Dobble is a great example of a perfect family game.
It’s adaptable so can be played competitively across different ages and abilities. It can accommodate multiple players (limited only by how many you can get round the table or the floor). It’s quick to play (less than a minute a round). On top of that is portable making it great for travel: pop it in your bag and take it to restaurants, waiting rooms, trains and anywhere there’s a table and you need to occupy a few minutes.
So how does it work?
In essence it is a simple image matching game. There is a central card and players try to find a picture that matches one of the cards in their hand. Although you may not see it straight away there is always one matching picture for every card.
The game itself comes with numerous rules for different games to play but we have never followed the instructions. We bought Dobble for N when he was around 3 so we adapted the rules to make it as simple as possible and it is still the way we play it.
In our version:
Players are dealt a number of cards according to age and ability. Beginners get 1 card adults 5 or 6. N is currently on 3 to 4 cards versus my 5. I usually deal the kids theirs face up so they get a few seconds extra to familiarise themselves with the pictures.
Finally deal one central card face up, the game starts, the adults turn their cards over.
There is no turn taking, everyone tries to match a picture on one of their cards to a picture on the central card. If they have a match they place that card on top of the central one and shout out what the match is. Play continues matching on top of the growing central stack until someone gets rid of all their cards and is the winner.
Obviously, with just one card to match, a beginner will soon start winning and build enough confidence with the game to quickly go up to two cards.
What we like about this game:
What I like about Dobble played our way is that kids can progress and challenge themselves by increasing the number of cards at a pace that suits them. If they’re loosing too often and getting a bit dejected we drop down a card again or the adult goes up one.
We’ve successfully played it across mixed ages: with 4 year olds, 5 year olds and 7s, and at family gatherings including the grandparents. After a round or two we get a sense of how many cards each player needs to start with to level the playing field.
In the US the game is called ‘Spot It’ and there are now lots of variations. We found a seasonal one in this year’s Christmas stocking. There is also a Dobble Kids with more familiar images for children and less pictures on a card, but if your kids are 4 up and playing with older ages it’s really worth getting the original version so there is a greater level of challenge and room to grow into the game.
Overall this is a fantastic little family game. A three year old can pick it up easily enough and it has real staying power. I’m pretty sure this one will be a keeper even as the kids get older.