Alright, let us get this out of the way right out of the gate: the art to Havok & Hijinks is adorable. There’s little denying this. If you’re a person who judges game projects based on their artwork, and you find baby dragons cute, you’ll probably be sold on this game before we even get to the details.
This is just a concept drawing, to illustrate the point:
Really, this is like seeing a kid’s Saturday morning cartoon show in freeze frames. So, clearly, the visuals of the game are not in question. We cannot, however, stop on the surface level for investigating a game.
So what is Havok & Hijinks about besides cute dragons? Why treasure, of course!
In this family-friendly card game, players each take on the role of a young dragon. Your parent dragons have decided that they’ve had enough with you playing with their treasure stash and that it’s high time their little one venture out and begin to start their own hoard. Except, you were never really good at being terribly malicious. Or listening to directions. So you’re sort of, well, winging it.
The catch is that the other parent dragons have done the same thing, and now you’re competing against other dragonlings for all those treasures you seek.
Havok & Hijinks is designed to be fairly short and open to a variety of different age groups. As such, it is pretty simple to play. The game consists of two decks: a Havok deck, and a Hijinks deck. The Havok deck represents an event that occurs during a player’s turn, and the Hijinks cards contain various actions players may opt to take. