- Designer: Jon Perry
- Publisher: CMYK Games
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 10+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by publisher
- Amazon affiliate link – https://amzn.to/3gGng7K
Spots is the newest release from CMYK Games. It is a casual push your luck game that features dozens of adorable dog illustrations. On your turn in Spots, you’ll be rolling and placing dice onto dog cards. Dice you can’t place get buried in your yard. Bury too many dice and you bust. Complete 6 dogs and you win!
To setup the game, place 6 trick tiles on the table. There is a specific set for your first game, and lots of suggested sets found in the rulebook. Or you can choose any 6 and be a rebel. The dog cards are shuffled and each player gets 2 dog cards, gray side up. Each player takes 1 yard, one bone and one die. The die is rolled and placed into the yard. The player with the highest buried die goes first.
On your turn, you can either do a trick or score your dogs. If you choose to score your dogs, you discard all the dice on all your completed dogs at that time. Flip over the scored dogs and put them in your scoring pile. For each dog that you score, draw a new dog card to replace it- with the exception that you never have more than 6 total dog cards (scored or unscored). Your turn is over.
If you choose to do a trick, choose any of the face up trick tiles on the table, flip this tile over, and follow all the steps written on it. You have to do them in order, and if there is something you can’t do, you simply ignore that part of the trick. Some tricks work differently depending on how many paw prints you have on your dog cards.
Many of the tricks have you rolling dice – take them from the supply unless told otherwise. You can place these rolled dice on your dogs if the spots match. Any dice that you cannot or do not want to place get buried in your yard. Of course, if you don’t like your roll, you can spend a treat to re-roll ALL the dice that you rolled. You can do this as many times as you like, so long as you have the treats to spend.
There is a push-your-luck part here; as you don’t want to bust. You bust when the number of pips buried in your yard exceeds 7. When this happens, your turn immediately ends, you discard all the dice on your dogs and discard all the dice on your dogs.
If you start your turn and there is only 1 trick face-up, before you go, you place a treat (bone) on the last face-up tile and then flip all the tricks over. You can choose from any of them now. Whoever takes a trick with a treat on it gets that treat as a bonus.
If you manage to fill up all your faceup dogs while doing a trick, you get to score them immediately (and do not have to spend a turn doing the scoring!). You must be able to bury any unused dice before you get this scoring however – if you bust, all the dice are removed first, and then you score nothing. After you score, replace your scored dogs with new dogs (again keeping to the 6 dog card limit)
The game ends when someone scores their sixth dog card – that player wins immediately!
My thoughts on the game
The rules are remarkably simple. The first two page spreads in the rulebook have a pseudo nursery rhyme which pretty much encapsulates the rules in 8 tiny phrases. Well, not quite everything – but man, it’s almost enough to play the whole game.
Spots is a cute little push your luck dice game that appears to be meant for the mass market. It wouldn’t surprise me if this little box ended up at the friendly Target or Walmart shelf near you. It’s in a little box, has adorable art (with all these different dogs!) and has a surprising number of dice inside said little box.
The basic six tricks (as suggested by the rules) are simple enough. I think they are well chosen to get people off to a good start with the game, especially if they aren’t really gamers. That being said, you can definitely change things up with the extra included tricks – and when you do so, each game will have its own feel.
Most turns are pretty straightforward – choose a trick that gives you the best chance of succeeding and then roll dem bones. The re-roll rule felt annoying at first (that you have to re-roll all the dice, not just some of them); but one of the actions lets you pick and choose your re-rolls, so it’s all good. Sure, there is this rule that says you can automatically score all your dogs if they are all complete at the end of your turn – but man, this is unbelievably hard to pull off, and the penalty for busting is so severe that it isn’t really a strategy I’d even plan for – it would just have to be dumb luck if it happened. Or, I guess, a last ditch effort on the last turn of the game when you have to try to get it to happen before someone scores their sixth dog on their next turn.
Other than that, the only other thing to consider on your turn is your risk tolerance for busting. The fact is is more than 7 means you need to have at least 2 dice there to bust; but trust me, you can bust when you least expect it if the dice don’t go your way! It may help (early on) to have more dogs in front of you – so that you have more available numbers – but in the end, the best strategy is just to roll really well and match up your dice with the numbers on your dog. As I said before, the penalty for busting is harsh – so much so that I find most players playing conservatively rather than losing a lot of progress when they bust.
Spots will work great for all sorts of groups, but especially dog lovers. Though the name/theme makes you think that it’ll be nothing but Dalmatians, there are plenty of other breeds represented in the card art. Each of the dogs is named as well, and that seems to be endearing to the kids I have played this with. If you’re looking for a nice family-level game, especially for a family that loves dogs, this would be a ruff one to pass up.
Amazon affiliate link – https://amzn.to/3gGng7K
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor