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Subject: No Catz or Dogz? (But lots of Poopz) rss

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John Bandettini
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In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.

This time I am going to be looking at Dungeon Petz, a recent release from the Czech Games Edition. It's not so much a sequel to 2009's Dungeon Lords as a game in the same series. Both games were designed by Vlaada Chvátil and although they are both worker placement games they play very different from each other.

The game plays in around 90 minutes to 2 hours and supports 2 to 4 players, though like Dungeon Lords it is at it's best with a full compliment of players.

The aim of the game is to score the most victory points (or reputation points as the game calls them). You score those points by buying young immature pets, raising them catering to their needs, showing them in exhibitions and finally selling them as Petz to some of the local Dungeon Lords.

So how do you do all that? I'm glad you asked lets look at the game.



The box immediately lets you know you are back in Dungeon Lords territory (If somehow the name of the game had not already given it away), it's the same size box and has the same style of artwork. Above the title you can see some imps trying to capture some wild Petz. While below the title you can see the inside of one of the Petz stores, with Petz, imps and shopping Dungeon Lords. I think the box captures well the theme of the game.

Open the box and wow is there a lot of stuff in the box. Regular readers will know, I love lots of stuff.

You will probably be a little surprised by the size of the rulebook. It's 20 pages long which seems quite long for a worker placement game. Vlaada himself explains on the front page not to worry about the size of the rulebook. It's long because it's very detailed and it is. It is a very good rulebook though, the game is quite complex for a worker placement game, but it's quite easy to pick up thanks to the rule book. One thing though, it is nowhere near as funny as Vlaada's rulebooks usually are.

It's very complete with lots of illustrations and examples. You will find yourself looking up things the first few plays not because the rulebook is bad, but because the game has a lot going on.

You will find lots of boards in the box. There is a main board where all the worker placement actions are taken. There is a progress board, where you track the turns in the game and what exhibitions are held and what customers you have.

Each player has a pet display board, where they keep their Petz in cages and may have some add-ons for them. Finally each player has a burrow board, where they keep their gold, food, artefacts and imps.



This is the main board, your imps are placed here to give you actions. It's not a huge board, a bit smaller than twice the box size. The board is two sided, one side for two or three players and the side shown is for four players. The other side of the board has arrows between some of the boxes. You move unused pieces along those arrows with less than four players. The occupied spaces are than unavailable to the players.

Around the edge of the board you can see the scoring track. When you allocate your imps you do them in groups, which we will look at in more detail later on. There are lots of square spaces on the board. The players take it in turns to place imps on these squares and take the associated action. Let's look in more detail at the board and the actions.

On the far left of the board you can see three large spaces where extra cages to keep your Petz in can be bought. Each turn there will be three cages here. If on your turn you place some of your imps on one of the two spaces to the right of the cages (the ones with two imps pictured, almost at the top of the second cage space.) you get to choose one of the cages. As cages are heavy, you need at least two imps to collect a new cage. This is the only space where you need at least two imps.

To the right of the cages are the areas where you buy new Petz. You start the game with one level three pet in the upper area and three level two Petz in the lower area. You should be able to make out the oval areas where the Petz go. To the left of the Petz area are the spaces where you place your imps to purchase Petz. There is one space by the upper area and two by the lower one. The picture in the spaces show an imp and a gold coin. Petz are not free you know, you have to pay for them. As there will be three Petz in the lower area every turn and only two spaces to purchase them, one pet will be unsold every turn. At the end of the turn any unsold Petz age and move up to the upper area. In theory you could have more than one pet in the upper area, but as you really need Petz to win, I have never seen any not bought that could be.

Underneath the Petz area on the left is a space for two cage upgrades. The imps space here looks like a barred window. Only one space but two upgrades available. We will look at them in more detail later.

Now if you look to the right side of the board, you can see at the top of the board, two blue tents with a blue square next to them. Each turn two artefacts will be placed on the tents, whoever places their imps on the blue square gets to take both artefacts. We will look at artefacts in detail later.

Directly underneath the blue tents is an area where the gold coins are kept. Imps like gold coins, gold can be used to place earlier in the turn order.

Underneath the gold storage area and spreading out under the lower Petz area is the exhibition area. It looks like a large blue and white tent with numbers on it. Each turn (apart from the first) the players put on an exhibition of their Petz. (We will look at exhibitions in more detail when we look at the exhibition tiles). Basically you keep track of the points each player exhibition score here. In a four player game, the players score 8, 6, 4 and 2 points per exhibition based on their position on this track.

