Full disclosure: A review copy of Doodle Rush was provided by Brain Games.
Well, excitingly, Brain Games doesn’t just make Ice Cool, one of my Current Favorite Games. They also make a variety of other games for parties and families and … other things. I really only had two things, there, but I always try to list three things for tricolon’s sake.
Anyways. Doodle Rush is a party game! There’s not much more of a narrative than that, as you’re trying to draw and guess your way to victory. Can you make all the “write” moves? …I’m 100% sure I’ve used that before. Oh well.
Setup is pretty straightforward. Give each player six boards in the same color:
They’ve got a player color on one side and a dry-erase board on the other. Have each player set them out in a 3 x 2 rectangle or … something. Up to you, really. Just have them all board-side up.
Shuffle the cards and deal two to each player. You’ll want to use the orange side (with one pencil) to start:
The dark blue (two pencil) side is the advanced mode:
It’s pretty challenging. Either way, once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start! Flip the sand timer:
You’ll immediately start the first drawing phase.
So, Doodle Rush is played over three sets of two kinds of rounds: Drawing Rounds and Guessing Rounds. They’re … well, I mean, they’re kind of implied by the name, but let’s talk about it anyways.
During the Drawing Round, you, well, draw. Your goal is to draw your six words on your six boards as quickly as possible. There aren’t many rules, but there are some:
- Each drawing can only be on one board. No multi-board drawings or something strange.
- No letters or numbers. Good luck with some of those drawings, just being perfectly real.
- Arrows and symbols are okay. We agreed that the $ is totally fine, which is nice, but like, characters from other languages we ruled out via the previous rule, just saying.
- You may rub out / erase your drawings or parts of your drawings. Not totally sure why, but you can.
- No looking at other players’ drawings. Eyes on your own stuff. If you’ve finished all your drawings, well, I mean, just stare into the abyss. Don’t worry; it’ll stare back.
Once the sand timer is empty, the guessing round begins!
This part is also pretty fun. Now, you just want to guess the other players’ words. Again, there are very few rules, here:
- You may answer “Yes”, “No”, “Close”, or “Far”. Nothing else. You cannot tell them “it’s a similar animal” or something. That’s against the rules.
- When you guess a word, take that tile and flip it over. Place the tile in front of you; now, nobody will keep guessing it, which will reduce confusion and noise. So efficient!
- Compound words have specific rules. If you need to guess “house”, well, “doghouse” doesn’t count. If you need to guess “car”, “toy car” does work. The important thing is whether or not the word is one word or multiple words. As long as a player says the exact word on the card, by itself, you’re golden. Otherwise, it’s no good.
Once a minute passes, flip the sand timer; back to drawing!
End of Game
After six rounds (three drawing and three guessing), the game ends! Score:
- +1 point for each tile you have belonging to another player
- -1 point for each tile of yours that you still have in front of you.
The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Honestly, not many. As player counts increase there’s a bit more entropy, so you’ll see noise levels increase and the scoring threshold gets a bit higher (a perfect 3-player game is 12 points for the winner; a perfect 6-player game is a ludicrous 30 points for the winner), so there’s a bit more variability, there. I’d say 4 – 5 is a nice target area, since you can kind of pay attention to all the drawings without getting too distracted by the goings-on around you. But, I mean, go crazy — I don’t really see a reason why you can’t buy two copies and play a 12-player total mess of a game with these. Other than, like, sanity (and the potential for word collisions.
- Draw quickly. I know that’s literally the name of the game, but you really want to try and draw fast. Isolate key details, figure out how to draw your opponents’ eyes to the important features of your art, all that important stuff. The faster they guess your stuff, the fewer penalties you’ll take.
- Draw well. There is literally no incentive whatsoever to making your drawings difficult to guess. You want to get rid of them so that you can avoid taking negative points. If you don’t, well, then you take the negatives. So, make sure your drawings are legible.
- Don’t forget which words you’ve already used. I missed a point in one game because I drew the same word twice, which is not allowed. Weirdly enough, I used different examples. Aren’t brains fun?
