Red7: Review Rewind

Fairway definitely has something for games with rainbows. Red7 is no different, except that this rainbow really knows how to mess with your hand. See if Fairway manages to find the pot of gold at this end of this rainbow-themed game.

Red7 is a set collection, hand management card game by Asmadi Games in which players stay in the game by winning at the end of each play of their hand.

r7Initial Impressions ^

  1. This game is subtle. Everything about it: the nuances of game play in the rules, the strategy to win, the value of the cards in your hand.
  2. It seems like it should be, but it’s actually a hard game to teach because the game’s strategy is difficult to pick up.
  3. Portable and quick make this one easy to take anywhere.

Game play ^

In Red7, players are trying to win each time they play a card.  If they’re not winning at the end of each turn, they’re out of that hand. The last player in the hand collects the points and then they play again.

Red7 is made up of a single deck of card. Each card is numbered one to seven and is one of the primary colors of the rainbow: red through violet.  In the game, the cards are ranked first by color (violet at the bottom, red at the top) and then in ascending order of value.  In addition, each card has a “rule” defined by its color.  When played to the center of the table, this rule determines who will “win” the play or, at the end, the entire hand.

To start, the “red canvas” card is played to the middle of the table.  The rest of the deck is shuffled. Each player is dealt a number of cards depending on the player count.  These cards for the player’s hand. In addition, each player is dealt one face up card as their starting palette. The player to the left of the player with the highest face up card goes first.  The remainder of cards is turned face down in a draw pile.

On your turn, you must play a card from your hand to either the canvas (i.e., the middle of the table) and change the winning rule, to your own palette (i.e., right in front of you), or both.  To stay in the game, you must be “winning” by the end of your turn.  If you’re not winning, you’re out.

From Board Game Geek

With each play, you must evaluate the winning condition. You compare your palette to the canvas rule and to every other palette.  For some rules, like “highest card” (the Red rule) evaluation is easy: compare color and value.  For a rule like “most different colors” (the Blue rule) or “most of one color” (the Yellow rule) t’s possible the there’s a tie for just card count.  In this case, players then also evaluate the “highest” card in their palette that also meets that rule.

In addition, a player that doesn’t have any cards left to play is out for the remainder of that hand.

The last player to avoid elimination, then takes all the cards that match the canvas rule from their palette and collects them. They score the value on the card.  The game ends when either some player reaches the player-count-dependent score or there aren’t enough cards left to deal. In the latter case, the player with the most points wins.

On the green ^

Strategic.  Red7 is an amazing game for what it is. It’s winning-est feature is that it’s an incredibly strategic card playing game. The entire strategy of how to play your hand is incredibly subtle that it’s often lost on first time players.

The base rules do cause some hands to turn on luck of the deal. But even terrible deals can still be played to at least make it difficult for your opponents to generate a lot of points. You can even make self-sacrificing plays that force other players to play their less than optimal hand.   Some of the advanced rules, including the one in which players draw a card if they play the highest value card, can mitigate some of the terrible deal outcomes.

Portable and quick.  It’s a deck of cards and it’s playable just about anywhere. Bringing it to a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop to play instead of a traditional card game is a no-brainer. Individual hands also go by pretty quick once players know how to play.

What Fluxx should be?  Lots of people have been introduced to modern gaming through something like Fluxx. It is fun for what it is: a quirky change of the what new gamers understand to be a game. The novelty of games like Fluxx is the idea that the base victory condition is not known and knowable and changes sometimes unpredictably. The constantly-shifting win condition of Red7 shares a lot in common, but implements it in a strategic, thoughtful way.

Alternate game modes.  The base game, while it took some getting used to, is a nice game in its own right. However, the rules include other game modes that keep the game interesting even for those that have played the game a bunch of times.

Where it comes up short ^

Too subtle? If there’s one failing, it’s that the rules, like the strategy, are often subtle and difficult to comprehend. What would appear to be a great game to replace something like Uno or Crazy Eights with kids, is, in my experience, lost in this subtlety. Teaching the game definitely takes a bunch of example hands and plays to get which creates a high barrier of entry for a light card game. I’ve found that while this means it’s a great, light game for gamers, it’s not a game to try to introduce to new or younger gamers.

Still luck of the deal.  A good or bad deal carries a lot of weight in individual hands. However, since most games are pretty short and even players with “bad” hands stay in most of the round, this is only a minor nuisance.

In the hole ^

Red7 is an award-nominated game for a reason. Packaged in a tight, little deck is a very strategic card game. While getting into the game takes some effort, that investment in learning it is definitely worth it. There’s no doubt that the nature of the learning curve does pose a challenge for trying to introduce new players, especially younger players, to the game though. For a group of gamers looking for something quick or something to carry with them, Red7 definitely fits the bill.

Red7 is in the hole for a birdie. ^

Fairway was provided a copy of Red7 for this review but was not otherwise compensated.



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