The Dingo Ate the Baby is a fast-paced game for 2-5 players, lasting 20-30 minutes. The goal each day is to collect enough cards within your ranch in an attempt to reach the total value needed for that day, without going over. This seems simple enough, but other players will attempt to sabotage your ranch, using animals, babies, sunlight and darkness to scare, chase, overpopulate, and even eat things within your ranch.
Deal a Player Starting Card, face-up, to each player. Set the matching player score markers on the Start/Finish space of the game board. Shuffle the 60- card play deck and place it face down on the game board in the space labeled “Draw.” Randomly determine the first starting player, who will also deal. The starting player changes each day, rotating clockwise.
At the beginning of each day, roll the 10-sided die and set it in in a position where all can see. Add 10 to this die roll. This is the target value your ranch needs to obtain for the day. For example: If a 7 is rolled, the target value for the day is 17.
The starting player deals 1 card face-up into each player’s ranch and 2 cards face-down to each player’s hand. A player’s hand is always hidden from other players.
The initial face-up card dealt to each player is set directly to the right of the Player Starting Cards. This signifies the beginning of each player’s ranch. The card directly to the right of the Player Starting Cards is always protected. This means that it cannot be removed by effects of other players but may be removed by a player’s own effect. Any card played on a person’s ranch is placed to the right of all the cards currently in that player’s ranch. Whenever cards are removed, the remaining cards slide left to fill in any gaps.
When it is your turn, you can perform 1 of the following 4 actions:
1. Play a card of any color into your own ranch. This card is placed to the right of all the cards currently in your ranch. If the card has an effect, the current player may resolve the effect but is not required to do so.
2. Play a card into an opponent’s ranch that matches the color of that player’s starting card or the color of a card already in that player’s ranch. This card is placed to the right of all the cards currently in that player’s ranch. If the card has an effect, the current player may resolve the effect but is not required to do so.
3. Destroy your own protected card. This can only be done if you have more than 1 Playing Card in your ranch. When the protected card is destroyed, the remaining cards slide left while the new leftmost ranch card next to your Player Starting Card becomes the new protected card.
4. Discard a card. This allows you to draw a new card and also speeds up the current day.
At the end of your turn, you draw back up to two cards.
If a player plays a card in their own ranch that matches a color already in their ranch, they may choose to destroy their own leftmost (protected) card as part of the play.
Some card effects remove other cards from a ranch. When these effects resolve, the player playing the card chooses the target. The target can be a card in ANY player’s ranch, not just the ranch of the player where the card was played. The target card may not be a protected card or the card immediately to the left of a special Moon card. Important: The player playing the card is not required to resolve any card effect and may choose to ignore that effect.
The following keywords all remove cards into the discard pile:
Ending a Day:
As cards are removed or discarded, they are collected in a discard pile in the center of the game board. When the number of cards in the discard pile equals twice the number of players in the game, the day ends. For example: In a 3-player game, the day ends when the 6th card is placed in the discard pile.
When the day is over, the player with the highest ranch value, without going over the target value for the day, scores 1 point for each player they beat. In addition, each other player also scores 1 point for each player that they beat, so position at the end of each day is important. Players that exceed the target total when the day ends score no points.
Winning the Game:
A standard game is played up to 15 points. When a player exceeds 15 points at the end of a day, the game is over, and the highest total (or tie for highest) is the winner. In the case of a tie, the players may share the victory or may play an additional day as a tiebreaker.
When playing with 2 players, it is recommended to not end a day until 6 cards have been removed or discarded instead of 4.