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Learning New Tricks

Welcome to the third in a series of designer diaries for the new boxed expansion for Dog Park - Dog Park: New Tricks. In this entry, I'm going to dive deeper into one of the core features of New Tricks - trick training! You can check out my first diary covering our broader design intentions here, and my second diary in which I took a closer look at the multi-breed dogs here.

A Box of Tricks

The concept of training was one that we experimented with in the early stages of developing the Dog Park base game (and if you're interested in that process, you can read all of my Dog Park designer diaries here). However, through much playtesting and streamlining, we realised that training in the base game was one concept too many. However, I always knew I wanted to return to dog training. How could I not? It is such a perfect fit for the theme and for gaming. 

The concept of training was one that we experimented with in the early stages of developing the Dog Park

So way back when, Jack and I parked training for the time being and resolved to return to it for the expansion, and now here we are. While there are several elements to New Tricks, we have certainly built the majority of the theme and gameplay around the concept of training. In short, each round you have the capacity to teach one of your dogs a new trick. This trick acts a little like a powerful second ability that can be used to enhance your engine building capabilities and output. But I'm getting ahead of myself. How do you teach dogs new tricks? 


Introducing the Trainer

Dog Park: New Tricks Trainer Meeple

Your business as a local dog walker is booming, so you've hired a specialist trainer to help expand your enterprise. This trainer works with the dogs in your kennel and on the lead to teach them new skills in order to earn you even more reputation with their owners. The trainer is placed on a dog card, along with a yellow frisbee trained token, and this signifies that the chosen dog is being trained this round and can perform their corresponding trick, which I'll discuss more in the next section. 

I'm particularly excited about the trainer's ability to move across the lead and the kennel. This new feature really opens up the player area as a dynamic part of the game.

I'm particularly excited about the trainer's ability to move across the lead and the kennel. 

As with Dog Park, our graphic designer Dann May did a superb job with the meeple design of the trainer, and they make a striking pair with their corresponding walker. In Dog Park: New Tricks, you can play as an all female pair, an all male pair, or a mixed pair. We love being able to offer players the opportunity to customize their play experience. 


The Trick Cards

There are twenty trick cards in New Tricks for players and their pups to discover. At the start of each game, seven are randomly placed on the new trick board and each has a few crucial pieces of information to consider before making any moves with your trainer. 

Dog Park: New Tricks trick cards

  1. The breed category. This is the printed area on the trick board on which the trick card has been placed. Multi-breed dogs can learn the trick associated with both categories that they represent, making them flexible and desirable dogs to have on hand. 
  2. The trick location. Dogs are able to perform tricks while in their kennel or on the lead, so players have to plan carefully which dogs to walk (or not) in order to use their associated trick. 
  3. The trick itself! Each trick has its own name, a description, and any conditions. We had great fun coming up with the various tricks and figuring out how they would integrate with the existing dog abilities.
  4. The trick cost. You'll notice that there are two costs at the bottom of each card. The first is how much it is to perform that trick while the trainer is stationed on the dog card in question. The second is the cost to perform the trick when the trainer has moved on to work with another dog. The yellow frisbee denotes that the trick has been learned, but it is more costly for the dog to perform without the encouragement of the trainer. 

Players have to plan carefully which dogs to walk (or not) in order to use their associated trick. 

And of course, all the pups in Dog Park - whether they come from the base game or any expansion - can learn new tricks. 


That's all from my bag of tricks (sorry, I couldn't resist) for my third New Tricks designer diary. Stay tuned for more weekly posts from me, which will be published on our website first and then on the New Tricks Board Game Geek page.

We’d love to have you with us for the Kickstarter campaign launching on the 20th June - in which we’ll be offering backers the chance to secure the Collector’s Edition, plus lots more exclusive goodies to be revealed - and you can sign up to be notified of the launch here.

All images in this article are from the newly released Dog Park: New Tricks teaser trailer, which you can watch in full here

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