Brain Games, the publisher behind the much-loved Ice Cool, is back with a drawing and guessing style board game called Doodle Rush. Designed by Adam Porter, Doodle Rush is a game for 3 – 6 players, where players must sketch six words simultaneously before guessing commences. The box suggests it is suitable for ages 10+, still those below 10 could certainly join in using the easier words. However, will non-artists and those with plenty of talent enjoy the game together? Let’s find out!
A game of Doodle Rush is played out over 3 drawing rounds and 3 guessing rounds. Rounds alternating between the two, with each lasting only a single minute. At the start of the game each player receives 2 cards that each feature 3 words. These word cards are two sided, with an easy orange side and a harder purple side. Make sure everyone is reading from the same side and the game is ready to go. Flip the sand timer and instantly everyone must start drawing as many of their 6 words as possible onto 6 individual small whiteboards.
Once the sand runs out the round is over and guessing can begin. Again, turn the timer over and everyone gets to guess what others have drawn. Guessing correctly will earn you that whiteboard, while incorrect guesses will make other players look like crazy mime artists, unable to either speak or give hints in any way. Once the guessing time runs out it is back to drawing for another minute and so on until the end of the third guessing round.
At this point it is safe to reveal what any remaining drawings were supposed to be. The reveal is often a source of laughter, or commiseration, as other players had guessed close but not quite got the right answer. There is something extremely entertaining seeing a player, whom has used every other word under the sun, get the realisation they were agonisingly close. To score up players gain a point for every whiteboard collected from their opponents but lose a point for each of their own whiteboards left in front of them unguessed. Whomever has the most points is crowned the winner and gains doodle based bragging rights.
The minus points at the end of the game are a great incentive to draw the best possible, or at least guessable, doodles. Without this some could actively mess up a drawing, in an unsportsmanlike fashion. It throws a trade-off into the mix, rush to get all words doodled down, potentially leave others scratching their head over what’s been drawn, or take your time to add details, to make drawings easily guessable over the full three rounds. I’m not entirely sure which approach is best and it does somewhat change depending on the difficulty of the words.
While Doodle Rush plays up to six when the numbers around the table become greater than 4 there can be somewhat of a divide that naturally occurs. Rather than leaning across the table to see what those the other side have drawn players tend to only guess the doodles drawn by those to the left and right of them. In a four-player game feel this divide but above you can go an entire game not even seeing someone opposite’s drawings. Mechanically the game works and the entertainment is there it just feels like the group isn’t playing together as much due to the divisions.
There is a certain step up when it comes to the difficulty between the orange and purple sides. Suddenly words like “Carrot” or “Food” are gone, replaced by the likes of “Tension” or “Opera”. This difficulty shift works incredibly well at enabling Doodle Rush to cater for families playing with younger children all the way to spicing up dinner party entertainment. If you want a middle ground all players need to do is look at the orange side of one card and the purple of another, to get a balance between difficulties. This technique of having a 50:50 split of difficulty negates the need for a middle ground in the words, and allows gamers to make the game as hard as they wish.
The sheer number of words is brilliant for keeping the game new and fresh. If the same words consistently came up, the same doodles would resurface and the game would falter. With a total of 175 cards in the box it means there are over 1,000 words for players to draw. This incredible amount of variation means players will have forgotten what was draw for the first used words by the time they come up again.
Doodle Rush is extremely simple of players to pick up and play as many are used to similar games, in the form of Pictionary or Telestrations. The gameplay is aimed towards families or those looking for short burst of light-hearted fun. Rounds of Doodle Rush are fast paced, full of almost frantic scribbling so it doesn’t truly matter if you’re good at art or not. Not only is the game more entertaining if players aren’t good at drawing but most of the time those resided to brief, dodgy sketches do better than those whom take their time to draw a mini-masterpiece.
Drawing six different words may not sound hard but in those 60 seconds increments it isn’t just drawing, players need to work out what to draw. This thinking time often takes up as much time as the doodling with players often running out of time, and cursing the sand timer! As with similar titles the game revolves around knowledge of words, and younger players can sometimes be left unsure of the meaning of a word they need to draw. This is most likely why the age is 10+ but some kids will love playing with a slice of learning thrown in.
To make things easier for people to guess doodles, players can tailor drawings to their audience. You can try to use in-jokes with friends, commonly discussed TV shows with work colleagues and peculiar meanings with family members. Though, this can massively backfire when players charge down a different tangent. As an example, one player for “Politician” doodled a rather iconic scene from the hit Netflix series Black Mirror. Those of you out there that have seen Black Mirror will realise how disturbing this image was to see sketched. When it came to guessing everyone around the table instantly shouted words in the right ballpark such as “Minister”, “PM”, “Government” and “Governor”… alas none of us managed to think of the right word.
As a game there isn’t much to Doodle Rush, it is a box of cards, boards, pens and a timer. Despite this the entertainment packed into the box in immense. Within minutes an entire game can be over and players will be begging for another game. At least if they aren’t too busy gloating about winning or still laughing about an extremely dodgy doodle. All the thoughts of “how was I supposed to guess that” combined with the “it’s so obvious to guess” takes what many love to hate about Pictionary and condenses it into a short sharp game. 6 minutes may be all it takes to complete a game of Doodle Rush but this is a game that will be played for many years to come.
[Editor’s Note: Doodle Rush was provided to us by Brain Games for the review.]