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Subject: First play of Dungeon Petz with three new players rss

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Kendahl Johnson
United States
Syracuse
Utah
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I picked up Dungeon Petz in a math trade in January. I was pretty excited to try the game, but after a cursory glance at the rulebook, I knew it wasn't one that was going to get played with my family of casual gamers. Fast forward to last night, when I finally got a chance to play thanks to my niece, Kylara, and her husband, Nathan. (They just moved to Albuquerque. While staying at my house for a few weeks while looking for a place to live, Nathan told me he was willing to "play through my game collection." Awesome!!)

So we settled on one night each week to learn a new game. I brought Dungeon Petz as the first unplayed game to play. I had read the rules a few times and watched a How to Play video so I was pretty confident I knew how to play. I just didn't really know where to start in teaching. I did my best, but it probably took 30 minutes to explain the game and answer questions.

The gameplay really isn't that difficult once you start playing. The challenge comes in the advance planning. I didn't really understand the value of the artifacts, particularly the books. You get an extra card, big whoop I thought. In retrospect, that's pretty valuable. I didn't pick up any artifacts the entire game. Kylara picked up most of them, including the whip, which paid dividends for her a few times in the exhibitions. I think she won every exhibition, except the two in final scoring.

First round I was the only player to buy a pet. But soon, everyone had a few pets. And I'm not sure if it's because we didn't have any experience with the game, but no one ever took suffering tokens the whole game until the last round, when I picked up one by choice, since I wanted to use a spare imp to clean poop from a cage rather than play with my pet. Surprisingly, as much poop as our cages had, no one every had any suffering due to disease either. No mutations either. And no pet ever escaped and no imp ever went to the hospital. Is this normal? It might have been because we were selling pets to pretty much every customer, even for just a few points and gold at times, so they were never getting too old.

Kylara got an insurmountable lead. One thing that I think helped her is that she had a few older pets. I think maybe that's the key, because while I was playing two or four needs cards on my pet, she was playing six, providing more opportunity for scoring. I won the final two exhibitions, but it wasn't enough to catch up. Final scores were Kylara 69, me 57 and Nathan 46.

Overall, the game was well received. I'm not sure the ratings yet, but everyone wants to play again. I'd probably rate it a 7...a game I'm happy to play but wouldn't want to play all the time. Maybe six times a year or so. That rating would go up we could get it to the 90 minute play time listed on the box. Including rules explanations, it took three hours to play and that was just too long for me. I don't mind long games in general, but my preference in game night is to play two 90 minute games rather than on 180 minute game. In addition to long times while players puzzled out their pets' needs, there is so much setup and upkeep in this game. I think with a better system, I could cut a lot of the time in this regard. Also, assigning jobs to the players would help, as would being better organized from the start.

Kylara really liked it. Nathan said there might be too much advanced planning for his taste. I can sort of understand what he was talking about...it felt a little overwhelming to try to manage pets' needs while trying to plan for upcoming exhibitions and customers as well. But overall, I really liked the game and if we could play in 90 minutes, including setup and breakdown, my rating would probably jump to a 9.

I think we managed the rules very well for our first play. We only had to refer to the rulebook a few times. A few things we are still unsure about: When food spoils, do you just discard it? So if you pick up meat and don't use it, it just gets discarded in the same round? In final exhibitions, Kylara had points to get to 11, but then had to lose points. Is there an order that you have to calculate scores or do you pick the order?

Great game and great fun, but much heavier than the cute art would indicate. Loved the secret and simultaneous grouping of imps to bid for turn order. Very clever. Also clever use of the dummy imp. An overall stellar design, but just too long for my tastes. Cut that time in half, and you have a game that could quickly become one of my favorites.
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Alison Mandible
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Cambridge
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• Spoiled food is just discarded, yes. But you don't lose meat the same round you buy it... if you get meat in round 1, then at the end of round 1, if you haven't fed it to a pet, it moves to the second storage space. Then round 2 happens, and you have another chance to feed it to pets. At the end of round 2, it'll rot out of existence. Maybe you were treating the final storage space as "this food is rotten"? It's not-- the X is off to the side, meaning, when the food leaves this space due to aging, THEN it goes away.

• I've always played that you calculate your exhibition score all at once-- the pluses minus the negatives. There's no issue of 'wasting' points because you went past 10. I could be wrong about that, though.

• If players were not rushing to buy pets, and were selling them ASAP, it's not strange for there to be only one suffering cube in the whole game. As you point out, selling pets quickly is missing the chance for a big score later on, so getting them early and/or holding on to them a little longer (and tactically taking penalties when necessary, like you did) is good practice.

My rule of thumb for myself is, there should be one unexpected problem in the needs phase every round. If there's more, I'm taking too many risks, and if there's fewer, I'm playing it too safe. (But you want to aim for the problems being 'this pet just won't play! I guess I'm not selling it this round' as opposed to 'oh no, 2 suffering cubes'.)
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C L
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Fairborn
Ohio
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Regarding meat, you can use it the turn you acquired it and the following turn... After that, it rots.
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Carsten Jorgensen
Denmark
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Exhibition scores can go over 10. If they do you just need to keep track of it in your head (or some other way). So an order for it has no meaning.
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