How to Play
To be the first player to score 500 points.
Grab a pen and paper to keep score in the game. Shuffle the cards. The youngest player deals first.
Playing the Game
The current dealer deals five cards to every player. Players look at their cards and determine which cards they would like to keep. Players need to use the cards from their hand to form a headline for a news story. Each card is worth the number of points printed on the card. Exclusive cards double the amount of points that a hand is worth but a player can only use one exclusive card per hand.
After each player has looked through their hands, they have the ability to discard up to three of their cards. The player to the left of the dealer discards first followed by the other players. Players get new cards equal to the number of cards they discarded.
After each player has gotten their new hand, players reveal their best headline. A player doesn’t need to use all of the cards from their hand. When making a headline, the headline has to make sense grammatically and logically. The other players judge whether a headline makes sense. If they decide that it doesn’t make sense, the player can submit a new headline.
Once a headline has been approved a player scores point based on the numbers printed on the card.
If the player has an exclusive card, all of the cards are worth twice as much.
If a player can’t figure out a headline using their cards they get zero points for the round.
After everyone has made their headline and scored points, the next player becomes the dealer and a new round begins.
Winning the Game
The first player to reach 500 points wins the game. If two players score over 500 points in the same round, the player who scored more points wins the game.
Man Bites Dog is a pretty simple card game where players are given cards with words on them and the players have to use those cards to make an interesting headline for a news article. I don’t know exactly why but this sounded like an interesting concept for a card game. Man Bites Dog looked like it could be an interesting word game that required creativity and could have been quite a bit of fun. While the concept for the game sounds interesting, Man Bites Dog just isn’t very good.
The biggest problem with Man Bites Dog is the fact that your success in the game will come down to who gets the best cards. At first I thought it would be kind of hard to form headlines with random words. It turns out that it is not that hard since you can usually use at least four of your cards and you will usually be able to use all five cards. Maybe it is just the words that are used on the cards but it is easy to move the words around to make a headline work. This really hurts the game since it removes a lot of the challenge from the game. Since you will regularly use all of your cards you really can’t get a lead on the other players due to your creativity.
This is made worse by the scoring system which could use a ton of work. While some cards are easier to use than others, none of the cards are significantly more difficult to use than other cards. This makes the scoring system in the game pretty stupid since some cards are worth 0 or 5 points while others are worth 50 points. None of the cards in the game are ten times harder to use than other words which means that getting these high valued cards are crucial to winning the game. Whoever gets the most high valued cards will win the game since a short headline that features a high value word will score more points than a long headline that has only low point cards. Man Bites Dog rewards you more for being lucky and getting high valued cards than actually creating good and clever headlines.
To top off the point issue is the fact that getting an exclusive card is key to doing well in the game. Exclusive cards are way too powerful. Being able to double your score pretty much guarantees that you will get the most points in any given round unless another player also got an exclusive card. I think eliminating the exclusive cards from the game would significantly improve it.
The most disappointing thing about Man Bites Dog is that I thought the game’s concept had potential. The idea of using randomly drawn words in order to create headlines is an interesting idea for a game. The game had the potential to be a good party game since it is quick to learn, a game takes around 15 minutes to play, and the game has plenty of potential to be funny. Unfortunately due to the lack of a challenge and the broken scoring system the game just isn’t that fun to play.
With some house rules I think you could makes Man Bites Dog into a better game. First I would ditch the current scoring system and try to figure out some other way to handle scoring in the game. Scoring with the regular rules is way too reliant on getting high valued cards and doesn’t reward players for coming up with clever headlines.
Next you need to add some more challenge to the game. I would suggest adding more cards to each player’s hands which would give them more words to work with. This should reward players that are more creative since they have more words to work with. I think the game should have added some sort of wild cards that could be used for any word or the game could even allow players to add additional words to their headline in exchange for losing some points for each extra word used.
While I was initially interested in the concept behind Man Bites Dog, the game just never really lives up to its’ potential. The game just doesn’t really require any skill or creativity since it is way too easy to use all of your cards and still form a headline that works. Combine that with the poor scoring system and the game pretty much becomes an exercise of who is lucky and gets dealt the best cards. The game has some promise but without some good house rules the game just isn’t that fun.
If you don’t mind putting in some work to find some good house rules for the game you might have some fun with Man Bites Dog. As it stands though I can’t really recommend Man Bites Dog.
If you want to purchase Man Bites Dog you can purchase it on Amazon here.