You find yourself at a game store. You quickly make your way over to the big boxes of popular games like T.I.M.E. Stories or 7 Wonders – games that have a big shelf presence. You grab a few games off the shelf, checking out the descriptions on the back and, of course, the price tag. You eventually make a choice, walk over to the counter, and walk out the door, new game in hand.
And never once did you glance over at that little side wall with all the smaller games – those that can fit in the palm of your hand. I mean, they’re so small, they barely count as games. And as a result, you’ve missed out on some great gaming experiences. We’ve talked about Love Letter, and even done an entire episode of our podcast on microgames. Now, it’s time to give you a full review of a tiny little game about adorable little dogs.
Give a Dog a Bone
DIG is a micro-card game designed and illustrated by Chris Handy as part of Perplext’s Pack-o-Games line, a series of a couple dozen games that are all about the size of a pack of gum. They also all have three-letter titles, which is kinda cool.
Each player takes on the role of a dog who is trying to collect bones from throughout the “yard”, a lineup of 25 cards featuring a dog bowl or a patch of grass. On a turn, players can move their dog, dig, or drop a bone that they are holding.
Each grass card features lines in two different colors, which give a hint at the color of the bone on the other side of the card. When players dig, they flip over the grass card and add place it with their dog, who is now carrying that bone. They will later attempt to drop that bone off in its corresponding colored bowl, which will allow that card to score at the end of the game. The more bones you have, the slower you’ll move, but the more bones you’ll collect.
No Bones About It
One interesting aspect of this game is how the gaps made by the collected bones are filled. Instead of sliding everything down, the bone that is furthest away from the starting end is moved to replace the card that was just taken. This mechanic has a significant impact on end game scoring, as the order in which the five colored bowls are arranged after all players have taken their final turn determines the value for each color of bone players have collected. If you’re able to time it just right, you can make sure that the bowl for the bone color you’ve been collecting the whole game ends up being worth more points than other bones.
Play ends when all the non-bowl cards have been collected, at which point all bones that have been taken to a bowl by that point will score. The player who has the most valuable collection of bones wins!
From the get-go, this game is very attractive. The artwork is adorable, and the designer has been very efficient in using a small number of cards to bring the game to life. I love how the “smell” lines on the grass side of the card give you an idea of what’s on the other side. I also like how the dog cards have been designed to be vertical so that the bones can be horizontal and “carried” throughout the game. These little touches prove that, although the game may not have many components, they are well thought out.
While the artwork and theme may lead you to believe this game is for children, I think that it works for the young and old alike. Children should be able to pick up on the basic concepts of the game and play right along with the adults. When the game gets more serious, however, some very good strategizing is possible as you make efforts to ensure the bowl you want is worth the most points.
There are a few limitations with a game this size, and they become evident fairly quick. As I mentioned before, carried bones are turned sideways, but this ends up crowding other players in the line. Because the cards are so small, you will have some issues moving around at times, but it’s nothing too extreme. However, more unique gaming solutions have been found than problems made, so I would certainly rate this game as a success for the designer.
Bingo Was His Name-O
I’ve wanted to write about for this game for a while now, but I’ve always hit a stumbling block. How could I write a review for such a small game? I mean, the game retails for six bucks, so it’s more of an impulse buy than anything. If people don’t like it, does it really matter at that price point?
But after playing this game several times with several people, I’ve realized that I need to do my duty and share this good game with people. You may walk quickly past this little bitty box as you purchase a game fifty times its size with more shelf presence. But you would be doing yourself a disservice. No, it’s not a huge gaming experience that will be the main event of your gaming night. But as a filler for you and a few friends to play while you wait on everyone else to show up, this game is great. I believe DIG is certainly a game that proves that big fun can come in small packages.
You can buy a copy of DIG online or at your local game store (I got mine at Barnes & Noble).
- So very portable
- Adorable artwork
- More strategy than you would expect
- Takes up a little more room than you might expect
- Not a lot of variety to your gameplay