Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Dog's Life Kickstarter Preview



Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Christophe Boelinger
Artists: Marek Píza 
Publisher: Beton Games
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 6+
Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
A German Shepherd, a Poodle, a Whippet, a Boxer, a Labrador, and a Fox Terrier cruise through town to find some yummy bones to bring back to their dens. Each dog has its strengths and weaknesses. Make the best decisions, and you will be known as the best dog in town.

You might know Cristophe Boelinger from his games Earth Reborn, Archipelago, or Dungeon Twister. He designed the first edition of A Dog's Life back in 2001, which was one of his very first games. He has decided to release an updated version with new art, components, and rewritten rules for faster gameplay, as well as the adding the possibility for expansions to add more dogs to the game. 

Review:

Rules and Setup:
The rule book is very nicely written. There are the simplified rules, which discuss how to set up the game and play; then, there are the complete rules, which include the more detailed aspects of the game. The complete rules section would be the place to go to if you were playing and came to a question about a specific action, or for examples of each action. It also includes tips on how to play, as well as information on dogs in general. This makes the rule book a bit more interesting and educational, especially for kids. The entire rule book is 26 pages long and can answer any and all of your questions.


Setup is simple and easy to understand:
  • Place the board in the middle with bone tokens, newspaper tokens, and garbage can tokens to the side. (Newspaper tokens need to have the number side facing down.) Place the dog catcher's car on the black paw in the middle of the board.
  • Draw 1 dog player board and 1 den card. Then, gather your 8 pee tokens, 1 hunger counter, the 12 action cards, and the dog figure that corresponds to the type of dog you have on your player board.
  • Each player will put their hunger counter on 4 and put 1 pee token on the bladder section of their player board.
  • Place your dog figure on the location of the den card that you drew.
The first player to get 3 bones back to their den and bury them, wins.








Playing the Game: 
The youngest player starts and play continues in clockwise order. Each type of dog has a designated number of action points allowed.

1 action point can be used to:
  • move 1 space on the board
  • search a trashcan
  • beg at a restaurant
  • get a newspaper
  • deliver a newspaper
  • fight another dog
  • take a drink
  • pee on a lamp post
  • pick up a bone/newspaper
  • drop a bone/newspaper
  • bury a bone

When you pee on a lamppost, you take one of your pee tokens in the bladder and place it on the lamp post. When another player moves into the spot, they have to stop and can't use their remaining actions. Pee can be added to the bladder by taking the drink action on a space with a fountain. This is the most strategic action in the game.

To fight, you need to be adjacent to another dog and flip over an action card. Whoever has more paws wins the fight. The loser of the fight drops everything in their mouth, such as bones or newspapers.

When getting a newspaper from the newsstand in the middle of the board, you choose a token and look to see the number that you will deliver the newspaper to. After delivering the newspaper, you flip over an action card and receive the reward shown.

When searching the trashcan, you flip over an action card, get your reward, and add an empty trash can token, as each trashcan may only be searched once.

Remember that your dog's mouth only has room for 2 objects. You will need to return back to your den to bury bones when you can.

Theme and Mechanics:
The game does a very good job of showing the theme in everything on the board. Having pee tokens to put on light posts to mark your territory is very thematic. The actions all have to do with what a dog could do.

The six types of dogs used covers the majority of all classes of dogs. Also, each dog's action cards are more powerful in a certain area compared to others. For example, the Boxer is very good at fighting compared to the others. The Poodle is very good at begging at restaurants because it's considered a more attractive dog.

The main mechanics used in the game are action point allowance, area movement, and pick-up & deliver. The mechanics help show the theme in the game. Using action cards for results of the actions can sometimes be frustrating as you might never get the result you want, and someone else might get lucky and get their bones a lot faster than you.

When you are in the dog shelter, you flip over one of your cards to see if you get out or lose your turn and stay in. I always think losing a turn is a bad mechanic and makes the game less enjoyable because you have to wait another round to play a turn.

Artwork and Components:
The artwork works nice for a family game. The board includes details of each building that are entertaining to look at and easy to recognize; you can look at a building and guess what type of building it might be in the town. The icons are easy to read and understand. The paws on the board are color coded to know if it's an entrance to a restaurant, an entrance to deliver a newspaper, an entrance to the newsstand, or entrance from the dog's den to the town. The dog figures are amazing and could be toys themselves. The player boards are made with thick cardboard comparable to the game board. All other tokens are cardboard. The die is a normal red d6.


The Good:
The components of the game are done very well. This game can be played with kids, but also can be enjoyable as an adult. There is a strategic aspect in the game. Each dog character plays differently with different percentages of victory for doing different actions. They include many variants that can change how you play the game.

The Bad:
A player can get lucky and get their bones a lot quicker than you. The chance that you might lose a turn is a bad mechanic. When searching for your bones, it seems like searching the trash is the easiest way to find bones. Making a rule to find your bones in each way possible (one from trashcans, one from begging at a restaurant, and one for delivering a newspaper) would be an improvement.

Final Thoughts:
If you are a dog lover, you need to own this game! This is a very nicely done family game. The theme is kept strong throughout gameplay. I know I will be playing this game a lot at my house since my little girl loves dogs. I am rating it a 6.5 because it's hard to control the outcomes in this game.  Most of the outcomes happen due to luck.

Players Who Like:
You should buy or play this game if you play games with children and enjoy family games. If you enjoy simple games with a very good theme, this game is for you. Players who like Mole Rats in Space or The Magic Labyrinth will enjoy A Dog's Life.

I am giving A Dog's Life 6.5 out of 10 super meeples.

6.5 10

Check out A Dog's Life on:

       

On KICKSTARTER now until September 7, 2017.


About the Author:
Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up. He continues with his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games. Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.

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