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In Dog Lover, you will be collecting bones, fetching cards, and gathering food for your loveable dogs. You will rescue them from the shelter, train them to do new tricks, and cherish their unique traits. The player who best takes care of their beloved dogs will score the most victory points and win the game!
In more detail, you begin the game with a random dog card — which come in small, medium, and big sizes — as well as a random "special trick" card. Shuffle the game cards, then place the top nine cards in a 3x3 grid. Next to that, place three dog trick cards in an adjacent column and three rescued dogs in another column. The player farthest from the starting player places the watch dog token next to one of the rows or columns, then the game is ready to play.
On a turn, pick one of your trick cards, rotating it as you desire, then collect cards from the 3x3 grid that match the pattern on the trick card, e.g., common polyomino shapes. You may take at most one card in the row or column under the protection of the watch dog. You can play and tuck cards both before and after you take cards from the grid. What do you do with what you take?
- Dog cards sit in front of you right away. Good boy!
- Food cards are traded in for one of the four types of food.
- Adoption cards go in your hand, and you can trade two for a rescued dog, which comes with a special power or endgame bonus.
- Favorite Things cards are dog toys that are worth more when you collect them in sets.
- Training cards can be tucked under a dog for bonus points, or you can trade several of them to gain a new trick, which gives you more card-grabbing options each turn.
- Walk cards give bonus points when tucked under a dog.
- Bone cards will give you a bonus for fed dogs if you collect enough of them.
- Trait cards will give an ongoing power and an endgame bonus, but you must attach it to a dog the turn you claim it; otherwise, you must usually discard multiple cards.
When the "End Game" card appears in the deck, you finish the round so that each player has the same number of turns, then you tally points. Every dog has a food requirement. If you meet that requirement, the dog and all its traits and tucked cards will score points. However, if you don't give the dog the right type and amount of food, you get -2 points for that dog and ignore all tucked cards that would otherwise give you points (Don't let your dogs go hungry!). The player who has the most points is the ultimate dog lover!