Updated: Apr 27
Pet Royale is a simple 2-4 player card-driven game from Paw and Chow Co. that uses the tried & tested rock/paper/scissors mechanic.
The premise is that you are competing for food (tokens). You need to collect six tokens to win the game. With two or three players you use just one board, so each round you are competing for just four spots with food tokens on them. With four players you use two boards (eight spots). Players each have a hand of initially nine cards featuring cute animal cartoons but the picture and text are just for flavour - the important thing is the icon in the top left corner. That shows a hand in one of the rock/paper/scissors position.
On your turn, you can play any number of cards up to four in any single column (there'll be two columns in a two or three-player game; four in a four-player game). You play the cards face down and when all players have laid all of their cards, you flip them to see who has won each of the rock/paper/scissor contests. If you win, you collect the token(s) on the contested spot. If it's a draw (ie: both of the two players contesting that spot have played cards with the same icon), the token remains unclaimed and another token is added to that spot. In all cases - win, lose or draw - players take back the cards they played and lay them out on the table face up.
You only draw the cards back into your hand when you are down to just two or fewer, so players are increasingly playing with open information about what cards their opponent(s) have played and so what icons are available to them... It's this, and the fact that you can choose how many cards to contest with each round, that gives a novel twist to an otherwise very familiar mechanic. There's also a once-per-round opportunity to use a 'second chance' chip. Flip it and you can take back the card you played and play another. Your opponent on that spot can do the same, but only if they haven't already used their 'second chance' chip in this round. If you hold out and are the last player to use your 'second chance' chip, you'll be able to guarantee yourself a win in that particular rock/paper/scissors contest; provided of course you still have a card in your hand with the requisite icon.
Pet Royale is a light fast-paced filler-length family game that children and adults can play on pretty much even terms.