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Subject: Arf: nifty trick-taker with OMG CUTE PUPPIES rss

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Shawn McCarthy
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It's very Daniel Solis, pocket deck game, kid friendly, super cute art.

In this trick-taking game, players help match adoption puppies with homes providing love, food, and shelter. A tableau of puppies are available and players take turns bidding offers for the puppies, including trying to outdo other offers and get credit for the match.

The winner will be the adoption staff who completes the highest value of adoptions - sets of a breed are worth points - and a few bonus points are thrown in for matching numbers across breeds.

The game plays quickly, across 3 or 4 rounds (passes through the deck). Each pass through the deck will have less cards but tougher decisions so it easily holds all but the SQUIRREL! shortest attention spans.

With two-players, you miss out on some of the back and forth interaction of counter-offers; either the person across the table tries to snap up your match or they don't. Unless your opponent is deliberately cutthroat, you'll likely win most of your offers.

With 3-4 players, there will be more of a flurry of counteroffers and dogs might stay in play for several passes before someone finally makes the winning offer.

That said, there isn't a lot of direct competition. There's often a chance to get a countered puppy back, and it's tricky to spot a runaway winner, so the risk of hurt feels is low.

I broke this out to a separate post to not bog the review down. Simply put, there are a few strategies that follow directly from the scoring.
Paired dogs will be worth 5 at the end, triples yield 10. Focus on easy triples when you can for efficiency, but don't martyr yourself for 5 points.
Having the most of a rank gives that rank (most 5's -> 5 points) so in most cases, they're only going to nudge the results a little after counting breeds.

Art & Design
Okay, seriously, just go check out the illustrated puppies. My wife squee / guffaw / awwwww'ed so many times during the first play, and kids will eat this stuff up.
The mechanics for the puppies' needs are language-independent icons which is a mixed bag. On one hand, everyone is on equal footing regardless of if they speak english. On the other hand, "wait what does a pile of cards with 1/3/5 and blue mean, again?" It's just fine by the second play, though.

Replayability and rating
I usually go by the BGG rating descriptions and their subjectivity, so while I wouldn't consider this a "desert island" game for me, I think it'll be worth its price in plays. Bonus points for being fun for kids and being a beer-and-pretzels filler for adults, and since it's just a deck, I can add it to a tuckbox with a few other games and take it camping or to play during lunch at work.
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