Matt Tonks
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I was lucky enough to be invited to a talk-through of a few learning turns of Dungeon Petz last night & a full game this morning. For those of you that don't know, Dungeon Petz is one of the new games designed by Vlaada Chvatil & produced by CGE for next month's Essen. Vlaada, as most of us know, is the genius behind other popular titles such as Through The Ages & DungeonLords.

DISCLAIMER: I was kindly given permission to talk about this new game & use some images, but please note that while I haven't seen any rules & only had one game so far, I may make an error or two (or omit something) but I will try my best to be as accurate as possible. Or something may get changed...

Also, I am not working for CGE or such, so what you read here is my completely honest opinion.

Theme:-

While DungeonLords took us through the more serious sounding business of setting up a dungeon with imps, recruiting monsters & making nasty rooms to scare away band of heroes, Dungeon Petz goes completely in the opposite direction. You still have your imps, but this time they are setting up a pet business goo !

The artwork that I saw is done by the same excellent artist as for DungeonLords so the style will look instantly familiar. Only the petz, buyers & cages have been finalised but they were of wonderful to look at.

The game:-

Contests & Buyers
The game takes place over 6 rounds, during which you get to enter your petz into contests & sell them to buyers. Contests start in round 2 onwards & buyers start in round 3 onwards (there are two buyers in the final round). I think there are 8 buyers in the game in total, so that means you'll see 5 of 8 buyers each game in varying order. Then you have end-of-game scoring, which I was told is the same every time you play.

Contests & Buyers are displayed on one board; when you start the game, the round 2 contest & round 3 buyer are revealed. In round 2, you see the round 3 contest & the round 4 buyer as well. So you get to see what's coming up in advance to allow for some planning ahead.

Player boards
Each player has a board where they store their imps, money, food & so on. There are sections where you can allocate your imps and/or money tokens from your imp & money banks for your bids for the various actions.

I assume each player will also have a screen to conceal their bids until everyone is done so that they can then reveal simultaneously.

There are three boxes for vegetable tokens & two boxes for meat tokens, both in two seperate rows; at the start of each round, you move the tokens in each box one space to the right. If any tokens already happened to be in the last box before you move the tokens, unfortunately they've perished & are rotten so you lose them!

You also have another board for four cages & get a basic cage (red number = 1, purple number = 2, I think) to begin with. I think you begin with something like 8 cards (2 of each colour), 6 imps & 4 money.

The main board
This is where the action all takes place; there are several action spaces where you can allocate your bids in order to do or take something. The actual stuff that are available on the board are (not to be mistaken with the number of action spaces):-

3 spaces for cages
1 space for cage improvements
2 rows of (I think) 3 spaces for new Petz
1 space for magical items
3 spaces for Meat and/or Veg tokens
1 space for recruiting more imps
1 space for the hospital
1 space for 'advertising'
1 space for bribing the judge

I think those were all the spaces available, not completely sure though.

Gameplay
So once you set up the round & can see the upcoming contests, buyers, petz, cages, improvements & so forth. With your imps & money (all worth 1 each) you allocate your bids into groups - the higher your bids, the more likely you are to place your actions first. Tie are broken by turn order; the starting player wins ties & I assume further ties are resolved clockwise from the starting player. So you want to consider just how much do you want something in particular & how many actions do you want when you're allocating your bids.

But that's not all. Oh no! To get a cage, you need at least two imps in the bid you allocate (because cages are heavy!). To get a pet, you need at least one money token. So there is an extra consideration in how you build your bids & making sure you place the bids exactly where you planned to place them in the first place!

So each players places their group of bids (imps/money; the latter return to the general supply) onto the actions, in order of highiest bids & resolving ties, they want to take & perform it:-

Cages:-



When you take a cage, you choose which one you want from the available ones remaining. The red number in the top left is how much Anger the cage can contain & the purple number in the top right is how much Magic the cage can contain; these numbers are very important to consider when you decide where to put your petz.

Some of the cages have other icons at the bottom; they may provide extra Food, Entertainment, Poo or other symbols.

You take your cage & set it aside next to your cages board as you don't place it just yet.

