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Subject: "No son, the power is yours" rss

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Andrew Rae
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When you boil a game down to his essence, stripping it of it’s art and it’s flashy components and even the glossy review on the back of the box that rates it 10/10 for fun, what do you have. Is it one basic mechanic that has been seen over and over and is just being replayed in a new format. Have they merely digitised some old rock album and marketed to the masses trying to reach a new generation with the same old hook? This is the question that we ask with Doge. Is Doge merely a game of paper scissors rock to which the author has added some luke warm rewards and competition for area control? Is this a game of luck where the power is with the fates?

‘No son, the power is yours’.

I love Doge, and I liken it more to complex economic game theory than I do to paper scissors rock. This game is simple, sweet and yet filled with the mind games that make competition so compelling.

The mechanics for Doge remind you instantly of a ‘if he think is that I think that he thinks …’. The primary mechanic is one of blind bidding for influence in an area. The number of times I have looked up after my bid to find I have bid in the same area as my opponent (presumably with similar strength) is remarkable. Each side of the table growls that the other player thought the same, and then laughs because it seems they had the same ‘brilliant’ logic. And so the blind bidding creates a mind game where you must predict the placement of the opponents bids while placing your own. Subsequent bids provide you with more information and create more questions about the size of the bid. This is brilliant because each player has the same strength. Unlike ‘Ra’ a bidding favourite of the Ludonauts), where the strength of your bids is similar yet unique, here the power is even. This is more like A1 motor racing where the cars are even than it is like formulae 1 where the rich often get richer.

The bidding has a couple of tweaks added to it through the placement of influence advisor which add one strength to the resolution of the vote. Furthermore complexity is added with a random order of resolution from turn to turn. All in all it is a simple idea that is twisted and mutated to produce something reasonably deep that takes you a few games to get a grasp of. When you do the value of different areas rise and fall.

This primary mechanism is tweaked by the reward system. In order to build your palaces (the tools to victory) you require a certain number of houses. These palaces increase in cost as time goes on, and there is the opportunity to exchange an advisor (gained for winning the bid) for the relocation of a house. Influence for opportunity is the name of that particular sub-game.

Adding to these great mechanics are is reasonably detailed art. The components are standard wooden houses but at the lower end of quality. The size, texture and quality of the pieces varies more than other games, but it certainly doesn’t effect the experience. The board it’s self probably has too much detail. There are several of the seven provinces with names beginning with ‘san’ and this is confusing sometimes. Once in every game someone has bid on the wrong province. The boundaries are also interrupted with water which can be confusing. It’s a pretty board but not one for lazy gamers. Take care and it won’t be a problem.

It is pure competition. Equal resources, equal opportunity and only your wits to help you on. If anything it suffers a little from a grab the leader, and I would far prefer to be an unseen second than a close first going into the last turn. But that is just the nature of the game, and there are always alternative strategies to beat down your opponents even if they conspire. Still timing is important, and one cannot afford to do too well.

All is all this is a brilliant game, with great replay ability. We have played several times and still love it. I have tagged it with the game theory label and I think it fits well. It is a game of precision and slim margins where a single point difference in your bid can be crucial. At first the initiate will say this is just luck, but the master will say ‘no son, the power is yours’. If you’re a serious euro gamer and you don’t have Doge then get it. It may not offer a totally unique experience, but it offer many happy nights gaming and is an essential part of a good euro collection.
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Richard Diosi
Canada
Newcastle
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Great review!

I have been sitting on the fence with this one for a long time. It has been maligned by other reviews and personal comments yet I still had an unseen force pulling towards getting this game. Your review has, I think, pushed me over the edge to definitely want to get this and try it with my group.

Thx.
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Ben Wang
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It is one of the best 3 player game.
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