Dobbers Quest For The Key Board Game Review

Game: Dobbers Quest for the Key
Publisher: Splattered Ink Games
Founder, Game Designer & Illustrator: Darryl Jones

Board Game Types: Deck Building/Engine Building, Fantasy, Secret Unit Deployment
Price: $39

Players: 2-4
Duration: 45-90 minutes
Recommended Age: 8+
Age We've Observed: 8+
Time to Learn: 20 minutes (Will be faster if you've played Dominion or other similar Deck Building Games)

Dobbers Quest for the Key Board Game Review

 Cute yet fierce; a combination that never fails.

Cute yet fierce; a combination that never fails.

Game Description/Gameplay

Dobbers Quest for the Key combines the pleasant, speedy deck-building mechanics of Dominion with the opponent-sabotaging chaos of the Mario Kart video game series. Recently launched on Kickstarter, Dobbers is a family affair, through and through.

Artist Darryl Jones found inspiration for the name of the game from a quote from his grandfather, who used to tell him "Keep your Dobbers up," when he felt down. His 11-year-old son helped with creative ideas and feedback. This passion-project aesthetic permeates the game, from its whimsical world building to the almost shockingly excellent artwork.

 We know why you're really here; to sabotage your friends!

We know why you're really here; to sabotage your friends!

Gameplay will feel instantly familiar for anyone who has played a few hands of deck-builders such as Dominion or Clank! Like Clank!, Dobbers takes the deck and engine building and links it to an action point allowance system for an added layer of depth. Dobbers doesn't stop there, layering on a competitive secret unit deployment aspect, allowing players to sabotage one another to hinder their progress.

Each player picks a path to try to reach the titular key at the end of the game. Competitors place locations, creatures and equipment for those creatures to try to trip up opponents. This creates a bit of an arms race scenario, where heroes rush to gain strength to pass obstacles, while beefing up the obstacles ahead of their foes. It's like the Cold War meets Mario Kart. With goblins.

Verdict

Dobbers Quest for the Key is an exciting new take on the deck building genre; there's a lot to love here. With its too-good-for-Kickstarter artwork, understated complexity and competitive spark, we're excited to play the final version and even more excited to see the promised next games in the series from Darryl Jones.

Pros

  • Familiar deck-building mechanics are well executed
  • The best artwork we've ever seen in a Kickstarter game. There's some serious talent on display here
  • Competitive gamers will love the sabotage-your-friends dynamics
  • Higher player counts allow for Risk-style attack-the-leader alliances
  • Unique blend of genres feels unique and addictive

Cons (prototype version - will update once final version received)

  • There is a definite advantage to be gained by those who memorize the cards and especially the effects of the various creatures, which makes this game more difficult than usual to play on a level playing field between veterans and beginners
  • Doesn't play nearly as fast as it may seem, which may seem jarring compared to the speediness of other deck builders. We recommend a timer to avoid analysis paralysis
  • Action points are available for use for Travel, Challenges or Both. This can lead to some confusing math. House rules that combine them all into one bucket can speed things up a bit

Gateway Game Score (what's this?) - 6/10
Overall Rating - 8.5/10

*Note that we reviewed a prototype version, and that gameplay and rules will receive refinements prior to release.

Dobbers Quest for the Key was reviewed by Happy Strategerist, who is ready to grab a sword every time he loses his keys, too.

Let us know what you think! Does Dobbers Quest for the Key make your Kickstarter wishlist?