Petz:-



When you take a pet, you choose which one you want from the available ones remaining in the row. In this example, you see what kind of food it needs when it needs to be fed (meat for this one). You also see how much it grows when it grows (the double arrows; this means it grows by two of the coloured blocks to Red-Green-Purple-Green when it grows). And you also have the coloured blocks, where tells you which cards you get to draw before you play cards onto the pet for its requirements.

I'm not sure what the symbol (money + cross) on the left-hand side of the dial means, so I won't comment there.

Again, you take your pet & set it aside next to your cages board as you don't place it just yet.

Cage improvements:-

You choose one of two improvements & put it aside your cages board. These improvements benefit one of your cages; this might help you contain extra Anger, provide extra Meat or extra Entertainment. There is only one space for each cage on the board & cages/improvements cannot be moved around (though Petz can).

Magic items:-

These only enter the game from round 2 onwards. And there are two each round. If you take this action, you get them both. I didn't see many, but some of them are books that allow you to draw extra cards of a particular colour or set aside food (to prevent them rotting away), etc. These are just placed on your player board for later use.

Meat/Veg tokens:-

The amount of Meat/Veg tokens to enter this round is determined by the contest tile that gets revealed (I think) & I'm sure they accumulated if not taken so the number of Meat or Veg varies each round. You take these into your food store on the left-hand boxes (remember what I said about the rotting?)

These tokens are used to feed your Petz if you play particular cards on them when you come to resolve their requirements, but I'll come back to that.

Recruiting imps:-

At the start of the game, on the contest/buyer board each player has one imp set aside on rounds 1, 3, 4 & 5. When you recruit, you get all the imps for that round & any not taken from previous rounds. This has two effects; you get more imps to use for bidding for actions & any imps still not taken by the end of the game gives you, I think, -4 VPs each.

Hospital:-

If you take this action, you get a blue 'medicine' card, which can help you out of a sticky situation when playing cards for your Petz' requirements. More on that later.

'Advertising':-

Any imps you place on this action, gives you VPs equal to 3x the value of the pet you sell in the round, instead of 2x the value. The downside is that those imps do not get reclaimed for the rest of the game. So basically you lose the use of the imps for gaining extra VPs.

Bribing the judge:-

You get 2 contest points on the track. This obviously gives you a leg up for when you resolve the contests.

Extra stuff:-

You can also withdraw your group(s) of bids back to your imp or money bank(s). This can be helpful as sometimes you may need those imps to clean out Poo, help with Entertaining the Petz or containing an Angry pet. Or even earning extra money for the next round.

After all the actions:-

So once all the actions have been taken, it's time to place your cages, new Petz, improvements & so on. You can also move existing Petz around amongst your cages if you wish.

Then you need draw & play cards:-



The card distribution of each colour is different. I think there are 24 of each colour, of which half will contain a certain symbol & the other half other symbols. The other half of the cards in each colour contain a different mix of other symbols; you do get a reference card that shows just how many symbols there are for each colour & therefore what requirements you are most/least likely to play on your Petz.

Green's main symbol is Bowls, which means that if you play a Bowl, you need to feed your Petz. Yellow's main symbol is Balls Of String, which means the Petz need entertaining. Red's main symbol is Anger, which means you need a strong cage (the red number on your cage) or imps to keep your Petz inside! Purple's main symbol is Magic, which again needs to be contained.

There are other symbols such as Poo, which fills up you cage with all sorts of foulness... respresented by brown tokens. There is also Sickness, which although rare is not good if you're not careful.

So what do the symbols mean for your Petz? Let's look at the Dragon example above. When you get this pet, the first time you get to draw/play cards, you get to draw a red card & a green card. Then you need to play a red card & a green card for its requirements. When it grows once, it gain a purple & green block. Ultimately, this means the Dragon is more likely to need feeding because it has quite a few greens on its 'growth track', let's call it.

Other Petz may have a lot of yellow blocks on its track, which means it probably will need a lot of Entertaining. So this is where careful consideration of the cages, petz & so forth you take is important. Hopefully this all makes sense !

The blue 'medicine' cards that I mentioned earlier; these are basically like wild cards & can be used to replace a card of your choice, but you have to give up a matching card of the colour you replace from your hand.

