25 November 2016
Is this sci-fi-themed take on the fast-paced party game the right match?
Dobble – or Spot It! if you’re in the US – is a game all about speed. The first player to spot a match between the eight pictures on their card and those on the card at the top of a central stack (at least in the standard game mode) grabs the card, with the most wins when the 55-card deck runs out claiming the round.
It’s this speed and simplicity that lends the game its family-friendly party game vibe, with kids and adults alike able to easily recognise and shout out the universally understood symbols – apple, dolphin, ice cube and so on.
In the latest Dobble, this time themed after the first six Star Wars films, this swiftness is hindered by the use of more complex images and their often perplexing names. While most fans of a certain age – probably those a little above the game’s six-plus age rating – will be able to spot an X-Wing, stormtrooper or lightsaber, even more knowledgeable movie buffs will take a little longer to recall the proper titles for the more niche Imperial Shuttle or Naboo N-1 Starfighter. That’s without mentioning the multiple appearances of some characters, which can lead to the awkward blurting-out of phrases such as ‘Han Solo in carbonite’ to distinguish from his standard pistol-wielding portrait and desperate attempts to express that you have two matching images of ‘Anakin (Episode III)’ rather than the separate ‘Anakin (Pilot)’ icon.
The potential for confusion and convolution is increased by the detail of the symbols, which ditch Dobble’s unmistakeable minimalism for more realistic depictions of their silver screen counterparts. Crammed onto a circular card with seven other images, it’s hard to instantly recognise Obi-Wan Kenobi (here in his Ewan McGregor form) as being the iconic Jedi unless you’ve passed around the included booklet key beforehand or happen to know his lightsaber colour. This is remedied in the distinctive helmet of the Stormtrooper, the moon-like sphericity of the Death Star and the word clues – with ‘Hoth’ helpfully supplanting its ‘o’ with a Viper probe droid to dodge debates over whether it’s actually called an Imperial probe droid or Viper probot.
Outside of the cards, the game remains the same, with five extra game modes rebranded with Star Wars-friendly names, ranging from the banal ‘Use the Force’ to the largely irrelevant ‘Asteroid Field’.
How you feel about Dobble Star Wars will ultimately come down to how obsessive you and your group are about the sci-fi franchise. If you really feel the need to sacrifice the stripped-back effectiveness of the original Dobble for a theme more attuned to your tastes (and know your Bantha from your Wampa without looking it up on a wiki), this may be ideal for you. But otherwise, it brings unnecessary convolution and – worse – friction to a game that would be better left untouched.
Time: 15 minutes