- Trick your opponents, a bit. If you need them to guess a specific word, hide it in a common, easier-to-draw phrase. That usually gets an easier guess. For instance, how will you guess “zone”? That’s a tough one to draw. Demilitarized Zone? That’s substantially easier.
- Try to piggyback on other players’ guesses. A fair number of the cards are weird synonyms of other words, like insect instead of bug (I know that’s also a word, but I say “insect” a lot less frequently than “bug”). Use that to your advantage so you can swipe tiles before your opponents.
- I guess, if you want, you can try to avoid guessing the words of the player in the lead. You can hit them for a -6 penalty if none of their words get guessed, but honestly, good luck convincing the other players of the merits of that strategy. I … don’t think that’s terribly within the spirit of the game, but if you want to live that kind of life the option is there. I just don’t think you’ll find that it leads to successful outcomes.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Super fast. An entire game is usually about 10 minutes, setup essentially included. That’s … fast.
- Super easy to learn. I mean, you draw, then you guess, on a timer. It’s not a tough game to teach, which I appreciate.
- Drawing games are a lot of fun. I dunno; I’m bad at drawing, so some part of them is just deeply fun to me. It’s like how I like Ice Cool because I’m not terribly good at pool.
- Doesn’t really emphasize “drawing skill” as part of the game. It’s a nice balancer for people, since you have to play very quickly to get your tiles out in front of you. That said, you should be able to get all six drawings onto boards
- The Hard mode is very hard. Good luck drawing some extremely abstract concepts on a timer. People will be hesitant to play, but remind them that the average winning score in my Hard Mode games is, like, 2. 2 actual points. Winning score.
- I also enjoy real-time games a lot. Blend Off!, Millennium Blades, Factory Funner; something about the real-time component of a game is really appealing to me, and this fits well within that category.
- The boards don’t erase super well. The erasers get kind of dirty and there’s not much to do. I need to find some whiteboard cleaning fluid and clean up the game before I do photos.
- Small cards remain mildly frustrating. It’s so hard to shuffle them! Maybe I just have slightly large hands. Who knows.
- The box is half air. Something something box sizes something something empty boxes something something the bane of my existence. It’s no Splendor, but it’s in a similar ballpark.
- Similar to Insider and Anomia, you can only play this so many times in succession. If you flip the cards, that’s less of a problem, but you can eventually start remembering the specific oddities of the cards (arithmetic instead of math, for instance) if you play enough, and that kind of messes up the experience of the game. Unfortunately, since you can’t look at another player’s card, it’s difficult to tell before it’s too late. This is another one of many games that would benefit from a word generator app, like Werewords has.
- Can be a bit loud. Players have an inclination to yell so that the player whose tiles they’re trying to guess notices them. That’s … occasionally a bit annoying, but also means that there are certain places you might have trouble playing this. Your mileage may vary on this one, though; I’ve played with several fairly quiet groups, so it wasn’t an issue.
- While I like real-time games, many people do … not. You should make sure that this isn’t going to frustrate your group. I mean, you should always do that, but I find real-time games to be a bit more polarizing than other genres. It’s similar to social deduction, which is also a popular mechanic in party games. The more you know! And such.
Overall: 8.75 / 10
Overall, Doodle Rush is suuuuper fun. I’ve been taking it around to various game nights, lately, and it’s been an absolute blast! It’s frenetic, I’m bad at drawing, and it plays very quickly, all things I appreciate. It’s definitely a good game to play if you need a break between intense games but want to preserve the intensity (since that real-time component tends to keep that energy going), but it might not be the game to go for if you want everyone to learn everyone’s names at the party. If you like A Fake Artist Goes to New York, though, and you want something that plays faster (not a common complaint about Oink Games, but, I mean, I’m sure it’s a problem someone has), well, Doodle Rush is also in town. Either way, you can’t really go wrong, in my opinion. So if you’re looking for a fast-paced real-time drawing party game, or you are playing Pictionary and you’re like, “this isn’t nearly stressful enough”, well, Doodle Rush is a great choice!