OK, so once you've played the cards you need on your Petz, you then need to work out if you've taken on any punishments such as:-

Poo cards played - each Poo adds a Poo token into the cage. Some cages have a toilet which I assume cancel one Poo token each turn
# of Anger of the cards - if this exceeds your cage's red number, it breaks free & you lose it. You can use any spare imps in your Imp bank to add 1 to the red number.
Bowl cards played - for each Bowl, you need to feed the pet a meat or veg token as displayed on the pet. Petz with Meat & Veg can be fed with either. Also, you may have an improvement that provide food. Any food you cannot provide gives a Suffering token each to the pet.
Entertainment cards played - you need an Entertainment symbol for each card; this can be within the cage itself, on the improvement or a spare imp can help to Entertain the pet. Any Entertainment you cannot provide gives a Suffering token each to the pet.
Magic cards played - if this exceeds the purple number in the cage (including any improvement), you gain a mutation token.
If the # of Sickness cards played + # of Poo tokens is greater than 2 - your pet does not grow & something else.
So many mutation tokens - you lose your pet.

You get the idea. You have to be careful with what cards your playing, the actions you take, etc.

Contests & Buyers:-

After evaluating requirements & any bad effects, we have the contest tile & the current buyer(s). In the top left, you get a symbol telling you if you enter just one pet or all of them. There is a top row which tells you for whatever criteria you meet with one/all of your Petz, you get contests points. You also lose contests points for a 2nd set of criteria.

Add it to the track I mentioned earlier; some players may have Bribed the Judge as well. The winner scores, I think it was 6 VPs. Then you reset the contest markers back to zero for all the players.

Then you have the option of selling ONE pet to the current buyer:-



In the 6th & final round, there are two buyers & you can sell one to each.

The top row of symbols tells you what you get if you sell a pet to this buyer depending on the cards you played. The dark box on the right hand side subtract from the total.

For this buyer, it means that all Anger cards are worth 2 & Magic worth 1. Any Entertainment cards played & Suffering tokens are worth -1. Thematically, this means that this buyer wants an angry pet (the angrier the better!) & slightly magical, but also doesn't want a pet that has suffered or needs much Entertaining.

With a pet that has 2 Anger cards & 1 Magic card, but 1 Suffering token gives a total of 4. This is then doubled to 8VPs (or 12VPs if you chose the 'advertising' action space) and 4 money tokens IF you decide to sell this example of a pet to this buyer. Hopefully I remembered the rules correct on this, but you should get the idea.

End of round/game:-

So once you've finished the contest & the buyer, you set up the next round & repeat. If this happened to be round 6, you enter final scoring.

Unfortunately, I can't remember much about the final scoring apart from any imps left behind on the main board being worth -4 VPs each. But there is the potential to score & lose points depending on what you're left with on your player board & the main board(s).

If I get another chance to play it & find out more detail about the end-of-game scoring, I will post this here.

Two players?

As the game I played was 2-player only, I wondered how this would play out. There are neutral imps set on certain actions of three tracks (cages/petz/improvements, magic items/veg/meat, recruitment/hospital/advertising/bribery). Each round these imps move clockwise following little arrows onto the next space & they effectively block the actions for the round and therefore different actions each round. So there might only be one cage up for grabs in one round or no Meat available. This seemed to work extremely well; much better than the fiddliness in DungeonLords.

I have no idea if the neutral imps are used in games with more players than 2.

So what do I think?

Overall, from a single play I think this is another winner from Vlaada Chvatil & that I am going to prefer this over DungeonLords. Firstly, the theme of running a pet business & seeing it fill up with crap is just hilarious!

But that's not all, I felt there the gameplay flowed extremely well & that there is more complexity here without compromising on the game in any way. There is a lot more to consider than in DungeonLords.

One slight problem I had with DungeonLords was that you might sometime want to take the middle (or third) spot of a given action & thus need someone else to select the action before you do, such as recruiting Monsters. To a similar degree, you could control your own Evil-O-Meter but no-one else's so your best efforts to avoid a certain Hero would be all in vain. This slight element of chaos I've just mentioned seems to be eliminated in Petz.

So I certainly think Petz is going to be extremely good & that gamers who like meatier games are going to prefer Petz over Lords. This is now one of my top 2 games for Essen next month.
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Jesse Hickle
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Thanks...now I'm even MORE excited about this game.
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Brian McCormick
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I'm definitely pumped for this game so thanks for writing up such a thorough and informative review. A pet-shop game with lizard-creatures and imps? Count me in.
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John Brownsill
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Good write up Matt, cheers for that.

