Updated: Nov 10, 2020
We've remarked before that there seem to be rather more cat than canine themed games. Publishers' Hit 'Em With a Shoe are doing their but to help redress the balance with this game, which is themed around dogs used for hunting in burrows. We've assumed that the publishers' name owes its origin to the names of the designers (Matt and Tamara Shoemaker) rather than their recommended method of canine discipline. :-)
The game takes up to four players but we found it worked best for us as a two-player game (with four, you play it as a team game). Players each select a breed of hunting dog and take the card for that breed. It shows on it the dog's various statistics, and you'll want to take note of both your own and those of your opponent's dog when drafting cards from those set out at the start of the game. Using those cards, one player will build a burrow - in effect, an obstacle course that the other player will have to get through before they reach and confront their quarry (rabbit, rat, raccoon, woodchuck, fox or badger).
Each dog has a number of 'moxie' point, represented with bone tokens, and they can spend these to boost their stats where the number needed to get past the card in the burrow exceeds the stats they have for a specific icon. The player can also spend cards in their hand to help them match the icon requirements, but that'll leave them with fewer cards when it is their turn to lay out a burrow... If both players successfully complete their runs, the round goes to the player who ends the round with the most remaining moxie. The dachshund meeples you can see in our Board's Eye View function as a catch-up mechanic, giving a skill uplift in subsequent rounds where a player fails to catch its quarry.
We've been playing a preview prototype of Dirt Dog ahead of its launch on Kickstarter on 10 November. The art, from Nathaneal Mortensen, has gone down well with the dog-lovers in our review team. The game plays quickly (you can expect to complete three rounds in less than 30 minutes) but the dogs all have quite different mixes of skills and you do need to take careful note of your opponent's dog's stats before making your card drafting selection. If you're careless over this, then there's a risk that your opponent's dog will just breeze through your burrow, which won't give you much of game. We're looking forward to seeing how Dirt Dog develops further over its Kickstarter run. Click here to check out the KS campaign.