Author: Cameron Art
Player Count: 2 - 8 Players
Playing Time: 20 - 45 Minutes
Designers: Heather and Chris O'Niell
Publisher: 9th Level Games
Year Published: 2020
"Pavlov’s Dogs is a pseudo-psychological card game of memory and conditioning. A fast, engaging game of following the rules and acting like fools! You’ll be drooling for more!"
- Description from the Publisher
In Pavlov's Dogs, 2 - 8 players will take on the roles of dogs in a psychology experiment, working to impress various Dogtors with their learned behaviors. You'll have to be very careful to remember the growing list of rules and work together to avoid being bad dogs if you don't want your bones to be taken away from you.
Pavlov's Dogs is a memory-driven game, primarily consisting of cards and bone tokens. Setup is simple: One player is chosen to be the Dogtor, who chooses 3, 5 or 8 Dogtor cards (based on how difficult of a game you want) to play with that game. They'll choose one to add to the game, showing it to all players and then hiding it for the next round. They then deal 5 cards face-down in front of each of the other players.
Each round (called a test), players will take it in turn to randomly reveal one of their numbered cards and then announce out loud the total value of the current test, which is the sum of the card they just revealed and all previous cards revealed during that test. Then, the next player takes their turn doing the same, and play continues clockwise until all players have revealed all 5 of their cards. The next round then begins, and the Dogtor will select a new rule card to add to the game, showing all the players the cards in play and then hiding them again before beginning the next test.
It sounds simple at first, but players will have to be careful to remember ALL of the rules of the Dogtor cards in play without being able to see them all during play. In addition to the regular rules of the game, Dogtors may also require you to say the names of all yellow cards out loud, bark anytime a "speak" card is played, subtract the value of blue cards, reverse the order of play anytime a 0 is played and more...
With each successive test, another Dogtor's rule is added (all previous rules will remain in play alongside the new ones), gradually making turns more and more complicated. If, at any time, a player forgets to follow one of the rules in play, they are a BAD DOG and must lose one of their starting bone tokens and the current count is reset to zero. If ANY player runs out of bones, they whole team loses immediately.
In addition to the very wide variety of challenge cards that exist in the game, Pavlov's Dogs also comes with some silly challenges that can be mixed into the fray like:
- Sniff your bones when fetch is played
- Pout when beg is played
- Bark when speak is played
And Many More...
There are a LOT of these dogtor challenge cards from renowned psychologists like Collie Jung, Sigmun Fetch, Bark F. Skinner and more in various different difficulty levels. The more cards you play with, the harder and harder the game becomes as you reveal new ones.
One last fun detail: While the game is cooperative, players are only allowed to discuss the current Dogtor rules in between rounds and cannot remind their fellow dogs of the rules during play.
At the end of all 3, 5 or 8 rounds (again, depending on how difficult of a game you play), players will ad up all of their remaining bones to determine their final score. The more players you have, the harder it can be to get a good score, but the more exciting and tricky the game becomes!
There are a lot of party games out there, but Pavlov's Dogs is a really unique cooperative party game that I think you'll enjoy if...
- You enjoy party games or regularly play games with bigger groups (the bigger the better for this game!)
- You like playing cooperative games with high elements of collaboration and working together
- You enjoy games with an ongoing memory element to them
- If you enjoy games like Fluxx or Mao that have simple rules that evolve and change as you play
- If you enjoy games that allow you and your friends act goofy and laugh out loud
Pavlov's Dogs is a seemingly simple game that gradually grows in difficulty and goofiness the longer you play it. The psychology based theme, silly challenges and punny Dog-tor cards mnake the game clever and fun, and you'll be hard pressed to find another cooperative party game that is as simple yet enjoyable as this one.
If you are interested in learning more about Pavlov's Dogs, you can check it out by clicking here.
Disclaimer: A free copy of Pavlov's Dogs was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest preview. Any opinions written above are entirely my own.