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Sunday, December 8, 2019

TABLETOP TWOSDAY – Dobbers: Quest for the Key – Splattered Ink Games – Review

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TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 94
Steve Mayne
Steve Mayne is a self-proclaimed story-teller with a Masters in Creative Writing from Antioch University. When not writing he is a modern gamer, Hawaiian shirt aficionado, YouTuber, and blogger.

there’s a nice familiarity to the game that I found comforting

Steve Mayne

MeepleGamers

7.5/10
TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 77

Theme and What is it?

9/10
*Note* Copy of game provided by publisher for review.

Dark times have come to the forest. People are disappearing, monsters have come out in force, and the chill of terror fills the air. The Shambleman approaches. The powers of evil are trying to locate his prison, find its key, and release the Shambleman into the world. You and your friend’s journey into the woods to see if you can find the key first. It’s a perilous journey. One you must take alone. But, if you’re lucky; you just may find the key and save the forest.

Dobbers is a deck building adventure game. You’ll spend your turns improving your deck and overcoming challenges as you move through the forest towards the key.

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Gameplay Mechanics

8/10

Dobbers: Quest for the Key is a deck game. Each player has their own deck. You draw six cards from the deck and play your hand. This will give you bottle caps you can use to buy spell cards, challenge tiles, and equipment cards to outfit your Dobber. Any cards you buy go to your discard pile, with one exception; which I’ll get to in a minute. You’ll equip up to three cards to your character. These are one weapon, armor, and item.

You can also buy challenge tiles. On the board there are several large challenge spaces. As you move along the path to the key you’ll pass through some of these spaces. You can purchase locations, creatures, and equipment cards to go on these spaces.  Typically, you’ll do this to stop your opponent. You can play them in front of yourself and there are good reasons for it. (This is more of a tactics conversation and fit for a different type of article.)

Another thing your cards will do for you is give you action points. These come in three types: movement, challenge, and general. Movement and challenge points can only be spent for those things while general can be spent for all of it. Every space on the board has a number of movement points you’ll need to move to it. This is how you’ll get around the board.

Tiles have to be played in a specific order. You have to start with a location, then a monster, and finally you can give equipment to the different creatures. These cards are placed face down. You’ll only know the name and the cost when placing a card. Location cards also include a limit to how many cards can be played on the space and a type of equipment that will be useful for defeating them. This can help you decide what to put in the way of your opponent or yourself.

Another thing your cards will do for you is give you action points. These come in three types: movement, challenge, and general. Movement and challenge points can only be spent for those things while general can be spent for all of it. Every space on the board has a number of movement points you’ll need to move to it. This is how you’ll get around the board.

When you move onto a challenge space that includes tiles you’ll have to face the challenge. This involves flipping the cards and adding the number of points you’ll need to defeat them. It will also reveal any special rules you’ll need to follow in the encounter. If a card has type of item that makes it easier to defeat it will usually have a lower number of points needed to overcome it. The card can also have some penalties for not having that piece of equipment. If you have enough points to defeat the challenge you discard it and add any equipment cards it had to your discard pile if you want them or discard them from play if you don’t. If you don’t have enough points then you follow the failure section of the card and leave the tiles in place for the next attempt.

At the end of your turn you discard your hand, keep you equipped items in play and draw six new cards. This continues until someone gets to the key and wins.

TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 80

Initial Impressions

8/10

Right out of the box I was pretty interested in this game. I like the theme and enjoy deck builders. Adding both of them together intrigued me. There was a lot of nice-looking pieces and everything felt like a nice package.

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Game Build Quality

8/10

For the most part, everything is nice. My challenge tiles warped slightly, not enough to ruin anything but it happened. The cards were of good quality with nice corners. I don’t think they needed sleeving but as a deck builder, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Overall nice components.

TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 82

Artistic Direction

8.5/10

TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 83I like the art. It has a nice fantasy feel that lent itself to the immersion in the setting. The dobber cards are fun with a good amount of character to them. All of the items have different art and look nice. The creature and location cards were all full of little details. 

The one art drawback is the icons on the locations to mark what item is helpful in that location were very dark and hard to read at a glance.

TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 85

Fun Factor

7.5/10

This is a quick deck builder with a bit of take-that. Buying challenges to place in front of your opponents can give you a nice focus but can feel like you’re being ganged up on as well. The deck building is a good balance of buying cards and culling your deck that keeps decisions interesting. Especially when you consider the equipment cards.

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Age Range & Weight

8/10

The box says 11+ and that’s pretty close but not perfect. I think 11 is a good age for the theme and tone but the mechanics and tactics might be a bit ahead of them. Knowing when to build your deck versus when to place challenges in front of our opponent might frustrate younger players.

TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 87

Conclusions

7/10

There is some good things in Dobber: Quest for the Key. The challenge cards are a nice addition to the game and give you a fun focus on your purchases that affect not only what you buy to fill your deck but what you buy to strengthen challenges. Moving around the board keeps the game flowing and gives focus to play. It’s also a nice representation of who’s winning at any given moment.

The deck-building is solid. Other than having persistent equipment there’s nothing new or unique about it. That’s not a bad thing there’s a nice familiarity to the game that I found comforting. Dealing with the challenges was fun and had a lot of decisions on how to build them up and what to get to overcome them.

The stumbling block for me on this game that keeps me from loving it is the board. I like the board and the idea behind it, but the pathing sort of breaks how the game functions. Everyone starts on a separate path that combines into two paths that converge in a single challenge space before dividing into two paths. It means there’s a log jam at the one space that I think is meant to work as a catchup space. I think the idea is for the lead player to have to use resources to get past the largest challenge and then everyone else to deal with lesser challenges since there won’t be time to build up space as quickly. The problem is that the person in first now has two different options to get to the key and everyone else doesn’t know where to drop challenges to stop them until after they move. However, then it’s too late. The game does require a lot of movement to get through those spaces which in theory slows the player down allowing everyone else to catch up but it didn’t feel like it was working as intended.

Additionally, when you get to the last two spaces you get to a point where you can have players log jammed waiting to get through the next to last challenge to head for the final space. At this point, it becomes a waiting game since it’s more beneficial to wait for someone else to attempt the challenge. Once another player tries the challenge, even if they’re successful and gets through they’ll have used most of their points defeating the space and won’t get to move that far. Even if they buy things to fill the space behind them they’ll most likely not be able to outfit it to its fullest. This makes it easier for you to get through and run for the end. This could result in a runaway leader.

I feel like the game would have been better if everyone had their own individual path to the center instead of overlapping them. Or even forgoing the board and requiring each player to have to overcome a set amount of challenges to win.

With the deck building, it became difficult to buy cards. You start with a number of money cards that are worth 1 and they fill your deck. There are silver and gold cards that generate more money but they are shuffled into the large market deck. I wish the silver and gold coins had been set aside in their own decks to make getting them a bit more streamlined.

There are a few other little things. The beginning of the game is a bit stagnate while everyone builds up their decks before they can start moving. You need two movement to move a space at the beginning of the game and five at the end which feels like a game rule rather than a natural progression. It’s possible to get lucky and drop huge locations and creatures in front of a player in the first challenge space putting them on their back foot right away.

I want to finish on some good things. It feels like I’m piling on this game and I don’t want to. It was a fun experience. The art is neat, the challenges are interesting. Everything dripped theme and flavor. Building a deck that got moving was satisfying. Beating a challenge on the first go has a good feel to it. Losing a challenge never felt like the end of the game. I always felt like I could do it.

I like this game and will play it again. It’s not staying in my collection but someone from my game group adored it and will be adding it to his. I know that in November this will probably hit the table during my Extra-Life marathon and I’m looking forward to playing it. I will have fun with this game but there were a couple of things that just got in my way of really loving it.

As always, try this one out if you get a chance. Hit up your local convention or game store and see if you can grab a game there. Even if, like myself, it doesn’t become a permanent part of your collection I think you’ll have a fun time.

Until next time, be well my friends.

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TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review
TABLETOP TWOSDAY - Dobbers: Quest for the Key - Splattered Ink Games - Review 92

Facebook Twitter Instagram there’s a nice familiarity to the game that I found comforting Steve MayneMeepleGamers 

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