Published by KOSMOS, Dodo is a fully cooperative fun family real-time game designed by Frank Bebenroth and Marco Teubner where players are racing to place out bridges to smooth the path of a dodo egg which is relentlessly making its way from the top of a mountain. For the win, you're hoping to ease its path so that it plops gently into the boat waiting for it at the base of the mountain.
Tho' there's a slight dexterity element (you need to avoid jogging the mountain when placing out the bridges) Dodo is primarily a memory game: think of the 'picking up doubles' Pelmanism games you used to play as a child. In Dodo, players roll a die that shows various building materials on each face. You need to flip the face-down circular tiles until you come upon one that matches what's shown on the die. Find the right tile and you place it on one of the spaces on the bridge piece. When a bridge piece has all its spaces filled, you carefully position it on the side of the mountain.
Meanwhile, of course, the dodo egg is making its descent, so this is very much a speed game: if you don't get a bridge in place before the egg reaches the end of the bridge it's on, it'll fall to its doom. This means there's an ever-pressing urgency to finding the tiles that match what you've rolled on the die. Despite the simplicity of the game mechanics - which make Dodo very suitable entertainment for all the family - this is a game where the excitement can be palpable.
You have to affix stickers to the wooden die before your first play. We're not generally fond of stickers on dice but we've not had any problems with them on this game. Of course, you also have to construct the mountain before you can play. Happily, this isn't an overly difficult task, and the components (cardboard sides and plastic clips and bridge supports) are robust enough to survive being assembled and disassembled every time you play. Despite our numerous plays at Board's Eye View, our mountain still shows no sign at all of any wear. Just be warned, you will have to take the mountain apart to put the game away as it won't fit back in the box unless it's completely disassembled. The game itself takes only 5 minutes, so, if you just play a single session, Dodo will take longer to set up and take down than it does to play. Fear not, tho', you'll almost certainly find there are clamours for multiple plays.
Dodo benefits from attractive art by Cyril Bouquet, Paul Mafayon and Andreas Resch, but it's the dodo egg that's the undoubted star of the show. It's curiously weighted with a ball bearing so that it doesn't just roll down the mountain; it wobbles in a seemingly irregular jerky motion - halting momentarily before lurching forward...
KOSMOS list Dodo as being for 2-4 players but there's actually no reason why you couldn't push the player count up for playing as a party game, or indeed play it as a solo game: you are after all racing against the clock (or rather the egg) rather than each other. You can also vary the difficulty level by altering the number of villager tiles (which act as wild cards) and by requiring players to also fill the shaded skull symbol spaces on each bridge before you can position it.
Despite or maybe because of its simplicity, Dodo has proved to be a great hit with players of all ages. Once set up, its commanding table presence invites players to have a go. The dodo may be dead but Dodo has plenty of life in it as a filler-length game for family get-togethers.
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