of the customary three. The card may be used once on any turn after being drawn. (The player continues with his turn in the normal fashion, drawing a card to add to the Gallery and rolling.) The block a turn cards allows you target an opposing player, forcing him to lose his turn.

The first player who manages to collect ONE card in each of the six colors wins!

The game is very luck based (as with most dice games) making it suitable as a diversion for adults and kids to play together. But for those of us who prefer to minimize chance, a few things can be done to lower the luck factor just a bit. For example…

The rules state that if a player forgets to first draw a card and add it to the Gallery, he loses his turn. Lose that. This isn’t a memory game and that rule detracts from the dice rolling fun. Also, instead of waiting for someone to draw a free roll or block a turn card, we suggest starting the game so ALL players have a free roll and block a turn power. With these options available to all, players will have to decide the proper time to pull the trigger on these special powers. (One further stipulation: no player may have his turn blocked twice in a row. That would be too unfair.)

It is unclear in the rules if a player can collect more than one card of a color but apparently so. It’s easy to get the red and orange cards (needing only 1 or 2 matching dice, respectively) so you can pinpoint other players and steal these cards away from them quite easily. This can result in a “seesaw” effect as players try to steal the easier to match red and orange cards. However, tension increases if players are limited to one card of each color. That way, the focus shifts to the more challenging cards requiring more matching dice (such as the purple cards requiring six dice), makes using the free roll power much more valuable and and creates situations that really test your nerve and dice rolling “skill”.

Doodle Dice is something a little different, falling quite firmly into the genre of light, colorful and clever games. Actually, not a bad group to be in. – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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