…I am assuming a quadrupedal position today. Yes indeedy! I am questing on all fours, donning my dog costume and attempting to figure out how to operate weapons without the use of opposable thumbs….
…yes, today I am a handbag sized adventurer. I am Pug the Barbarian, Gandalf the Pug…and so on…
(Press play for a Questing ambience to accompany your read!)
Fantasy PUG QUEST is a card game inspired by the heroic atmospheres belonging to the first Dungeon & Dragons edition and on tactical combats from JRPG like the very first episodes of Final Fantasy. The will to cooperate and the fraternity spirit which usually bonds adventurers are the main basis of our project!
The players, the brave good-doers pugs struggling to bring peace among the animal races, will have to fight Monster and their Bosses adapting to the environmental rules of the Worlds they live in, gather Energy to perform incredible Combos, pick up Treasures and share with their party in order to maximize their power and finally save the day!
What’s All The Fuss About?
Fantasy PUG QUEST is described as a non collectible card game, which, from my point of view, is a major plus. It has been conceived for 1-5 players, which sees the adventurers (that’s us, by the way) playing our quests type activities for about 30 minutes or so. The game itself is designed for Heroes of age 10 and upwards, all of which means that we, whatever our age, will have to cooperate completely , sharing our individual skill sets in order to defend our worlds from the conquest of the diabolical forces of evil that have been menacing them…the lands, that is, not the Heroes. They will get their dose of menacing once the game begins.
It is intended to be published in two languages English and Italian (QUI, sul nostro sito, puoi trovare una versione completa di questa pagina in Italiano). If the campaign manages to reach 100 backers from each country the game will be translated the game in German, French and Spanish too. So this could well open up the market considerably.
Immersion or Subversion?
Fantasy Pug Quest is not really a dungeon crawl, as such. It is not a sandbox exploration game, nor is it a miniature skirmish game. It takes elements from these genres and crams its mechanics into a series of columns and rows. But this does not mean it is a stale geometric abstract game either. It is a fantasy game taking anthropomorphized dog characters and turns them (and their enemies) into cartoon-esque Fantasy Pug adventurers…oh, and baddies too. there is a Dark Pug as an evil boss. It is definitely a fantasy setting with a very pleasant escapism feel to the Illustration style. Gameplay, mechanics and a subtle implementation of flavour text/statistics/humour all lend themselves well to a deeply immersive Questing style of game, with an interesting thematic slant to the genre.
There are some interesting ideas here, especially governing movement and range for abilities and weapons. The game consists of two columns of five card spaces for heroes to populate and two columns of the same for the enemies and bosses. The entire game plays out on these twenty spaces. Movement is orthogonal on each respective pair of columns and position affects the range of certain abilities or weapons. To give an example.
…Erik the Pug is in the right hand column of the hero side of the board with a short-range attack… he can only hit an enemy in the left most column occupying the space of the opposing row.
It sounds complicated to explained but actually works sleekly, in an uncomplicated fashion. The game controls the enemy, so one less worry for us, using World cards to dictate enemy population whildt individual enemy cards have movement and attacks pre-determined for each next type. It is a turn based game based on initiative order which includes enemy cards. This results in a dynamic round as play can shift between player and AI enemy dependent on respective initiative. It adds further to the difficulty as multiple enemies may be moving, fighting and generally carrying on in a despicable manner independently from each other. A real sense of intense activity is created through the use of some very simple systems.
Wood Chits and Cardboard Bits:
I have a not so clearly printed PnP copy but this does show how the game will look to good effect. I have included images from the kickstarter page to give a clearer image of how components look. Checking with the Kickstarter page will give a more up to date idea of the proposed content size and quality.
Meeples and Standees:
- Game Design:
- Game Publisher: Tin hat games
- Playtime: (recess for those of the US persuasion): 30 minutes
- Gangs of One: 1-5
- Age of Consent: 10+
- DOB: 2019
As Fantasy Pug Quest is first, foremost and only a cooperative game, obviously we can assume this facilitates solo game play… but a single player doesn’t have to be encumbered with vast quantities of character paraphernalia expected if having to control a full group of five heroes… the World cards are nicely designed to accommodate all player counts when considering set up. The difficulty/number of opponents… or evil creatures hell-bent on our undoing, is scaled to match the number of heroes. So we can take a solitary pup questing or a whole Pug Pack of adventurers out for a spin, and experience the same challenge but specifically tailored for our party number.
