Friday, October 30, 2015

Quick Review - Creepiest Pet Shop - Kickstarter Preview

Creepiest Pet Shop
Designer: Levi Bushue
Publisher: Creepy Tiki Games
Quick Review - Creepiest Pet Shop - Kickstarter Preview

I like creepy stuff.  I always have.  Even when I was little and afraid of haunted houses and scary movies I still had a fascination with creepy stuff.  So when Levi Bushue contacted me and asked if I'd review his Creepiest Pet Shop game I said sure!  A few days later I got a small box in the mail with my very own Creepiest Pet Shop decks.  And with Halloween right around the corner it's the perfect time to play a game packed with the monstrous denizens of the world that just want to give a not-so-adorable critter a happy home.

Creepiest Pet Shop is a quick playing matching and trick taking speed game for 2-6 players.  It's currently on Kickstarter for $19 through November 21, 2015.  So if you're interested in the game, be sure to check it out here:
There are two types of cards in Creepiest Pet Shop.
Pets and Monsters.

Let me start my review by saying that Creepiest Pet Shop isn't the usual type of game that I play.  Generally I like games with more strategy and depth.  But sometimes you just want a fast playing, ruckus raising, fun filler.  And Creepiest Pet Shop is definitely targeting that audience.
The quick play is great for families and friends!

In Creepiest Pet Shop the premise is that there are a lot of creepy pets that need to be adopted by their equally creepy new masters.  There are two decks of cards, one for creepy pets, and one for creepy monsters.  The goal is to be the fastest player to match their monsters with compatible pets.

The game is played in rounds, each round consisting of 3 phases.  In Phase 1 players can discard up to three monster cards and draw back up to their hand limit, which is generally five cards, but can be more or less depending on some cards' effects.  Once players have a full hand of monsters they can play any effect cards they have.  Effects can be beneficial or harmful.  Generally you'll want to play beneficial effects on yourself and harmful effects on other players.  Some effects cards may increase your hand limit by two, allow you to adopt any pet with any monster, or adopt a free pet.  Other effects may decrease your hand limit by two, or lose pets to Van Helsing's Pet Control.
Poised to adopt some pets!

After all effects have been played and resolved comes the main part of the game, the pet adoptions.  The last player who adopted a pet in the previous round is in charge of the pet deck.  They draw two pets from the pet deck and then reveal them to everyone simultaneously (a countdown is a good idea).  Then everyone races to adopt the pets!

Adopting pets is very straight forward.  Each monster has a color and symbol.  Each pet also has a color and symbol.  Playing a monster that matches a pet means the monster adopts the pet.  The quickest player to play a match makes the adoption.  Some pets have two colors/symbols.  This means they have to be adopted by two monsters (maybe they're cohabitating...).  Some monsters (ferocious monsters) also have two colors/symbols.  These can be used to adopt pets that have one or both matching symbols.  Ferocious monsters can also be discarded to remove a lingering effect from someone.  There is also a wild card that can be used as any symbol/color to adopt, or help adopt any pet.
Ready...  Set...


Once both pets have been adopted the monsters used to adopt them are discarded and the pets are kept as points (one point for a single color pet and two for a pet with two colors).  Then a new round starts.  The game ends when the pet deck is emptied and all the creepy pets have been adopted by creepy owners.

I said that Creepiest Pet Shop isn't really my usual type of game.  So I felt it was important to play it with people who do enjoy that type of game.  I brought it with to the Family Game Night that I host at my FLGS and played it with adults and kids.  Everyone had a blast with it and said they really liked it.  I'm still not a fan of speed matching type games (I reluctantly play Spot It with my son when he insists, and that's about my limit), but I did have fun playing.  I got destroyed.  I guess I thought too much (Terra Mystica is more up my alley).  The only pet I managed to adopt got stolen by Van Helsing's Pet Control.  That game ended up being only a one point difference between a six year old and his dad.  So if you're fast enough the game is good for pretty much all ages.
Fun for adults and kids alike!

In the six player game I played we did seem to be running out of monsters, but it looks like the final game will have about 33% more cards, so that's good.  There will also be a number of exclusive and promotional cards included with the Kickstarter version.  And with the Kickstarter version you also have the opportunity to grab a limited edition copy on larger tarot sized cards with fancy borders.

Everyone, myself included, really liked the artwork.  The characters are fun and interesting to look at.  I love all the nods to pop culture monsters (Cthulhu with kittens is awesome).  I only have two minor complaints about the artwork and graphics.  I wish is that the monsters and pets were more easily distinguished on the front.  It's a minor issue, but once pets are adopted and start to get mixed in with the monsters it's difficult to tell at a glance what kind of card it is.  Yes, the pets look petlike and the monsters are more humanoid, but the hole layout and design of the cards is identical, making it difficult to tell at a glance.  I also wish the monster faction symbols were a bit larger on both the monsters and pets.  They're pretty small up in the top right corner, making is a bit challenging to see quickly while they're in your hand or on the table.  These are both minor issues though and don't really affect the gameplay.

Adorable, creepy pets.  Wouldn't you want to bring one home?

Yes, even monsters need companionship.
Final Thoughts:
So, after playing, this still isn't really my type of game.  Yes I had fun, but I would have rather been playing something else.  So I probably won't be keeping the game.  The good news is, I have someone that will really like to have it!  The others I played the game with really like speed games like this and they thought it was great.  So my friend Ryan and his family (they have four kids, so it'll be a fun game for them) is going to get a little gift =)
I'm sure they'll keep the game.  It's not a
cat with a sentient tongue...

So, is this something I'd back?  No.  It's not my cup of tea.  Ok, maybe it is my cup of tea, 'cause I don't like tea.  But, like tea, I'll drink it if there's nothing else.  I did have fun playing and it was very well received by everyone else.  They talked about it for quite a while after playing, even after we moved on to another game.  So while it's not for me, if you enjoy these types of games, Creepiest Pet Shop is a good one.  My rating below based on the fact that everyone I played with loved the game.

Be sure to check out Creepiest Pet Shop on Kickstarter now!

Creepiest Pet Shop was a rousing good time!
Preliminary Rating: 6/10
This review is of a prototype game.  Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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