Review: Red Rising

In the dystopian Red Rising, you take on the role of one of the great houses and play cards to seize power!


Stonemaier Games




Game overview

Red Rising is a hand management game set in the dystopian universe of the Red Rising books. In this game you are going to collect cards and play them to take certain actions in order to get the best hand.

To start the game, each player is randomly given a house. This house gives you certain bonuses and is therefore different for everyone. For example, one house may give you an extra starting card and the other house you can always start and end the game. Once everyone has a house you put 2 cards on top of each other at each location and each player gets 5 cards.

Now that you are ready to begin you have a choice of 2 actions each time it is your turn. You may place a card at a location and use the action on that card. Each card has a unique action that can vary from taking a card, making your opponent discard a card and many other things. Sometimes you can also get bonuses like moving further on the spaceship track or increasing your influence at the academy. After playing a card and performing the action, you may take the top card from another location or from the deck. You will then immediately receive the bonus associated with that location or, if you have taken a card from the face-down pile, you will receive the bonus from the rolled die. There are 4 different locations; at Jupiter you may advance one space on the spaceship track, at Mars you get a helium, at Luna you get the sovereign token and at the institute you may place an influence cube at the academy. Each house has a different action that you use when you get the sovereign token, it is also worth points if you own it at the end of the game.

The game is over when you have 2 of the 3 end of game conditions. These are 7 helium or influence cubes or being on field 7 of the spaceship track. Also, the game is over when all players combined meet all 3 conditions. Among other things, you get points at the end for cards in your hand. These have a base value and give you additional points if you meet certain conditions. For example, you can score points for some cards if you also have a red card or if you have the sovereign token. You have to make sure you have a good card combination at the end of the game. You also get points for the position of your spaceship, helium and influence. The player with the most points wins the game!

Our thoughts

Red Rising is one of those games that we doubted an awful lot about. In fact, we wondered if we would enjoy this game. The enthusiasm started when we were looking at the beautiful cards, but did not go away while playing. We think Red Rising is really good!

We have the collector's edition and its production quality is great. The card holders that come with it are handy, the gold foil on the cards is nice and the components are of good quality. The only downside to the collector's edition is that the colours of the cubes are very similar, but as they are so beautiful, we are not bothered by this. We often play with 2 and you can usually tell them apart.

It has been a long time since we were so enthusiastic about a game right away. Want to know how excited? We played Red Rising 5 times the first night we got it. The rules were super easy to learn, a game with 2 players takes about half an hour and the tactical choices and different types of cards made us want to play again and again. The game offers different ways to win and we really enjoy trying something new each time. Because you play with a different house and different cards, your tactics are different every time. This ensures that playing Red Rising is always exciting.

Normally, we think most tactical games are more fun with 2 people. A multiplayer game usually lasts a bit too long for us, but luckily Red Rising is also fun with several people. Because the game can be played in a reasonably short time, the downtime with 3 or 4 players is not too great. The advantage of playing with more players is that you get to see more cards and that some effects of cards are more fun, simply because you have more opponents. This makes for a nice dynamic. Red Rising is therefore a game that we like to play with 2, but also with 3 or 4 players.

A common remark about Red Rising is that you don't see many cards in a two-player game. This would make the game mainly based on luck and you can't do much in return if your opponent plays a card that bothers you. It could be our playing style, but we didn't have any problems with this. When a card is played by an opponent, you can pick it up in your next turn and play it right back at your opponent. You will definitely see fewer cards in a two-player game, but we always had enough choice. We can't really agree with most of the criticism about the game. 

 If you like tactical card games, hand-management and challenging games that are fun with 2 as well as 3 or 4 players, then Red Rising is definitely for you. Don't let the mixed reviews stop you. We wish we had discovered this game much sooner. 

Pros and cons

+ Beautiful artwork
+ Simple rules
+ Fast plays

- In a 2 player game you cycle through cards slower

Use the code 'SPELLENPLANK' for a 10% discount on your order!


This game has been kindly gifted to us for review purposes by Stonemaier Games.