Pond Domination

(Previously named Critter Conquest)

Welcome to the pond! In this pond resources are scarce and critters have to work hard and compete to accumulate food and precious gems in order to protect their territory and aim to gain more.


Recommended Number of players 2 | Ages 10+ | Avg. Playtime 30min


Boardgame of territory acquisition, sabotage, and hand management.

How to Play

The goal of the game is to claim as much territory on the game board as possible by strategically claiming adjacent squares with touching edges. The game ends once the entire board has been filled with player pieces, and players will count their squares to see who has the most touching squares to determine a winner. 

Squares on the board are claimed by making pairs indicated on the board with the cards you hold in your hand. However, sabotage and greed can work against you in this game because at the beginning of each round, every player must sacrifice a card to their opponent.

Components & Setup

Playing card deck contains:

5 bee cards

5 orange cards

5 apple cards

5 heart cards

5 purple moon cards

5 frog cards

5 blue triangle cards

2 star cards

2 diamond cards

1 game board

20 light purple square pieces

20 dark purple square pieces

Start by shuffling the playing deck and distributing 5 cards to each player, and pick your player pieces (light purple or dark purple). The player pieces will be used to cover squares on the game board as you make pairs and claim them. Put the remaining playing cards between the two players, this will be the draw pile.

Playing the Game


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playing cards

Determine who goes first by rolling a dice or flipping a coin. Once the order has been determined, the game can begin! At the beginning of each round, each player must look at their hand of cards and choose one card to give to their opponent - choose your card wisely! Diamond and star cards are the rarest resources in the deck and are located in the center of the game board. Once you have chosen a card to forfeit to your opponent, place it face-down in front of them. Now that both players have a card from their opponent in front of them, you may take that card into your hand.

Each player may now take their individual turns. During a player’s turn, they can either claim a space on the board by making the pair indicated on the square, or they may pass. If a player uses cards from their hand to make a pair and claim a space on the board, they may replenish their hand with cards from the draw pile. A player should have no more than 5 cards at any given time. Once both players have had their turn, the round ends and the next one begins. 

Play until the board is completely covered with player pieces. At the end of the game, each player should count the number of squares they have with touching edges (not corners, diagonals do not count) and the player with the highest number wins.

If the draw pile runs out during gameplay, shuffle the discard pile to use as a draw pile. If for 3 consecutive rounds neither player makes a pair and claims a space on the board, both players must refresh their hand of cards by discarding all 5 cards and drawing 5 brand new ones from the draw pile.

image of playing card file (left)

image of game board (below)

Additional Game Analysis

Downloadable, contains examples of gameplay, more detailed setup, etc.