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Become the leader of an imp family that has just started a new business – breeding and selling petz. Sound simple and safe? Well, we forgot to mention that those petz are for Dungeon Lords. This means magical, playful, sometimes angry monsters that constantly desire attention and at the very moment you want them to demonstrate their qualities to buyers they are sick or they poo. Sometimes you are even glad that you got rid of them – but the profit is unbelievable.
Dungeon Petz is a standalone game set in the Dungeon Lords universe created in the board game of the same name. The game consists of several rounds in which players use unusual worker placement mechanisms (players simultaneously prepare different sized groups of imps in order to play sooner than others) to prepare themselves for the uneasy task of raising creature cubs and pleasing their different needs represented by cards in order to sell them as grown scary creatures to Dungeon Lords. In the meantime they also attend various contests in which they show off their pets, scoring additional points.
Dungeon Petz is a 2011 release by wizard designer Vlaada Chvátil, arguably one of the most versatile modern game designers given the diverse types of designs in his quiver. In this worker placement `sequel' to his 2009 hit Dungeon Lords, it is time for the imps to breed and sell petz for the dungeon lords. How will you and your group of 2-4 players manage this novel, demanding, and yet comical task? Overall, Dungeon Petz features just the right combination of satisfying game-play, humorous theme, and quality artwork to make it a real success, and in what it achieves in terms of design and theme, it’s ever typical Vlaada.
The basic concept of Dungeon Petz is that players manage the raising and selling of monster pets for the dungeon lords. What makes Dungeon Petz stand out is how unique it is in a multitude of ways. The theme is one of the real highlights of this game, in view of its humor, novelty and successful integration with the game mechanics. The humorous and clever artwork is another of the game’s real draw-cards. What makes the game especially shine is how much fun it is. The rulebook is a good example of the game’s charming humor.
Despite the cute and whimsical appearances, Dungeon Petz is far from being a light game, but is considerably deep and demanding. It can be challenging to learn and teach, and the amount of rules especially make for a learning curve with new players. Nonetheless, overall Dungeon Petz is still a more accessible game than its older brother Dungeon Lords. The worker placement mechanics are generally sound, satisfying, and well integrated with the other aspects of the game. Yet be prepared for somewhat of a brain-burning experience.
In so many ways, Dungeon Petz is a signature Vlaada Chvatil design. It features a thoroughly original and funny theme, which is closely melded together with sound albeit somewhat heavy mechanics, and thus creates a very satisfying experience both on the level of game-play and from the perspective of a fun atmosphere. Some may find that the game is too heavy and ponderous for the whimsical theme, but most gamers who enjoy the challenges of deeper gameplay will find that the light-hearted elements of the game are just the redemptive qualities that they need in order to draw them into the mechanics and ensure that this clever and amusing game for gamers doesn’t overstay its welcome.