Welcome to the second designer diary for Dog Park: New Tricks, in this special series as we count down to the Kickstarter launch on 20th June 2023. In my first diary, I discussed our intentions for the expansion and the broad strokes of the gameplay. Today I'm going to take a closer look at the Multi-breed dogs and their impact on the game. Spoiler alert: adorable art ahead. As always, Holly Exley knocked it out of the park with her dog illustrations.
Why Introduce Multi-breed Dogs?
There are two parts to this answer: the first part has its roots in design and the second in enhancing player experience. I'll start with the second part.
When we ran the first Dog Park Kickstarter, we featured exclusively purebred dogs (the set collection element of the game was inspired by the seven breed groupings of the UK Kennel Club - and should you like to read more about that, you can check out my designer diary on that here) and while we were proud to feature 221 unique breeds, there were still plenty of players who didn't see their dog represented in the game - and let us know that they'd love to in the future. Plus I know from our morning walks with Rupert the Springer Spaniel how popular rescue dogs with mysterious and myriad heritages are, and likewise on doodly crossbreeds. This meant that for New Tricks, Jack and I knew we wanted to represent dogs that fell into more than one breed category for whatever reason, and Multi-breeds in New Tricks encompasses mixed breeds, crossbreeds, rescues, and everything in between. We hope players old and new love seeing these well-loved dogs enter the park to join their purebred pals.
New Tricks encompasses mixed breeds, crossbreeds, rescues, and everything in between.
And then there's the game design factor. Dogs that represent more than one breed category offer a tantalizing new design premise. One dynamic and evolutionary element they offer, for example, is that every scoring condition attached to breed categories is influenced and changed. Nothing is fixed until in the very last moment of the game. If a Multi-breed dog comes into the Field, they can prompt gameplay pivots and last-minute Reputation maximising. In short: they keep players on their toes! Something we felt was perfect for an expansion.
Every scoring condition attached to breed categories is influenced and changed.
As set collection is very much at the heart of Dog Park as an integral mechanic, we were excited to build on this in New Tricks. The result is a crunchier game with much more emphasis on your fellow walkers kennels and strategies. I end up giving sneaky side eye to all my fellow players!
New Dogs, New Ability Trigger Point!
While some of the new Multi-breed dog abilities trigger during Selection, Walking, or Final Scoring, we took the opportunity to introduce a new ability trigger point: 'When performing a TRICK with this dog'. Multi-breed dogs have to be played with the New Tricks expansion - and while all dogs can learn tricks, something I'll discuss more in next week's entry - only Multi-breed dogs have the potential to trigger their ability at the same time.
We took the opportunity to introduce a new ability trigger point: 'When performing a TRICK with this dog'.
So should you be able to line up your Multi-breed dog's trick-based ability with the perfect trick, you'll create a lucrative mini-engine. But of course, the same rules of Dog Park still apply: walk and rewalk any dog over others, and you'll lose Reputation for unwalked pups. Plus tricks become more costly to perform without the experienced trainer - but more on that next time!
That's all for my second 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 - 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.
Please note all photographs in this article feature a prototype copy of New Tricks which is liable to change.