Doxie Dash

Publisher: Mackerel Sky Games

Designer: Travis Wilkins

Ages: 6+

Players: 2-6

Duration: 20 min

A dog’s life is hard. You want to be a good boy, but sometimes you just see a basket of laundry and can’t help but take something for yourself, or that carpet looks just a little too clean… or that crazy cat lady is hanging around and trying to get into your house and you just have to stop her! But… do you have what it takes to be the top dog in your pack?

Doxie Dash is a card drafting game, designed right here in my home of Canada. It differs from most card drafters by having a press your luck mechanic, and lovely 8-bit art. But in a sea of pocket-sized card games all over the market, does it have enough strength to doggie-paddle its way to the top? Let’s find out!

What’s in the box?

Toys? Badgers? Lick Attacks? What more do you want?

When you open Doxie Dash, you find yourself with 114 cards (12 Heroes and 102 combo cards), 2 pads of score sheets, a rulebook and 3 reference guides that give you a summary of the card powers. The cards are regular sized, and the art on them is awesome. As someone who grew up playing 8-bit video games, the art immediately draws you in and the colours are vibrants, and each type of card has a unique colour scheme that makes it stand out, especially when separating your cards.

The designers really went out of their way for the hero cards, basing them on real dogs and have real names, and each having unique art, even having 2 different style backdrops, and each backdrop itself being unique. The cards are of good quality and have stood up to repeated plays and are easy to read and have a full explanation of their powers on them. Overall, the production quality is high and with such amazing art, Doxie Dash really stands out on a shelf.

So how do you play?

*Just a note, that this version is a pre-release copy and the contents may slightly change, but the game is fully playable and complete.*

As I said, Doxie Dash is a card drafting game (like 7 Wonders) but stripped down without a much of symbols and much simpler to play. To begin the game, the youngest player draws a card from the draw pile, then the next player clockwise will draw until a player will draw a poo card (yes, you read it correctly, I will explain it in more detail) will be first player. They will select a hero and then the next player will do the same until all players have chosen a hero. Place your hero face up, and now it’s time to begin playing the game.

To begin a round, shuffle the deck of combo cards, and deal 11 to each player. Each player will choose one card from their hand and place it face down, and then when everyone has chosen a card, all players will reveal their cards face up, and then pass their hand to the next player, and do the same until everyone has played their last card, and then points are tallied up. But wait… what do those cards actually do? Let’s go into some details

  • Lick Attack cards are simple, they will just give you points based on the strengths of the lick attack (example, a lick attack 2 scores 2 points)
  • Water and Kibble score a point each on their own, but for each set you have, you can combine them to score 5 points! (so if you had 2 kibble and 1 water, you would get 6 points. The water and kibble combined are 5, and the 2nd kibble would just be worth 1 point). Sounds… delicious.
  • As a dog, collecting skivvies (or unmentionables) is necessary, so you will be collecting socks, underwear and bras. Each one on its own scores a point, but matching 2 different ones gives you 5 points, and matching 3 different ones gives you 12 points! Hooray for stealing a whole set of undergraments!
  • Pooing on the floor makes a mess, so having floor cards and putting those poo cards (see, I told you they have a purpose!) will give you points. Score 2 points per poo card on a floor card, for a maximum of 3 poos on one floor for 6 points. However, you can be a really bad dog and poo on the rug cards, and score 3 points per poo for a maximum of 9 points per rug. And you don’t even have to clean up the mess!
  • Toys are fun… but unpredictable. When you play a toy card, immediately exchange it for 2 cards from the top of the deck. Who knows what you’ll get? If you draw more toys, draw 2 more cards per toy until you stop drawing them!
  • Danger is everywhere, and foes must be defeated! There are 3 kinds of foes (vacuums, strangers and badgers) and you can use dash cards to defeat them! However… be careful as undefeated foes will net you negative points!
  • Meeps are helpless and need rescuing… add them to your defeated foes to score extra points, but be careful, if you can’t add them to defeated foes you’ll lose points for them as well!
Poo on the floor or the rug? (Hint… its always on the rug)

At the end of the round, you will have at least 11 cards in front of you, you can arrange them to form combos (like putting water and kibble together, using your dashes to defeat foes, putting sets of skivvies together. Have lots of foes, extra skivvies you don’t want, lots of dashes with no foes or even helpless meeps? This is where the fun comes in… you can discard them and draw as many cards as you discarded and add them to your face up cards. But beware… if you draw foes you can’t defeat or meeps, you have to keep them and lose points for them!

Here are some of the heroes… aren’t they adorable?

Now what about those Heroes we started off with? Every hero has a card ability (example, some heroes are dashes, some are kibble, some are meeps) and that card will be used when you tally up points (even giving you negative points if they are a foe that is undefeated, so be careful when choosing one!). Each hero also has a unique ability that will give you points. One will give you extra points for lick attacks, another will not give you negative points for undefeated foes, one will give you extra points for water and kibble, and so on. If you play with your hero’s power in mind, you can score a lot of extra points!

After you have arranged your cards, discard and drawn new cards and used your hero, tally up your points, and add them up on the scorecard. The player with the lowest score that round goes first, and the game will be played until someone reaches or surpasses 100 points. If there is a tie, dashes played that round break ties. Then you are the weiner, the king of the pack, and the most dominant doxie around!

Sherlock is one of my favourites, and gives you lots of points for kibble and water. Too bad he’s a badger in disguise…

The rulebook also features team and tournament modes for an ever longer game. And if you have younger players, you can omit the heroes and simplify the game, but still allow the discarding of cards at the end of the round. Fun for the whole family!

Is it any good?

Drafting is a popular mechanic, and its used a lot, so to make a game stand out you gotta do something different to make it stand out… and thats where Doxie Dash comes through. Doxie Dash plays a lot like Sushi Go!, as they are both extremely simple drafting games that use set collection, but where Doxie Dash steps it up is the hero cards, and the push your luck mechanic. Having the Hero cards really adds a layer of strategy to what you choose and those powers can really swing the points at the end of a round. However, while awesome and well done, they aren’t the best part of Doxie Dash.

When you play a lot of card drafting games, you’re always left with some crappy cards that you don’t use, or even worse, cards that cost you points… but there is a solution! The ability to discard your unwanted cards before scoring your cards might just be my favourite part of the game (well… maybe after pooing on the rugs… maybe…). It’s always a gamble, and I love it. I have discarded cards only to get more cards that were even worse, or have discarded one card only to get the one card I really needed… or even drawn multiple toys which let me draw more and more cards and make it the game changer! It’s always a risk, but a welcome one, and one of the complaints I’ve always felt about drafting games is that you can just keep getting bad cards your way. But with Doxie Dash, you don’t always feel like you have blown a round because you always have a chance… you might just draw that card you need!

The art is also amazing, I love the Hero card art and all the detail that went into it. The colours are vibrant, and lots of people have commented how good it looks. It’s also surprisingly thematic for a game like this. Especially mixing water and kibble… love all the details that went into the game design.

If there is one thing that the game has against it, is that some hero cards feel more powerful than others, especially when player counts change. As the game is not finalized, this is one thing that is being addressed and the balance between the heroes is being worked on. I have had games where the heroes have really dominated for some people. I’ve also played a variant with heroes being dealt randomly, and that has helped balance between more experienced and new players.

In the end, Doxie Dash could have just been another card drafting game on the shelf, but instead it adds variable player powers in the form of heroes, and a extremely welcomed press your luck mechanic that is a game changer. Combine that with a colourful and extremely awesome art style, Doxie Dash really stands out in a crowded sea. If you love drafting, love dogs, like to push your luck,  are a casual gamer or love a simple game with lots of strategies between your 3 hour intense games, the Doxie Dash is the game for you. It’s a game I’ve enjoyed with non-gamers and hardcore gamers alike, and its always been a hit. I highly recommend Doxie Dash!

Pros:

  • Really cool art style that draws you in
  • Simple, quick drafting gameplay
  • That press your luck mechanic… it’s really something that makes this game shine
  • Having the hero cards are cool and give you asymetrical powers…

Cons:

  • … but they are a little unbalanced, especially at higher player counts for some.

Click here to check out Doxie Dash on Kickstarter!

*Thank you to Mackerel Sky Games for providing a copy for the review*

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