Grand Dog Park
Grand Dog Park is a card game for 2 to 6 players designed by Csepi Balász and published by Cogitate Games. In this game you take on the role of a dog lover who takes his dogs to the Grand Dog Park to let them have some fun. When you are there you notice something is wrong. More and more dogs are starting to scratch because of flees. You need to act quickly and gather your dogs to clean them with some anti-flea shampoo. The dog owner who is left with the least fleas will be the victor of Grand Dog Park.
Setup for this games is pretty simple and very quick. You shuffle the dog deck and deal out six cards to each player (with two or three players they suggest to only use three breeds of dogs). The remaining cards of the dog deck are placed on the table to form the draw deck. The top card of the draw deck is flipped open to start first pack of dogs. Create a deck with the doggie treats and place the skill cards in a place so everyone can consult them. The player who had the most dogs during his lifetime becomes the starts player (or choose one randomly).
The game itself consists of several rounds and each round is over when the draw deck is empty. A round is made up of several runs and a run is over when a player was forced to take the pack of dogs from the table. On your turn you take one action and afterwards you replenish your hand to six cards. You perform one of the two actions: expanding the pack or starting a new pack.
When you expand the pack you need to place a card to the left or to the right of the current pack on the table. The card placed has to be lower than the leftmost card or bigger than the rightmost card. You may not normally place a card in between the other cards. If the card placed has any doggie treats you take the amount from the stack considering the limit of a maximum of four treats.
These treats let you perform doggie tricks. You can perform one trick a turn by paying a doggie treat but you cannot use the treat you got in the same round. The breed you play determines the trick it can perform. Each breed of dog has its own trick and these change up the game considerably. You have four breeds of dogs in the game: Dachshund, German Shepherd, Pug and St. Bernard. The Dachshund can replace a card in the pack with the same number. The placed card goes to the discard pile. The German Shepherd lets you play another card from your hand. The Pug on the other hand can squeeze itself into the pack. You need to keep the increasing nature of the pack. The St. Bernard can be placed on top of another card in the pack with the same number covering it up.
The other action you can take is starting a new pack. Whenever you cannot add a new dog to the pack, you have to take all the cards from the pack and place them face down in front of you creating your own pack. When you have taken the pack you have to start a new pack by placing any card from your hand in the middle of the table. You can also voluntarily take the pack from the middle of the table but only if it consists of at least three dogs.
When you have taken you action you refill your hand to six cards by drawing cards from the top of the draw deck. You can play a more tactical mode where the top 4 cards of the deck are placed open and you always choose from these four.
The last run starts when the draw deck is empty. After this, the game continues until one player takes the pack from the middle of the table. At the end of the round each player adds the dogs still in his hand to their own pack and starts counting up the points. The points you gain are the number of fleas you gathered minus the number of flea-shampoos you have. You can never have less than zero points. You record the numbers scored on a piece of paper and add them to the result of previous rounds. If nobody has reached thirty points at the end of a round you start a new round with the player getting the most points during the round being the new start player. Once a player has gained thirty points at the end of a round the game is over. The player with the least points is the winner of the game. In case of a tie, the players share the victory.
The artwork of the dogs is stunning and I love it that you can create a set of cards where the background transitions nicely from one card to another creating a continuous landscape. The graphic design is spot on. Although it is a simple game you still have the necessary choices to make on your turn, especially regarding the abilities of the dogs. Having treats is very important and you will notice it unfortunately when you do not have any. The treats let you use the special abilities of the dogs and these play a significant role, especially when the numbers are starting to clog up. Knowing when to voluntarily pick up a pack is another thing to consider. Sometimes it might be more opportune to pick up a pack that is not so bad at all and start a new one with a card from your choice. Please note, in the English rules the rule of voluntarily picking up a pack containing at least three dogs is missing. I have checked the German and French rules and in both of them it is present so this must have been some sort of omission. When playing with gamers I would always recommend playing with the tactical variant. This reduces the amount of luck significantly because you are no longer hoping to draw the correct cards. Grand Dog Park is being advertised as a customizable card game, but for the moment you only have the deck with the four aforementioned breeds included. I know that they will bring out four more breeds and I suspect that you will always play with four breeds and that it can be customized that way but I am not sure about this. All in all Grand Dog Park is an easy to play and fun card game. It will definitely hit a soft spot with dog lovers and I can definitely recommend trying it out if you are a fan of these card games.
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