Full disclosure: A review copy of 7th Night was provided by Big Cat Games.
Another doujin game! As I mentioned last week with Fraction Poker, this is exciting, as it’s all a new shipment of doujin games from Big Cat Games, so I’ll have a few more weeks of things to talk about before that runs out. What happens after that? Who knows, honestly. But 7th Night is the next one coming up, and it’s a new release from Mogwai, which is very exciting. So let’s start right into the review, then.
In 7th Night, you play as notable fairies Oberon and Titania, seeking to claim fairy circles out in the forest. As you do. Naturally, you’ll move back and forth between them likely due to fairy magic or something as you attempt to really lock in your ownership of them before your opponent can. If you do, you may even become the leader of all fairies. Who will take the crown?
Pretty minimal setup. Shuffle and set the 7 Fairy Circles in a line:
Put the Fairy token on the middle one:
Have each player shuffle the cards in their deck (Titania [yellow] or Oberon [blue), and then draw 3 cards:
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start! Choose a player to go first.
The game is pretty simple, as it turns out. 7th Night is played over a series of turns as you fight your opponent for control of the seven Fairy Circles on the table. The player with more circles at the end, wins!
On your turn, simply play a card in front of the Fairy Circle with the Fairy Token on it and choose a direction to move the Fairy Token. The Fairy Token moves that many spaces. There are some caveats:
- The Fairy Token must be able to move that many spaces. Similar to Crossroll Hong Kong, you cannot stop early. If you can’t move that many spaces, you can’t play the card. Incidentally, if the Fairy Token is on the center you can only play 0 / 1 / 2 / 3, since there aren’t enough spaces for a 4 or 5.
- You may move in either direction, provided you follow the previous rule. It doesn’t matter if you move left or right.
- If you cannot play a card, your opponent removes one of the cards in your hand from the game, and then your turn ends. Draw back up, but that’s pretty rough.
Once you’ve finished your turn, draw a card, and your opponent takes their turn.
Play continues until all cards have been played. Then, for each Fairy Circle, sum the total values of cards on both players’ sides. The player with the higher value claims the Fairy Circle. If there’s a tie, nobody claims it.
The player who has claimed more Fairy Circles wins! If there’s a tie, the player who has claimed the highest-value Fairy Circle wins! This is usually the 7, but not always!
Player Count Differences
None! 7th Night is a strictly two-player-only game. I love covering these. Can’t even imagine how you’d extend it to four players, anyways, unless you tried to make it a square and that seems nightmarish.
- Trap your opponent. When I say trap, I usually mean try to play the same card as they played, so that they’re continually pushed back to the same spot. If you can do that, you force them to waste the majority of their cards (since after a certain point in the game, if you’ve played all your cards on one location you’ve definitely claimed it, to the detriment of all other locations). My favorite place to trap an opponent is the center, since it means they also can’t play 4s and 5s to get themselves out, so you’ve limited the available range of cards. Even if you can’t pin them, forcing them to go back to the same one or two spots is usually a solid move, strategically.
- Don’t lose sight of your goal. Some people will do a poor job of that and not realize that their opponent has taken four locations. Once that happens, your opponent should be trying to force you to only go to locations you’ve already claimed. If they can pull that off, then they can prevent you from taking any new locations and completely cement their victory. This means that you need to focus not on trapping your opponent, but on claiming new locations.
- One fun thing to do is to force an opponent to a location that you’ve already claimed significantly, so that they have to waste a card. I mean that you’ve got a sum of 10+ on a location; forcing an opponent to that spot means that there’s no way that they can take it from you (this round), so beyond establishing placement for the next round, their turn is kind of a wash. It’s rude, but, again, the whole game is.
- Don’t gain the 7 Circle at the cost of the game. This one is pretty critical, as a lot of players will go for it because it’s the tiebreaker and not notice that while they were doing that, their opponent claimed almost every other spot. Don’t need a tiebreaker if you don’t end up in a tie, you know?
- Count cards. You need to keep track of what your opponent has played, especially during the last couple turns (when you have perfect information). If you know exactly what they have, you might be able to predict their movements. If you can successfully predict their movements, then you’re going to be able to counter them and make sure that your victory is assured. Naturally, you’d like to win, so that’s going to come in handy, hopefully.