In case of a tie all tied players get one less point. So if two or more players tied for first, they would get 7 points each. To the right of the exhibition tent is a darker blue space with +2 on it. If you place imps here you get 2 bonus points for the exhibition.

To the right of the artefacts area is the food market. There are two types of food in the game, vegetables and meat. These are stored in the two areas on the far right of the food market. Each turn an exhibition tile is drawn, as well as showing what Pet traits will score this turn it also shows the food supply for the turn. The three umbrellas represent the market stalls. the green stall will just have vegetables, the red stall will just have meat and the green and red stall will have a mixture. To the left of the stalls are three matching squares. Placing imps there allows you to take all of the food from the matching stall.

There are three more action squares in the bottom right corner. The yellow one with the almost cartoon looking imp on it allows you to gain more imps. I'll explain it more when we look at the progress board.

To the right of that is a square that is half red and half white. This allows you to take one or two actions. If you have any imps in the hospital, you get up to two of them back. You also get to draw a potion card. The potion cards act as wild cards when determining your Petz needs. (We will look at needs in more detail later)

The final square is a light brown one and is on the left side of a stage area. When you place imps here at the end of the turn they move to the right side of the stage and stay there until you choose to use them. What this does is earn you more prestige points (VPs) when you sell a pet. Normally you score two times the value of a pet in points, but with imps on the right side of the stage you get three times. (More detail soon)



This is the progress board. This is used to track the number of turns in the game, what exhibitions are being put on and who is coming to buy Petz. Like the main board this board is also two sided. One side is for four players the other is for two or three players. The four player game has five turns, the two or three player goes for six turns. The side shown is for the four player game.

At the beginning of the game each player places one of his imps in each of the oblong boxes with a picture of an imp on it under the turn numbers one to four. These represent distant relatives of the imps you start the game with. When you take the action on the main board to get extra imps, you get all the imps on this board up to the current turn. Any imps left on this board at the end of the game will lose you points.

The row underneath the imps with the blue and white striped squares is where the exhibition tiles go. There is no exhibition on the first turn. It does however have the starting food for the market spaces marked on the board. For turn one there will always be two vegetables on the green stall, one vegetable and one meat on the mixed stall and two meat on the meat stall.

Underneath the exhibition tiles are the spaces for customers. No customers will arrive before the third turn and there will be two on the last turn.

After the last turn there will be two final exhibitions, these are the two fixed blue tiles on the far right of the board.

The top one is for the Business Acumen exhibition. You get half a point for every coin you have left. One point for every food token and artefact on your burrow board. (We are about to look at them) and one point for every potion card you have. You lose two points for every imp of your colour left on the progress board.

The lower one is the Pet display exhibition. You score 2 points for every pet on your pet display board. One point for each cage you have and one point for each cage add on. You lose points for each suffering token, mutation token and manure token on your pet display board.



This is the Pet display board. Each player has one of these. This is where you keep you Petz. You need a cage for each Pet and you have space for four cages, so the maximum Petz you can have at any time is four. You start the game with one free cage. It's in the top left corner. The red number means it can hold a pet with an anger needs of up to one and the purple one means the cage is suitable for a pet with magic needs up to one. If you have Petz in the cages whose needs exceed that, they may escape. (We will look in more detail of that when we get to the cards.)

Above the top two cages and below the bottom two you have space for cage add-ons. Each cage space can have one add-on.



This is the burrow board. You will use this to store items and to decide what you will be doing each turn with your imps and money.

It may look like a t shirt in the photo but it is not the top bit stands up (with help) and shields what you are doing with your imps at the start of each round.

The top part of the board, the bit that stands up is a player reference guide. On the left it shows the turn phases and what happens during them. In the middle is a graphical representation of the needs ratio of the different card colours. And on the right you can see what you need to meet your Petz needs and also what happens if you fail to meet them.

The six sets of stairs below are where you place your imps and money at the start of each turn. Each player starts the game with six imps and two gold coins. At the beginning of each turn you create up to six groups containing a mixture of imps and coins. Each groups counts as the total of imps and coins. You can have imps without coins but not the other way round.

After everyone creates their groups , they are revealed and everyone says what their biggest group is. Players take turns to choose actions on the main board based on group sizes. In case of a tie, actions are taken in player order. Though if one player has two or more groups of the same size the option to place goes around the table between each placing.

Actually using the groups is optional. There are some good reasons for holding back some of your imps.

Below the stairs is an area where you keep your imps and money that are not used this turn.

Below and to the left is the food storage space. When you get food from the market spaces it is placed in the leftmost space. vegetables on top and meat in the lower box. At the end of the turn any unused food moves to the next box on the right. If food moves past the x it has gone off and must be discarded. So vegetables are good for three turns, meat for only two.

