Any of you with children will know how challenging it is to introduce them to a new game. The theme needs to be strong, something that they can sink their teeth into. So why not hit that head-on and make a game about donuts? Why not indeed.
This is a great family game, something you can learn in minutes and play for hours. The general idea is to make whole donuts in your shop by buying a strip of half-donuts off the menu board. These strips are placed on your own board in a way that, ideally, makes entire donuts. If you manage to pair up a matching donut, then you can grab some of those specific donuts off the piles by the menu. Some are more valuable than others – the blue donuts will be the subject of intense battles during the game – and so figuring out which strip to buy and where to position it is definitely a key decision as you play, and something to try and plan ahead as much as possible.
You’ve also got the option of making non-matching donuts, which will earn you money instead of donuts. This sounds like a less-than-ideal option initially, but as your money will be buying the donuts strips, and fewer players will want to put money down to buy the more expensive end of the menu, it opens up more options to you in terms of grabbing the better menu items. Figuring out the balance between earning donuts and money is an interest dilemma, and is made all the more tricky because of the role the donuts themselves have in terms of scoring points.
Whenever you earn donuts you’re essentially bagging points for the end of the game. Some donuts have a higher value than others (the blue ones are the most valuable, hence the idea that players will fight over them), but you can also use them to serve the customer waiting in your shop. Each customer has three different levels you can provide, with higher numbers of specific donuts needed to “buy” each customer. The benefit of this is that the customers, once served, earn more points than the sum of the donuts that were needed to serve them in the first place. So you might use up donuts that might’ve bagged you 12 points at the end of the game, but by doing so you’ll win 16 instead. Given that you can see everything that every player has at all times, it’s sometimes fun to take a high-earning customer at their lowest level just before another player can grab them. It’s a family game for sure, but that’s not to say there isn’t the potential for plenty of back-stabbing along the way! You can also place donut holes on your board (single tiles that contain the round bit from the middle of the donut), and any pairs of these also earn you points later. These are great at filling those annoying single squares that otherwise might go unfilled.
And that’s really all there is to Dollar to Donuts. It’s an extremely fun game that’s highly accessible, fairly quick to play (about half an hour per game is about right) and most definitely passed the 9-year-old test in our house. There’s some nice light strategy in there as you try to work your way towards certain customers, a slice of prevention tactics when you buy up a tile with blue donuts on just to stop others from getting hold of it, and given how simple the rules are anyone can play it that has any kind of concept of how numbers work. If you’re looking for a simple but really dun game, or just want a game that has copious amounts of donuts in it (because why wouldn’t you?) then this could be just the thing.
Review copy provided by Asmodee