Hey dog lovers! If you just can’t get enough of your fur babies and want to play a set collection game all about man and woman’s best friend, I’m going to show you how to play Dog Lover by AEG Games. If you haven’t heard of it yet, check out the full review here and then come back to let me teach you some new tricks!
A light, set collection game for 2 -4 players, Dog Lover plays in around 30 minutes.
Set It Up, Patch
First game out of the box takes a little prep but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Separate the regular dog cards from the rest of the deck. Also remove the Trick cards and the Rescue Dog cards as these will form their own columns.
Shuffle the regular dog cards and give each player a random one (they come in small, medium or large sizes), and then decide if you are each starting the game with an identical standard Trick card, or whether you each get an asymmetric power to take cards from the tableau. The Trick dictates how you take cards from the central tableau on your turn, and the standard is a straight row or column of 3.
Then shuffle all the remaining cards together (removing those with 3+ or 4 depending on player count and the Tricks and Rescue Dogs). There is also a “This Game is Ending” card which also needs to be placed somewhere within the final few cards in the deck. Keep it out and, once the deck is shuffled, take 7/11/15 cards off the top (depending on 2/3/4 player count). Place it randomly into those cards and then place that mini stack at the bottom of the main deck.
Once you have a big deck comprising 100+ dogs, food, traits, and a whole host of other stuff like bones, walks, and favourite things, lay out a grid of 3 x 3 cards face up and place the deck within reach. Also place a column of 3 rescue dogs and a column of 3 Trick cards next to the tableau. The leftover cards can go at the top of each column ready to refresh any gaps.
Finally the Guard Dog gets placed at the end of a row or column, the food cubes are placed within grabbing distance, and it’s then playtime!
Take A Turn, Fido
So, on your go, you are going to use one of your Tricks to take cards from the tableau in the pattern shown on the Trick. You only have one Trick to start the game, but you can rotate it if it works better for you the other way. Note that all cards you take on a turn will be placed face up in front of you for everybody to see. Open information all the way!
Some Tricks will let you pick up 4 or 5 cards at a time! The only restriction is that you cannot take more than one card from the row or column protected by the Guard Dog. So effectively, taking the whole row or column in line with the Guard Dog is not allowed and Tricks do not override this protection!
Specifically the cards in Dog Lover fall into the following categories: -
Dogs - any dogs you get will sit in front of you and you can have as many fur babies as you like – awwww!
Adoption papers – when you get multiples of these then can be exchanged for a rescue dog from the column next to the tableau who can do sneaky things to the usual rules – bless their puppy hearts!
Food – your puppies need chow, and not just any old snacks. Each dog card you collect specifies how much of the canned (blue), dried (brown), and scrap (burgundy) food they need in order to count at end game scoring. There’s also a wild (black) food resource. So collecting these cards to exchange for crunchy munchy cubes of the right colours is good dog owner 101!
Favourite things – dogs love toys! And the more they have the better for you as their point value goes up as your sets grow.
Fetch – this unique card allows you to swap the Fetch card with another card in the tableau.
Training - these can either be exchanged for new Tricks from the Trick column during the game or tucked behind one of your dog cards for points at end game.
Walks – again these are worth points when tucked behind one of your pups.
Bones – so long as you have fed your pups, the bones you have kept for end game will earn you bonus points (although watch out for a nasty negative nip if you only have one bone by game end!)
Traits – these represent ongoing special puppy powers. They also award points at end game but it must be paired up with one of your pups on the turn you take it. If you can’t attach it then you must discard it. And dogs can only have one trait – they can learn new tricks but never change their traits!
Once you have selected your cards, you place the Guard Dog where the asterisk is shown on the Trick you used and you refresh the Tableau. This is going to determine what cards are unavailable to the next player, so choose your Trick wisely young puppawans!
You then get to decide what you are going to do with the cards you have collected. A lot of your thinking time will be deciding whether to keep or lose cards e.g. discarding food cards will get you essential chow now, but some Traits let you tuck food cards for end game points. Remember, however, that only dogs with the right amount and type of food cubes will score points for you at end game. And besides their own point value, any paired Traits or tucked cards are going to boost their value in pawsome ways!
If you collect a Trait card, you have to be able to pair it with a doggie in your collection at that moment. If you can’t, you must discard the Trait. And once you pair a pup with its puptastic Trait, they keep it for the game – you can’t discard or add new ones to an existing dog.
And don’t forget that having only one bone in your collection at end game will score you negative points! As such, you might want to keep an eye on opportunities to swipe them!
When the “This Game is Ending” card is revealed in the deck, the final round is triggered so that everybody has had the same number of turns. Then it’s time to fetch the score pad and add up the points from all your well fed, walked and generally contented pups! Whoever has the most points at the end is the most dedicated Dog Lover of them all!
I hope this guide helps you through your first game of Dog Lover. But if you do get stuck on how the Guard Dog moves, the rule book has plenty of pictorial examples. Have a pawsome first game!