When I play a game, most times I try to separate the theme from mechanics as it helps me better understand how the game works and therefore lets me develop strategies easier. We’ve run across so many card game which you can tell were designed using a regular deck of playing cards before having a theme pasted on to them. Even longer euro-style strategy games can have their theme wiped away and everything put into a spreadsheet to maximize player choices.
The best games are one that have their theme intertwined into the game so much that the game could not exist without it. Hues and Cues is one example. If you took away the design of the board you would have no game at all. If you didn’t have colored marbles in Tower of Madness, you’d never go insane – a critical storyline in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. The latest issue from Smirk & Laughter is Cindr. By parodying a rhyming popular dating site and incorporating its app’s familiar swiping action, Cindr manages to successfully marry theme with game play.
As you have probably already guessed, Cindr is a game about dating. But not dating each other. You’re dating dragons (insert joke about old girlfriend here…)! Up to five players will choose a character profile card and fill it out with their fictional names, pronouns, likes and dislikes. Additionally they will choose preferences in four categories by circling the traits they are looking for in a reptile.
A deck of 31 dragon profile cards is shuffled and placed in the middle of the play area alongside a mixed stack of Whelp app location cards. Twelve custom transparent colored dice are placed into a pool and three piles of second chance cards are sorted and stacked nearby.
Each player takes turns picking a dragon to date by “swiping” left or right from the dragon deck. Swiping left moves the card into a public dating pool, while swiping right means that is your dragon of choice for tonight’s date. Flavor text on the card gives you some clues about the dragon’s personality and how well they may or may not match your chosen trait preferences. Only upon starting the date, after swiping right, will you discover their real personality on the back of the card.
This is the favorite part of the game for us, as how well the traits match up to the ones you chose determines which dice you will roll. A perfect match means you gain a green die. One degree away awards you with a blue die, while being on the opposite sides of the spectrum earns you a red die. Dice feature only two symbol types, a heart or fire, but their ratio varies depending on the color of the die.
A location card is drawn from the top of the deck which changes the rules of your turn. This may be by altering your die types or awarding you with additional bonuses depending upon how you roll, as examples. The goal in Cindr is to be the first player to earn a total of 21 or more heart symbols and you do so by rolling all of your dice. Any fire symbols are locked in place while heart symbols earn you a heart point. That is, as long as you end your date without getting burned by amassing three or more fire results. After the first roll, you may continue the date by rerolling the heart results, trying to earn more. This may be done one last time to get to the “Next Level”. If you manage to successfully complete the date after the second or third roll, you will earn a bonus listed on the dragon’s card. If you get burned with three or more fire results, a penalty will be suffered. Of course, you can always end the date amicably after the first roll and bank any heart results. However, you forego any bonuses as the date isn’t considered successful.
Any time you get burned, you will be rewarded with a second chance card corresponding to the number of fires you rolled on your last roll. These may be used on any future turn and there is no limit to how many you may have. Once the game gets going, you can also choose to date a dragon from someone else’s dating pool by paying a three heart fee. This might come in handy when you see someone else has a card whose dragon very closely matches the traits you are looking for, netting you better dice to begin with.
Players take turns until someone meets or exceeds 21 heart points and then the round is finished so everyone has had an equal number of turns. The person with the highest total is the winner of Cindr! The rules also include variations for solo play and a cooperative challenge that ranks your performance based upon the team’s total score.
Although advertised for ages 14+, Cindr is a game that can easily be enjoyed by players younger than that. We’ve really enjoyed it and will be featuring the game in one of our upcoming Holiday Gift Guides. We’ll also be giving away a Cindr prize package to one lucky reader, so be sure to pay attention when it goes live later this month! Ask for Cindr at your favorite local game store, buy it directly from Smirk & Laughter on their website or enjoy Prime delivery from Amazon! If haven’t already hooked up with their Facebook and Twitter feeds, do so today to learn about what else they have in the works!
What dragon type would you prefer to date?