Carl Chudyk is not especially known for his simple, straightforward games. Options, options, options. Multiple uses for one thing, that’s what he does. So when he and Chris Cieslik designed a tiny card game, Red7, they probably could not resist to add another subtle layer on top of a simple numbers game. Difficult? No, this game can still be explained in a couple of minutes. Seems like very good filler material, right?
What do you get for your money?
49 cards in seven colours, a canvas card, six played aids and the rules.
How do you play the game?
Red 7 is a card game where you have to change the rules to win. If you don’t win by the current rule at the end of your turn, you are out of the game.
Every card has a number from 1 to 7 and a colour with a corresponding rule. You start the game with five cards in your hand, one random card in front of you (in your palette) and the starting card with the starting rule in the middle of the table (the canvas).
‘When you have the highest card, you win.’
In your turn you have three options. One, play a card from your hand to the canvas, hereby changing the rule. Two, play a card from your hand to your palette. Three, play one card to the canvas and one card to your palette.
You have to do one of those three things in such way that you are the best in whatever the rule on the canvas says you must be. It can be that you must have the most even cards, the most cards below four, the biggest straight or the highest card in your palette. First you check who wins according to the numbers and if there’s a tie you check who wins by colour. In this way you’ll find that the red 7 is the highest card in the game.
If you cannot win at the end of your turn, you have to pass and you are out of the round. The game continues in this way until there’s only one player left.
Red 7 is a very easy game to teach, however despite the easy rules it still has a certain depth. It has something, which makes you think and think again. You try to figure out how you can most efficiently play your cards, win your turns and eventually win the round (or game). However, you can’t really take into account how your opponent might change the rules, so you constantly have to adjust your strategy.
The most efficient way to play the game, probably, is to only play one card per turn. In this way you last longer in the game.
The balance between the card value, the colour and the rules on the cards is just perfect. You can win your turn by playing a card with a certain value, but you can also play with the fact that some colours are more valuable than others when a tie occurs. That’s a cool mechanism, an added layer of strategy.
The advanced game is not more difficult in terms of rules. These extra rules do give you more to think about. In the advanced game you play multiple rounds and every round you must take the cards that made you win that round and place them in a stack beside you. At the end of the game you add all the cards in that stack together and that’s your score. This means that if you win the round by having the highest card, you only place one card in your score pile. But if you win by having the most cards in one colour you might be able to add multiple cards to your score pile. It also adds the rule that if you play a card to the canvas that has a higher number than the amount of cards in your palette, you may draw another card.
Like I already said, these rules do not make the game much more difficult to teach and play, but there’s just more to consider.
Flavour and Theme
This is a simple card game where it’s all about the colours, so painting was an an obvious choice for a theme. Apart from the painting lingo, there’s nothing here that makes you think about painting, though.
The game has a clean, but colourful look.
Quality of the components
The card quality is pretty good and that’s all I can say about it.
There has been a small hype around this game when it got played a lot during last BGGcon. It was all the hotness. The hype died down a bit, but did the game deserved the hype?
That’s hard to say. It’s a quick game. You can play a lot of short games or a more advanced and a little longer game. The rules and concepts are easy and yet the game has enough strategy to be very engaging. This makes Red7 a perfect filler, which means it can be played a lot by many people in short time. More people play it, so more people can talk about it. So, yes, I do understand the hype.
It is a very fun card game for gamers and non-gamers. There is player elimination, but that’s doesn’t really matter, the game is over before you know it (in a positive way).
The difference between the basic rules and the advanced rules is a bit like Love Letter. That game has a similar difference in game play, for those who know that game. You can play a set of short games and let the game end when you want it to, or give the player who wins the round his reward en let the game end when the victory conditions are met.
Both are equally fun, although if I have the time, I prefer the advanced rules.
Red7 is a keeper, I can put it in my pocket and play it, anywhere, any time. A very, very clever game.