Game: Dungeon Petz
Publisher: Czech Games Edition
Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
Dungeon Petz is a game in which you control a group of imps, whose goal is to raise animals, keeping them happy, clean and well fed, until you think it’s the right time to sell them to some very dubious characters who definitely only have your adorable pet’s best interests at heart. In the meantime, whilst your pets are still growing up you can exhibit them in a ‘Crufts’- like competition where they will win for being the best a certain characteristics such as playfulness, anger or how much food they can eat. This very adorable and slightly questionable world is what drew us to Dungeon Petz.
Dungeon Petz is a working placement game for two to four players. Each turn you will place workers on the board to undertake various actions. Most actions only require one imp, but buying a new cage requires two imps (because cages are heavy) and purchasing pets requires your imp to have a gold coin. However, what makes this worker placement more interesting is the way that turn order works. Just before the worker placement phase you secretly assign your imps to a slot on your player board. The player who has assigned the most combined imps and gold to the first slot gets to go first. It’s then the turn of the player with the next most in their highest slot. Because of this you often assign a lot more imps to earlier actions than the one imp required, to ensure that you can take the actions you want/need to. You don’t need to place all of your workers on the board and those that you leave behind are often very important to clean up poop, catch escaping pets, play with your pets, or otherwise if they do nothing then they get paid one gold.
After the worker placement phase you assign your pets to cages. The different cages have different strengths such as automatically feeding or playing with your pet or being particularly strong against angry or magical pets, so this should help decide where to put them. You then draw the cards which represent the combined needs of all your pets from the four piles – green, red, yellow and purple. The different cards have a different distribution of needs eg. green is predominantly hunger, but also quite a bit of poop. You then assign cards to the pets in a way so that you can meet their needs with a combined effect of the food you have, the imps you’ve held back and the strengths of the cages. If a pet gets too angry it escapes, or if it gets too magical it mutates, too much sickness or not enough food and it suffers and eventually dies.
|Cages, complete with upgrades, pets and, of course, poop.|
Finally on most rounds you will exhibit your pets and points are given accordingly to the winners and runners up. Each round the exhibiton judges will be looking for something different either from just one of your pets or from all of the pets you own. Often they award points for some attributes and there are negative points for other attributes, such as suffering and mutations. After the exhibition you also have the opportunity to sell one pet to the unique buyer on that turn. The buyer again awards points for different attributes and, if your pet is large enough, you’ll get some gold for selling it too. This will free up a cage for you and also possibly get rid of a pet whose needs have just become too difficult to meet.
|The turn marker board which indicates what the exhibition will be in this round and the next round and what the pet purchasers are looking for.|
Dungeon Petz also scales really well. I think I enjoy it best with two players and this changes nothing about the game compared to a 3 player game, except for the scoring of the exhibitions. The difference between a 3 and 4 player game is just that the 4 player game has one fewer round and in the 2 or 3 player game you have 3 dummy workers on the board who rotate to block different spots each turn. I’ve not played with 4, but I don’t think this would over lengthen the game – the key moments of heavy thinking are done simultaneously so everyone is assigning cards to their pets at the same time and everyone is choosing how to group their imps at the same time.
For us, the theme of Dungeon Petz did not disappoint. The theme is strong, the game mechanics are strong and mix well with the theme and it’s a euro that plays in a sensible time frame with not too much down time. Dungeon Petz is becoming one of our favourites and the Yellow Meeple gives it an 8.5/10.