A Dog’s Life
A Dog’s Life is a remake of an older game that has been revitalized with a new rule set, new art, and hand-painted miniature dogs. It is available on Kickstarter now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2138121641/a-dogs-life-game-be-a-canine-hero-0
The game is made for 2-6 players ages 6 and up and plays in around 40 minutes (a little longer with kids). In it you get to take on the role of a dog living on the streets and doing things that dogs do such as begging for food, searching through trashcans, delivering newspapers, marking your territory, or running from the dog catcher. The game is very well designed and does not rely heavily on the small amount of text making it easier for younger players who may have difficulty reading the rules/cards.
Each person randomly selects a dog to play as and a starting location on the outside of the board to be their den. The winner is the first person to bury 3 bones in their den (they are dogs after all). In order to do this get a specific number of actions each turn to move and perform actions, the actions provide the dogs with food (a dog’s gotta eat), bones, and sometimes nothing depending on the action. The available actions included begging for food in one of the cities restaurants, digging for food in trashcans, and picking up newspapers from the newspaper stand to deliver to one of the other businesses. In our plays it was noted that the more difficult tasks (delivering newspapers) yielded better results more often than simpler tasks (knocking over trashcans and looking through their contents) which led to a more balanced game but also gave several options each turn. In addition to this dogs also had the option of drinking from the various water fountains around the town and then marking a nearby lamppost which would slow other dogs down as they stopped to sniff the area for the rest of their turn. The variety of actions available gives many options to the players if they want to focus on one thing or use a variety of approaches to victory.
To make things more interesting on the end of each player’s turn (with a few exceptions) they get to roll the die and see how many spaces the dog catcher gets to move in an attempt to catch their opponents. In our games the dog catcher wound up spending most games driving around in circles and not actually catching the dogs most of the time (they got lucky a few times) which seemed pretty accurate.
Overall this game has been a hit in our house, the game is easy to learn for younger players but still has enough strategy and decision making that even the adults had a great time (even though they lost more often than not). The game is extremely well designed and the dog minis add just enough to the overall effect to make it great.
I liked that if the dog catcher landed in your space you had to draw a card still giving you a chance to escape without having to go to the dog pound. The dens changed each game because they were randomly selected so the game was different each time we played. I liked that the different dogs had different number of actions and that they had different decks for the actions to balance this out. If you were next to another dog you could fight them and try to get them to drop everything they were carrying in their mouths so you could pick it up and steal it.
I liked playing as a dog (I liked Charlie the most) and doing dog things in the game which was a lot of fun. My favorite part was moving the dog catcher and trying to catch the other dogs. I liked how you could deliver newspapers to places on the board to get bones and food. I really, REALLY liked this game!
I liked playing as the dog and eating the dog foods. My favorite part was being able to pee on the lamp posts all over the board which slowed everyone else down and made them stop there for the rest of their turn. Playing as the different doggies was a lot of fun and the dogs looked really cool.