Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Dodoresque

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Authors:
Martin Otzmann, Mario Arhur

Publisher:
Tetrahedron Games

No. of Players:
2-4

EVALUATION

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G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

According to Wikipedia a dodo is an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius. Wikipedia doesn't tell us if dodos were skilful nest-builders. Most certainly their clutches only consisted of a single egg. And you could find those clutches near ground as the dodo was flightless. By the way, the near ground clutches next to to trustfulness of the dodos - were the main reasons why they went extinct shortly after their discovery: they were just a too easy prey...

Maybe because of the single egg, the dodos wanted to make their clutches particularly comfortable. At least that's what Dodoresque from TEATRAHEDRON-GAMES sets us as a task. The game of the young German publisher resurrects the huge awkward birds. But to do well is better than to mean well, and - of course you can only bolster your clutch if you have the right material to do so.

In the game, a nest is made out of three different materials: a basic, a padding and a decoration. And every player, controlling one dodo each, has two rows to place these materials that come in form of cards. It is the player's choice at which time they play a card and if they begin with the decoration or the basic. But each row may only contain one card of each material. Theoretically you can build up both rows in six rounds, because you may play one material to your clutch every turn. But the problem is that you must acquire the materials before you can use them.

The rules to get those materials are very simple: either a player draws from one of the three drawing piles in the middle of the table (differing in dangerousness), or the player exchanges a card with the exchange stack where all exchanged cards except the last one are openly accessible. Drawing from one of the stacks can be risky, because a lot of cards require special abilities and some will afflict damage to a dodo, if its owner doesn't have the right ability.

But where can you learn these abilities? The answer is quite simple again. About half of the cards aren't material cards but action cards. And these action cards are drawn or exchanged in the same way and from the same drawing piles as the material cards. So, it is luck, if you draw a material or an action card. Next to the normal abilities, there are also some special action cards that temporally improve your dodo. It takes some time getting used to that you can only use an action card once. You might think that your dodo will know how to swim once it learnt it. But, so are the rules, and so do we follow...

Dodoresque can be played fast, but the constantly drawing and exchanging, is nevertheless a little bit monotonous, if you play with more than three players. So, let us have a look at the scoring mechanism. Although, the scoring is quite simple, it took me some time to explain it to my fellow players. Basically you take the highest value of the material cards of every row you have in your nest and add their values up. And because there are valuable and shabby materials that are worth much less, you can always exchange cards in your nest, if you have found a better material later.

So this is not difficult to explain, is it? The two combination variants aren't neither: if you have a row with all the three material types, all cards in that row contribute to your scoring. And if you have cards in a row with the same background, they are added up too. Now, if both combinations coincide in the same row, the values are added up and are multiplied by 2. Finally there are joker cards whose values are also added to the highest card of the row. It sounds too be a little bit confusing and that was also the reason why I had problems to explain it, but in the end it is quite easy to understand....

Dodoresque comes in two variants, Jungle Fever and Cherry Blossom. They are both standalone games, differing only in the special action cards and the artwork. And, if you want to play the game with more than 4 player, these two games can even be combined. But beware: the game length (typically 20 minutes) will increase considerably (or you put some of the cards away).

All in all, I enjoyed playing Dodoresque with my children. I don't know why the publisher chose 14 as the minimum age for the game. It was no problem to teach the game to my nearly 8 year old, and his older brother understood the game mechanism in just a minute. For the grown-ups I personally miss some more tension. Well, the artwork is great and funny, and the subtitles on the cards make you chuckle now and again, but the simple draw and play mechanism is a little bit old-school for the experienced players in my opinion. That's why I would rather recommend the game for families with children in the last years of the primary school and one ore more years after that. And maybe the one or other player gets inspired by the theme and like me reads more about the strange extinct birds after she or he has played the game....


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