The Real Nitty Gritty:
- Winners and Losers: This is, based on my ineptitude perhaps, a particularly tough cookie to crack. Not in a bad way. This is a real challenge but more on a puzzle solving level. It also challenges on and management/resource card management level. Utilising the abilities and combo powers of multiple heroes together is the best way to achieve success. The game is winable… but not easily. It can be played as a singe world game for a short experience or as the three world campaign. Either way it is no walk in the park (which may upset many a pug reading) but with careful consideration a solution can be found.
- Rules is Rules is Rules: The rule PDF has a number of peculiar worded phrases and numerous typos, obviously inherited from translation from Italian to English. This is, however a work in progress and I am sure things will be ironed out before going to press. I have been in touch with the team and forwarded a couple of my suggestions for the rule book. The rules in general work well, issues aside, and have numerous illustrations to help explain card anatomy and mechanic concepts. The game is straight forward in nature but one concept to grasp is the notion of double columns and rows. This is vital to comprehend protagonist’s movement and how range functions when attacking or assisting.
- Lucky Buggers: Luck doesn’t feature too highly in the game. Combat is dealt with rough player management of power cards. If we mess up here we have Nay our selves to blame. The display (from where we can acquire power cards) can be manipulated and we have opportunity to discard our hand, so even with a poor selection of power cards, we should be able to rid ourselves of the dross and cherry pick the cards we need. random Boss, enemies and, even the world cards, all provide a unique gaming experience each time we play so I would not say that this is a ‘luck’ issue that needs addressing. predictability does not make for entertaining questing.
- Highs and Lows:The nature of this game from illustrative style to theme to game play lends its self to nothing moe than an upbeat game experience.In addition, many of the abilities and especially the items inject a very entertaining humour into the game…my favourite is a Never ending Lead (leash) that allows additional movement, The One Collar (Lord of the Rings-sequel) and The Stick of Power… what a great idea… all of which made me giggle!
- Footprints All Over Both Sides of My Table: I was fortunate enough to be sent the PnP files to try the game out and as such printed at what is probably 50% -ish of the normal game size (cost and time for me) so my set up comfortably sat on my 60cm x 46cm portable table… I would imagine something akin to 1m x 1m is more likely to be the call of the day for the full game but visiting the Kickstarter will give you a better idea.
- Build It Up Just To Tear It All Down Again: If the decks are all stored separately (unlike mine, which took quite some time to sort out into appropriate piles) set up is a very quick affair.. all decks are shuffled. The first world is revealed which dictates the number of enemy cards/boss card to populate the play area with…we choose our Hero and its two cards…and away we go. I would be surprised if more than five or six minutes is needed for a solo game. Equally, packing away, keeping decks separate will take only a few minutes. A thoroughly engaging game that can be set up and play begins in matter of moments.
Me, Myself and I:
To be fair I was in two minds about this at first. I liked the way the illustrations were rendered (although, with a distinct lack of paternal instinct, failed to appreciate the ‘cuteness’) but was not sure how the four column set up would work for a fun fantasy quest game. As it happens, my misgivings were unfounded as it actually proved to be a really challenging, engaging adventure. There is a large percentage of the game that relies on puzzle solving….
…The movement of our heroes to position in just the right position to fully utilise all of their abilities and be able to target enemies to the maximum potential. As the enemy have an individually programmed movement/initiative/attack statistic, our job is not an easy one. It could be seen as a ‘kids’ game due to the nature of the visuals, but to be honest, strategy, tactics and even the level of subtle humour within the many cards (especially with the items and treasure) are definitely food for a more mature audience’s appetite. This is a clever questing game and even with its simplicity of play, provides us with a surprisingly entertaining challenge. In all, Me and Myself were suitably impressed and I was surprised at just what the game had to offer .
Yay or Nay?
Looking beyond the anthropomorphic pooches-ness of our canine adventurers, Fantasy Pug Quest hacks and slashes at the BSoMT 1d8 die for a very positive (7) and I would highly recommend everyone take a look at the Kickstarter page while it is live. There is a lot more to this game than might be gleaned from a first impression.
…now I am not wholly against the use of collars for one’s personal entertainment, but this bloody flea collar is making me itch something rotten…
Something For The Weekend, Sir?
Fantasy Pug Quest kickstarter page: (link)
Fantasy Pug Quest Review by Unfiltered Gamer
Tin Hat Games on Twitter