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Subject: Parcheesi. With Some Excellent improvements rss

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Duncan
New Zealand
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Dog isn't much when you first look at it-it is essentially a Parcheesi board with a deck of cards and therefore at first glance, I possibly won't appeal to anyone who doesn't enjoy a game completely dictated by a single six sided die. When I realized it was actually rather beyond such simplicity I was willing to give it a go online on BSW where it is quite popular, especially for a 4 player game.

Essentially the aim of the game is to get your 4 coloured tokens right around the board and into your home area-sound familiar at all?

Then the similarities grow more distant. Instead of a dice you will be using hands of cards drawn from a deck analogous to 2 standard decks. This includes numbers 2 through 10, a 1/11, 12 & 13; playing one of these numbered cards allows you to move one of your tokens that many spaces. the 13 and 1/11 also can be played to move one of your tokens onto the board. Sevens can be split between any number of your tokens and fours can be used to go backwards or forwards-if you do this right at the start of a tokens journey it can be quite a shortcut. Also included are swap token cards-you may switch the positions of one of your own tokens with another-and wild cards, which can act in place of any of the others. Hands of seven cards are drawn at the beginning of the game, players play one card each in order. If no legal move can be made, all cards in hand are discarded and you are skipped until you have some more. When no one has any cards, hands of 6 are drawn, and 5 on the next draw and so on. The draw after 2 cards then reverts to 7 cards. This allows a substantial planning element to enter the game with potentially harsh punishments for those whose plans are foiled, which can be down to the actions of players or just poor luck. the use of cards also has some predictability that a die lacks entirely-while a die can roll six after six after six, a deck of cards cannot give wild after wild after wild-there are only so many in amongst lots of other cards all of which have to be drawn before the deck can be refreshed.

Secondly, Dog is designed to be played between pairs of partners rather than individual players. The player opposite each other on the board is your partner-it is only when you both have all four tokens home that a win is achieved. This adds a lot to the game as you planning has to include not ruining your partner's game. As much of the effects the rules have are indiscriminate-landing on another token sends it home, tokens on their own start space are impassable-this can prove challenging. You also need to plan so you are not forced to make a bad move for your opponent by way of having no other options (or helping your opponents).

When one partner has all their tokens home they use their turns upon their partner's tokens which, if achieved well before your opponents, can rapidly end the game.

All up, Dog has only a few differences from an old simple game, but the differences in in just the right places building from the base to make something very playable, fun and satisfying.
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Steve Leach
United States
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Good review. I like Dog quite a bit, mostly due to the partnership aspect. I love paternership games. The one mechanic in Dog that I thinks makes the game for me is the card "push" at the begining of a hand.

Partners pass each other a card before play starts. So if you are dealt two "come out" cards you can make sure your partner has at least one way to start a pawn. Also if you know your partner needs a certain number to send an opponent pawn back to start you can send him that card if you have it.
 
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Ally Steven Severi
Belgium
Brussels
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Finally!
Somebody pulled Parcheesi out of kindergarden.

Similar games are floating around on the Geek.

It looks like an improved version of...
????
Sorry... I forgot the name of that game.


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Gerald Rüscher
Germany
Paderborn
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Essen 2012 - yay!
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Thanks for the review. Some comments/corrections:

I love Dog, it's one of those rare games which combine easy to grasp rules, very tactical gameplay, great replay value and good accessability by both veteran gamers and casual players. You can play it fast&fun with your kids or very tactical and cutthroat with experienced players.

That being said, I'd say that comparing Dog to Parcheesi is only helpful when it comes to describing how the board looks and what the overall goal of the game is. All else is significantly different. The major components of Dog are risk management: you need to keep as many viable paths for your pegs open as possible while simulatenously minimizing the risk of being hit by your opponents' pegs. This is only possible because your know next moves in advance (which is impossible in Parcheesi). One small but essential little rule you didn't mention is that a peg which sits on a player's home base (start space) may not be hit and (more important) prevents all other pegs (both friend and foe) from moving past it. This adds a bunch of very subtle tactics!

I don't know if Dog is available outside central Europe. In Germany/Swiss/France we have two quite different editions available: the low cost version by Schmidt with standard board and components for about 18 Euro and the very beautiful Brändi edition with glass marbles and a hand-crafted board made of polished wood. If you consider buying Dog (which I higly recommend) I'd definitely go for the Brändi version: it's beautiful and has better functionality because it's impossible to knock the pawns over.

Finally a minor mistake in your review: I don't know about the BSW version but in the Schmidt and Brändi editions, players start with 6 cards each (going down to 5,4,3,2 and the re-starting with 6)


Edit: Darn those typos!
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Patrick C.
United States
Milford
New Hampshire
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Stefan Feld games are balanced and mathematically elegant while being obtuse, emotionally detached, and mechically inelegant. The most overrated designer of modern games. The King of JASE.
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I played Dog a week ago for the first time and had a blast. It's a great game with six players, three teams of two.

You can order Dog on Amazon.de, but the price is about $35 with shipping. I decided it wasn't worth it and I'm going to just use an old Aggravation board and two decks of cards that I'll slightly alter so that other players know what to do. As far as I can tell, if you have the board (Parcheesi, Sorry or Aggravation), the pawns and two decks of cards that's all you need. It just won't look as nice as a Dog board.

Edit: timewellspentgames.com carries this game!
 
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