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Heckin’ Good Doggos is great for any age
Heckin’ Good Doggos is a setting and system that revolves around playing canine characters. There are kid appropriate stories and lore sections that create a backdrop setting along with several variations on the system to allow for different ways to play the game, depending on the kind of abilities and powers you want your characters to have in your particular game. From there, the story is up to you to determine! You can adjust your particular game’s story to match your player’s level and needs.
For mechanics, they are also great for most ages to pick up quickly or can be helped along easily by a grown up or older player. It uses a dice pool mechanic where you are looking for a target number, so you don’t need to worry about tracking a whole bunch of different types of dice or adding modifiers. The cards mechanic is based on matching the suit, so it’s picture-focused and great for young kids to recognize and interact with on their own.
Heckin’ Good Doggos is set in a modern day dog world… with lots of options beyond
The Heckin’ Good Doggos base setting is in a modern day world from the perspective of dogs! They meet up after hours to talk about the moon, tell stories, and find tasty noms after a long day of being good doggos for their best friends.
Part of the setting are these story-time sections in the book, where, between learning the mechanics and about the game, you get breaks to learn about the lore of the world during a meet-up under the moon or follow the story of a dog and cat trying to save a friend from pound-nappers! They’re great gameplay examples that are also excellent world-building sources.
AND… if the modern day setting isn’t your thing, there’s a whole bunch of alternate settings with slightly modified rules to account for extra abilities in those other storylines. I particularly liked the Hexin’ Good Doggos setting (supernatural), Super Good Doggos (superheros), and Ye Olde Favorable Hounds (medieval) for a combination of my interests and the puns.
Your character in Heckin’ Good Doggos
Your character in Heckin’ Good Doggos is, of course, a dog! To create your character, you’ll choose their look, breed, and name along with who their best friend is, how they like to help, and what their neighborhood is like.
After that you’ll assign points to their stats (Braun, Smarts, and Guts) and skills (there’s 3 for each stat), and… your character is made!
This took about 10 minutes to create a character, and I really like how the stats are tracked with check boxes (versus a number), so it’s very clear for young kids to quantitatively see how stats compare and can count their points or line dice up on the sheet to figure out how much to roll.
Another really cool feature to this game was explained to me by the creator when I stopped by the Wet Ink Games booth at Origins Game Fair – The picture of the stampede of dogs next to the character sheet and on the cover was designed to help young players quickly pick their character. There’s dozens of different dogs with varying looks, levels of energy, and size so kids can point to “that one!” and have their character pretty set to go without having to stress over making one from scratch, especially if this is their first TTRPG. I love this detail, and it was 100% how my kid picked the dog he wanted to play even without prompting – he saw the picture and immediately asked to play a wonderfully derpy looking doggo a couple rows back in the picture of the pack!
Mechanics in Heckin’ Good Doggos
Because each of the setting variants has some mechanics modification options (like how Wreckin’ Good Doggos adds a resource card deck and Super Good Doggos adds superpower mechanics), I’m going to stick to the base mechanics for this breakdown, but please know, there’s some awesome variation in here that allows you to modify for any setting.
Heckin’ Good Doggos uses the +One system, which has a dice pool mechanic. You roll xd6 dice, where x is based on your skill points from your character sheet, and try to hit a target number within that pool.
To help give you better odds, you also have a governing stat (Brawn, Smarts, or Guts) for each of your skills, and you can spend points from that stat to buy extra dice for the dice pool, add a +1 modifier to one of the dice you rolled, or reroll a die.
This was really easy to track and was very effective for still allowing strategy. You don’t need to do a lot of math, so young kids who are still working on math skills don’t get overwhelmed, but you still need to judge when to spend those stat points and how to do it.
You also use cards in this game to either assist with your rolls and health or resolve challenges.
Each player has cards in the game that they can choose to spend how they want individually or to use with the group.
As long as the suit matches the theme of the roll they’re making (i.e. you would need a hearts card to do something cute or a diamond card to do something fighty), they can add it to the roll to give an automatic +1 success. You can also use cards to heal yourself.
When an encounter happens, instead of challenging an NPC by rolling dice, players use cards to resolve the conflict. A certain challenge may require 2 heart cards or 1 spade and 2 diamonds to complete, so players will need to combine their cards to meet the challenge in order to succeed.
This was, again, another easy mechanic to integrate, and, because it only requires matching the suit, kids can participate on their own by basically just matching shapes. It’s also very cool because it adds a little more strategy and a great teamwork mechanic. You need to potentially save cards for later and use them as a group instead of using them all on your individual rolls as soon as you get them, so it creates a better bond between the players and rewards patience, planning, and collaboration.
Overall thoughts on Heckin’ Good Doggos
Heckin’ Good Doggos is a lot of fun and quick to pick up. It’s cute and exciting and has a great story to start with and grow from, plus… for anyone who likes dogs, this is pretty much an automatic win on the theme. The mechanics are streamlined and effective with lots of options to add more for different settings, and we had an absolute blast both with reading the story sections and playing some doggo-themed adventures ourselves!
Find a copy of Heckin’ Good Doggos
You can find a copy of Heckin’ Good Doggos on DriveThruRPG!
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