Rolling some dice and drawing some lines is all you need to do in Doodle City, a game from Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby. A city needs roads and you are the one that makes it all happen. Shopkeepers need you, taxi drivers need you and hotel managers need you. Some overnight work and there it is; a brand new road, right in front of them. New customers start pouring into the city and into their establishments. A job well done!
What do you get for your money?
In the box you’ll find 100 game sheets, 8 dice and the rules.
How do you play the game?
In Doodle City you are drawing lines that represent roads through a city. These roads connect residential areas with shops and make sure that hotels are easy to reach by public transport.
So, how does it work? Well you have your game sheet and on that sheet you’ll find a grid of five by five squares. On every square you’ll see a picture of a residential area with three or four houses, a cab, a shop or a hotel. Below the squares you’ll find seven trees and next to the grid you’ll find a little table to keep track of your score.
The rows are numbered from one to five (depicted by a white die with those numbers). The columns are numbered from one to five with a blue die. There’s one blue and 7 white dice in the game. You’ll play with the blue die and white one more die than there are players.
Before you start, one players rolls the blue die. Every player draws the road on the residential area in the first column that corresponds with that number. You do this for every column. These are your first roads, your initial conditions.
The game can begin. The first player rolls all the dice. There’s only one blue die, so that will the column. It’s a three. Then, starting with the starting player, every player picks one white die. You choose a four. You must connect two of the sides of the square in row four and column three. When you choose to draw in a residential area, you cannot draw a road, because you’ve already drawn one before the start of the game. What you can do, is check off one of the three or four houses. Your residential area is growing and growing.
When you roll a blue six, players can pick for themselves in which column they draw. When you pick a white six, you can choose the row, but you must also check off one of the seven trees. You can only draw in a square once, so when you have to pick a square that you have already used, you must also cross out a tree.
So how do you get points then?
There are three ways to score. When you draw a road in a square with a hotel, you immediately calculate the length of the road and cross out that number in the hotel score table.
When you draw a road in a shop square, you count the houses in the residential areas that are connected to this shop and score that amount of points When you are the first player that connects three, five, seven or ten or more houses to a shop, you get a bonus.
Taxis are scored at the end of the game. A game ends at the end of the round when a player either has drawn in a hotel square with a road length of fifteen, a shop square that has a connection to ten or more houses, or crosses out her last tree.
Then you add up all your shop and hotel points. Plus, you get four points for every taxi that is connected to at least one other taxi, the player with the most crossed out tree gets minus four points and the player with the least crossed out trees gets four points.
The player with the most points, wins Doodle City.
Pick a die, draw a line. Over and over again. That’s the game. At least, that’s pretty much the only thing you have to explain. The three ways of scoring points will become more clear as the game progresses.
At the start of the game the five initial roads are drawn and immediately you can plan the most efficient route through the city. Sometimes it’s hard to find a best route, sometimes the best route is immediately clear. It all depends on the five roads you start with.
During the game, you have to make some important decisions. Most importantly is the choice of to score now or hope to do better later.
Slowly building up roads, and shops with increasingly higher amounts of points is a nice strategy, but sometimes it’s just impossible.
If you are the last player in player order, you most of the time just need try to limit the damage as much as possible.
Later in the game when the end is in sight, pushing your luck becomes a major part of the game. You can scrape together some last points or you hope that the game takes a couple more turns, so you can create this longer route that will score you much more points.
It’s sort of a city builder, but not really. Shops need customers, they buy their stuff and taxis will get more customers when they have more stands. There is something there, but at the same time you don’t build anything at all in Doodle City. You just draw lines on a grid and it never really feels like a city builder.
The game looks fine. The layout of the player boards is very clear and the illustrations look colourful and cartoony.
Quality of the game parts:
In principle there is nothing wrong with the components. The dice are fine and the writing pad is just decent. You can play a lot of games with that pad. You can of course ask yourself whether it would more convenient when they had added six laminated player boards and some markers to the game instead of the writing pad.
Doodle city is a very fun and quick game. The rules are easy, but you still have the feeling that you have to make some important decisions. Of course, you have to be a bit lucky and pushing that luck is even a quite important element in this game.
It works with all player counts and it even works quite well when you play the game solo. Trying to beat your personal high score is a nice way to spend your time.
Doodle city, a fun filler with easy mechanisms that will appeal to many people. At least that’s what I think.