Family Games for the Holidays: ‘Dough Nab’

Dough Nab, Image: Sophie Brown
Dough Nab, Image: Sophie Brown

During October and November, I will be reviewing a selection of new games ideal for families during the holiday season. Today’s pick is Dough Nab. All the games in this series are easy-to-learn, family-friendly, reasonably-priced, and a whole lot of fun, making them perfect for family get-togethers and playable by everyone from kids to your great-grandma. Check out the Games for the Holidays tag for more.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

What Is Dough Nab?

Dough Nab is a quick-paced, donut themed game that will have everyone laughing as they race to be the first to snatch colorful donuts from the table and get rid of all the cards in their hand.

Components

  • 60 Donut Cards
  • Three Donuts
  • Turn Tracker
  • Head Baker Winner’s Hat
  • Sheet
Components, Image: Sophie Brown
Components, Image: Sophie Brown

The components of Dough Nab are some of the most fun I have ever come across. Almost everything is donut-shaped, from the cards to the turn tracker, and the fake donuts themselves are brilliant—your kids will almost certainly end up stealing them for their toy kitchen.

The box itself is designed to look like a donut box from a local store, which is fun touch but does mean there’s a huge amount of wasted space inside—at a guess, I’d say the box is at least 50% air—and with a plastic insert, this isn’t an especially environmentally-friendly game.

How Do You Play Dough Nab?

Setup

The three donuts are placed in the middle of the play area so that all players can easily grab them. If this is a three-player game, only two donuts should be used and the cards corresponding to the donut that has been removed should also be removed from the deck. Otherwise, all the cards are shuffled and ten are dealt face-down to each player. Players should not look at their cards but leave them face-down in front of them.

Any spare cards are placed to one side away from the play area and the first player is given the Turn Tracker. All the players now decide how many rounds they want to play. It is suggested to begin with a three-round game. Once everyone has agreed on a number of rounds, the game is ready to play.

A Game of Dough Nab, Image: Sophie Brown
A Game of Dough Nab, Image: Sophie Brown

Gameplay

The first player takes the card at the top of their stack and turns it over (facing away from themselves), placing it face up in front of them where every player can see it. Moving clockwise, the next player then turns over their own top card and so on, with each player, in turn, revealing their top card and placing it in front of themselves, creating a Nab Pile. Players must be constantly on the lookout as cards are revealed because any time three matching cards appear on the table, they must race to be the first to grab the matching donut from the middle of the table.

A player who successfully grabs a matching donut gets to give their Nab Pile to the player of their choice who must add it to their own hand. All the other players pick up their own Nab Piles and add them back into their hand, play then continues with the next player receiving the Turn Tracker.

If, however, a player grabs the wrong color donut, grabs a donut when there isn’t a three-card match on the table, or grabs when a special Don’t Nab Card is visible, they receive the Nab Piles of every other player, regardless of whether another player grabbed correctly at the same time.

Special Donuts, Image: Sophie Brown
Special Donuts, Image: Sophie Brown

Special Cards

There are four special cards in Dough Nab and each one affects gameplay in a different way.

Magic Donuts: Magic Donuts are effectively wildcards and can be matched with any color donut. Players should grab the donut that matches the majority color, e.g. if two pink donuts and one Magic Donut are on the table, players should grab for the pink. In a five or six-player game, it’s entirely possible for the Magic Donut to complete two sets—for example, if there are two yellow donuts and two blue donuts on the table and a Magic Donut is drawn, then both the yellow and blue donut sets will be completed simultaneously and players can grab either one.

Additionally, if three Magic Donuts are on show at once, players race to grab any donut. They then give their Nab Piles to any players who did not manage to grab a donut.

Crumbs: These donuts have been partially eaten and don’t count toward anything, they are simply there to confuse you!

Don’t Nab: Whenever a Don’t Nab card is visible, players must not grab any donuts until it has been covered up. Any player who does grab a donut while this card is in play receives the Nab Piles of every other player. Don’t Nab cards overrule everything else, so you mustn’t grab any donuts while one of these cards is in view.

Nab: If a Nab card is played, everyone must race to immediately grab any donut. Successful players get to give their Nab Piles to any players who didn’t manage to grab a donut. These cards are only active at the moment they are played and are overruled by Don’t Nab cards, so should a Nab card come out when a Don’t Nab card is still visible, it should be ignored and does not become active once the Don’t Nab card has been covered up.

Donut Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Donut Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

Winning Rounds and Winning the Game

In order to win a round, you must empty both your hand and your Nab Pile by passing it to another player, either by winning a Donut Grab yourself or by another player grabbing incorrectly. The winner of a round is awarded the Head Baker’s hat, which they may wear during the following round (or not if you’re playing with a bunch of introverts like us). All the cards are collected, reshuffled, and ten new cards are dealt out to each player so the next round can start.

Once the agreed-upon number of rounds have been played, the player who has won the most number of rounds is declared the winner. There is nothing included to keep track of who won each round, so you’ll need to keep track somehow.

The Dough Nab Box, Image: Sophie Brown
The Dough Nab Box, Image: Sophie Brown

Should You Buy Dough Nab?

In a word: yes! This game is possibly the most fun we have had around a table in years, although that does come with a caveat or two.

First, this game will cause injuries. There’s just no getting around it. Three or more people diving forward to snatch a small plastic donut at the exact same moment is a recipe for comedic disaster. We’ve had people’s hands squashed below a stack of other hands slamming down on top of them, nail scratches across any exposed skin on your hand (I’d seriously suggest removing rings before playing this game), and several incidents of donuts shooting off the table and across the room, leading to some startled and highly perturbed cats. All of this, I will add, has taken place without the influence of alcohol. I’m almost afraid to try it out when people have been drinking…

Second, there will be arguments. One round practically ended in a wrestling match when two players refused to relinquish their side of a donut and instead attempted to remove it from their opponent’s hand by (playful) force. The rest of us would have intervened, but we were too busy doubled-over in tears of laughter. You will probably need to bring in some sort of house rule for what happens when it’s not clear who grabbed a donut first to try and ward off these types of situations, or you could just let them happen and enjoy watching!

A Dough Nab Donut, Image: Sophie Brown
A Dough Nab Donut, Image: Sophie Brown

All that aside, this is a spectacularly simple yet fantastically fun game that I know will be the hit of the holidays with our family this year. After watching the battles that broke out over games of Cobra Paw last Christmas, Dough Nab is going to be right up everyone’s street. It’s silly, fast-to-learn, the theme is fun, and the bright colors will appeal to everyone. Plus, the almost complete lack of reading required means that even little kids will be able to join in, although I’d perhaps suggest not having them play with adults who are liable to get overenthusiastic—the same goes for any great-grandparents with fragile bones…

If you’re looking for a calm and sedate game to play while everyone is slowly digesting their turkey, this is not what you’re looking for, but for a game to get everyone out of their mid-afternoon tryptophan comas, there’s nothing better than Dough Nab.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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