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Peter’s Two Sheep Dogs is a very unusual trick taking game. First, it’s a game for only two players. Second, it doesn’t use cards exactly to play. Third, it incorporates a mancala mechanism into the scoring so if you are looking for a really interesting game keep reading!

There is a lot packed into the small box. First there are the numbered 3D printed animals which make up the 4 suits; sheep, pigs, cows and wolves and a bag to draw from. Then there are the fence pieces to make which make up a pen for each player. Finally there are two cardboard inserts which fit inside the box top and bottom and form two meadows for each player.


Each player starts with a hand of 7 and 1 animal in each of their meadows. The lead opens with any animal. The suit must be followed if possible. The highest number played wins the hand regardless of suit.

Then comes the mancala part of the game. If you won the trick you perform the “herding action” and distribute the animals won amongst your meadow, either one or both. If you lost the trick you perform the “chasing action” and you take all the animals from one of your meadows and distribute them counterclockwise starting from the area to the right of the emptied meadow.

If you place the last animal in a fenced area during the “chasing action” you repeat it. This action is repeated until either the last animal ends in a meadow or no animals are left to chase (both the players meadows are empty). In the latter case one of the animals is removed from the players fenced area to a “pen” or outside area. If the is the third chasing action the player gets a bonus animal to place in their pen or fenced area.

The loser of the trick leads the next hand.

Scoring happens twice. The first time or spring scoring after 5 tricks and then at then end after the final trick for summer scoring. Sheep, pigs and cows are worth 3 points each in meadows and 6 in fenced areas and 10 in a pen. Wolves are worth minus 3 in pens and if placed in fenced areas during the chasing action are removed with a cow sheep or pig if there is one also in the fenced area.

The scoring also has another little twist. If you exceed your spring score during the summer scoring by doubling it or more you get double your spring as well as summer points but if you score less than your spring score you score no points. Players ply to 100.

I love trick taking games and it is very difficult to find really interesting two player games. Peter’s Two Sheep Dogs provides lots of challenges. Trying to decide when to win or lose a trick to trigger the mancala actions is key and your carefully laid plans may have to be cast aside with a trick you didn’t plan on winning or the arrival of wolves. Winning a lot of tricks isn’t necessarily good because if you lose you may have to distribute points to your opponent. Losing may get you some extra points but it’s bad to have empty meadows if you lose a trick.

I find it quite hard to know what to do with the wolves, keep them in your meadows and hope to distribute them to your opponent before scoring or give them to your opponent and let them deal with the wolves.

The spring summer scoring also can have a big impact, let your opponent score big in spring to get the summer penalty and hope you can get the bonus? Ideal but hard to manage.

If you like trick taking games with a twist or are just looking for a challenging and strategic two player game I’d highly recommend trying this one. The game is available from Japan if you are willing to pay shipping. I would love to see this game picked up by a bigger publisher so more people could play.

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Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I had never heard of this game before but now, thanks to having read your review, this game is on my radar as well as my “Want In Trade” list. I plan on playing a few dummy hands vs myself (using playing cards in place of animal meeples) the next time I get some free time to game, in order to feel out how the game flows.
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Marco C
Australia
Meadowbank
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I think you mean MANCALA, not 'mandala'.
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EGG Head
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birdsong703 wrote:
I think you mean MANCALA, not 'mandala'.
typos
 
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