Having played my first game of the show I quickly spotted Paul Grogan (leader of last years Essen Road Trip) who was just setting up a game of Dungeon Petz with Phil (another member of the Essen road trip team) and I think David. With a spare seat at the game they were kind enough to let me join them.
This is a game still in prototype which was going to be demoed at the UK Games Expo over the following two days, so the accompanying photo’s are not the finished artwork and Paul obviously got his ‘Blue Peter Badge’ as a boy because he had taken the PDF artwork supplied by Czech Games Edition (CGE) and created some pretty impressive game components, as well as pinching various cubes, meeples etc from other games to bring together all the playing pieces necessary for the game.
The game is set loosely in the same world as Dungeon Lords, but is a standalone game in its own right. When not designing and building new dungeons and killing the hapless adventurers, the Dungeon Lords want to spend time relaxing with a
pet!? However these are not the fluffy friendly pets (ignoring pit bulls) of our world rather these are violent magical beasts (for anyone familiar with Harry Potter think of Hagrid’s taste in pets). The petz violent behaviour eventually leads to the Dungeon Lords losing patience with them and either killing them or adding them to the scary beasts in their respective dungeon so a there is constant demand for new petz and a cottage industry has grown up for the imps who inhabit this world based on buying baby petz and entering them into competitions before ultimately selling them to the aforementioned Dungeon Lords.
The game consists of a series of five rounds were you have the opportunity to build new cages, buy new petz, see petz you already have grow more scary and find the wherewithal to manage these beasts. This includes, finding ways to distract and amuse them, strengthen the cages both physically and magically, find ways to deal with the poop some of the beasts produce in large quantities, obviously feed them, acquire more imps (it being a worker placement game you needs imps to carry out the many tasks) and repair the imps savaged by the petz. If all these things are in balance then your petz will stay caged and happy (i.e. not acquiring melancholy points) and hopefully win prizes in the four competitions staged through the game before you ultimately have the chance to sell them to one of the Dungeon Lord buyers.
I loved the theme and the various concepts but this is no light weight game and I struggled with the balancing act of the various different factors, resulting in my first petz getting depressed and scoring poorly. David liked the game whilst Phil was left unsure if the balance was correct yet – changes are being made all the time. That said it seems stacked with replay-ability there being many more petz, Dungeon Lord buyers and competitions available than will be used in any one game.
I feel sure the game will attract much attention when it is released later this year at Essen, particularly among devotees of the designer (Vlaada Chvátil)or the game Dungeon Lords.
With the need for food now pressing I found my way to the bar and was immediately invited by Roger and Steve from Coiled Spring to join them and a couple of other chaps to see how two of their new games Flip Out and Cubulus (a 2/3 player game which won the “Abstract Game of The Year” award the following day). Both were good fun but Flip Out, a four player game where players have to take each other’s cards, created most amusement as we each in turn stole the other’s cards.
With food consumed and more games played it was time to go in search of Mark, my roommate for the weekend – found in the main games room just as a game of Battle Star Galactica came to an end.
More images from the day can be found here
The following are links to my other blog posts and photos for the UK Games Expo: