Get on Board: Dobble

In the first of our tabletop games reviews we try our hand at Dobble, a simple game built on a complex mathematical theory

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Zebra! Cactus! Lightning bolt! These are just some of the curious and unrelated words you will find yourself shouting at your friends and family during a fast-paced game of Dobble – an observation game where players race to match identical symbols between cards.

In 2008 Frenchman Denis Blanchot found a few cards from a prototype “game of insects” created decades earlier by Jacques Cottereau. It was based on the mathematical structure of incomplete balanced blocks – a principle of interaction according to which two lines always have a single point in common. Blanchot collaborated with Cottereau, and after a reimagining and many play tests, Dobble was born.

Dobble consists of 55 circular cards that each contains eight symbols taken from 50 available. Each player begins with a single card with the rest of the deck in the middle. The fun begins when turning over the pile. Each player’s card will have one identical symbol to the card in the middle and it’s up to you to find your matching symbol as quickly as possible and to shout it out. The first person to do so takes the card and the game continues until the deck in the middle has gone. The player with the most cards wins. Simple.

There are five different ways to play Dobble, helping to keep game play fresh, and it’s easy find a quick round extending into 10. Dobble’s compact tin means it travels well – to parties, on holiday or anywhere you might need to keep the kids entertained a bit.

Allowing up to eight players, the card game is fun to play with a group of adults – watch fellow players scramble for their words and inevitably dispute the rightful owner of that last dinosaur or cheese. And it’s especially good for families – small cards make it easily manageable for small hands and children will love the cute cartoon illustrations. It’s easy to pick up too, so kids can soon play it independently, but if you are playing with them sticklers for rules might need to relax on the accuracy of the words shouted out by young children who might not be familiar with an exclamation mark or the yin yang.

They are different versions of Dobble, including Star Wars, Disney Princesses, and one for pre-schoolers that contains fewer symbols on each card. The random symbols chosen for the original version however only add to the game’s wacky charm. A definite crowd pleaser and a great introduction to tabletop gaming beyond a standard deck of cards or your annual trip round the Monopoly board.

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