“Hoard” is a rummy style game with a dragon theme with a little bit of memorization thrown in for good measure. Odd combinations, I know, but it works. The whole idea of the game is to gather sets of cards without waking the dragon as doing so ends the round…though you may want to if you’re ahead of the others on points. Special thanks to Julia Schiller from Cheeky Parrot Games for providing me with a press copy for review purposes.
Setting up the game proved to be easy and is a simple matter of placing the three dragon tiles blue side up (representing the sleeping side) and surrounding them with cards from the main shuffled deck. Most of these cards represent a color like in “Ticket to Ride”…that is, green, red, and so on. There are also cards that wake up the dragon (eeek!) and put it to sleep (shhh!) which flip one of the three dragon tiles in the middle of the table appropriately when played. Swords let you steal cards from your opponent while shields are defensive in nature to stop such an action…a set of which is worth some points. There are three purple cards which can be used when you have three players or more that add different effects/rules to the game. Players start with five cards and receive a cardboard figure on a stand to place on one of the cards surrounding the dragon tiles.
On your turn you can choose one of four actions:
1. Roll & Move – The active player rolls a six-sided die (numbered 1-5 and an Esmeralda symbol that acts as a wild) and moves in any direction. They then look at the card they landed on in secret and decide whether or not to keep it. If you do so, you replace it with a card from either the deck or your hand. If you do the former, you may look at it before placing it face-down.
2. Lay down three or more cards of the same color to start a new set or add to an existing set.
3. Play a dragon action card and flip one of its tiles. Having three (no more or less) in front of you at the end of the game scores you points too.
4. Play a sword, shield, or cloak (the latter of which is one of the special purple cards).
Play continues until the dragon wakes up at which point players tally the points from their sets. The player with the most earns a token and the first to five wins (though you can adjust that number if you so choose or simply just play one game). Keep in mind I did NOT cover all of the rules found in the manual…this was a brief overview to give you an idea as to how the game is played. I also included a video of Vinnie Jr. and I playing our first game below so you can see more of the game in action.
What did I think? In all honesty, I found this to be a neat little filler game that combines a few different mechanics rather well. You’ve got hand management, set collecting, time-management (strategically waking or putting the dragon to sleep) and a little bit of back-stabbing (swords, etc.). My copy came with a die that was incorrect…it had values 2-6 when it should have been 1-5 though this wasn’t a deal-breaker. I’m used to winging it and I simply treated the six as a one. The developer was very active in getting this issue resolved with the manufacturer, a testament to the intended quality of the game.
The box insert functioned well as did the box itself which folders over like a book with magnets to keep it shut. The components are colorful and the rules were fairly simple to grasp. I can see this appealing to a wide audience…causal gamers may do well to leave out the special purple cards and concentrate on the set collection and memorization. Speaking of the latter, the memorization aspect kept me on my toes throughout the game as I had to remember what I was putting down where as I was moving my character around the grid. This reminded me of the two player game “Dracula” a bit, for those of you who have dabbled in that.
All in all, “Hoard” is a keeper. It’s flexible enough to be played once or many times, whatever you prefer. As mentioned earlier, it’s best as a filler in between longer play sessions though it can serve as the main attraction on a school night where time is limited.
Final Verdict: 8/10