The Cute Pug was one of my original creations and was a bit of a disaster from the get go. She underwent a number of variations and the final version of the pug is completely different than what it originally was. At the same time, though, there are small hints of pieces that I used way, way back when I first started making her. Let’s dive in!
Part 1: Inspiration and Design
It feels like the inspiration is somewhat obvious, but I originally made the cute pug because I thought Peach was an exceptionally cute pug. Surprising, right? As I brainstormed different attributes it could have, I settled on the idea of avoiding disasters. No one should be able to hurt a Cute Pug because it’s just too cute to be targeted by opponents. This was (pun intended) a complete disaster.
In the original version of the game, which I talked about in my Curious Pug post, pugs had their abilities permanently active and could use them all the time. This meant opponents could do nothing to stop the Cute Pug and she was freely able to gain points without being blocked. On top of this, there were 6 other disaster cards beyond the 6 in the game now that reduced points from players by one point in each area (those ended up being eliminated in favor of treats for a lot of reasons). Of course, this made the Cute Pug insanely frustrating and also made it extremely powerful. I ended up removing it from the game in favor of the Curious Pug, until much further down the road.
As I progressed through the game, I wanted to make sure different styles of play were covered, and I wanted to make sure everyone that I play with would have an option they would like. My sister, Lena, hates competitive games. She gets frustrated when people try to attack her or beat her, and her primary goal in games is to just build her own community and do her own thing – avoiding most of the conflict all together. Since this didn’t exist in the game at the time, I began brainstorming ideas that might work in that space. Because of the “building a community” concept, I decided on having the ability grow in power over the course of the game, primarily focused on earning points. I wanted the experience to be unique, though, and one of the ideas that I fell in love with was the ability to earn additional points in an area that already had a ton of points. I liked the decision making involved with the choice to use that ability (go for additional points in a spot that already has lots of points, or gain a single point in another area), and so I began to work around that. I felt like it just wasn’t a functional option until I realized I could do something really neat; I could allow the player to win the game at 12 points regardless of points in areas, meaning gaining a ton of points in a single area wasn’t as detrimental as it otherwise would be.
I loved the decision making that was suddenly prevalent in that pug, and what I loved even more was the pug got to do it’s own thing, just like my sister always wanted to do. She could build her community however she wanted to build it and could basically ignore everyone else. This was perfect for her, and I was really excited by it.
The other part that I absolutely loved was the homage it paid to the original Cute Pug. Remember how the Cute Pug was immune to disasters in the original version? Because the Cute Pug is so wildly versatile compared to other pugs (due to the 4 point ability and the 12 point ability) disasters are significantly less powerful on her than anyone else. Disasters are so powerful because they can completely prevent someone from winning the game no matter how many points they have as long as the player is blocked from gaining the one point necessary to hit the goal. However, the Cute Pug doesn’t need to play by those rules and instead gets to do whatever she wants – thereby rendering disaster cards significantly less effective against her than any other pug. This hidden part of her design was absolutely one of my favorite parts of the ability.
Part 2: Tips and Tricks
The Cute Pug is primarily focused on doing her own thing, and she’s extremely versatile in her path to victory. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when playing her.
-You can choose any ability when you play a treat, so disasters are functionally less effective against you. If the opponent tries to block your most pointed area, you can just gain one point in a different area.
-Be cautious how you use your treats. Although you can win with any twelve points, you need a treat card to do it. Having 12 eating points is awesome and hilarious, but you can’t win unless you have a treat available. Make sure you account for that if you’re trying to win with that method.
-Try to save your treats for later in the game. Using them early is fine, especially if you have a bad hand, but bad hands are pretty rare early in the game because of the freedom to play anything without opponents trying to find ways to shut you down (there’s just too much variability to try to counter someone early). So, instead, save those treats to gain the double points at 8 points or win the game with different point gains at 12.
-Be safe early. There’s no reason to go big with tricks if you can just build your way up to 4 and 8 by playing a little safer. The Cute Pug gets quite a bit stronger as she gain points, so those first few points mean a lot.
The Cute Pug is a really enjoyable pug that lets you play the game however you want. She’s great at avoiding disasters, and she’s the only pug that gets to win the game in a (literally) completely different way from every other pug. Do you enjoy doing your own thing? Then the Cute Pug is for you!