So today I thought I’d try something different. There are several small games that I love to play and get played all the time, because they’re easy enough that my family will play them. None of them really require a full on review, but I think that they’re worth mentioning. We’re going to call this a quick review blast and see how it goes.
Designer: Michael Feldkötter
Player Count: 3-6 Players
Play Time: 20-30 minutes
Little Devils is a trick taking game published by Stronghold Games, where you don’t want to take the trick. The deck is 54 cards numbered 1-54 and each card has a “devils” value in the corner of the card that ranges from 0-5. One person will play a card and the player to their left gets to play whatever card they choose to set the “rule/trump” for the hand, based on if the second card played is higher or lower than the first. Every consecutive player then has to play a card either above or below the starting card, as decided by the second player, while trying to be as close to the starting card as possible. The player who takes the trick is either the player who was the farthest away from the original number, or the player who had to “break the rule” by playing a card above the original number when supposed to play below, or vice versa. The game is played until 1 player reaches 100 devils, or points, and then the lowest scoring player wins. My family loves this game. We play it all the time and it plays up to 6 players. There’s something supremely satisfying about being the last player to play a card and having a number closer than someone else. Especially if you’re giving them one of the few 5 devil cards. It’s very easy and doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power, but you still can have some interesting choices to make. Nothing too fancy, but solid and fun.
GLG Rating 7.5/10
Designer: Thorsten Gimmler
Player Count: 3-5 Players
Play Time: 20 minutes
No Thanks! is a press your luck style game most recently published by Mayfair Games, however my copy is an older version from Zman Games. In No Thanks!, you are trying to have the least amount of points at the end of the game. There is a deck of cards numbered 3-35 which is shuffled and 9 are dealt out face down before starting the game. No one gets to see what isn’t being used. Each player then gets a handful of 11 tiddlywinks/chips to use. To start the game, the top card of the deck is flipped up. On your turn, you have 2 options. You can either take the face up card, which is worth the number of points printed on it, or you can place a chip on it. The next player does the same. This continues until one player takes the card and the associated chips. They then keep the card face up and take the chips into their hand. The next card is flipped up and play continues as before. If you are out of chips, you are forced to take the card. When the last card is taken you add up the numbers on your cards, subtract the number of chips in hand, and that’s your score. With one exception. Only the lowest card in a run of consecutive cards counts to score. While the 35 card may not be appealing, if it has a big pile of chips on it, and you’re able to get cards 31-34, only the 31 card would count towards your score. Again, this is super quick and easy to play, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. It’s a great filler game to pull out for 10 quick minutes, or a great game to teach someone who hasn’t played games of this nature before. And once people start playing, it’s impossible to go without hearing people say “No Thanks” at least half a dozen times per game. It’s always fun and easy to get to the table.
GLG Rating 7.5/10
Designers: Carl Chudyk and Chris Cieslik
Player Count: 2-4 Players
Play Time: 5-10 minutes
Red7, published by Asmadi Games, is the trickiest game on this quick list. It’s a tableau building game with a deck of 49 cards. Each card has a number 1-7 and is colored one of the 7 colors from the ROYGBIV rainbow. No 2 cards are identical. Each player will start with a hand of 7 cards and one random card in front of him. The goal of this game is to be winning at the end of your turn. If you can’t end the turn winning, you lose and are out of the game. This is where it gets tricky. Cards are placed into the center of the table and whatever the COLOR of the middle card is, dictates the current rule for winning. For example, if a red card is in the middle, the player with the highest card is winning. If a blue card is in the middle, the player with the most different colors in front of them is winning, etc.… Each color has a different rule. On your turn, you have 3 options. Play a card in front of yourself to win the current “rule,” play a card to the middle to change the “rule” so that your cards already in front of you cause you to be winning, or play a card in front of yourself AND play a card to the middle to change the “rule.” I’ve probably lost you, and that’s ok. This is one that seems to be best taught by showing. It’s very puzzley and requires a little more thinking, but it’s still incredibly fun. It’s my favorite of the three on today’s post. One word of warning with this one though. Every once in a while, there is a fringe case where someone won’t be able to do anything on their first turn, and they automatically lose. This stinks, but considering games usually take 5-10 minutes, I typically chalk it up to bad luck and have them wait until we deal out the next hand.
GLG Rating 8.5/10
These review scores may seem high today, but let’s put them in context for a moment. Each review does measure up to other games, but more of the scoring is based on the type of game. I gave Spector Ops an 8.5, which is the same as Red7. I like Spector Ops waaaay more than Red7, but I typically prefer bigger, meatier games, and for being a small card game, Red7 is amazing.
All three of these games are small, quick and easy to play, but don’t let them fool you. These games bring fun to the table that isn’t always possible with certain crowds. Even the people least interested in games will probably like at least one of these. And at less than 15 bucks a pop, they’re pretty easy on the budget.
What are some small card games in these categories that you like to bring to the table?