Pugs In Mugs Review
I’ve got a pet pug called Jeffrey. Actually, I’ve got one-and-a-half pugs, as I also have a half-pug called Peggy. Now, as squishy as a pug might be, there’s no way I’m getting Jeff in a mug. Not unless it’s one of those massive Sports Direct mugs, and then it’s a ‘maybe’. Pugs in Mugs is a game from long-term friends of Punchboard, Stop, Drop & Roll Studio (they were the first to ask me to do a preview, which was for Earth Rising), which lets you visualise the improbable – nay – impossible task of squashing a pug into a mug.
As you may have guessed, Pugs in Mugs is neither serious nor tricky. It’s a nice, light set-collection game for two to five players, and it’s adorable. Pugs have extremely expressive faces, which would be cute enough on their own, but Pugs in Mugs takes that knowledge and asks you a question. It asks you “What if?”. What if you take that pug and added a pirate tricorn, or a monocle and top hat combo? What if you had a teeny pug scientist? What, dear reader, would a pugstronaut look like??
Pretty flipping adorable is the answer.
Take one, take that, take a bow
Pugs in Mugs is a set collection game in the classic style. You’re trying to collect pug-laden cards with matching colours – or patterns, colour-blind players rejoice – in order to trade three of the same in for a pug in a titular mug. Collect one of each of the five different mug cards, and you’re the winner. Yay, go you!
This would be easy, were it not for a liberal dollop of player interaction. As well as drawing cards on your turn, you can also play the various mischief cards you might end up with, which throw all manner of cats among the proverbial pigeons. A Dig card, for instance, lets you rummage through the discard pile like a pug in a flower bed, aiming to pull out a card you want. Maybe you play a Gimme card, which works more like Go Fish. Choose a player, sneer menacingly across the top of your cards, and demand that your rival gives you a certain card – if they have it, of course.
Even better still, and by far my favourite mechanism in the game, is the Steal a Mug action. Should you find yourself with a pug of every colour, you can discard them in an action of (and this is direct from the rules) “dazzling another player with such a varied display of adorableness that you are able to steal one of their mugs“. Yoink, indeed. The first player to get one of each mug, wins, and gets to laugh, point, gloat, and demand a cup of tea and biscuits. At least, that’s how I interpret it.
I need to start this wrap-up with a confession. A rubbish confession too, as it looks like I’m trying to pass the buck. I should have written this review aaaaages ago. Laurie from SDR sent me a copy at least a year ago for me to cover, and I was delighted to get it. Moreso delighted, however, was my son, who was besotted with the game. We played it loads when it first arrived, every visitor and family member who entered the house was taught how to play, and he added the game to his own collection of games. So technically, it’s not my fault, I’m just old and forgetful, that’s all. You’ll buy that, right?
Pugs in Mugs is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a light, fun, accessible, family-friendly card game. It’s one of those games I like to fit in the rather niche category of “Games I can take to Pizza Express to keep the kids entertained while we wait for our food, without them turning feral”. It’s adorable, simple to teach, and offers plenty of fun for just about anyone. It’s a real cross-generational game, as it uses the same sort of mechanisms your parents and grandparents grew up playing. Just try not to be too much of a competitive dad, yeah? Not that anyone would be like that…
If your family loves games like Trash Pandas, Go Fish, or even good old Rummy, it’s safe to say you’ll really enjoy Pugs in Mugs too. We even spent half an hour playing a game of ‘choose your favourite pug card – no, not that one, that one’s my favourite, you have to choose another’. For the princely sum of £12, it’s a no-brainer. If I hadn’t been given a copy, I’d have bought one, and that’s about as clear a recommendation as I can give.
Review copy kindly provided by SDR Studio. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Pugs in Mugs (2020)
Designer: Laurie Blake, Stuart Lawrence
Publisher: Stop, Drop & Roll Studio
Art: Rob Ingle
Playing time: 30 mins