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Forever Home Board Game Review

Updated: Feb 2

WBG Score: 8

Player Count: 1-5

You’ll like this if you like: Reef, Century: Golem Edition

Published by: Birdwood Games

This is a review copy. See our review policy here

Dog Park was all about taking your furry friends for a (whisper it) walk. Birdwood games second offering gives you an even more noble task of finding them a new, loving home. Now if that (combined with the gorgeous art) doesn’t make you want to run out and buy it immediately then let me try and convince you further.

Forever Home Board Game Review

How to find your dog a forever home.

Give everyone a shelter board and together everyone chooses to play with either the regular side or the advanced side. Take each of the home card types, shuffle them and place out one of each. Place out a number of training cards depending on the player count and do the same with the dog tokens. Place the dog meeples randomly on the commendations board. Give each player two training cards then create a pool of dog tokens equal to two per player. In turn order players will take one dog from the pool and place them on your board with the last player taking two dogs then drafting will go in reverse order.

On your turn you can take two actions. You can take a dog from the display and place it into the grid on your shelter board. The display then gets filled immediately. Since you can take the same action twice you can wait until the next dog is revealed before you place it down, just in case you want to take another dog and it might affect where you want to place things. As an action you can also move a dog in your grid one space in any direction as long as the space is empty.

Taking a training card works the same way as taking a dog, you take a card, it’s immediately replaced. You can have a max of five cards in hand. Each card shows a pattern on it and if you can complete that pattern on your grid in any orientation then you can complete that card. You can only complete a card on your turn and it will trigger as soon as you fulfil it, even if you’ve only just taken that card into your hand. Cards will have a point value on them and a graduation number on them. When you fulfil a card you move a number of dogs (as dictated by the graduation number) that completed that pattern from your board and place it into one of the four home sections on top of your shelter board. These will contribute to scoring the home cards at the end of the game. The game will end when one player has completed seven training cards. All players will go until they’ve had an equal number of turns. You’ll then score the points on your completed training cards, the home card objectives and for the commendations board.

Forever Home Board Game Review

Knick-knack paddywhack give a dog a home

Forever Home is a much lighter and smaller affair than Birdwood Games previous game Dog Park, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make your brain itch. In fact I’d say Forever Home is more of a brain burner. It presents a really interesting puzzle as you spend your turns trying to set up patterns for not just one card, but as many as you can. It certainly gives you plenty to think about. You’ll soon find out that the two actions you’re given for a turn is never enough, but that just goes to add to the tough decisions. You’ll want to take dogs so you can build up your grid to complete those all important training cards. But I’ll guarantee there’s gonna be a training card staring lovingly at you (but that just may be the dogs on the card) that you’re so close to completing, it’d be rude not to take it……but you also really need two of those dog tokens but you can’t guarantee that either of them will still be there by the time your next turn comes along.

Player count plays a big part of how you approach the game. In a two player game there’s a fairly decent chance that something you want will still be there when your turn comes around. As the player count increases, so do the chances of those same things being taken. It really changes up how you plan. In lower player counts you can easily form a plan and still be in with a good chance that you’ll be able to pull it off. In higher counts you're probably best off waiting until your turn comes around. I know that’s not necessarily what a gamer wants to hear. It brings on nightmares of elongated turns. But I’ve never found that to be the case in the games that I’ve played, turns have always been fairly snappy.

The end game scoring is the thing you’re going to be racking your brains over. The training cards offer some points but you’ll find that you'll mostly be concerned with the graduation number and the puzzle of which dogs you’re going to rehome and where. I (and a few of my group) found that we didn’t really pay much attention to the Commendation board scoring for our first game and only worried about it from game two onwards. It felt like maybe one too many things to worry about in the first game but maybe that’s just us.

Forever Home Board Game Review

You’ll certainly want to get onto using the advanced board as soon as you can though. This adds spaces on the board that have special actions that you trigger when you place a dog on that space. The arrow will let you move a dog on your grid as many spaces as you want following the arrow’s direction. The card swap lets you swap a card from your hand with one in the display. And the swap a token action is the same as the card action but with a dog token. Each action is really simple but I love how they open up the game and help to expand your options on a turn and may even help you do more than the usual two actions.

Some dogs are solo dogs.

The multiplayer game is a lot of fun and it’s definitely one I’d recommend. However, it’s the solo mode in this game that really shines for me.

The solo mode works much the same as the regular game. Set up the dogs and cards as if you're playing a 2/3 player game. Shuffle and place out the solo deck then put out the solo commendations board but don’t place any of the dog tokens on it. Then take three dogs from the bag, pick two to place on your board.

Forever Home Board Game Review

Once you’ve taken a turn as normal, flip over a solo card and remove and replace the cards/dogs pictured on the card and move the round marker. Now the clever part. You’re going to place one of the meeples on the commendation board. You’re going to be doing this every round and eventually you’ll build up your own set of end game scoring parameters for those objectives. This is a brilliant touch. How many times have you played a solo game and been hamstrung by the objectives going against you. Well now you get to build them to your advantage as you go along. So now if you mess up you’ve only yourself to blame. This doesn’t mean it’s going to make winning any easier, it’s still a brilliant challenge and this just serves to mitigate any situations that may put a damper on the experience. The solo game ends after eight rounds…maybe. You can take two extra turns but you lose 4 points if you take one extra turn and a massive eight points if you take two extra. The downside of the solo game? It’s darn (I’m trying to keep this family friendly) addictive. You’ll immediately want to set up again (which is really easy) and go again to try and improve your score. On many occasions I’ve sat down to play A game and found myself crashing out three games in a row and I could’ve easily gone one but had to stop myself.

The art here is beautiful and serves to give the training cards that extra pop and, yes, the temptation to take the cards just for the artwork is a problem that the folks over at Birdwood games just love to see us struggle with.

Dog Park is a fun family game and not wanting to rest on their laurels, Lottie and Jack Hazell have followed up with this brilliantly fun, light puzzle game that will easily make you want to go out and rehome all the dogs.

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