According to the comment by Paul Grogan (who posted the image), the symbol (money + cross) on the pet that you weren't sure about, means that he currently cannot be sold to a buyer.
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Matt Tonks
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Pogle wrote:
Good write up Matt, cheers for that.

According to the comment by Paul Grogan (who posted the image), the symbol (money + cross) on the pet that you weren't sure about, means that he currently cannot be sold to a buyer.


Ah right, thanks. I didn't think to check back to Paul's thread for any reference I might have missed.
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Sebastian Grawan
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Awesome review that suddenly put this game on my radar. Thanks for that!
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Paul Grogan
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A couple of other minor comments:

There are 6 rounds with 2/3 players. Only 5 rounds with 4 players.

You normally reveal contests and buyers 2 turns ahead. We played with a rule that it was just 1 turn ahead, which is better for teaching as it is too much to take in otherwise, but it leads to a more unpredicatable game (which some people like). If you really want to, you can reveal all contests and buyers at the start of the game, so that everything that is going to happen for the next 5 turns is already on show.

Each player will have a screen. This screen contains lots of essential information too.

Magic items enter the game from turn 1 normally, but in a 2 player game, that space is taken up by imps of the neutral player, so they cannot be taken. The neutral imps are also used in a 3 player game but there are less of them. There are no neutral imps in a 4 player game.

Scores for contests vary depending upon the number of players in the game.

Great review
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Rick Koeppen
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Games: Regarding my favorite theme of 'Fantasy', I'm hoping for fewer 'card' games and more 'board' games.
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I do enjoy Dungeon Lords, and with all of the different possible outcomes that can happen in this game, it seems too much fun to pass up. I have had my eye on this one for some time, and I thank you very much for the review, it will probably be a future purchase now.
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Shane Larsen
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Thanks for this review, Matt. I now have two Vlaada games topping my wishlist (the other being Mage Knight Board Game). If only I was able to make it to Essen to pick them up there. cry
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Joe
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Less fiddly than Dungeon Lords? Now I'm interested.
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Jeff Clark
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tonksey wrote:
There are other symbols such as Poo, which fills up you cage with all sorts of foulness... respresented by brown tokens.


I'm mentally calculating whether or not there's any profit in releasing a new special shaped wooden token... along the lines of the vege-meeples from Agricola... whistle
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Guido Gloor
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The statement below is false.
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The statement above is correct.
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zzyzxuk wrote:
tonksey wrote:
There are other symbols such as Poo, which fills up you cage with all sorts of foulness... respresented by brown tokens.

I'm mentally calculating whether or not there's any profit in releasing a new special shaped wooden token... along the lines of the vege-meeples from Agricola... whistle

I'd buy them.

Pooples?
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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tonksey wrote:
So I certainly think Petz is going to be extremely good & that gamers who like meatier games are going to prefer Petz over Lords.

I like meaty games (Roads & Boats, Through the Ages, ...). I can tell from a single game that I like Lords much, much better than Petz. And that I don't like Petz at all. I find it over-designed and over-complex. Over meaning uselessly. To me, it goes in the direction of Le Havre in spirit (way too much possibilities without any elegance), which is one of the games I hate the most.

One thing of importance : I don't like worker placement games. And no, Dungeon Lord is not a worker placement game, at least in essence.
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Shane Larsen
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haslo wrote:
zzyzxuk wrote:
tonksey wrote:
There are other symbols such as Poo, which fills up you cage with all sorts of foulness... respresented by brown tokens.

I'm mentally calculating whether or not there's any profit in releasing a new special shaped wooden token... along the lines of the vege-meeples from Agricola... whistle

I'd buy them.

Pooples?


That would be the sh%t.
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Purple Paladin

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Where'd it go? I almost accidently saw Dungeon Petz near the top of the Hotness list, so I did a quick click on it to check it out. I liked all the reveiws, so I buy it, play it several times, and now I don't see it on the list. ???
 
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Sarah Allen
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Fimo poop is very easy to make and looks great on the board.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1203879/dungeon-petz

I haven't posted any pics on the Geek, but I made Fimo poop, meat and veggies. First game I've pimped.
 
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