The final space on the burrow boards in the bottom left is where artefact tiles are kept.




These are the imps. They are your workers in the game. There are ten in each colour. At the start of the game each player has six available. The other four are on the progress board and represent distant relatives of your imps. There is a space on the main board which allows you to call for these imps (or at least up to the turn you are currently on from the progress board). As well as it being good to have more imps, each imp you don't have at the end of the game loses you two points.



These are two sided score markers. Each player gets one in their colour. they have 50 on one side and 100 on the other. The score track goes up to 50. Once you start on your second lap, place this counter 50 side up at the beginning of the score track to show you are over 50.

The other side is in case you go round the board a third time. The rule book mentions that this is very difficult to do and I have never seen anyone get close to it.



These are gold markers. Every player gets two at the start of the game. Also at the start of each turn players get income. The 1st and 2nd player each get one coin, the 3rd and 4th each get two coins. Coins are used to make your groups of imps bigger and you always need to have at least one coin in a group that buys a pet.

The other ways you gain coins is when you sell Petz, and if at the end of the turn you have any unused imps you get one coin for each.

Coins are worth half a point each at the end of the game.



These are some of the markers used in the game. Each player gets two minions of their colour. One is used on the score track, the other is used to score exhibitions on the main board.

The round token with the evil smiley on it is the first player marker. At the start of the game, the player who most recently fed a pet is the first player. The marker passes clockwise around the table after that. For the final turn, the player with the least points is the first player.

The round purple marker is used on the progress board to record the current turn.



Ok the game is called Dungeon Petz and here are some of the Petz. We will look at the two Petz on top of the pile. All the Petz are an egg shape. each pet is made of two physical parts. Before you can play the game you need to put the Petz together. The lower part of the Pet can be rotated. The different Petz are all described in the rules, but really the main thing you need to know about your Petz are what are their needs.

If we start with the pet on the right, this is a starter level two pet. This is typical of a pet you can get from the lower pet spaces on the main board. Going from left to right around the bottom of the pet we can see the following. The first symbol is a coin with an x beside it. This is just to remind you that this pet is to immature to sell yet.

At the bottom of the pet you can see two green oblongs the number of these oblongs is the level of the pet and the colour shows it's needs. There are smaller markers around the bottom of the pet, these allow you to see what needs are coming next. we can see on this pet that the next two needs to be revealed are yellow and green. This is to allow you to plan ahead on how best to satisfy your Petz needs. On the right you can see a leaf, this shows that this pet is a herbivore and will only eat vegetables. Finally in the window on the right you can see two arrows pointing upwards. This means that at the end of the turn when growth occurs this pet will grow two levels, so the yellow and green needs we can see are coming will now enter play.

The other pet on top is a more mature level five pet. There is no coin with an x on the left side as this pet is now mature enough to be sold. It has a more complex set of needs, two yellow, 2 green and one red. Instead of a leaf on it, this pet has a piece of meat showing it is a carnivore and only eats meat. The window on the right shows a coin with four on it and one up arrow. This shows that this pet can be sold for four coins. If it is not sold at the end of the turn it will grow one level.

Some of the Petz are omnivores and will eat vegetables or meat.



These are the cards that represent the Petz needs. There are four different colours of cards (plus the potion cards). At the beginning of the game every player draws one card of each colour. As we saw when we looked at the Petz, each pet has a different combination of needs.

After the shopping phase, when your imps go off to do actions on the main board you have the needs phase. You draw one card of the corresponding colour for each need symbol visible on all of your Petz. You then need to assign a number of cards to each pet equal to their needs. After you have assigned all need cards you should have one card left of each colour. (You might have more if you have artefacts)

This is probably the most important part of the game to understand. If you don't understand needs and their effects you will not do well at this game. I will explain the needs and their effects.

The potion, which can be obtained from the main board is a wild card and can be used to satisfy any one need. It is a very useful card you play it on a pet and the need is immediately met.

The other cards all show a single need. On the burrow board is a breakdown of which needs are in which colours. You can see for instance that on the green cards half of them will be hunger needs, the next most will be poop needs, four anger, two illness and no magic. You can use this guide to try to prepare for your Petz needs.

Hunger: You need to give your Pet one piece of food for every hunger symbol you assign to it. For each hunger symbol you can't satisfy, you place a suffering marker on the Pet. If there are ever suffering tokens on a Pet equal or greater than it current size, it dies. So do be careful.

Poop: This need can be met by the Pet all on it's own. Just place a poop marker in the Petz cage for each Poop need. Poop on it's own in a cage has no effect. However it can effect some of the exhibition scores and when combined with disease it can kill Petz. You can move Petz to other cages and use imps that did not go shopping to clear away poop. Each imp used in this way can remove up to two poop markers.

Play: Petz with play needs, want to be played with. You can use imps that did not go shopping to play with Petz. You can put an imp between two cages and it can satisfy one play need for each. The imp can not be put in the middle of the pet display board to satisfy four play needs. For each play need that is not satisfied you place a suffering token on the Pet.

Anger: The red number in the top left corner of each cage is the strength of the cage. If the Pet in that cage has more anger needs than the strength of the cage it may escape. For every anger need over the strength of the cage you have an available imp, you can use those imps to stop your Pet from escaping. Any imps used this way are injured and go to the hospital, where they can only be got back if you visit the hospital on the main board. If you don't have enough imps to stop your Pet escaping or you choose not to use them (To stop them going to hospital), your Pet escapes and you have to discard it.

Magic: The purple number in the top right hand corner of the cage is the magical strength of the cage. If the Pet in that cage has more magic needs than the magical strength of the cage it may mutate or disappear into another dimension. For every magical need that can not be met you have to assign a mutation token to the Pet. One mutation on a Pet will affect it's exhibition scores and your ability to sell it in a negative way. A Pet with more than one mutation token on it will disappear into another dimension. (You discard it)

Disease: If you assign disease cards to a Pet, you add the number of disease cards to the number of poop markers in the cage. If the total is two or less nothing happens. If the total is more than two, you assign one suffering token to the Pet as it got sick, plus one suffering token for each point over two it has. So if total of disease plus poop is three, your Pet would get two suffering tokens, one for being sick and one for total being one more than two. And don't forget what suffering does to your Petz.



These are the food tokens. Green for vegetables and red for meat. These are acquired from the market place, kept on the burrow board and used to satisfy your Petz hunger needs.



These are the poop counters. placed in Petz cages when they are assigned poop needs. It's best to remove them from the cages as soon as you can.



These are the suffering counters. Failing to meet certain needs leads to these being put on a Pet. Too many and your Pet dies.

Players of 20th century may recognise these pieces as they were used as garbage in that game.



These are the mutation makers. One of these on a Pet, devalues it. Two of these and it disappears into another dimension.



These are the extra cages that can be collected in town. You start with one basic cage printed on the Petz display board. You can have a maximum of four cages (and therefore four Petz). You can if you want to build over the basic cage you start with. The red and purple numbers at the top of the cage are strength and magic, we just looked at those when looking at cards.

Three of these cages just have different combinations of those features. The other three can be used to satisfy other needs. The cage in the top left corner can only meet one magic need, but you can see the two play needs symbols with ticks on them on the bottom of the cage. This means this cage can satisfy up to two play needs without needing any imps.
The cage in the middle of the bottom row can meet one play need and the cage to the right of it, can satisfy one food and one poop need. So you don't need a food token and you don't place one poop token in the cage.



These are the cage add-ons. Each cage can have one add-on. these pretty much do what it says on the tin, they add to the features of the cage. Two of the add-ons add one to the strength of the cage. two add one to the magical strength of the cage.

One of them satisfies a meat food need and the other one satisfies a play need.



These are some examples of the exhibition tiles. each turn apart from the first turn there is an exhibition and it is a chance to score points.

In the top left hand corner the tiles either show one card of four cards. This means you can either exhibit one Pet or all of your Petz.

In the right top corner, enclosed in a white box it shows you the criteria to score positive points for this exhibition. Underneath that in a darkened box is all of the criteria for losing points.

So for instance the tile in the bottom right corner gives you two points for every different type of need card assigned to the Pet you are exhibiting and it subtracts two points for each suffering token on that Pet. as long as you have a positive score you will receive points from the exhibition.

The final row of icons along the bottom of the tile have nothing to do with the exhibition, they show how much food is put onto the market stalls on the main board each turn. On the tile we were looking at the number in the middle is not twelve it is one green and two red.



These are the customer tiles. From turn three onwards customers will be turning up to buy Petz. Each player can sell one Pet to each customer. Petz must be mature enough to sell. There is a window on the right of the Pet and it will have a coin with a number on it if the Pet is able to be sold.

You get the coins equal to the value of the Pet you sell. Each Pet is also valued in a similar way to the exhibition. The top of the tile shows the criteria for positive points, with a white box around it and below in the darkened box are the negative criteria. As long as the total is positive you can sell the Pet. You receive points either two or three times the total value depending on if you are selling (have an imp on it) from the main platform on the board or not. Times three if you are on the platform and remove one imp for each Pet you sell.

