Canine Kleptomaniacs – Covert Ops Expansion Card Game Review
WBG Score: 8/10
Player Count: 2-5
You’ll like this if you like: Cockroach Poker, Unstable Unicorns, Dogs!
Published by: Golden Ginty Games Ltd.
Designed by: Mathew Jones, Ollie Jones
Canine Kleptomaniacs is a hilarious, fun, and delightfully made game that I have previously reviewed here. The game came out in 2020 and has regularly hit my gaming table ever since. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that my family adore this game! In 2021 the first expansion came out, Covert Ops, and we were all very excited to play it to see what it changes and adds to the game.
Before I come onto the expansion review, I should say this first up. I am not the biggest fan of expansions. I like what some do for some games. But in a grumpy way, I often think that if the game needed it, the initial game wasn’t that great. But most of the time, the expansion is jumping on the band wagon of the base games’ success. I know this is not the case all the time. And I appreciate this is quite a simple and basic statement to make for a large subject. But I felt it needed to be said before I say this.
I love this expansion!
I won’t go into how the base game works. You can check that out in the main review. But let’s talk about what this expansion brings and why I love it so much.
New Hiding Places.
Canine Kleptomaniacs is all about stealing Collectables from your owner for points at the end of the game. It’s a set collection game at its heart. But it’s no good just having the cards in your paws, they will score you nothing there and are liable to be nabbed by other dogs. When you want to secure your Collectables and score points in the game, you must place sets of cards down from your hand into your Hiding Place. These cards are then safe and available for you to score at the end of the game. No one can touch them. But not anymore! In Covert Ops, Hiding Places can now be raided by your rival dog players.
Players are given a Mutt on a Mission card at set up. This allows them to choose to raid another player's Hiding Place on their turn. You can increase your chances of a successful raid by gathering XP cards from the Action deck during the game. For each XP you use on a raid, you can increase the number of times you may roll the dice. To be successful in a raid, you need to defeat the number rolled by your opponent who is trying to defend their turf and collectables. The defending player's number of dice rolls will be determined by the level of their defence.
All players are given a Secure Hiding Place at set up. These areas cannot be raided. But other Hiding Places must be defended by the new C.R.A.P. system. Hilariously, this stands for ‘Code Red Anti Pilferage’. When you acquire a new Hiding Place, you automatically gain a C.R.A.P. card as well. Roll the dice and the number you get will determine the level of security you have on this Hiding Place; and in turn when raided, the number of times you can roll the die in defence.
This is a fun system. It adds a lot to the game and makes players think about where and when they place any collectables down. If you roll a low number for your C.R.A.P. defence then you can re-roll on later turns. It all seems quite fair and thought out and brings a new dimension to the game I enjoy a lot. It opens up the game in a way the base game couldn’t You want to protect your most prized Collectables - often the ones other players desperately need - but now, the main way you can do that is by making them potentially available to other players.
Special Gadget Cards.
There are also new Special Gadget cards, clearly labelled with a blue outer marking. When acquired these must be played immediately. They are all clearly labelled so need minimal instruction to add in, and they give players the chance to pilfer extra Collectibles in fun new ways. I like the Electroscopic Squeakatron which allows the player who draws this card to take all of one type of Collectable from every player's hand. The power of the card is nice, but I just love the name - this is clearly what a Dog would call it!
Masters Bedroom Cards
It was always exciting to raid the Masters bedroom to get a bonus card. Now, there is an added twist, with new cards added into the deck that will take points away from you at the end of the game. This evens out the bonuses usually acquired from here and adds an element of danger when taking this action.
None of these additions complicate the game and can be added into the base game with minimal changes or extra rules. This is important for me in an expansion. I like how Covert Ops brings a whole new feel to the game without sweeping changes. It feels a lot more Dog-Eat-Dog, for want of a better phrase. No, scrap that, I actually like that phrase. It’s spot-on for how it feels, and you know, Dogs!
There was always a lot of Take-That and player interaction in the base game, but the thought of being able to safely tuck away your Collectables in the safety of your Hiding Places did make the game sometimes one sided to the players that acquired extra Hiding Places first. Now, this has gone. And due to the raiding opportunity, each player needs to be a lot more careful with how they lay down and hide their Collectables.
I don’t know if this was the reason for this expansion being done, but it certainly helped the only real issue I had with the base game. It fixes this issue and does it in a really fun way that is very much in keeping with the base game's feel.
Canine Kleptomaniacs is a fast, fun family card game that plays best in a three to four player experience and Covert Ops is a must have addition if you like the base game. It fixes the only minor issue with it and adds a lot more fun to the table.