Filler Games and Palate Cleansers

All images courtesy Mindtwister USA

There are a lot of great games out there that let you fill in the gaps between games, or maybe you are looking for something to take the taste of a seven hour slog fest out of your mouth before moving on to the next, meatier game.  Filler games are great for when you just need a quick, fun game to either break up the time between longer games, to kill some time while waiting for other players to arrive, or as a great way to end the night with one last game for the road.

The key for these games is that they play relatively quickly, around 15 minutes tops, and they need to be easy to learn.  It defeats the purpose if you need to spend as much time explaining the game as you need to play it.  I’ll cover a bunch of these over the next several weeks, starting with one of my current favorites, Seven Card Samurai.

The rules of Seven Card Samurai are simple: try to collect a set of Seven Samurai cards in front of you before your opponents do, while protecting your rice from Bandits.  The more pure in color your set of Samurai are, the more points you will score from them.  The game is normally played in five rounds, but you can always lengthen or shorten the number of rounds as time dictates.

Samurai come in a wonderful array of colors.  You can never have more than two different colors of Samurai in play in front of you.  If you can manage a full set of Seven Samurai of all the same color you will score the most possible points.  Of course, if someone else completes their set of Samurai first, the round ends.  Everyone will always score points for any rice tokens they have at the end of a round, but only the person with a complete set of Seven Samurai will score points for their Samurai cards.

So you won’t think this is a simple matching game, there are several other cards that can affect the play of the game.  One of them are Bandit cards.  A Bandit card always has a number on it, generally from 1 to 4.  This number dictates how much rice it will steal from an opposing player when played.  An opponent’s Samurai cards in play will protect them from Bandit cards. A single Samurai protects a single rice token, so a Bandit 4 card played against someone with two Samurai in play would steal 2 rice tokens from that player.

Ninja are deadly assassins and they will allow you to kill an opponent’s Samurai card.  These can be very useful when an opposing player is getting close to completing their set of Samurai.  Ninja cards can also be played with a Bandit card to cancel the effects of any protecting Samurai.

Ronin are mercenaries that act as wild cards.  They can be used to complete a set of Samurai and don’t count as any color.  However, if you have any Ronin in your completed set, you will score the minimum amount of points for a set.  Ronin also help you keep your rice; each one guards 3 rice tokens.

The final card type is the Shogun.  The Shogun lets you steal cards from your opponent.  It can also be used to take cards out of the discard pile.

Seven Card Samurai is the type of game I tend to really enjoy because the rules are simple, yet the strategies are incredibly complex.  This has been a go-to game ever since I picked it up over a year ago.  The art on the cards is wonderfully rendered and the rice tokens are a nice extra touch.  I’d highly recommend picking this one up; it is a great addition to any game library.


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