Let me guess. You were just flipping through the pages of this magazine and suddenly came to a screeching halt when you saw what looked like Tinder for Dragons. And you had to at least read this far to confirm it, before either doing a face palm or squee-ing with delight. Or both. Well, you weren’t wrong and come September, Cindr will be turning the heads of gamers everywhere in exactly the same way.
In the category of, “I didn’t know I needed this until the moment I saw it,” comes this light-hearted, high-concept spoof on modern dating from Smirk and Laughter Games. Cindr is a push-your-luck dice game set in a fantasy adventure world, where your warrior, elf, medusa or other adventurous character has decided to “join the exciting dragon dating scene.” So, they set up a dating profile on Cindr, a magical ‘app’ that dragons use to look for companionship.
And that is literally what you’ll do as a player starting this game. You choose a Profile Pic to represent you in the game, and with a dry erase marker, write your character’s name, pronoun and a “Like” and a “Dislike,” which are all purely thematic but help players get into the spirit of the game. More important, they will fill out their Compatibility Matcher, a series of traits that define who they are. For example, as it relates to Treasure – are you more of a Hoarder, a Spender or an Investor? You choose and circle one for each of the 4 traits.
Then with your profile complete, you are ready to thumb through some potential matches, seeing if a given dragon sounds compatible. Not feelin’ it? Just swipe left and take a look at the next dragon in the deck – or if they sound like a match, swipe right to invite them on a date! When you flip the card over, you will see the dragon has a Compatibility Matcher chart as well – and the closer you are in matching your traits, the better the odds will be of having a successful date.
Assembling your dice pool is the first bit of brilliance in this little game. If your traits match exactly, you get a green die, which has 4 Hearts and only 2 Fire results possible. Whereas, blue die offers a 50/50 shot and red dice are weighted 4 Fire to 2 Hearts. So finding a good match for you can make all the difference – as does the location for your date, which is found by consulting the Whelp App. Locations can alter your dice pool, often for the better, as well as offer bonuses. They also theme the three stages of your date, where you will Meet Up, take the Next Step, and if things go well, take things to the Next Level.
Each of the stages is a roll of the dice. You want as many Hearts as possible to gain Love Points, but each Fire you roll counts against you and is placed aside. You can keep rolling the dice with Hearts on the next stage of the date, increasing your Love Points, but if you ever roll 3 Fire over the course of the date, you are Burned! Every Heart you’ve accumulated this turn is lost and the dragon goes back to the dating pool. Of course, if things go well, bank those points and the dragon stays in your dating circle, where you can date them again next time if you like. Some may even have abilities while at your side.
The game continues in this fashion, with each player dating a dragon and seeing how much love they can generate. The first to reach 21 Love Points or more, signals the end game allowing everyone to have the same number of turns, with the highest Love total winning the game.
WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH CINDR:
First, it is a joy to play, especially if you are a lover of push-your-luck games – and it is a game where the more you get into your character, the more fun you’ll have. I found myself talking about the details of what misfortune occurred over drinks to ruin our date at the Volcanique dance club, instead of me just rolling poorly. I even offered to ‘call’ another player mid-date, in case they needed an excuse to bail. It just kinda happens naturally.
Second, Cindr hits all the right notes. For the dragon-loving gaming fandom, there are tons of whimsical, wild and creatively imagined dragons by Leah Fuhrman. Each is so different, it is exciting to see who pops up next. The parody of Tinder is spot on, with profile write ups of the dragons that are clever and humorous, without any trace of mean-spiritedness. There is a positivity woven into every aspect of this game.
Which brings me to my third point. The subtle nuances of this game make it very inclusive and welcoming for all players. Most will never notice that the dragons are depicted as gender fluid. Players interpret them as they wish, even to the point of two players having referred to the same dragon with different pronouns in subsequent turns without ever being jarred by it. Similarly, the designers, Harold Mikolaitis and Benjamin Walker, have ensured that multiple dating styles are all viable winning strategies. If you want to find your one true love, you can win that way. If you just want to casually date around, that’s viable. There are even many dragons who play off each other synergistically, so there is a winning strategy in dating multiple dragons at once. It’s not mentioned in the rules, nor is it heavy handed. But players will find what they want to find in the game, and simply won’t notice it otherwise. Beautifully done.
For a light game, with a ridiculous theme, Smirk and Dagger has delivered a surprisingly strategic push-your-luck dice game with a helluva lot of heart. They bring warmth, positivity and inclusiveness into a dating game that tailors itself to anyone who sits to play. And, if you play it in character, the epic tales of your adventures dating dragons will simply write themselves. So, don’t wait for love. Find it on Cindr.
Curt Covert is the owner of Smirk & Dagger Games. A seventeen-year veteran in the industry and the inventor of Cutthroat Caverns, Hex Hex, and Nevermore, just to name a few. The Smirk & Laughter line has expanded their reach to a broader audience than ever with games intended to connect with players on an emotional level.