OWTK Toy News & Reviews

Kid’s Board Game Review: Dabble

OWTK is a Scrabble-positive household.  And even though we rarely break out our retro, wooden box set of the classic wordsmith game, it’ll always be a triple word score in our hearts.  But sometimes – because I simply cannot wait the 15 minutes it takes the Mrs. to drop a “boat” down on a double letter score for a whopping 7 points –  we require something with a bit more pace.

We’ve played Scrabble Slam – the newish, speedier version played with a deck of cards: meh.

Dabble takes the fast-paced formula of that card game, ups the vocab ante, heightens the strategy, and makes it work.  Very, very well in fact. The idea is simple: blindly select 20 letter tiles then use them to spell 5 words (1 each of 2 letter, 3 letter, 4 letter, 5 letter and 6 letter).  Can’t do it?  Toss in any number of tiles, draw new ones and give it another go in 5 minutes time.  Each of those 5-minute attempts counts as a round.  When a player completes the task, they receive the point total from the unused letter tiles of all the unsuccessful spellers.  First one to 100 wins.

The idea that you could be one letter away from your 5 words with just 2 minutes or so left on the sandy timer and decide to rearrange your tiles to form all new words is exciting, challenging and vocabulary-strengthening. There’s also a certain amount of anxiety and risk in this decision. What if you can’t make it work AND can’t recall the 4 1/2 words you’d already drafted?! The falling grains of sand are merciless. I did exactly this at about 1am in a game vs. the Mrs a few nights ago.  I was an ‘I’ away from BIKE for my final word.  I sat with a useless ‘G’ and initially decided on a plan of ‘getting lucky’ tossing it for a vowel (either an I or an A would’ve worked).  Instead, I went back to square one with my 20 letters and managed to create 5 new words in their entirety.  I nearly woke up the kids with my howl of delight.

To put it plainly: The Mrs. and I love Dabble.  We spent much of the next day sleepily, yet excitedly, telling my family about the game.  I even tweeted a known Scrabble-lover to convince him to dabble in Dabble.

The box says the game is for folks ages 10 and up, but any moderately proficient reader, say 8+, should be able to give Dabble a go.  And they should.  It’s brilliant.

Side note: I’d like to see the game put a call out to its players – via Facebook and/or Twitter – for some Dabble Poetry.  When read aloud the 5 words you create can sound like quite a neat, albeit nonsensical, story.  Take for example one of my sets of 5:


Brilliant, no?  Me’s a poet and I didn’t even know it.

Dabble is also now available in app form, for a mere 99-cents, from the iTunes App Store.

*OWTK received a copy of Dabble for review considerations.  The opinions expressed above are unbiased and honest.

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