Pick-a-Dog, and/or Pick-a-Pig, invites you to a series of intense, yet genuinely fun challenges to your abilities to visually discriminate, in a good way.
You get 96 square cards which turns out to be three sets of 36 different cards. These different cards look like pigs (should you have purchased Pick-a-Pig) or dogs (as in Pick-a-Dog). These 36 illustrated pigs or dogs appear remarkably alike, except for the following slight, but so significantly significant differences: some have one hand showing, some both; some are holding popcorn, some wearing sunglasses, some are large, some are small, some are tanned, and some not. Thus, you might note one large, untanned pig, showing only one arm, which is not holding popcorn, but is wearing sunglasses.
The game begins thus: the cards are shuffled, each player picks one card, and places it face-down in front of her (this, for some designerly reason, is called the “Captain card”), 30 more cards are selected from the deck and arranged face-up in five rows of six cards, or six rows of five cards, as determined by dealer’s whim.
Players simultaneously turn their Captain card face up and engage in a passionately focused scan of the so-named “Member” cards on the table, looking for a Member card that is either identical, identical-minus-one (the pig or dog on the Captain card is holding popcorn, showing only one arm, wearing sunglasses, and pale in color, and here’s a pig or dog holding popcorn, showing only one hand, wearing sunglasses, pale in color, but larger), and places that card, face-up, on top of the Captain card. Now the player must find another Member card that is identical, or one-off, from the new card on top of her pile. And so it goes, and goes, everyone simultaneously, and hence, frantically searching for the next available, identical or one-feature-different Member card (said franticity being further augmented by that certain someone who just laid claim to precisely the same card you thought you so totally needed). On and on, until no usable cards are available.
If, upon scrutinizing the remaining cards, you determine that such a point has been reached, you utter the “stop” word. “Stop,” you say. All players must do as uttered, and join you in shared scrutiny. If, in deed and truth there are no cards for you to have used, the round is over, and you get a bonus card. On the other hand, if someone can demonstrate that such Member card is in fact present, you lose all your cards. O, the humanity.
Players then show their collection, demonstrating to themselves and each other how diligent they have been in selecting only the appropriate cards – each only one feature different, or entirely the same as the preceding – laying claim to these cards as their “winning pile.” The next round begins, each player receiving a new Captain card, empty spaces in the array being filled in from the cards not yet in play. When there are not enough Member cards to fill in the array, the last round has been reached.
The difference between Pick-a-Pig and Pick-a-Dog is that all the cards in the Pig deck are pigs, and all the cards in the Dog deck are as you probably already surmised. Thus, you really only need to purchase one of these decks to share the afore-described hilarity with your playful pals. On the other hand, should you have purchased both decks, you have: a) one more difference to look for (the dog cards look surprisingly similar to the pig cards, except for their doggy mouth parts) b) enough cards for eight players.
Despite all the nuances of the rules, the game takes maybe three minutes to learn and ten to play. And once the game is in progress, any passer-by can almost immediately figure out what’s going on, and could easily be invited to join you as a partner in fray. The art adds to the humor. The challenge remains fun and fascinating from the beginning to the end of the game. It’s a filler game, all right. But it fills everyone with energy and laughter.
Pick-a-Pig and/or Pick-a-Dog is/are designed by Torsten Landsvogt with art by Ari Wong, brought to playkind by Jolly Thinkers, available in the US from Gryphon Games and is recommended for 1-5 players, age 8 and older.