I don’t know a whole lot about wine. I tend to like the red sort which in my experience comes in “nice” and “not as nice” variety (at least for the first glass, after which it doesn’t really matter and now it’s time to sing), I don’t get hints of cherry, earthy flavors or robust bouquets. I do know a bit about boardgames and I can detect game flavors and traits very quickly. Dogs of War (or Dags if you prefer) has got hints of several games but still manages to be unique and cheeky.
There’s a touch of Imperial in there (no bad thing), Modern Art (I like modern art), War of the Roses and a few other notable games, none of which overpower the flavour or make it a clone. Dogs of War stands on it’s own two armoured feet and is a great fun game
The box is quite imposing and you’d be forgiven for thinking it another map based conquest game, it’s not, there’s no map. At it’s simplest it’s a tug of war game betting game.
One of the things I like about this game is you get it straight away, or at least in the first game. There’s no hidden gotchyas, you don’t need to play a half dozen games before you’ll have a hope of winning, you just need to play and watch out for everyone else. Tricking them into helping you win helps too.
Each player starts with a screen behind which they hide their money, troop cards, event cards, house cards, victory points, lint and boiled sweets.
There are four rounds each a little longer than the last in which you
1. Buy troops
2. Play your 3-5 captains
3. Fall for your opponents ploy
4. Fail to gain points that looked so easy to get at the start
There’s optional crying but mandatory swearing, threatening and parentage questioning.
After buying troops with your meager funds. you then have to decide on which side of three battles you want to place your men. This is done one at a time by each player around the board. The battles themselves are fought for the six houses in the game each of which you hold ‘shares’ in. Sticking your captain on a particular side has the effect of moving a pointer either one direction or the other (like a tug of war) depending on how good (and expensive) the troop card is you’re going to commit.
The scoring for a battle is tug of war style like twilight struggle. So every plus for one side is a minus for the other. Figuring out what everyone is up to before you commit is key. Alliances are flimsy and opportunistic, last minute placement of troops can swing battles, falling into a ruse by other players would have Admiral Ackbar horse by round two.
There are no set paths to victory (winning a lot of battles doesn’t hurt) and you will need to adjust your plans on the fly. What I really like about this game is you’re never left wondering what to do, it’s all very simple really. For what is in the loosest manner a worker placement game (very loose) there’s a massive about of interaction with other players, not just cock blockery, direct in your face, HA! sort of play.
There’s a number of neat little mechanics in there that make the game unpredicatbale but rarely luck based. Every mistake is yours to own, just like every victory.
The models in the game are lovely, each sporting a steam punky style. The artwork is good but not exceptional. (We’re spoiled by Fantasy Flights pristine designs). The build quality is excellent, everything is solid. it’s a fine construction.
Having played this once, I wanted to rush out and buy it. Since it was late at night and I live miles from anywhere that would have been a mistake. If someone didn’t have this game in our group I would rush out now and buy it. It’s the most fun game I’ve played since Knavecon 6. Well worth a look