21 March 2022
There are fewer things in tabletop gaming more frustrating than when you draw a game tile that doesn’t match up. Be it digging through the tower of tiles in Carcassonne for that final city section or hoping for just one matching crown symbol in Kingdomino that will finally make use of your empty fields, it’s always maddening to be unable to match up perfectly. What if I told you about a tile laying game, where even if you mismatch, it can still lead to a bounty of points, as well as a game with one of the most charming themes I’ve seen in months?
Dollars to Donuts is a tile-laying donut-making game for 1-4 players. Each turn players will add a rectangular tile to their game board, with the goal of creating as many donuts as they can by lining up halves. Each matching pair will create that type of donut for players to score or sell to customers for even more points, whilst mismatched pairs generate money tiles used to buy tiles or to be placed on the board (as money tiles either have donut halves or donut holes, two of the latter scoring as the same type of donut at the end.)
Successful players will find the balance between placing tiles for points or cash, as without the latter your choices become restricted and harder for you to make satisfying placements, but without the former you’ll quickly fall behind as players start slinging out their wares to hungry customers.
Customers can provide bonus points if you cater to one particular district as well as if you manage to serve people from all three, but as you can only serve customers once, you’ll want to save up your donuts to score the most possible points, but save too long and the customer will be snatched away, leaving you at the mercy of the deck for another perfect customer.
The game is very forgiving to players who, like myself, have always struggled to colour in within the lines, as players can have tiles overlap off their game board to be partially placed instead, potentially earning them one more donut than they otherwise would’ve accomplished (however, pairs made off the board do not count, as no-one should eat donuts off the floor.)
The game is also an explosion of colour. From the cascade of counters so players can stack up their donuts like pastry poker chips to the rainbow of customer designs, it’s clear that a lot of love went into both designing and fundraising this game. I also appreciate the solo mode, which is a great head scratcher that will keep you amused for many evenings.
Whilst the graphics are bright and cheerful, the core mechanics reward perfect placement and resource expenditure, meaning that some players may expect a more relaxed experience but instead become frozen with analysis paralysis on every turn. If your play group has a range of experiences playing tile-laying games, you may find that the most experienced can crush their opponents, especially when it comes to taking tiles that may only help them a little, but are desperately needed for a playing trailing behind.
For those who enjoy challenging their friends who want a game that will look fantastic and speed along nicely, Dollars to Donuts is a purchase you can make with confidence.
PLAY IT? YES
A bright game in both graphical and mechanical design, if you enjoy cobbling together a master plan this game is top dollar quality oozing with charm.
Both of these games reward clever tile selection and placement, whilst Dollars to Donuts is a lot more forgiving, it also has a lot more random elements that puzzle purists may not like
Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Publisher: Crafty Games
Time: 30-45 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Specials game board
- Starter player token
- Cloth bag
- 4 Player mats
- 16 Starter tiles
- 61 Donut tiles
- 100 Donut victory tokens
- 4 Reference cards
- 2 Solo mode cards
- 39 Customer cards
- 60 Dollar tiles
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