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Dobble: we review everyone's favourite family card game

A firm favourite with families everywhere - and a particular hit with Mumsnetters - Dobble (a.k.a. 'Spot It!') is hands down one of the best family card games you can play. Here's why.

By Jenny Wonnacott | Last updated Aug 9, 2023


Overall star rating: 5/5

Price on writing: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

You’d be hard pressed looking for recommendations for the best family board games on the Mumsnet forums without someone mentioning Dobble. Created back in 2008 by a French journalist and game designer, Dobble has exploded in popularity over recent years - and with good reason.

Named as a play on the word ‘double’, Dobble comes in many different forms - Harry Potter, Marvel, Disney, Minions, even LOL Surprise! - but the basic game play is always the same: spot the matching image in any given two cards. The beauty of it is that it's just as challenging for adult players as it is for children.

We (family of five) were introduced to it just over a year ago it immediately became the one game universally enjoyed by all three children (then aged three, five and eight) equally. What's more, it costs less than a tenner and comes in a neat little tin you can pack as easily as the best travel games and tablet for kids.

We have the Harry Potter version and take it everywhere.

Key specs

No. of players: 2-8 | Ages: 6+ | Difficulty: Easy | Game duration:15 minutes | Set-up time: Under 1 minute

What we love

  • Appeals to all ages and is equally tricky for all

  • Develops and/or boosts observational skills and memory

  • Compact so ideal for travel

  • Comes in loads of different varieties so something to suit everyone (and makes for an ideal birthday gift)

  • Include five mini-games to keep things interesting

What we don't love

  • Can get a little 'shouty' so best not to play in a quieter environment

  • Can become tedious after a few rounds

Read next: Keep the learning going over the summer holidays with the best online tutoring programmes and boost their imagination with the best books for 8-year-olds.

Dobble is good because you can give more cards to more able players to even things up, so an adult can play against a 5yo and still enjoy the game.

-recommended by Mumsnet user Stompythedinosaur


Read next: Discover more family favourites to stave off boredom with our bespoke guides to toys for all ages as recommended by Mumsnetters: The best toys for 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds.

How do you play Dobble?

Two or more players (up to 8) take it in turns to draw one card each from a deck of 55 and lay them face up. The first player to spot the matching image on both cards wins the pair (it can be surprisingly hard as often the matching images are different sizes).

When you run out of deck cards, you count how many each player has in their hand and the one with the most wins. Simple. (Until you try and work out how… how… every single possible combination of two cards will always have a matching image. How?)

Read next: Heading off on holiday this summer? Be sure to pack the best kids' camera and kids' headphones.

Our verdict

The best family board games are simple and yet challenging, quick to play and easy to pack away. The smallness of the little round tin, the simplicity of the rules and the fact that the three-year-old can frequently spot the matching image faster than anyone else, is what makes Dobble such a hit. 

We recently took our set to a family BBQ where my six-year-old quite happily enjoyed an equally-matched game with her Oxford-graduated twenty-something cousin. How many card games - or board games for that matter - can deliver the same game play experience?

Just don’t fall into the rabbit hole of trying to figure out the Dobble algorithm.

[I have] two children, almost 7 and 4.5. We got Dobble for Christmas and they've played it every single day. It's great as both can play.

-tried and tested by Mumsnetter andysdinosaur

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How many versions of Dobble are there?

There are five different ways to play the base game of Dobble, but each version is essentially a game where you spot the matching image. The five different versions are as follows:

  • The Towering Inferno: Shuffle all cards and place one face down in front of each player, with the remaining cards face up in a pile accessible to all. All players must then flip their card over at the same time and the first one to spot the matching image between their card and the deck card must call out the name of the symbol and then take the card from the pile. Once this has been done, it reveals the next card on the deck and game play continues the same way. When the deck runs out, the player with the most cards wins.

  • The Well: Basically the inverted version of The Towering Inferno; all shuffled cards are distributed between players face down with the last card face up in the middle. All players flip the top card of their pile at the same time, with the first to spot the match between their card and the middle card discarding their card in the middle. This card then replaces the communal card and players must turn over the next card in their pile to reveal a new possible match - the player who gets rid of their pile first wins.

  • The Hot Potato: All players are handed a random card face down, which they all turn over at the same time. Players then look at each other’s cards to try and find a match with their card, as soon as they do, they call it out and place their card on their opponent’s one. If that player then finds a match between their new card and someone else’s, they pass that player their entire pile. The game continues until one player is left with all the cards, with the idea being to get rid of all your cards first - though this can happen very quickly, so it’s advisable to play a few rounds to determine a winner.

  • Gotta Catch Them All: Again, one to play over several rounds. Each player starts with one card face down in front of them with a communal card face up in the middle. On go, players turn their card over around the middle card and then they must find a match between their card and another (can be any other). Once they do, they announce the matching symbol and take the card (unless it is the middle one, which must remind the same). Gameplay continues until there are no cards left around the middle one, at which point a new round begins by placing the original middle card to the bottom of the main deck and drawing a new one. Gained cards are kept across different rounds and you can continue until there are no longer any cards to draw.

  • The Poisoned Gift: Each player starts with a card face down in front of them, with the draw deck face up in the middle. All players then reveal their card at the same time, but this time they all look at everyone else’s cards instead of their own. They must spot the match between another player’s card and the one on the central pile, after which they draw the middle card and put it on top of their opponent’s matching card. This reveals a new card and the game continues until there are no more cards to reveal in the middle. The winner is the player with the least number of cards at the end.

Extra rule:
if two players spot the match at the same time, it is the person who picks the card up first who wins it.

There are also different spin-off games available, such as Dobble Connect and, if you're headed to the beach, a special waterproof Dobble as well.

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Why is Dobble difficult?

There will always be a matching image between any two cards, but spotting it is made trickier by the use of different sizes, positioning and rotation. The game designers also make it trickier by using opposing colours designed to further trick the eye.

Is Dobble a game for adults?

It’s more marketed as a family game than an adults-only game, but the beauty of Dobble is that it can be just as tricky for adults as for children. It needs a quick eye and fast reflexes, but you don’t have to be able to read or even use the correct terms/names for symbols and characters.

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What are the 5 ways to play Dobble?

There are five minigames you can play with any Dobble set. The Towering Inferno, The Well, The Hot Potato, Gotta Catch Them All and The Poisoned Gift. See above for rules.

What age is Dobble for?

Dobble Classic is marketed as for ages 6 plus, though our three-year-old had no trouble playing it last year. You can make it easier for younger players by having older opponent close their eyes for a few seconds as each round commences, giving the younger ones a head start. There is also a Dobble Kids edition for age four plus.

Can 2 people play Dobble?

Yes, it is for 2 - 8 players. There are even some solo version of the game, too.

What are the benefits of Dobble?

Dobble can boost observation skills as well as reflexes and memory. 

About the author

Mum-of-three Jenny Wonnacott is a Content Editor for Mumsnet, specialising in writing, editing and optimising pregnancy care and child play content pages.

Before joining the content team at Mumsnet, Jenny worked as a journalist for newspapers, radio, TV and b2b trades magazines for over a decade. She is also a bestselling sci-fi author (writing as J M Briscoe) and parenting blogger.

As a parent of three primary school-aged children, Jenny is passionate about making Mumsetters' lives easier through rigorous research of all items recommended in buyers' guides and reviews such as this one, as well as sourcing expert advice on all things pregnancy and child play related.

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