Even before I had a dog in my life, I loved sitting in parks watching dogs in the off-leash areas playing and just being the pure beings of wonderful that dogs are. Never before have I had to deal with fleas and dogs, though – and for that I am incredibly thankful! But in the world of Grand Dog Park you’re unlucky enough to have to deal with this situation.You’re off to the park with your pack, and all of a sudden you notice scratching!
This little card game isn’t steeped with theme, but it’s pretty cute and the idea is pretty up front – get your dogs to mingle, and hopefully don’t got home with a pack full of itching pups, you want to have the least fleas! Designed to be a “collectible card game”, this initial pack (zing) has 4 dog breeds: Daschunds, German Shepherds, Saint Bernard and Pugs. Gameplay is all about playing cards into a central “lineup” on either end, making sure the lineup remains smallest-to-largest – each type of dog has cards numbered 1 – 15 with differing values of dog treats, fleas and shampoo. Players take turns playing cards out of their hand to the lineup of dogs, and hopefully won’t get to the point where they can’t play and are forced to take those all as game-end scoring.
The basic playing of cards would leave you high and dry pretty quickly – but each dog breed has a special trick they can do that lets you mess with how you play cards. The aforementioned dog treats are collected if you play out a dog card that has any listed at the top. You take dog treat cards and save them, because when you’d like to use one of the breed’s fancy tricks you have – of course – got to give them a treat for it! Pugs can squeeze in between two other cards, just as long as its value is between those numbers; Saint Bernards just flop down on another card of the same value; German Shepherds will let you play another card, hopefully making the lineup harder for other players to play to; finally, the little sausage Daschunds will nose their way into the lineup, replacing another card of the same value.
After playing, you’ll draw up to your hand size of 6; I liked that they suggested a more “advanced” mode of having a small draw selection face up instead of it just being a random draw from the deck. Once all the dog cards in the deck are played out (or someone has to play and can’t and no cards are left to draw) the round ends. Players look at what they’ve collected, and tally up flea amounts – then remove as many as you have shampoo on your cards, and that’s your points total. The game suggests playing rounds until a player hits 30 points; so far I’ve only played the one round.
It’s unfortunate, but the game doesn’t feel like it moves quickly enough and there’s enough special tricks that you can do that really prolongs the point of someone having to take the lineup; not to mention you’ll likely only have one or two people taking the lineup in a round. Even over multiple rounds, that means there’s not going to be much of a spread throughout players. Even with more players, things don’t feel like they speed up or having to take cards spreads out. That said, it’s not so long that it’s exasperating – and you can always remove one of the breeds to tighten up the game.
Overall, it’s a fun little card game with very few intense decisions to make. Most of all I am in love with the illustrations – each dog has unique card art and a personality that really comes across. If this were an abstract game, I’d likely not look at it twice – but the cute brings me back!
Grand Dog Park is a card game for 2 – 6 players, taking approximately 15-30 minutes to play. Designed by Csepi Balázs and illustrated by Lázár Aurél, it’s published by Cogitate Games/Flora and Nora. We were lucky enough to receive a review copy of this, thank you!