Disclaimer: This review is from a prototype copy of the game that was provided by Crafty Games and Flatout Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Dollars to Donuts
Publisher: Crafty Games
Design: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Art: Dylan Mangini
Mechanisms: Pattern Building, Set Collection, Tile Placement
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Description: Dollars to Donuts sees players competing to create scrumptious donuts.
Players begin the game with an individual player board and place their starting tiles on their board such that each row and column has at most 1 tile in it. They also get 6 one-dollar tokens with donut holes on them. The donut tiles are shuffled and 6 are placed in the spaces of the Specials board, and the deck of customer cards is shuffled with 4 being revealed. There is also a variant where players place their starting tiles in the same locations (instead of each player placing them wherever they want).
Each turn, players must buy (via dollar tokens) and then place a donut tile from the market. For donuts matched (i.e.: both halves are the same type of donut), players take a victory token of that donut’s type. For mismatched donuts, players take dollar tokens randomly from the bag equal to the higher value of the mismatched halves (unless one half is a jelly-filled donut, in which case no dollar tokens are earned).
Then, players can choose to place 1 dollar token onto their board on its donut side. Donut holes score at the end of the game, donut halves finish donuts and trigger the above steps again based on whether it’s a matched or mismatched donut. Finally, players can serve a customer if they have donuts matching that customer’s order. Donuts must be placed on the customer card from top to bottom, and can only be placed on the card when it’s initially taken (so you can’t finish a card later if you don’t have all the donuts when you take the card).
Once a player completely fills their board, finish the round and then calculate final scores. Players score points for customer card orders, unplaced victory point tokens (i.e.: tokens not used on customer cards), neighborhood bonuses for customer cards they took (points are scored for sets of customers from each of the 3 neighborhoods, as well as for the most customers from each of the the neighborhoods), and matching pairs of donut hole tiles on their board. The player with the most points wins!
Review: Tile placement is a favorite mechanic of OSG, so combining that with set collection and donuts (mmm, donuts) seems like a winning combination, and Dollars to Donuts does not disappoint. It’s a neat little game that plays pretty quickly and has a surprising amount of depth to it.
Over our several plays of the game, first without and then with the setup variant, we decided that we like the variant better (especially if there are people playing that are new to the game). Having everyone’s starting tiles in the same places gives everyone an even and fair start, whether those placements are good or not so great. Also, it doesn’t leave new players wondering how to arrange all of their tiles if they haven’t figured out strategies yet. It also adds a bit more competition to the game since if a donut tile comes out that fits perfectly between 2 starting tiles, likely multiple people are gonna want it.
I really like that several aspects of the game are multi-use. The donut tiles can be matched for donut tokens, or mismatched to draw dollar tokens. The dollar tokens can then be used to buy donut tiles, or to fill gaps in your board (either finishing elusive donuts or setting up donut hole points for the end of the game). Donut tokens are best used to fill orders on customer cards, but still score points at the end of the game if you don’t find a home for them.
The art is LOVELY! The customer cards have very inclusive art on them (including a lot of people of color). Also, the donuts look so good that we kept getting hungry for donuts when playing, haha.
There are a lot of random elements to the game. The donut tiles, dollar tokens, and customer cards come out at random, which can be a disadvantage based on how things come out. During one of our games, only 3 cards of one of the neighborhood colors were seen for the entire game, and 2 were snatched by the same person, which made it impossible for the third player to get any neighborhood sets despite having multiples of the other neighborhood colors. Another game, 3 of the 4 customer cards sat on the table for the majority of the game with us just grabbing the new one that came out almost every time because none of us had or could get the donuts needed for the other 3.
Despite this, I still enjoyed every game we played. Our prototype copy unfortunately didn’t include rules for the solo mode version of the game, so we were unable to play that prior to this preview. But, being a frequent solo gamer, I am always in favor of games that include solo play!
Kickstarter Information: Dollars to Donuts is live on Kickstarter now!