Play Time: 20-45 Min / Players: 2-6 / Complexity: Low / Age: 6+ / Publisher: Cheeky Parrot Games / Designer: Tim Kings-Lynne, Beck Veitch & Julia Schiller
Hoard Ratings and Summary
Kids rating from our daughter (9 )
Teen rating from our son (15).
A cool dragon theme, simple rules and some nice player interaction make Hoard an excellent family game which is accessible for younger kids or casual gamers. There is a decent dose of luck here, but there are still plenty of decisions that allow you to influence the game.
- Easy to learn
- Quick to set up
- Dragon theme will likely appeal to younger kids
- Great components and artwork
- Nice card variety and abilities to keep things interesting
- Good level of player interaction but not overly cutthroat.
- Some luck due to card draws and die rolls.
Big thanks to Cheeky Parrot Games for providing a copy of this game for review. As always, we provide our own unbiased perspectives on games we review and receive no payment in exchange for our reviews or opinions.
What You Will Find in Our Hoard Review
As far as themes go, sneaking around a dragon’s lair while they sleep and stealing their treasure is likely to get most kids interested. In fact, it is likely to get me interested, well because dragons in games are cool, they just are. Hoard from New Zealand based publisher Cheeky Parrot Games gives your family an opportunity to do just that. All while competing to see who can loot that dragon the most. Does it all add up to a game the whole family can enjoy? Grab your favourite cuppa, sit back, relax and we’ll share our thoughts.
How to Play Hoard
You’re brave right? Ambitious? Wanting the finer things in life? Well, here’s your chance to get rich. There is a mountain of loot just waiting to be claimed. No strings attached. Well other than the fact that it belongs to a dragon who happens to be sleeping on it. But you can be quiet right? Sneaky. As long as you duck in, stay quiet and go before you wake the dragon it will all be fine. Except you’re not the only one who wants to rob this dragon blind, you are likely to bump into other thieves, in fact they aren’t likely to play fair so stay alert and get more loot than they do.
In Hoard your goal is simple, to steal the most treasure from the sleeping dragon. Hoard is played over a series of rounds and each round ends if either the dragon wakes, a player runs out of cards, or the treasure deck runs out. The winner of the round is the one with the most points accumulated through cards played in front of them. Winning a round will earn you 2 victory points, the runner up gets 1 victory point and the first player to 5 victory points wins the game.
To set up the game three dragon tiles will be laid in the middle of the table on the sleepy side up. This is your slumbering dragon. Then treasure cards will be placed face down around the dragon from the treasure deck, this is their hoard of treasure that you need to steal.
Players will each get a hand of five starting treasure cards and a figure they can place somewhere on the dragon’s hoard. Wherever they place their figure they can peek at the card they are on top of to see what treasure lies beneath. You see finding just the right treasure is a matter of exploring the dragon’s den and you can only peek under a card if you land on it.
During your turn you will be able to:
- Roll the dice and move. You can then peek at the treasure card you land on and take it or put it back and take one from the treasure deck. If you take the card you land on you must replace it with another card from your hand or from the treasure deck. This is the part where a good memory comes in handy, if you replace one of the treasure cards with another card you really want, you need to remember where it is so you can come back to it.
- Secure your treasure by placing a set of at least 3 of the same treasure item in front of you or adding 2 of the same treasure item to an existing set. Some cards give you a single treasure item and some are worth 2, so a single item card and a double would be enough for a set or 3 single treasure cards. This is the main way to earn points. You can also play a crown which gives you 3 points but means you must pick another player to gain a 2-point capstone.
- Affect the dragon by playing a card to either wake it (Eeek! card) or put it back to sleep (Shhh! Card). There’s also a card that gives you the choice of either waking the dragon or shhhing it to sleep. Each time you play a card it will affect one of the three dragon tiles. If all three are flipped to the awake side, the dragon wakes up ending the round.
- Play a special action card. Swords allow players to steel cards from other players, shields allow you to counteract swords, and cloaks allow you to negate another player’s set of treasure cards which prevents them earning any points from that set.
There is also a sceptre which you can choose to include in the game. When you play the sceptre, it’s placed in front of you for 1 point or you can give it to another player in a subsequent turn so that you can take two actions instead of one in that turn.
Over the typical course of the game, you will be exploring the dragon’s hoard of treasure, collecting treasure to make sets, playing sets in front of you to earn points and trying to time the end game so that it happens when you are in the lead. This is the tricky part because anyone can mess with the dragon provided, they have an ‘Eeek!’, ‘Shhh!’ or a treasure chest wild card.
It can turn into a bit of a tug of war with the leading player trying to wake the dragon up quickly and trailing players trying to soothe the dragon back to sleep. I keep picturing a scene with people franticly grabbing loot, some poking the dragon and others whispering a nervous lullaby in its ear to keep it from waking. All the while with dirty looks being exchanged. My wife seems particularly good at controlling the end game and has a pretty good win record at Hoard as a result.
When the end game is triggered by either the dragon waking up, a player running out of cards or the treasure deck running out players will tally their points. Players will receive 1 point for each treasure in front of them, 3 points for the crown, 2 points for the capstone, 1 point for the sceptre, 1 point for each pair of swords and shields they have and finally 5 points for a set of three dragon effect cards. The catch is you will deduct one point for every treasure still in your hand un-played, that includes coins, goblets, diamonds, rings and saphire cards. There is some awareness required during the game to see if other players have large hands and you don’t, chances are they will end up with large penalties if you can trigger the end of the round.
