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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Dog's Life / So ein Hundeleben
Theme:  Dog / Puppy
Format:  Board Games


English language edition; AKA: A Dog's Life

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 60-120 minutes 2-6

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Product Description

The Theme
It's A DOG'S LIFE, and you're a junkyard dog! The object? To be the first pooch on the block to bury 4 bones in your back-yard. In order to find the bones, you must scavenge from trash cans, beg at restaurants, and generally behave like a "dog about town". But remember, it's every dog for itself and the competition is tough. Dogs must "mark their territories" in order to slow other dogs down, and fight bravely against bullies trying to steal their bones. And don't forget the merciless Dogcatcher! Each dog is very different, with varying skills and breed characteristics. Whether you're a wily poodle or a hearty husky, the task is not an easy one, and fortunes change at the flick of a tail. After all, it's A DOG'S LIFE!

The Rules
Each dog, depending on their own characteristics, has a number of points which they may spend each turn in order to perform various actions. A unique system of cards determines the results of these actions and keeps the outcome from being completely driven by luck. Players have a wide variety of choices, whether they want to work toward their own goals, or harass their opponents. The rules are very simple and logical, and allow players the sorts of actions and choices that a junkyard dog would make.

The Characteristics
Players quickly become attached to their dogs, especially as each dog has a unique personality and skills. The rules can be learned while playing, and are not hard to remember. The situations in the game, and the choices for players are nearly infinite. The entire family can easily pick up the game and immediately enjoy playing it. And, the winner is not necessarily the most skillful, or the luckiest, but just the best at being a dog!

Product Information


  • 1 Game Board
  • 6 Figures, representing 6 different dogs
  • 6 Dog Description Cards (one per breed)
  • 1 6-Sided Die
  • 6 Sets of 13 cards (One set per dog)
  • 6 Hunger Markers
  • 6 Starting Space Cards
  • 18 Search Trash Can Markers
  • 30 Bone Markers
  • 12 Newspaper Markers
  • 48 Piddle Markers (8 of each color)
  • 1 Dogcatcher's Truck
  • 1 Rule Book

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 2.8 in 5 reviews

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by Ryan B
Great Concept: Not so great rules... but note the changes!
November 07, 2003

What can I say? The concept and theme of this game are great! The basic mechanics are very good also. It is the rules which cause the game to be maybe only 2-3 stars at face value. The rules seem to be designed (unintentionally, I'm sure) to keep players resigned to the 'dog pound' for very significant parts of the game. This is because the same rules apply for two players as they do for six. However, because of the way the mechanics are designed, this causes a tremendous lack of balance.

Ex: In a two player game, the dogcatcher truck can move a maximum of 6 spaces before it is your turn again. In a six player game, the dogcatcher truck has the potential to move a maximum of 30 spaces before your turn comes up. Good luck avoiding the dogcatcher!

Simply put, this happens because the game rules don't adapt to changes in the number of participants.

Hence, the following rules changes designed to even out gameplay and make this game a far more enjoyable experience:

(You must know the official rules to understand some of the verbage below... these rules changes are designed to work in concert with each other..)



Fight Rule:

1. When fighting, double your paws and add your current 'hunger track' number to get a 'total fight strength' comparison.



Dogcatcher Rule:

1. A dog can only be caught if the dogcatcher truck lands directly on the player's space. Furthermore, even when the dogcatcher lands directly on a dog, the player then flips a card to see if the dog is actually caught or manages to escape.

2. The dogcatcher can move through your space on a turn and 'bypass' you. However, your dog cannot move through the dogcatcher and you must move your dog around the dogcatcher to avoid any potential consequences.

3. Die rolls for 2 players- Players get to roll the dice twice and add up the total shown on each separate roll to move the dogcatcher's truck. Once the two die rolls are completed, the player is then allowed to move the dogcatcher's truck the total amount of spaces indicated.

4. Die rolls for 3 players- Normal rules apply, as far as concerning dice rolls.

5. Die rolls for 4 players- The dogcatcher truck can only be moved to a maximum of four spaces on a player's individual turn. Rolling a five or a six is the equivalent to rolling a '4'.

6.Die rolls for 5-6 players- The dogcatcher truck can only be moved to a maximum of three spaces on an individual player's turn.

Roll a one or two = 1 space.

Roll a three or a four = 2 spaces.

Roll a five or a six = 3 spaces.



Sniffing the Lamppost Rule:

1. It now costs 4 action points to move through a space with someone else's piddle (formerly the entire rest of the turn) The 4 action points account for taking the time to stop and sniff the lamppost before moving on.

