Finding Joy in Dog Park: A Game All About the Good Dogs
Find all sorts of adorable dogs to take for delightful walks in the calm, relaxing world of the outdoors in Dog Park.
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last brought Dog Park to my solo table! This is a simply wonderful game all about dogs. But it’s very clear that this isn’t about collecting dogs. Rather, the goal is to succeed as a dog walker by finding ability synergies and winning group awards… Yet I think the winning strategy is to go after maximum cuteness!
Gameplay moves very quickly over a total of 4 days. A staggering amount of unique dog breeds may be found here! With an interesting and simple bidding mechanic, dogs join the home board and prepare to head out on walks through the park. It’s fun and absolutely adorable!
November 14, 2022
October 21, 2023
40" x 22"
The art style here is simply wonderful. Some dogs might not look exactly like the specific image we each have of the breed, yet I haven’t seen one I don’t love. Dawgies!
With over 200 breeds represented, it’s all about the dogs! I’ve spotted ones that remind me of the dogs in my life, both past and present. Just so lovely to look at.
I’ll add that although the base game includes purebreds, an expansion with mixes and rescues is coming!
Give me tiny puppies in the future, and this is guaranteed to be my favorite dog-themed game in the world. Ha ha!
If the dogs aren’t enough, the resources themselves are simply fun. Balls, sticks, treats, and toys make up the requirements to take the various dogs on walks.
That little smiling octopus has to be the cutest thing out there! I do love games that are about feeling cozy and happy, so it’s no surprise that this one clicked with me.
Gameplay is also quick and breezy. Plenty of decisions are present, along with a variety of difficulty levels.
But the worst-case scenario is a group of dogs and a low score. I don’t consider that much of a loss at all!
Being able to take dogs out on walks is essential, and collar tokens mark the walked dogs. I didn’t manage to take out the Maremma Sheepdog this time. Demanding!
Walks are the main way to generate the resources to walk other dogs. A lot of abilities chain together to provide even more resources, which can be quite helpful.
However, a lot of dog abilities have to do with end-game scoring. There are challenging choices of who to pick!
Nothing about the game is terribly novel, aside from the artwork, yet it really works well and plays smoothly.
Walking for the Day
The dog walker meeples are enormous and pretty great! Although they tend to fall over a little too easily, I just use that as an excuse to say the dogs pulled too hard. Ha!
Not a lot of variety is present in this step, and this might be the weakest part of the game. Still, I like how it’s a pretty calm phase that doesn’t involve too much thinking.
However, later rounds often involve careful decisions about swapping out dogs. Never a dull moment here.
I had to maneuver around the pair of solo opponents a few times, losing reputation a few times. Oh, dog walkers!
The Simplicity of a Game That Brings Smiles
What does this game do so well? It makes me smile. Literally. Just looking at the box art brings me happiness! At the same time, it isn’t one of my favorites simply because I like how it looks. The mechanics complement the joyful art in a way that keeps it all adorable. These dogs are here to look cute without any pressure or stress.
This is also a good example of a solo game I love that misses the mark on one of my favorite elements: A strong narrative. I mean… I’m walking these dogs? Ha ha! Yet it’s still one I love because it provides a very strong emotional reaction. It’s not trying to be this giant, complicated thing hidden beneath cute dogs… The cute dogs are the game!
Play Number: 13 & 14
Expansion 1: Dog Park: European Dogs Expansion
Expansion 2: Dog Park: Famous Dogs Expansion
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Intermediate Difficulty Level
Outcome: 46 & 59 (2 Wins)
Such a great time! My second attempt saw me fall just shy of my current goal of 62 victory points at the intermediate difficult level. So close! I learned some more strategies, saw a lot of new dogs, and had myself a grand ol’ time. No bones about it… This is a solo game I completely love!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- All of the dogs are unique, which doesn’t necessarily mean all different abilities, yet the visuals are adorable.
- Gameplay moves along quickly and smoothly without a lot of excitement, yet this maintains the calm atmosphere.
- Resources provide the important ways of planning which dogs to walk, and the wooden tokens are very cute.
- Choices aren’t always as obvious as they might seem with bids, group rewards, abilities, and synergies to think of.
- Important information is easy to spot at a glance with the different color schemes and group names on every card.
- Various difficulty levels allow the game experience to be a simple walk in the park, or more of a major challenge.
– Cons (Negatives)
- The amount of required table space feels extra large for what the game offers, courtesy of an oversized board.
- Some luck is required to pick up dogs with abilities that work together, and missing out can lead to low scores.
- Certain components, like the collar and location tokens, feel a little out-of-place among the wooden resources.
- With so many cards, the stack is rather unruly and requires a multi-stack approach to shuffle properly.
Complete the Objective
- Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 62 points at the novice difficulty.
Score at least 62 points at the intermediate difficulty.
Continue the Conversation
What do you like about Dog Park? Have you had any interesting ability combinations? I discovered some neat strategies with earning more reputation throughout the game and giving up on the expensive group awards… Seems like I’m on the right path! This one is simply delightful, lovely, and joyful to get to my table, and I look forward to playing again!