Man Bites Dogs is a headline building card game published by University Games. The overall design of the game is simple and suits the newspaper theme. It contains elements of poker and relies on lady luck. So, while not the most strategic of games it is certainly a party favourite.
Setup and Gameplay
Set up could not be simpler. Deal out five cards to each player and you are ready to play! Each round, the players build an amusing headline out of the five cards they have been dealt. Before revealing, everyone has the chance to swap up to three cards from their hand. When all are ready, headlines are revealed and laughs ensue!
The number of rounds is determined by who reaches 500 points first. Each card is worth a certain amount of points, from 0 to 50. The more difficult words to play being worth the higher points. There is also one extra card in play to talk about: The Exclusive. If dealt an Exclusive card, your points for that round are doubled!
Player Falls for Crazy Game
Man Bites Dog is a firm favourite in my game group. It’s quick, it’s funny, and it is accessible to all – no complicated strategies to wrap your head around. It serves as a great warm-up game, especially if you are still waiting for players to turn up. The gameplay is not affected if someone joins in halfway through or equally if someone drops out. Sure the late players have some catching up to do but this game really is less about who wins and more about the funny headlines.
The headlines produced range from the absolutely absurd to the most viable (and a few which you would believe had come straight from the headlines of 2020!) The headlines are made up of a mix of nouns, “First Lady” or “Priest”, adjectives, “Swinging”, and verbs, “Stuns” or “Talks To”. Out of those five, I could make the headlines: Swinging First Lady Stuns Priest or First Lady Talks To Swinging Priest.
Being the medium of a headline, players can be flexible with punctuation and sentence structure. We call it implied punctuation! It makes for some really bizarre concepts which really enhances the merriment of the game. Where else can you introduce the image of a naked thug stunning the first lady and get points for it?
This is a wonderfully social game and it varies with the groups you play with, much like with games such as Cards Against Humanity or New Phone Who Dis? With family, you might find your answers are more PG whereas playing with friends it can end up more NSFW! With each round bringing everyone together to enjoy the headlines, there’s little opportunity for players’ interest to wain and get distracted by phones. I tend to find the only times phones come out during this game is to take photos of the truly absurd headlines!
The only real drawback of this game is the scoring and the fact you have to do it manually. The scores on the cards may all be multiples of 5, but I can honestly say my capacity for maths often switches off around 5 pm! But as the person who always has a notebook and pen, it often falls to me be designated scorer. Could this issue be solved by an in-game score tracker? Possibly but that
immediately makes the box bigger and more components to pay for. As it stands, Man Bites Dog is a compact game which fits nicely into your handbag. Along with that all-important notebook and pen!
Maybe I just need to get better at passing my notebook at other players around the table!
Regardless of the manual scoring, it is always a fun time when Man Bites Dog is brought to the table. It’s quick, easy to pick up, and a fabulous way to break the ice with new players.
If someone suggests playing Man Bites Dog I am never going to say no. The massive stock of cards means no two games are going to be the same and I have yet to see the same headline be played twice. The mix of there being a huge amount of different combinations paired with everyone’s unique way of thinking means the replayability of this game is high. Plus, having multiple rounds means the desire to play is well and truly satisfied so we can move onto other games. I am terrible for wanting to play the same game on repeat (I’m looking at you, Fluxx) so it’s a real personal benefit!
Whether you are a hardcore gamer or prefer party games, Man Bites Dog entertains all.