Dodo Board Game Review
WBG Score: 7
Player Count: 2-4
You’ll like this if you like: Rhino Hero, Ice Cool, Memory.
Published by: KOSMOS
Designed by: Frank Bebenroth, Marco Teubner
Dodo is a very striking game. First up, there is the huge 3D mountain on the table. And second... second, there is the egg! Have you ever seen a ball roll so slowly?! Seriously, check it out!
A slow moving egg is not exactly at the top of everyone's mechanics list when it comes to making a good game. But it sure does seem to be high up when it comes to making people want to play it! Whenever I get this out, people are intrigued. I could have anything else set up on the other table, but it will be Dodo, and the crazy slow rolling ball that will grip them. But is it any good? Well, let's get it to the table and find out.
The initial set-up of this game is a little fiddley. You need to build the mountain and attach all the bridge supports before you can play. It will look complicated, but as a test, I left my kids (six and nine) to it, and using the below instructions, which are brilliantly laid out, they manged to do this within a few minutes quite easily on their own. Spurred on, I think, by the excitement of seeing the game in action!
Once this is done, you can leave the mountain fully made and have it on display, it looks pretty cool I think. Or, it quickly disassembles, ready to be packed away if you wish. But when made, simply place the tokens face down on the table, give them a shuffle, place the dice somewhere close by, and set the egg at the top with the Dodo bird trapping it in place. When you are ready to start, release the egg!
How to Play
Playing Dodo is just as easy. In turn, players will roll the dice, and then will need to try and find the matching symbol on one of the circular tiles. If you do, you can place it onto the space on the bridge you are currently making. All the while, the egg will be slowly making its way down the mountain. If you don't flip the right token you need to roll the dice again and try one more time. Of course, each time you do this, you need to try and remember what tokens you have flipped but not used next. You need to try and fill the circles with the required building materials and place the next mountain road ramp piece before the egg makes it way to the end of the current path. If you do, you will carry on to the next piece. If you don't, sadly that's game over. Try again. And you will! Over and over. It's very addictive.
When you find a token that is correct, you place it onto the space on the bridge you are making until all spaces are full, and at that point you can attach the bridge onto the mountain. All used tokens need to be then posted into the coin slot style whole at the top of the mountain, simply so they cannot be used again that game.
There are six bridges to make in total, getting steadily more difficult as you go, with more spaces to fill. And then you need to call in the boat by filling in the spaces reserved for it at the port, located at the bottom of the ramp. If you manage to get the boat in place in time, it will catch the egg and you will be victorious. You can ignore the spaces with the skull symbol for a simpler game, or fill them all for a more tense affair.
It feels right to have people sat around the table in different positions so that you can have eyes on all parts of the mountain at all times. So you can keep track on the eggs progress. It doesn't help you of course, but the screaming of players saying "quick, its nearly at the edge" sure does make it more fun!
As you are playing cooperatively, if you remember the location of a specific resource that someone has rolled, you can help the other players by pointing them in the direction of the tile you think they need. You are all playing together and any help will be much appreciated, if you remembered correctly. Quite often players will scream for others to chose a certain token only for it to be wrong.
Playing Dodo is a very tense affair. You will be in a constant race against the ever moving egg. The movement of the egg is incredible really. Sometimes, it wriggles and higgles onwards at a merry pace, and other times it slows down almost to a stand still. It is hard to judge it. But you will need to make constant progress, and when playing the hard mode with all the skull circles thrown in, you cannot afford too many slips ups if you want to win.
Some players will love this. It makes winning feel good. Like you have achieved something. But others may find the tension to create a panic that doesn't sit well with them. Trying to complete a simple task under a time pressure when other players success rests on your shoulders is not something everyone enjoys. I would seriously consider that, especially if you are thinking about getting this to play with your children.
When you place the bridge pieces on, it is all very well labeled as to where they should go. They slip in nicely, and feel secure when in place. I would advise letting younger children practice putting them in a few times before you start a game, so they feel comfortable with the process before they need to do it under time pressure.
At the end, if you manage to get the egg into the boat, there is a sense of satisfaction from completing the job, and winning of course. But it does feel a little anti-climactic. I think because of the boat itself being the thing you catch the egg in. It feels like you should then do something with the boat. But as you don't, I am left a little underwhelmed at the end.
The art and icons in the game are all fantastic. They look bright and vibrant. It's easy for children of all ages to understand what they are looking for when they roll the dice and flip the tokens. The shape, colour, and style of all the resources are all so clear. The Villages act as wild and can be used in place for any other resource.
Playing Dodo is a lot of fun. Games run quickly, under ten minutes. And you can be re-set and ready to go again in a matter of seconds. As such, I tend to play this game in batches of two or three. My children all really enjoy the game, and the satisfaction from saving the egg. But I fear the novelty could wear of quickly as each game really is just the same experience time after time. But if that does happen, I think I would have got a lot of plays out of it, and will at that stage, still want to keep the game as it has such a high fun factor, I will always enjoy sharing it with other people when they come round to play games.