Pug me sideways! Cezium Games will be launching their debut game Pug Time on Kickstarter in late March. If you like games and/or pugs, then read on to see if this game is for you!
Pug Time is a pick-and-play family game of set collection with a sprinkling of asymmetric powers and hand management for 2-4 proud pug owners. The aim of the game is to be the first pug owner to collect at least 12 happiness tokens, earning you the happiest pug in the pug-iverse!
In Pug Time, you and your fellow players take on the role of pug owners, keen to make their fur baby the happiest little puggy that ever existed. Throughout the game, players will simultaneously pick and reveal cards from their hands in an attempt to earn happiness tokens of different kinds, and race to be the first player to collect 12 tokens (consisting of at least three tokens in each area of pug happiness: eating, sleeping and playing). If a player has met these conditions at the end of a turn, the game ends and that player wins!
Gameplay revolves around all players simultaneously picking and playing a card from their hand, resolving all cards played in ascending order, then drawing back up to four cards.
To set up Pug Time, each player takes a Guide to Pugging reference card and a pug card to act as their pug for the game. Next, shuffle the deck and deal four cards to each player. Since cards are played simultaneously, you are ready to play!
Pug Time is played over a series of rounds, with each round consisting of a turn of three phases: Play, Solve, and Break.
During the Play Phase, each player simultaneously picks and reveals a card from their hand.
During the Solve Phase, the revealed cards are resolved in ascending order according to the number on the top-right corner of each card.
After all cards have been resolved, play moves onto the Break Phase. During this phase, players check to see if anyone has met the games win conditions. If nobody has won, players all draw back up to four cards and can begin another round. This is also the time when anyone can carry out a Special Action: where you can trade in three tokens from a single area for one token of another area (as long as this other area isn’t currently blocked by a disaster card).
There are six types of cards you can play during the game. These include Basics, Tricks, Disasters, Treats, Buried Treasures, and Adventures.
Basics: Very straightforward cards – these simply give you one token in a specified area of happiness (eating, sleeping or playing);
Tricks: Powerful cards that can award you a nice amount of happiness tokens, but only if their conditions are met;
Disasters: You play these on a single opponent. Disasters straight-up block an opponent from gaining a particular type of happiness token for the round. If they succeed in doing so, then you gain those tokens instead;
Treats: These allow you to use your pug’s special abilities! The moar tokens you have, the moar abilities you will unlock on your pug’s card;
Buried Treasures: These cards are good to save and play other cards on a later turn, allowing you a bit of an ace-up-the-sleeve kind of situation;
Adventures: These are sort of like wild cards, allowing you to bend the rules a bit. Each Adventures card is unique, so these spread a bit of variety throughout the game.
There is also a selection of eight Pugs to own for a game. I won’t go into heaps of detail on the powers of each pug, but they each possess their own asymmetric powers, and some have abilities that unlock with higher number of tokens accrued:
The Mischief Pug: Pure chaos – the herald of card redistribution – I call her Gina (after Gina Linetti from Brooklyn Nine-Nine);
The Strong Pug: The Nope Effect – cancelling other cards like a boss – I call him Terry (after Terry Jeffords from Brooklyn Nine-Nine);
The Smart Pug: Contingency Planner – draws and buries cards like a champ – I call her Hermoine;
The Curious Pug: Lucky Dip – draws and plays particular cards – I call her Carmen (after Carmen Sandiego);
The Fast Pug: Thiefy McThief-face – steals and possibly plays cards – I call her Judy (after Doug Judy from Brooklyn Nine-Nine – I’m starting to look like a fanboy…better stop referencing the show!);
The Brave Pug: Master of Disasters – takes disasters and makes great things happen out of them – I call him Conan (after one of my own beautiful pugs);
The Garbage Pug: Dumpster Diver – makes use of the discard pile like no other – I call him Oscar (after Oscar the Grouch);
The Cute Pug: Fast Learner – their power grows with more tokens accrued – I call him Argos (after my other amazing pug, who is the cutest of all pug-kind!).
Play will continue like this until a Break Phase where at least one player has accrued 12 happiness tokens (consisting of at least three tokens in each of the three areas of happiness: eating, sleeping and playing). Once this occurs, the game ends and that player wins! In the event of a tie, the player with the most tokens wins (if the tied players have equal numbers of tokens, they share the victory).
What I Liked:
It’s a game about pugs – as an owner of real-life pugs, I LOVE the theme of this game!
Super-cute artwork! It really gives the game that family-friendly/super-cute feel.
It delivers asymmetric player powers in an easy-to-approach kind of way.
What I Didn’t Like:
There was a little bit of confusion with how disasters work (more info on the reference card than in the rulebook), but this can totally be rectified in the rulebook before production commences.
What I Would Like to See:
An expansion or sequel game with moar puggies, moar powers and moar types of cards!
First Timers:Pug Time makes for a fun intro game for board game puppies, er, first timers. There aren’t many games with asymmetric player powers that new board gamers can pick up and play. Pug Time is one of these games.
Family: The super-cute theme and easy pick-and-play style of this game makes Pug Time very approachable for families. Kiddos from about 10 and up should be able to grasp this game with both paws.
Friends: A solid filler game, and the asymmetric player powers add some nice strategic weight to the game without increasing the difficulty level. This game isn’t just for kids, anyone can play it and drop some disasters on their friends, er, I mean enjoy it!
Pug Time is a fun family-weight game of pugs, paws and playing cards on yourself and others. The artwork is light and delivers the maximum amount of cuteness from the theme really well. Pug Time is a great kid-friendly filler game and a puggerific introduction into the wonderful world of board gaming!
BTW Disclaimer: The copy of Pug Time pictured in this preview is a pre-release prototype.My opinions are based off a pre-production Kickstarter version of the game, which is subject to change post-campaign. The components and artwork featured are not final, and may be different from the final published product.
View the BoardGameGeek link here.
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Josh is a Sydney-based aspiring board game designer and is passionate about all things tabletop. He grew up on classic 90's cardboard like Magic: The Gathering and HeroQuest before discovering modern classics such as Catan, Carcassonne and Dominion. He now designs his own board games, and loves discussing & researching mechanics/themes/etc as much as he does experiencing the latest innovations in board gamery.