Sometimes reviewers get a game that is far out of our comfort zone. It could be a game that’s so brain-melting it hurts to play it, an epic marathon of a game that’s hard to get to the table, or even just a simple kids game that you wouldn’t normally play unless you actually have kids.
Well, with Doodle City, I definitely fit in that last category!
Doodle City, is a very light game where you connect roads by literally drawing on a pad that has various road links, hotels, houses, etc shown on it. By connecting them in certain ways you score more points. This is clearly aimed at families and, more than likely, the smaller members at that. So, it isn’t likely that it’s going to be the game for me! However, one of the requirements of being a reviewer is to be objective and integral in your dealings. For example, a film critic shouldn’t let his opinion be swayed when watching an action blockbuster when he’s more used to period dramas.
So bearing that in mind let’s have a look at Doodle City and, rather than focusing on whether it’s for me or not, focus more on whether it suits the target audience!
Designer: Eilif Svensson (2014)
Publisher: Aporta Games
# of Players: 1-6
Play Time: 30 Minutes
Category: Route Building with Drawing
You Want Me To Draw On My Game??? Surely Not!!!
Each player takes a sheet with the same, grid layout, map shown on it. Squares will contain hotels, taxis and shops – all of which provide different benefits when roads are connected to them.
Before the game begins, the dice are rolled to show the starting roads. These are shown in park spaces where there are several potential routes through the square. As these are randomized, the setup will be different every game.
Each round, a blue die and several white dice (one more than the number of players) are rolled with blue representing the column and white representing the row on the map grid. Players will then draft each die much like in “Seasons” and draw a road in the given space touching two sides of the square. If it’s a park space you cross in a house which can potentially gain points later. However, you can only draw in a space once so, if you are unable to draw a road, you gain pollution which may reduce your final score.
Buildings will score when you draw in the space and these can depend on the length of the road, how many houses are present on it, etc. When one player completes the highest possible score for one building or when a player loses his last tree due to pollution, the game ends.
Easy to Learn??? This is a Doddle City!!!
The game is very light on components – it doesn’t even come with a set of pencils or pens so you’ll need to be prepared in advance which seems a weird oversight. However, the pad is very functional and easy to follow with the scoring shown as well as the map for drawing on. This removes the need for consulting the rule sheet once you’ve played a couple of games and makes it perfect for travel as the box is oversized for the game and you could simply carry the pad around with a spare pen.
Thematically the game is pretty abstract, but some elements such as losing points for cutting trees and scoring more points if houses are connected to shops do make sense and fit nicely into the game. By the end, your map is going to look a little weird with some squares having roads that start and lead to nowhere, but Doodle City isn’t trying to be a fully-fledged city building game like Suburbia or City Tycoon!
The dice may be seen as a little random, but I feel that pushing your luck – hoping that you can make a big score adds a little bit of tension to Doodle City!
It could be argued that some players will be luckier than others and do well because their dice came up! However, Doodle City does provide you with some options through the dice-draft mechanic which mitigates some of the randomness. It’s actually nice to see dice drafting back in a game since the “almighty greatness” that was Seasons (a potential Top 20 game for me).
So What’s the Verdict??? Is it Good???
Clearly this isn’t a game that’s aimed at me – being an unmarried and full-time gamer! However, there are some qualities here that make it very suitable for families. In fact, Doodle City is particularly good for families with younger children. It teaches some basic game mechanics without getting too complex! In other words, it will make the kids think, but not blow their minds!
Doodle City is a cheap game to acquire although, in my opinion, it should have come with a selection of basic small pens. On a plus side though, there’s plenty of paper on the pad to keep you going for a while before you have to worry about using photocopies.
Doodle City isn’t one for the hardcore gamer, it’s a light puzzle game, but what it does offer is a bit of light entertainment for the family, particularly if you travel a lot and need something more portable!
You Will Like This Game If:
• You want a light family game – there’s a little depth but nothing major.
• You need a game for travel as you could just carry the pad and some pens about.
You Will Not Like This Game If:
• You’re looking for an involved game, this isn’t aimed at full time gamers.
• You think the dice mechanic is too random.
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I'm known as The Broken Meeple, a blog, podcast and YouTube channel devoted to board and card games. I live in Portsmouth, UK, working as a Chartered Tax Advisor and I enjoy playing games of many genres and varieties with as many people as possible.