Dale Yu: Review of Doodle Rush

Doodle Rush

  • Designer: Adam Porter
  • Publisher: Brain Games
  • Players: 3-6
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 6-7 minutes
  • Times played: 8, with review copy provided by Brain Games

Brain Games was unknown to me until about two years ago – they are a new-ish company from Latvia. I had seen their name at SPIEL fairs in the past in Essen, but I really had never played any of their games until Ice Cool which was a huge hit here. Game of Trains was another delightful surprise last summer. This year, the main release at Essen was Doodle Rush, a drawing party game. I’m not normally a fan of party games, and I’m also not normally a drawing kinda guy (because I really suck at drawing) – but every time that I walked by the Brain Games booth at Essen, there were tables of gamers smiling and laughing, and that alone made me want to try this one out.

In Doodle Rush, each player gets a stack of 6 drawing boards in their player color as well as a dry erase pen to write on those boards. There is a deck of double sided cards which has the target words on them. One side of the card is yellow (easier) and the other is purple (harder) – and each card has three different words on each side. Prior to the game starting, the players should agree upon which side of the cards they wish to use. Each player is dealt two cards with the chosen difficulty side face down – so that each player will have a total of 6 keywords. The sand timer is placed in the middle of the table, and then when all players are ready, the timer is flipped over and the first round immediately begins.

Make sure that everyone is familiar with the rules before you start, because once you start, the game is played in 6 one-minute rounds with each successive round starting immediately when the previous one ends – they will be alternating rounds of drawing and guessing (3 each over the course of the game).
In the drawing phase, all players look at their words with their target cards on them – and work to draw them on their boards. They should try to represent each word once, and each on a separate drawing board. In the one minute time limit imposed by the sand timer, players are free to draw as many words as they can or desire. Players are on their honor not to watch other people’s work in this round. You should be concentrating on your own boards! You are not allowed to use numbers or letters, though you can use arrows and other symbols.

When the timer runs out, the game immediately moves into the guessing phase. The timer is flipped over, and then players now look at all the boards of their opponents and try to guess the keywords depicted on the boards. When you want to make a guess, you point at a board and shout out your guess. If you are correct, the other player will give you the drawing board to keep as a victory point. Place all collected boards in a scoring stack. In order to be correct, you have to say the exact word as written on the keyword card. If you are wrong, the rules allow the other player to tell you things such as “yes” or “no” as well as “near” and “far”. However, any other responses are not allowed. While you are guessing at other player’s boards, you need to also pay attention to guesses made on your own drawings!
When the timer runs out, the game moves back into the drawing phase. Flip the timer over, and players once again try to draw their words. You can only try to draw words which have not already been guessed by your opponents. You can edit a previously made drawing in this phase, and you can even erase the whole thing and start over. When the time runs out, another guessing round ensues. Continue this pattern until there have been three full cycles of drawing and then guessing.

After that third guessing round, the game moves into the scoring phase. Each player scores 1 point for each opponent’s board they have collect throughout the game. Each player also loses 1 point for each of their own boards they still have remaining at the end of the game. Whoever has the most points wins. Ties go to the player with the fewest of his own boards left at the end.

My thoughts on the game.
Doodle Rush has been a pleasant surprise. As I mentioned at the top, I’m normally not a big fan of party games nor drawing games, yet this one has been enjoyable to play – as my current play count of 8 games will attest to. I think that some of the attraction to the game is the frenetic pace, the non-stop action, and the short game duration.
I timed my sand timer, and it comes it right at 63 seconds… So a full game of this from start to finish should be right around 6 minutes and 18 seconds (Well, with some delay in those cases when no one realizes the timer has run out!). And, in that short time span, you’re pretty much busy drawing and guessing – it’s rare to have any downtime…
With the short amount of time given to each drawing round, you may need to decide in the first round whether you’re going for six quickly drawn images – one for each word – or if you’d rather spend a bit more time and not get all the words drawn. Either strategy seems valid – your goal as a drawer is to get all the words guessed by the end of the third round.
The frenetic part of the game comes in the guessing rounds. These minute and three seconds are filled with shouting, laughing, etc. And the frenzy is worst in the first few seconds as everyone tries to immediately guess the most obvious answers. Players are asked to be their own judge as to who says a word first in close situations. It can be pretty hard to try to concentrate on both guessing at answers as well as adjudicating guesses on your own. Everyone just has to do the best that they can.
The rules allow you to give terse one word answers including “close” and “far”, but we have started to use a simple “yes/no” answer only. This way, there’s no grey area between what is allowed or not, nor any temptation to come up with other clever one word answers. That’s just our style though – it works just fine (and maybe gets quicker answers) using the allowed “close” and “far”.
The keyword cards offer a nice variety, and with 175 total cards, it’ll be a fair number of games before you would ever repeat any words. The easy side uses mostly common words, and when we have played with those, it seems like at least half of the players will have all their boards correctly guessed at the end of the game. In these games, the overall winner is usually someone who is the best guesser. With the difficult side – getting three or four words guessed is average, and in these games, the drawing ability seems a bit more rewarded. I have enjoyed games with each side, and I think it will depend on the players in the group on which side I would recommend for a particular game. As the games are short, we have also enjoyed playing a double game where we play one full easy game and then one full advanced game – this runs about a total of 15 minutes!
Doodle Rush likely makes the cut in my collection as a keeper. The rules are easy to teach/learn, and the game is accessible to most anyone over about 8 years old – the only barrier would be being able to understand the words themselves in order to being able to draw them! Sure, drawing games aren’t for everyone, but it’s really hard for a six minute game to ever outstay its welcome… and from my experiences thus far, it’s rare for this game to only get a single play and then get packed back up. This is one that people around here have wanted to play multiple times – which is always a good sign….

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral. Craig V
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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