This is a Kickstarter preview. The final version of Avant Carde may differ from the prototype pictured below.
Build your eccentric collection of cubist art! Can you assemble the most appealing exhibition, starting from an identical deck of cards?
Avant Carde is a deck-building card game for 2-5 players designed by Mary Flanagan and Max Seidman. It’s the latest effort from Resonym, coming to Kickstarter later this month.
How to Play
Avant Carde comes in a unique set of deckboxes to make set up as easy as possible. Unroll the Starter Decks box and give a 10-card starter deck to each player, then roll it back up – you won’t need the other starter decks.
As you unroll the Gallery box, you’ll reveal cards sorted by number (2-7), plus Awards. Shuffle each number stack individually, and move a few Award cards to the “extras” spot (depending on player count).
The Patrons box opens to reveal a special power for each number card. The prototype we played has three different groups of Patrons, which can be mixed for even more variety.
Assign a first player, and ensure you have enough change tokens in easy reach.
Each round of the game has two parts: playing cards from your hand (simultaneous) and buying new cards (in turn order).
Part 1: Play Cards
Take a look at the seven cards in your hand. Try to make a sequence that uses as many of them as possible. Each card in the sequence must match either the color or the number of the card that came before it.
Some Patron powers will allow you to change a card’s value or draw extra cards – use these to put together the longest sequence you can!
Part 2: Buy Cards
Once everyone has finished their sequence, it’s time to buy cards. Starting with the first player, evaluate how much money your paintings have earned this round.
Cards earn at least $1 each – but some might bring in more.
You can spend all the money you’ve earned this round to buy new cards – always at their face value (2s cost $2, 3s cost $3, etc). Each number 2-7 corresponds to a specific Patron power – when you play them in the future, you’ll be able to earn extra money, draw extra card(s), match with different cards, or clean up your deck.
If you have any money left over, you can buy a single “change” token worth $1 – but only if you don’t have a change token already!
You also have the opportunity to “bury” one card from the market, putting it at the bottom of its stack. This can be helpful to get the cards you want in the colors that will work best for you.
The value of your played collection also earns you awards each round. If you earned at least $6, you’ll get an award, if $8, then two awards, etc.
The more cards you’re able to play and the more special money-making powers you deploy, the more awards you’ll get! And yes, having a change token totally counts as an extra $1.
After each player has a chance to buy new cards and take awards, pass the first player token to the left. Then discard all your cards from this round (played and unplayed), and determine if any player gets the “Hidden Gem” token. The Hidden Gem goes to the player who currently has the fewest awards – and is worth an additional $1 for buying cards and earning awards in the next round.
Then everyone draws a new hand of seven cards (shuffling your discard pile to make a fresh deck as necessary), and the next round begins.
When the awards deck runs out, finish the current round. Everyone should get a chance to buy cards and earn awards (take from the “extras” stack or use tokens to keep track).
Then the player with the most awards wins the game!
Art collection is not a new theme for the board gaming world, but it’s never been done this way before. Avant Carde brings a freshness to this theme in a remarkably approachable way.
“It’s Dominion meets Quack, with some UNO thrown in.”Andrew
Avant Carde simplifies many common aspects of deck-building games while introducing a new play style, with plenty of variety to keep games from feeling stale.
Avant Carde is not the simplest deck-building game I’ve ever played (that’s still Abandon All Artichokes), but it’s close. Every turn, you build a sequence, buy cards, and (maybe) earn awards.
I love that the sequence-building is so pure: you are simply matching colors and numbers, one card at a time. That’s what reminds us of UNO. Customizing your deck adds excitement to the game without changing this basic concept.
In addition, every card in your deck is useful, for both buying new cards and earning points (awards). Even those no-color 1s and gray 2s can be used to continue a sequence and earn more money in the buy phase.
Awards are also simplified – you don’t have to choose between awards and Patron powers. Instead, you always get awards if you earned at least $6 in a round.
Awards don’t take up space in your deck, either! So your deck is always improving, no matter what you choose to buy.
I find that playing cards out into a sequence is also really satisfying. I feel clever when I can chain cards together that aren’t immediately obvious. And as I build my deck, I can make even longer sequences. Not only does this earn awards, but it’s a visible way to see how my deck is improving!
Avant Carde presents a variety of strategies. Even if you only ever use the starter Patron powers (the “New Yorkers”), some players will try to build a single-color deck, others will focus on trashing unwanted cards, still others will add wilds to match as many cards as possible. Maybe you’ll always go for the highest value card you can afford, or maybe you’ll snap up lots of low numbers that will be easy to chain together. Every player will try different options to earn more money and draw more cards on a turn.
But there are more Patron powers! (our prototype had “Parisians” and “Angelenos”). These make each number work slightly differently.
The other variety in strategies is due to player count.
We mostly played Avant Carde at two and three players. Your strategy is mostly shaped by your income on a given round and the current availability of your preferred color(s).
At four or five players, decisions get harder. Your preferred colors will often not be available, and the market will run out of some numbers. You must make careful choices about what to buy and what to leave. Can you build a sequence-making machine more efficiently than your neighbors and scoop up those awards?
As you can tell by now, Avant Carde really caught my interest. Even as a prototype, it’s a game I keep coming back to over and over again, trying different card-buying strategies to fit a deck together.
The innovative deck boxes make this game a breeze to set up and put away, and the fast and simple sequence-building means this should be a great game for families to play together, down to about age 8.
The Family Gamers received a prototype of Avant Carde from Resonym for this preview.
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 30 minutes