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Subject: Z10N X Reviews #7 - Red7: A Small Card Game Like Fluxx but Much Better rss

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Peter Barringer
United States
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This review series is dedicated to reviewing games I’ve received from publishers in exchange for an unbiased review. I play each of these games multiple times before reviewing them. Subscribe to this Geeklist to be notified when I publish a review: Z10N X Reviews. Please Geekmail me if you're interested in having me review your game!

Introduction: Asmadi Games is known for producing card games in tiny boxes. One of their most well known games, One Deck Dungeon (see my review here), is in my personal top dozen or so games of all time. I’m usually not the biggest fan of simple, light card games, simply because there are so many bad ones out there. I don’t want to spoil the rest of my review, but Red7 was a real surprise. Keep reading and you’ll find out why.

How to Play: Rather than get into all the technicalities, I’ll just say there are 49 cards, 1-7 in each of the seven colors. A higher number is always worth more than a lower number, but the colors are in a hierarchy based on the ROYGBIV spectrum in a rainbow, so a red 5 is worth more than a yellow 5. Additionally, each color, if played to the middle of the table rather than in front of a player, has a different win condition. You start with 7 cards, plus a random card in your play area. On your turn, you can play a card to your personal play area, play a card to the middle of the table to change the win condition, or do both, as long as you are winning the game at the end of your turn according to the active win condition. You don’t draw back up at the end of your turn, so within 7 rounds, all but one player will be eliminated.

What this game does well:
1. Red7 is what Fluxx could have been if properly done. I really, really, really hated my experience with Fluxx because the win condition constantly changed, and it seemed chaotic. Red7 has a similar premise, but it’s way more strategic. Much like in the best cards games, you have to look at your hand and figure out how you can best and most efficiently utilize that hand’s strengths. However, you also have to adjust your strategy on the fly based on other players’ moves.
2. Player elimination isn't an issue. I’m not a big fan of player elimination because it leaves players bored and disengaged. Rounds of Red7 take so little time that you’re back in the action within a minute or two.
3. It comes with variants and advanced options. Unlike in most games with advanced options and/or variants, these ones appear built into the game from the beginning. For example, you can play one version with abilities; these abilities are clearly printed in the corner of the cards. You can also create longer games by using the scoring mechanism. I enjoyed trying this method because it causes you to consider how many points you’ll win (or how many points your opponent will win) and adjust your strategy. Each round affects the rest of the game.
4. It’s simple mechanically but difficult to master. This saying has become a bit cliché, but I still feel like I’m learning how to play it effectively after my first twelve plays at various play counts.

Potential issues with this game:
1. It’s a bit hard to explain to new players. For all the game’s simplicity, I can’t teach it as easily as some other games in the same genre. However, since rounds are so short, you can teach the rules and play a practice round all in 5-7 minutes.
2. There’s a fairly significant learning curve. You can win without planning perfectly, but newer players are less likely to win. It takes some real skill to play a hand properly, especially when one player starts with a powerful card in his/her play area. This is sometimes a big issue with two players; if one player starts with the red 7 in his/her play area, the other player often has to play two cards to catch up on multiple turns because the red 7 breaks most ties as the most powerful card.

Rating: (7.25/10)

The Bottom Line: I didn’t expect to find Red7 too noteworthy even though the designer has created several other games I really enjoy. The market is just so saturated with small cards games that I didn’t expect Red7 to break into my small, rarely-changing stable of games that includes The Game, No Thanks!, For Sale, Sushi Go!, Arboretum, Biblios, and Love Letter. Not only did Red7 keep up with those titles, I think it has passed several of them. I think the game does so much well, and it’s the type of game you can play many times before you master it. On top of that, there are advanced variants to include once you have a handle on the base game. Red7 will be a go-to filler card game with my Board Game Club for a long time. Thanks to Asmadi for the review copy.
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