2. You must have at least 4 action points available to move through someone else's piddle, otherwise you can move into the space and end your turn. Or you can simply go around the piddle, of course.

3. It costs the rest of your turn if you land on the space with the intent to stay and 'mark the territory' yourself on your next turn.



Piddle Rule

1. Individual piddle markers can only be used on the gameboard once during the course of a game; for a total of 8 times. Use them wisely!

2. If you 'mark your territory' over someone else's dog piddle on a turn, the other player does not get the marker back and it goes into the discard pile.

3. It costs two action points to 'mark your territory' over someone else's piddle. However, it only costs one action point to piddle on a 'bare' lamppost.



Leaving the Pound:

1. You leave the pound with your marker at '4' on the hunger track (formerly '2' in the official rules) ... but you leave with your bladder 'empty'.

2. Note: Any previously held piddle markers in your bladder that had not yet been played on the gameboard when you were sent to the pound are returned back to your pile. They are not put in the discarded pile and they are still eligible for play.



Game Object:

1. For 2-3 players: Bury 4 bones

2. For 4 players: Bury 3 or 4 bones (as the players involved decide).

3. For 5-6 players: Bury 3 bones

clever and fun
December 02, 2001

This is a nice little game with a solid mix of strategy and luck. I've only played it twice so far (just got it) but there seem to be a number of approaches in terms of how to best maneuver around the board and accomplish your doggie goals. The materials are first-rate as well, with a colorful and well-designed board, little dogs to move around, etc. And I'm a sucker for a game that includes rummaging in garbage cans and peeing on lampposts, both of which are involved here.

It's a little 'light' to get 5 stars in my book, but I like it very much and give it a strong recommendation.

by Chris
A little too 'light' but nonetheless fun...
January 01, 2002

I agree with a previous reviewer who says the game is a little 'light', that is, it doesn't have deep and subtle strategy like [page scan/se=0040/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]El Grande or Traders of Genoa. That comparison may be a little extreme, but A Dog's Life is nevertheless enjoyable.

Like the rules and box say, it kinda helps to think like a dog, at least in some little way... 'Should I pee on this lamp post and mark my territory to hinder other dogs from getting close, or should I dig in this garbage can, looking for that tasty bone to bury in the yard?' There are choices in this game, and you can play nice or like a mean dog, trying to prevent your opponents from accomplishing the same goal you are, to bury 4 bones in your 'starting home space'. I've only played 2 three-player games with it, but there seems to be a nice mix of luck and strategy, even though the game mechanics DO play off of luck a little more heavily for my liking. :)

There is nice board design and art (though a bit cluttered in spots, I think), and the player markers are decently crafted plastic dog minatures, each based on a particular breed.

Overall, it's not a bad game, but not one to keep our group fasinated like Traders of Genoa and El Grande do, but that's us. :)

What a Dog!
August 02, 2005

A Dog's Life is one strange game! Beyond the appeal of the board, the pieces, and the strange task of "thinking like a dog", this game left my kids and me a little cold. It should have been fun racing through town to get your bones and "piddling" on lampposts and begging for food, but somehow it just seemed more pointless than strategic.

The worst sin this game commits is adding elements that make it seem to last too long. Although in a real dog's life, the threat of the dog catcher is worth considering, in the game it just gets in the way. Plus you never seem to accomplish very much before you have to eat or starve in the game.

I was disappointed in this one. If you really want to experience A Dog's Life, take your own dog for a walk.

Great concept -- bad game
February 12, 2002

This game has a great game theme, with great mechanics, but it's play is terrible. First to highlight the good parts:

Theme: the theme is very well done, and accurately captures the feeling of running around as a dog trying to stay alive.

Mechanics: The basic mechanic is that each player has a unique set of cards, on which each card has an outcome for each of the six potential things that can happen to the dog. For example, if you look in a trash can you fip over the card and do what it says for that action. This is a clever mechanic, and hopefully will be exploited in other future games. It allows each deck to have various strengths and weaknesses, while keeping a lot of luck in the outcomes. Different dogs definitely should pursue different strategies.

Play: The play is terrible. The reason for this is that they didn't play test enough (or at least not with anyone who knew what they were doing). With a number of players, the odds that the dog catcher catches someone reaches nearly 100% each turn- landing a dog in the pound where they sit and do nothing. If players piddle aggressively- which you need to do to have a chance, then many dogs get out of the pound and necessarily starve before doing anything at all- going back to the pound. Basically you spend half the game in the pound, and the other half trying to half heartedly do anything at all before being shot back to the pound.

To game designers: please play test your games before releasing them! This could have been a great game, too bad it wasn't.

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