Dog Park Review by Boardgameswithjoe

Posted by Joe Kearns on

Our favourite Instagram board games content creator Boardgameswithjoe reviews new release Dog Park.

Dog Park Review

In Dog Park up to 4 players compete to become the best dog walkers by recruiting, walking and caring for the dogs in their kennels. The game is played over 4 rounds with each having 4 phases. Over the course of the game players will be bidding for dogs, spending their resources to take them for walks, moving their figures throughout the park to collect rewards and ultimately try and achieve the highest reputation.

This is a medium/light-weight game that combines elements of bidding, resources management and set collection. In addition to allowing for up to 4 players, it also has a solo mode with scalable difficulty settings.

So many beautiful dogs

Let me get the obvious out of the way, this game is overwhelming adorable. The artwork and theme are so charming and accessible that it’s almost impossible to not be intrigued by this game.

The amazing watercolored painting style of each dog rivals that of other games such as Wingspan and Meadow. On each card a dog is wonderfully drawn and dog lovers are in for a treat here.

In the base game alone there are literally hundreds of dogs. Every person has a favourite breed or two and they are all here. Corgis, collies, huskies, spaniels, pugs and just about every type of dog can be found.

Combing this with the kennel boards, resources such as toys, sticks, treats and lead tokens and you’ve got a game that has one of the most captivating themes currently on the market.

Plays as good as it looks

As I mentioned earlier Dog Park has 4 phases that repeat over 4 rounds.

  1. Recruitment phase – Players all secretly bid reputation points on one of the dog cards currently available. This is a fun and tense part of the game. You need dogs for points and also to try and win the breeding expert cards at the end of the game. Players with higher points can afford to spend more but they can also risk a lot more.
  2. Selection phase – Players now spend resources and put up to 3 dogs on a lead to take them on a walk. Walking dogs allows you to gain resources plus bonuses for certain dogs. Players should think careful about the dogs they add to their collection and what to walk, as any dogs not taken will end up costing you reputation.
  3. Walk phase – Each player takes turns moving 1-4 spaces across the park board. Each space has rewards such as resources and reputation. The park cards can modify the board each round to add variety. Players can take their time here to gain more points or move quickly to the end, granting them a reputation reward for walking their dogs the fastest.
  4. Home phase – This is where each player receives 2 reputation per walked dog but also loses 1 reputation point for any dog not on a lead.

Each phase is fairly easy to understand. The bidding part is fun and exciting. Players can try and bluff their way into spending the most reputation. The selection phase can be tense as it rewards those who are careful about what dogs they collect and what resources they save. Walking the dogs is fun and relaxing (like in real life) but players should collect the resources they need and focus on the dogs they want for future rounds.

The game doesn’t really push many boundaries or explore new territory. All of these mechanisms feel natural and keep the game flowing despite it not really adding much to the genre.

In terms of difficulty it’s probably almost on par with Wingspan. Light enough that experienced gamers will pick it up without many issues but probably a touch too complex to be classed as a gateway game for newcomers.

The game has been designed well enough though that, even though there’s so many cards and abilities, each one has a bold keyword and is the same throughout different dogs. This can help players easily identify and get to grips with which abilities certain dogs have. Although personally I would of preferred each dogs power to be completely different to one another, I can see why this design choose has been made.

Dogs don’t feel overpowered or not as good as others. I also love how each power has what phase it applies to next to it. Some may give you extra resources when placed on a lead, others can give you extra endgame scoring if you match it with other breeds.

Paths to victory

Dog Park has a lot of variety and many ways to score reputation.

For a start the breed expert cards, which feature a type of dog breed such as terrier, utility, hound etc, are randomly placed on the game board in descending point order. At the end of the game players check for each breed to see who has the most dogs of each category. This simple scoring mechanic gives players a clear outline of what breeds score the most points but it does mean other players may want to collect the same breeds.

The park cards, shuffled and drawn each round, modify the game board allowing for slight board variety each game. In addition to resources and reputation you can gain other rewards such as the ability to draw a new card from the deck or swap a dog in your kennel with one from the main board, skipping out on spending precious points to collect them.

You can even optionally include forecast cards which modify the gameplay too. It might grant you bonuses for walking certain breeds or punish you more for not walking dogs.

Dogs can have endgame scoring abilities as-well. Some may even let you stockpile leftover resources in the final round to gain more reputation.

Each player is also dealt 2 objective cards at the start of the game which grants them even more ways to ramp up their score.

Final Summary

Dog Park is a charming, beautiful game of set collection and resource management. A combination of beautiful art and an accessible theme with solid mechanics that we’ve seen in games before.

Not the deepest game you will ever play but it’s always an enjoyable experience and a must have for dog lovers!


Boardgameswithjoe Final Score:



  • Great artwork and theme
  • Easy to teach and plays fast
  • Fun hidden combos and balanced gameplay


  • Lacks depth at times
  • Dog abilities can get repetitive
  • May be too light for some

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