Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review - A Dog's Life

NoBoG was recently sent a review copy of A Dog's Life to give a whirl of and see what we thought of it. First up to give it a try was Sean and Gemma - and Sean has written us a lovely review of their time with the game.

I've also given this game a run through and was impressed with the gorgeous quality of the art and pieces, and the gameplay itself is funny with plenty of room for dog impressions, barking at fellow players across the table and some devilish moves with strategic pee placement. How many games have an element of strategic pee placement ?!

Matt has also offered to give the game a whirl with his family - and hopefully we'll get his thoughts at some point too !

But for now, over to Sean :

A Dog's Life: Is it a dogs dinner or has this dog had his day ? 

So me and my girlfriend Gemma went to play A Dog's Life that was graciously sent to NoBoG by Ksenia. We have both played A Dog's Life video game and as we both have a love of dogs we thought we'd try it out.
The Doggos

Opening the board game and seeing the components and popping them out I was in bliss. Pee markers ? Yes please. Bones ? Yes please. Being a female dog dressed up to the nines ? I think I went to Doggy Heaven !
A Dog's Life ready for doggos

So let's give the more important points of the game. The idea of the game is to bury 3 bones before your opponent does. This can be achieved by delivering newspapers, begging at restaurants, and dining out at trash cans. While this is going on you have to make sure that you aren't sent to the pound or that your items aren't stolen by another evil treacherous dog. It's a dog eat dog world, what can I say ?
Fully fed and ready to pee !

Ideally the best ways to mitigate these threats are by moving away from the dogcatcher and by marking your territory. Marking your territory means that your opponent has to stop in the middle of his/her turn because of the inevitable pull of another dogs scent in liquid form. These threats are more prominent with more than two players but I felt that the dogcatcher was slowly pulling towards me.

He did , but not in the way I thought. In being so busy collecting bones and running away from the catchers my poor dog Daisy ended up collapsed in an alleyway, taken by those nefarious dogcatchers.

This is the only moment I was scratching my paws though as I checked the rulings that said that dogs do not go hungry in the pound. I think this needs more clarification. Does this mean the starvation counter goes to full ? or does it mean the dog doesn't automatically starve when it leaves the pound ? I played the latter but some clarifications in the rulebook would be nice. ( Editor note - it does actually state in the rules that when released from the pound you get 1 pee and full food, the rule could probably be better placed however ).
Pee domination !

So I think I will get to the Bones of the matter and not flesh it out too much more. A Dogs Life, is it a good game ? Yes it is. Is it a game that I would recommend for 2 player ? Probably not , even though we technically did it incorrectly, I wouldn't want to play with 3 dogs instead of 1. Could this change from being a good game to a great one ? I think so, and I think that some really minor adjustments/ house rules could easily do this. So with no further adu let me say the points I find could be tinkered with a little bit.

  1. The Mangy Mutt: So instead of 3 dogs against 3 for two player, why don't we add in a new variable ? A mangy mutt for 2 player games ? The idea being like the dogcatcher the mangy mutt is controlled by the player on their turn , and is used by that player in order to impede the other players progress. Maybe use 2 die so that the mutts movement could go up to 7 and perhaps have it always fed ?
  2. Dalmatians: I personally love Dalmations they look so cute and adorable. So why not put them in this game ? Is this because the game has to be realistic to the movie or is it due to perhaps patents on specific images ? To be honest I don't know, but having dalmations in the game would be really cool ! 
  3. More Bones please? This is the only true gripe with the board game , and it can be so easily remedied. The game is a medium size game with multiple components to set up in order to start the game, and yet that game is only 40 minutes long for 2 players. Because this goes so quickly the question is why would I take 20 minutes preparing a game to play for 40 minutes when there are many fillers out there that would take a much shorter time to prepare ? The truth is I wouldn't, but do not fret since I have a solution. Just have the number of bones needed to win change for the number of players you have ! This would be similar to love letters so would therefore fill out the time making the game more immersive. Maybe put the number of bones needed to 5 or 6 for 2 players 


So after everything I have said do I think anyone should play this game ?` Yes, but be warned this game will turn you into a dog! We walked back home after the game and I found that all dogs were really nice to me. It was as if I truly was a dog, but is a dog's life truly for me ? I don't think I will ever know the answer to this question readers, while I wait by this lamppost that smells a little bit funny. In general though , you should play the game at least once. The components are fantastic, the theme and the rules are fun. It just needs a little push in the right direction. Rating 3/5 Bones (Quite literally)

Keeping an eye on the dog catcher
Picture of real pupper for reference - ( one of my (Minitrue's) mutts - Ares )