Full disclosure: A review copy of The Lady and the Tiger was provided by Jellybean Games.
A tiger, while gnawing a bone
let out a small sigh and a moan.
“If I could just meet a lady
without eating her, maybe
I wouldn’t be all on my own.”
(Peter C. Hayward)
Woo! It’s my 200th review. That’s a preposterous number of games and expansions, but here we are, successfully on the other side of it. What a time to be alive. Anyways, let’s keep The Lady and the Tiger Week going with Hoard, the third (and only solo) game in the collection.
In Hoard, your goal is to collect Treasure and get rid of Trash (just like real life, tbh). However, your ability to do so is dictated by the cards you draw. Will you be able to separate trash from treasure? Or will the only treasure you end up with be the friends you made along the way?
Setup is pretty straightforward. As usual, you have the four Door Cards:
You also have the Clue Cards:
Along with the gems:
For this game, you’ll need:
- 5 Blue Gems
- 5 Red Gems
- 5 White Gems
- 5 Black Gems
- 3 Yellow Gems
You can return the other two yellow gems to the box. Set the four Door cards face up so that the colors are vertically adjacent and the types are horizontally adjacent. The rulebook recommends Red Lady in the top-left corner and Blue Tiger in the bottom-right corner. Set the three yellow gems at the top of the set of cards; those will be your round markers.
Shuffle the other 20 gems and place 5 on each of the 4 cards, randomly. Shuffle the 14 Clue cards as well, and then you should be ready to start!
Hoard is pretty straightforward: your goal is to collect Treasure (red and blue gems) while avoiding trash (black and white gems). It’s played over three rounds, and if you ever collect all 10 Treasures, you win! However, it’s hard to collect Treasure when you need to sift through trash, so you may need to get rid of all the trash first before you can collect any Treasure.
Each turn, you’ll reveal the top card of the Clue Deck and perform an action corresponding to that card. There are six types of cards that you can reveal: Red Lady, Red Tiger, Blue Lady, Blue Tiger, Lady / Tiger, and Blue / Red. The latter two are special cases, so let’s handle the normal case and move on from there.
After drawing a card, again, perform one of the following actions:
Move any 1 trash or Treasure between cards of the same type (not cards of the same color; you may never move gems vertically). This means if you draw a Red Lady, you may move a trash or Treasure to the Blue Lady (from the Red Lady) or vice-versa.
If there’s trash on this Door card (corresponding to the one you drew), remove all pairs of 1 black trash and 1 white trash from the card. So if you have 3 white trash and 2 black trash on the Blue Tiger and you draw a Blue Tiger, you will end up with 1 white trash and 0 black trash remaining (since you remove two pairs of two trash).
You may remove a Treasure from the Door card (getting you closer to winning the game) if and only if:
- The Treasure is the same color as the Door;
- There is no trash on the Door card.
That’s tough, but once you remove a Treasure, it never can be returned. If you collect all 10 Treasures, you win!
Special Case Cards
So, if you draw the blue / red card, you must take 1 white and 1 black trash from the removed Trash and place one on each Blue Door or one on each Red Door. Your choice. You also choose which gem goes on which card.
If you draw the lady / tiger card, you must take 1 white and 1 black trash from the removed Trash and place one on each Lady Door or one on each Tiger Door. Your choice. You again choose which gem goes on which card.
In the somewhat-likely case that you reveal one of these cards and no Trash has been removed, you must pick any 2 Door cards and swap a black trash from one with a white trash from the other. This is the only way you can swap any gems between tigers and ladies.
End of Round
If you draw the last card from the deck, the round ends after this turn. Remove that card from the game by placing it under one of the yellow round marker gems. Shuffle the remaining cards and start again.
Once you hit the end of the third round, if you have not collected all of the Treasures, you lose! If, at any point, you collect all 10 treasures, you win! Your score is how many treasures you collected. If you find that you’re consistently scoring a 10, well, you can take steps to correct that:
- Moderate Difficulty: Randomly remove 1 Clue card from the game. Set it aside, face-up.
- Hard Difficulty: Randomly remove 2 Clue cards from the game. Set them aside, face-up.
- Impossible!: Randomly remove 3 Clue cards from the game. Set them aside, face-down. You should not look at them. Let me know if you beat the game at this difficulty!
Player Count Differences
None. This is a solo game.
- I generally try to clear trash first. You need at least one card clear if you’re going to try to remove gems. That said, it may be worth not clearing too much trash until you’ve gotten rid of the Wild Cards, in case you have some imbalanced setups. If you haven’t removed any trash, you can swap any two pieces rather than putting new ones back on the board. That can sometimes be pretty helpful.
- You want to spend some time in each round moving gems, as well. Remember, you can only pull gems of that color off the door card, so you’ll want to spend some time getting your gems in position.
- Keep track of the cards you’ve used.
- Hope that you get lucky.
- The Wild cards are excellent ways to move trash such that it can be more easily removed. They’re also excellent ways to totally screw up your plans, should they arrive at inopportune times.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Neat little spatial game. It’s not too much space, either — it’s small and easy to play. If you’ve got a like, inset tray, you could pretty easily play this on an airplane. Wouldn’t recommend a very shaky mode of transit, though. I just appreciate its small footprint.
- Good and puzzley. Sure, there’s a lot of luck in how your initial gem setup influences your odds of victory, but there are so many combinations that it’s easy to reset and the puzzle remains interesting the entire time. If you like puzzley solo games, this is solid.
- Great art, especially since you get to focus on the Door cards. I’m going to keep complimenting this game on its vibrant art, but the doors are particularly impressive and Hoard does a great job highlighting that, which I appreciate. Just make sure you don’t cover the cards with the gems and block the art; that would be sad.
- Plays super quickly. It and Traps are probably two of the quicker games in the set, honestly; you can bust this one out in 10 minutes if you’re playing quickly, though you’re more likely to make mistakes.
- Having to remove a card can be painful. Especially if it’s one of the cards you need the most — now you can’t use it for the rest of the game. This may occasionally frustrate some, but it is a compelling part of the game’s like, gameplay narrative, and I appreciate it.
- I had a bit of trouble with the rules. Probably managed to play it like two or three times incorrectly — might be more of a me problem, but I’d recommend double-checking the rules to make sure that you get it right. Some issues:
- You can only remove gems from doors of the same color.
- Don’t forget to remove the last Clue card you draw from the game.
- You can only remove gems if the cards have no trash on them.
- If you have a valid move that you can make, you must make it.
- You kind of know some games are unwinnable long before they end. Like, if you’ve used your three blue tigers and there are still blue gems on the Blue Tiger Door, and it’s the last round, well, you lose. You can still maximize your score, but the game’s essentially over.
- Pretty heavy luck influence on what starts where. You can have extremely hard games if you get unlucky on the setup. That said, there’s really no reason why you can’t just have a recommended setup and play the game with a randomized deck from there. Do you have any particularly good setups for Hoard? Lemme know in the comments.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, Hoard is a lot of fun! Like I said, this game highlights the Door cards, which I also really like, but it’s a neat / puzzley / space game, too! I don’t play a lot of solo games (though Unbroken, another solo game, is a delight), but this isn’t a bad one to have on you since the game system allows you to play this, a few two-player games, or more! Generally, I’ll play this while I’m waiting for something to happen at a game night (I’m frequently on time / early, which is a different conversation), and it’s a nice way to quickly pass some time. I’m still trying to figure out how much of the game depends on my luck versus my skill, but for now I’m still a pretty big fan. If you’re looking to solve some quick puzzles in several combinations as a quick solo adventure, The Lady and the Tiger’s Hoard might be worth checking out!