For example the customer in the top left will score positive points for every different coloured poop card assigned to the Pet and each magic need. Points will be lost for each suffering token. Times three points for the poop and times two points for the suffering.



And finally (because something has to be last) the Artefact tokens. These are collected two at a time on the main board.

The coloured books allow you to keep an extra need card of your chosen colour. When you gain a book you decide which of the two colours you want to use. You place it on your burrow board with the chosen colour showing on the top of the token. You don't get both. Once chosen that is it for the rest of the game.

I won't go through them all, but they are all useful for different things. The long shovel for instance allows you to use one imp to remove two poop counters from an occupied cage.

So what do I think of it?

Well as it's a sequel of sorts to Dungeon Lords maybe I should comment on my thoughts on the two.

I have found Dungeon Lords to not be quite as good as I would like it to be. Don't get me wrong it is a fine game and I like it a lot, I just feel I should have liked it more.

Although both games are worker placement games they feel and play very differently. I would say really the main thing they have in common is that thematically they share a setting.

I would say at this stage I prefer Dungeon Petz. It just seems a bit more fun. The Petz themselves are delightful and watching them grow and be more and more of a headache as they get bigger is very enjoyable.

Talking of other games, Dungeon Petz makes me think of Dominant Species. Not that the games are in any way similar but in the way that both games are worker placement games that don't really feel like worker placement games when you play them. If that makes any sense to anyone.

The way you get to see both the exhibition tiles and customer tiles in advance gives you something to aim for, as you know what will score positively with on both tiles and what to try to avoid. It does not mean you will necessarily do well, but at least you can try.

I think the need cards are a great idea and work really well. Whilst some of the needs are easy to deal with. Every turn you seem to have at least a couple of cards that will give you a really hard time. It's usually when the odds go against you it makes life interesting. There are only two disease need cards in the green deck for example, but could you cope if you drew both in the same turn?

Deciding how to split up your imps every turn is very tough. In theory the more groups you split them into the more you can do, but the smaller your groups the later you are likely to go in the turn order so the more likely that the actions you want will all be gone. Make less bigger groups and you do less. Getting the balance right here is crucial to doing well in this game.

The artefacts are all useful. The books give you a tough choice. You need to chose which colour to use them on when you get them and you can't change them one set.

I think the components are generally very good. The wooden pieces are all nice and server their game functions well. All the various boards are fully mounted. The tiles are large, thick card and easy to read. The cages and add-ons are of similar quality. The Petz themselves are delightful and fit together very easily. There is a lot in the box and it is all good quality.

Beware this game also needs a lot of space, lots of boards and lots of cards. One of the people I played it with complained that the cards were small, why couldn't they be full size cards? I think they are fine as small cards and would take up too much table space if they were full size.

Although only lasting five or six turns it's not a short game. Allow around two hours for it, maybe more with AP prone players.

Overall I like it quite a lot. It's a light hearted theme done very well. But it's actually a pretty serious game. Trying to get the most suitable Petz to be able to exhibit and sell and being able to satisfy their needs long enough to be able to do all of that is quite a challenge.

So a big thumbs up for another very good game from Vlaada and the Czech Games Edition. As it's a slightly longer game I might not play it as often as some games, but I do know when I play it I am going to have a good time.
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Re: No Catz or Dogz?
Hi John,
this is a very good, deep and thoughtful review!

You'll be surely relieved in knowing you're not guilty of another crime against my wallet: I actually bought Dungeon Petz yesterday, BEFORE reading this review!
But, believe me, if I didn't, I'd have bought the game tomorrow after this amazing read...
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Andy Andersen
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Re: No Catz or Dogz?
All I have to do now is play it.

Outstanding review
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Paul Lister
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Re: No Catz or Dogz?
Great review john. Petz reminds me of Vinhos in that you are ageing assets to show and or sell. It the only game that had me laughing out loud when reading the rule book.
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Re: No Catz or Dogz?
There are limited opportunities in life to work the word "Poopz" into the subject line of a game review. You shamelessly squandered your chance and now we are expected to read the rest of the review?

Terrible... just terrible.
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John Bandettini
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Phirax wrote:
There are limited opportunities in life to work the word "Poopz" into the subject line of a game review. You shamelessly squandered your chance and now we are expected to read the rest of the review?

Terrible... just terrible.


Don't say I don't ever do anything for you.
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Now I'm worried people aren't going to take the post seriously. zombie

It is a really well-written review, thanks for taking the time to put this together.
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