In our recent articles about movies releasing in theaters, we mentioned the impact of the SAG / WGA strikes. Maybe more people will discover the joys and benefits of tabletop games as a result. But we definitely noticed doing things like stars tapping into fandoms at conventions like Gen Con and PAX. One recent story about actors auctioning dog walks really struck a chord. Why? Because we had recently played Bark Avenue, a game about walking dogs in a big city. We received this copy from Good Games Publishing. I don’t think they knew we crafted articles about lessons kids learn from dogs or tips for boarding your pets. I’m positive they weren’t aware that we had shared tips for adopting a shelter dog, something this game actively promotes. (More on that below.)
The game looks pretty chaotic (and reminded me a lot of The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire game in appearance), but it’s really not complicated. It’s a simple pick-up and deliver game where you’re picking up dogs, complete specific tasks then returning them home. Setup includes placing the main board in the center of the table, each player taking a player board and respective meeples/tokens, individually shuffling the decks of dog, event and goal cards and creating pools of resources. Players will begin with two dog and goal cards, choosing one of each then returning the others to the decks.
The goal of the game is to earn the most money by the end of the day. You’ll do this by walking multiple dogs at a time, being efficient with the route and unlocking abilities. The board is divided into different neighborhoods with each offering an assortment of different activities to appease a variety of canine personalities.
On the edge of the city are cards depicting dogs that are available for pickup. The cards detail their home neighborhood, size, speed, activity interests, minimum walk length and what types of dogs it is (or isn’t) compatible with. Of course, it also shows how much you’ll earn for walking it.
Your personal walker board is where you track your progress for each individual dog. Record how long you’ve been out and about, log if they did their business, participated in a favorite activity or had their picture taken. These bonus items earn you tips in addition to your normal payment.
Each round, the sun marker moves to track the time of day. An event card is revealed every other round. These may be immediate or ongoing. Some limit abilities (cause you to walk slower for example) or provide additional options (let you take the train with dogs).
On your turn, you’ll roll a die to see what the dogs are up to for the turn, move, take an action then record your progress.
When you meet specific review requirements, you add one of your star tokens to the review track. These open up additional bonuses on your individual boards. There’s an option to use these stars for advertisements as well. After the final round, total up how much you’ve earned from dogs, tips, reviews, goals and advertisements. The player with the most is the victor.
Bark Avenue brings the Uber/Lyft concept of dog walking to the game table. Maybe you’re a fan of the pick up and deliver genre of games. Or perhaps you can appreciate that Bark Avenue includes real foster dogs from real New York City foster care homes. If this game brings people together around the table, it’s a win right there. But if it encourages people to seek ways to support animal shelters, then that’s a bonus. Pre-orders are currently available on Kickstarter and will likely be available on Amazon. As always, we encourage you to check with your local game store to see if they’ll be carrying it.
What ways do you find to support your local animal shelters?