Hoard Gameplay Experience
Cheeky Parrot Games seems to have a pretty clear target audience in mind for their games, casual and family gamers, who want accessible and affordable games that are fun. Hoard pretty much nails it in that regard. It has been a big hit in our household, especially with my youngest daughter (9) and wife. Let me explain why it hit the mark for us.
For a start Hoard is low admin and easy to learn. Set up takes a few minutes, which is great when you have younger kids who just want to get on and play a game without a lot of messing around. Because the rule set is pretty simple even younger kids can be competitive fairly quickly with Hoard which is great when you have a wide age range to cater to.
Although the game is simple to grasp there are still some interesting decisions and strategies here. The key seems to be trying to influence the end of the round so it happens when you are in the lead. Wild cards and other cards that affect the dragon end up being particularly useful in that regard. My wife seems to be a master at controlling the end game, although she won’t reveal her tricks to me yet.
But that’s not the only decision in the game. There are also trade-offs with whether you decide to accumulate cards in the hopes of playing a bigger set or just get rid of them quickly to avoid getting stuck with them. Keeping an eye on the state of the end game conditions is key here.
The combination of having a shared interest in the state of the dragon’s slumber, your opponent’s hand, and the treasure deck means there is a fair bit of interaction in Hoard. It’s enough to keep you engaged in the game but it doesn’t feel too cutthroat.
We also like the way the special cards like the crown and sceptre provide interesting trade-offs. You have to be careful when you play them because although they grant you a benefit, you are forced to choose another player who will also benefit from you playing these cards in some way. It’s another element of player interaction in the game we really enjoy.
In terms of player count, Hoard works great with 2 although some of the cards like the crown and sceptre aren’t available, in fact my daughter and I often play Hoard together and we love it. At 3 players or more you have the added variety of the cards I mentioned but also a little more to keep track of, so the game feels a little different but is still a lot of fun. We would happily play it at any player count in our house.
So, what might put you off Hoard? Well, there is some luck here, between the luck of the draw in the treasure deck, the roll of the die and not knowing what lies in the treasure cards initially. If you don’t like much luck in your games, Hoard may not appeal to you. For me there are still enough meaningful decisions to keep it interesting. So, I think luck and decision making is nicely balanced here for a family game.
In many ways the ultimate test is whether my kids ask to play, and my daughter in particular will often pull it out with a smile on her face asking if we can play a game. For me the value in games is the happiness and fun factor they bring when we get them to the table, and Hoard has succeeded in that regard in our household.
Overall, the components in Hoard are well done for a game that is reasonably priced. As at the time of writing you could pick up Hoard for around $30 NZD. For that you get a deck of nicely illustrated cards, a set of 3 thick dragon tiles which look great, some victory point tokens and character tokens with plastic standees. We haven’t sleeved the cards and they seem to be holding up well.
The other thing worth mentioning is that the box is nicely done. It isn’t overly sized which I appreciate, and all the components fit snugly in there.
While Hoard isn’t deeply thematic, it does a good job for a game as simple as it is. The gameplay lines up nicely with sneaking around a dragon’s lair, discovering treasure and trying to escape when you feel like you have enough loot. The artwork also fits the fantasy theme nicely. I think the combination of the theme and artwork are likely to entice younger kids in particular to play.
Final Thoughts on Hoard
Hoard brings together a fun theme, simple rule set and interesting decisions that make for a great family game. It’s been a big hit in our household and is often a game that my daughter (9) will ask to play. The great thing is there is enough fun factor here to keep my son (15) and us parents entertained too.
Is Hoard easy to learn? Yes, the basics are very easy to teach. Some of the special cards take a little to get used to for younger kids but should be fine after a game.
What will Hoard teach my kids? Hoard includes opportunities to practice basic math, memorization, and matching sets.
What age is appropriate for Hoard? The box says 6+ and we think this is pretty accurate.
Does Hoard have good replay value? We think there is enough here to keep families interested over numerous plays. The options you get vary depending on your hand and there are a good range of special cards to keep things interesting.
We hope you enjoyed our Hoard review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.
About the Authors
We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.
These strategy tips were kindly sent through to us from Cheeky Parrot Games:
- Keeping track of treasure cards is not really worth it at high player counts – With 2 or 3 players remembering treasure cards you discover can be viable as the state of the cards around the dragon won’t change much between turns. At 4 players or more there is likely to be so much change that it isn’t really worth it.
- Minimise hand penalties when the end of the round is near – If you can see that one of the end of round triggers is near avoid picking up new cards if you can because this can lead to additional penalty points. One way to do this is to replenish treasure spots from your hand instead of the deck when you do roll and move.
- Save sword cards for players who have almost run out cards in their hand – If a player looks like they have few cards in their hand and may end of the round you can use a sword to try to prolong it if you are behind. Giving them a card they have none of in front of them or in their hand will make it challenging for them to get rid of their last cards.
- When you are in the lead try anything you can to trigger the end of the round – Eeek! Cards and treasure chests are particularly useful to use when you feel like you are in the lead. There is a sneaky way to end the round in some circumstances outlined in the next tip.
- Add to an opponent’s set to trigger the end of the round when you are ahead – Linked to the above point, adding to someone else’s treasure set is a viable way to get rid of the final cards in your hand and end the round. If you happen to be ahead and have two cards of the same type but no set in front of you to add them to, check to see if your opponent has a matching set of the same type of treasure in front of them. If they do you can place those two cards on their set, emptying your hand and triggering the end of the round. It’s quite sneaky but not prohibited in the rules.