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After the great success of Dungeon Lords, it would have been a real shame not to exploit the atmosphere of the dungeons and the neighboring village. It has taken two years to prepare the Dungeon Lords expansion to be released this year in Essen but in the meanwhile, the real protagonists of Dungeon Lords, the small Imps, get a game for their own: Dungeon Petz. Actually, the 20 pages of rules are really overmuch compared to the complexity of the game.
Players are Imps going into business opening Pet Shops. The pets they are going to sell are not the usual pets but are young monsters, once grown, to be sold to Dungeon Lords. During the game, players will buy pets, feed and take care of them, bring them to exhibitions and, finally, sell them to interested Dungeon Lords. The game runs for 5 rounds and, in the end, the one with the most prestige points will be the winner.
The main idea behind Dungeon Petz are the needs of the monsters. You know what each of your pets need but you are not always sure you will be able to meet those needs so you have to be prepared. All pets are different both in the beginning and also as they age. Pet counters are made with a special wheel you can just turn round to round to mark the new age making visible more needing symbols. Every turn has 6 phases: set-up, shopping, need cards, showing off, business and aging.
Some phases have several steps. It is now time to go shopping and each player has to secretly prepare in up to six groups the Imps. You can add one or more coins to each group that has to have at least one imp. Of course, bigger groups mean less actions for you; you start with just 6 Imps and you can get only 4 more during the game. Tied groups are resolved in turn order. How many groups? How many Imps? How many coins? These are not simple choices because there are a lot of things to do.
You can buy cages that can help you in growing your pets, especially the highly magic or highly angry ones. Every turn, three cages are available but just two can be bought and you need a group with at least two Imps to get one since the cages are really heavy.
You need food for your pets: vegetables and meat. You need to buy new pets from the 4 available each turn.
Without going into details, I can assure you that the possibilities are many and the decisions not easy. Of course everything must fit with the pets you own or are going to acquire since pets are really different and have different needs. Every pet displays one or more symbols according to his age and you take the corresponding cards. You will take all the cards needed from all your pets and combine it with the 4 cards one of each color you can preserve in hand from round to round. Than you have to assign the number and type of cards to each pets according to the symbols.
If I have a pet with two food symbols green and one magic symbol purple and I have two green and one purple card and then I have to assign him 2 green and 1 purple, then where is the game? There are decisions to be takes since you have cards in your hands and you have, usually, more than one pet. Not being able to fulfill a need could lead to some mutation or suffering tokens to discovering that your pets have escaped or disappeared into another dimension!
Every exhibition will promote pets with particular features and, again, the cards you have played beside the pet will indicate this feature. Since you know the exhibition requests two turns in advance, there is time to prepare and grow the right pets.
Best fulfilling the exhibition request is the main way to score prestige points during the game and that is what will make your pets shop the greatest one in the end. Starting from round 3, every pet shop can also sell one pet to Dungeon Lords.
Dungeon Lords have different tastes and, again, you will get more or less prestige points according to how your pet fulfills these tastes. I really like Dungeon Petz a lot. Turn by turn, you have to face the probabilities, trying to prepare for many different possibilities.
There is a classic worker placement phase but the order of choice is determined by a very clever mechanism larger groups means more choices but fewer actions. You have to manage Imps and coins really well and also be able to predict what your opponents are looking for. Of course, the pets are actually the only way to score prestige points bringing to exhibitions and selling to Dungeon Lords so you need to buy pets during the game to win. For me there is really a lot in this game and, play after play, I enjoy discovering its depth.
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How to play ?
The Game. Now instead of playing a dungeon lord building up his dungeon and protecting it from the intrusion of those self-righteous heroes, you play a family of imps managing a pet shop. The pets are, of course, not your regular type of pets. Some would call them monsters, which is not very nice of them, but you know better. You equip your pet shop, you buy young pets and take care of their daily needs and see them grow up, you show them off at pet shows, and when the price is right, you sell them to dungeon lords who appreciate them. At the end of a fixed number of rounds, whoever's pet shop has the highest reputation wins.
Dungeon Petz (2011)
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