Your uncle Geekly likes card drafting games; they’re one of his favorite game types. I admit that I say this a lot, but I do like a good card drafting game. Card drafting can take many forms and some of the games that use this mechanism can get involved and not very new player friendly.
Fortunately, old Uncle Geekly is here with another group of starter games: card drafting edition.
Okay. I thought that would’ve sounded better than it did. Oh, well. These are the best games to teach someone who’s never played a card drafting game before.
Azul is a bit of a cheat. Players aren’t drafting cards, they’re drafting tiles, and that makes sense because the game’s theme is tile laying a Portuguese wall. Oddly enough, Azul has tile laying as a theme, but the tile laying or placement mechanism is downplayed. Anyway, various colored tiles are drawn from a bag and four of them are placed on 7 cardboard discs that are accessible to each player. Players take turns claiming similar tiles on each disc and adding them to their player boards. Each board has the same wall pattern and the player to finish a row of tiles initiates the end of game.
The scoring can get a little fiddly at times, but Azul is a quick game that’s easy to learn, and you’ll see plenty of set collection and chain effects (of which Azul has plenty) crop up in other games on this list and other card drafting games not on this list.
I could’ve gone with Splendor here and most of what I say about Jaipur could apply to Splendor, but Splendor gets too much press and Jaipur doesn’t get enough. Jaipur has a supply or market place with five cards. Players take turns taking cards from the market or swapping 2 to 5 cards between the market and their hand. One can also sell every card of a specific commodity (each card has a different commodity depicted on it) and when they do, they take point chips of the commodity from the bank. As soon as four pools of point chips are depleted, the game ends and the player with the most points wins.
Like Azul and Splendor, Jaipur is a quick play. It’s my representative game for the rapid market place games that use card drafting. Unlike Splendor, Jaipur doesn’t have as much of a runaway leader problem and is a little more forgiving on new players. Plus, I really like the camel card addition.
In many respects, Sushi Go is a simplified 7 Wonders. It’s a simple game of deal so many cards to the players around the table and each player simultaneously picks the card the want to draft. They place the card they want face down on the table and pass their hand to the next player at the table. Once everyone has picked a card, everyone reveals the card they picked, and it adds it to their tableau (or scoring area). The cards have various scoring methods and picking the right combination of scoring method leads to victory.
Sushi Go’s theme is silly, the gameplay is lightning fast, and the rules are easy enough that a 7 or 8-year-old would have no issues playing. If you’re new to tableau building, simultaneous card drafting (and there’s a lot of games that fit this bill besides 7 Wonders), learn Sushi Go before tackling something more complex.
Card drafting is one of your uncle Geekly’s favorite gaming types. There are plenty more introductory card drafting games I could’ve included. If you have an issue with any of the games on my list, say JK Geekly twenty-seven times in a mirror and there’s a chance I might appear. Or you could let me know in the comments.