written by David Steffen
Dog Man: Attack of the Fleas is a cooperative children’s board game released in 2019 based on Dav Pilkey’s popular ongoing Dog Man series of books about a hero with the body of a policeman and the head of a dog (Dav Pilkey is also the author of the Captain Underpants series).
The board game follows some of the plot of Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas (previously reviewed here) wherein some of the main villain Petey’s enemies from his childhood resurface and come back to terrorize him and the city in a robo-brontosaurus. The heroes of the game are the Supa Buddies: The Bark Knight (Dog Man’s superhero alter-ego), Cat Kid (his friend Lil’ Petey’s superhero alter-ego), and Lightning Dude (their mutual robot friend 80HD’s superhero alter-ego), and their enemy is the fleas piloting the Robo-Brontosaurus.
The fleas act as a sort of a non-player character in the game, starting on one end of the board and traversing to the other side of the board as you spin the wheel for them as if they were another player. They take turns with the other players who play as members of the Supa Buddies and their friends. The Supa Buddies have to explore the board to find items that may help them on their way, some items helping movement, but most importantly the shrink ray. When a player gets a shrink ray and can land on the same square as the fleas, then they can use the shrink ray to destroy one of the three parts of the robo-brontosaurus. When all of the parts are destroyed, they have to return home quickly to win the game.
The game is pretty fun, though driven more by the randomness of the spins and the item placement than by any skill. It is nice to have a cooperative, rather than competitive, board game for kid’s this age, especially since they’ll be more likely to get frustrated.
The overall game dynamic works pretty well, but in my opinion the “get back home in a limited number of turns” rule is both absurd and kind of wrecks the balance of the game. When your movement on the board is determined by randomly spinning the wheel it’s hard to get anywhere both ACCURATELY and QUICKLY unless you hoard a movement card for it, which seems like it would be harder for kids in the target age group to decide to do. (you could always make your own house rule to ignore this of course).
Early grade school or preschool would probably like this the most.
Mostly based on chance, with a bit of strategy about hoarding movement card for the end.
Pretty quick, probably 10 minutes.
Except for very young players, I think the novelty would wear out pretty quickly, though those players especially if they are fans of Dog Man, may like it for quite some time.
Of course much of its appeal is in the character branding, I thought the dynamic was interesting with the adversary acting as an independent character.
The MSRP seems to be about $20–if you’ve got a kid who’s a big fan of Dog Man and in early grade school, you might want to give it a try.