- Play at least one 4 or the 5 pretty early. You really don’t want to get caught with your 4 / 5 / 4 in hand if you’re in the center. If you have to give up a card to your opponent, you’ve lost the game. The easiest way to fix this is by playing one of those cards pretty early on; this means you can’t get trapped. You may be reduced to only playing one card for a while, but, at least you’re not trapped. This is also where counting cards may be your ally; if you notice your opponent hasn’t played their 4 / 4 / 5 yet, you may be able to keep pushing them towards the center and hoping for the worst.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Novel theme. I haven’t played that many games that are expressly about fairies other than Fickle. I guess Oberon is a character in The Resistance: Avalon, but he’s a lot cuter in this version.
- Plays quickly. It’s the kind of game you’ll play five times in quick succession, but each game is probably five minutes or less?
- It’s very clever, I feel. It’s got a lot of interesting depth to it. How do you maintain control? Is it worth controlling the center? How long do you hold on to the five? When do you force your opponent onto a new space. I think a lot of this is driven by the fact that you determine where your opponent will start from, typically, and that’s a fun mechanic.
- Not tough to learn. You play cards to move the fairy on your turn. The player with the greater sum of cards on their side of a circle claims it. There, you know just about everything there is to know.
- I appreciate that the card-counting part of the game is important. It makes the game feel very strategic towards the end, because you can figure out what moves your opponent can make. If they’ve messed up, then they usually have made themselves too predictable. It’s also helpful to know which cards your opponent no longer has, so that you don’t have to worry about certain positions becoming vulnerable.
- Very portable. It’s only a few cards and some cardboard coasters. You could honestly ignore the coasters and just play with 1 – 7 from any card game, if you wanted to save on transport. I like the fairy circles, personally, but you know how it goes.
- I’m a big fan of quick two-player games, generally speaking. I like them because you can sorta play them, finish, and then reset with basically no trouble. It’s just a solid niche, especially for games you can play with a partner, coworker, or just if you want to 1:1 someone.
- The cards aren’t particularly high quality. I’m a bit worried about this, since I play it a lot, and the nature of the box is such that it’s starting to wear on the corners of the cards. It makes me worry a bit about their longevity, and I’m considering reboxing them into some other box (but one that still fits the circles, which is tough).
- I have not seen someone come back and win if they have a turn that they can’t play. That usually means that they have a 5 in their hand, which is usually the card that gets removed. It may be hard to play, but it’s worth a lot of control, so that usually will cost them at least one Fairy Circle. Generally, players don’t recover from that, which can be a bummer. I’d take off more points for it, but the games are so fast that it doesn’t … super matter. This doesn’t apply if it’s the last card of the game, though; I’ve seen plenty of people lose that one and win.
- Really don’t like the box. I understand how it’s useful to have unique box sizes because they tend to catch the eye better and all that, but I already don’t love cylinder game boxes (I see you, Junk Orbit), and to make it small with no writing on the side means that there’s no way for me to display it such that I can see it on the shelf, especially if it’s shrouded in a dark spot. That’s kind of frustrating. Thankfully, it’s not often a huge problem because it also ends up in my bag pretty much constantly.
Overall: 9.25 / 10
Yeah, I really like 7th Night! It’s probably my favorite of the doujin games (and 20+ plays so far really helps cement that). I think it’s a neat, smart little game (similar to Maskmen at 2), and I really like what it does with limited resources in the space it occupies. A 9.25 seems ambitious, I think, but I don’t really have any problems with the game, per se, and that’s after 20 plays! I think it’s quick and sharp, and it requires players to essentially engage in a complex dance, moving back and forth over seven spaces while vying for control of them. I’ve tried some similar games (Hatsuden, Hanamikoji), and I think this one is my favorite of them all for just streamlining it. There’s not a whole lot of extra things happening in the game beyond “play the cards you can play and then move”, and I think that really speaks to me. I generally have a soft spot for some simple games (Catch the Moon, for instance), so it’s nice to find another one for the permanent collection. I just wish it came in a normal box. If you’re looking for a really fun two-player game and you’d like to go head-to-head, I’d overwhelmingly recommend 7th Night! It’s a rock-solid fixture of my collection.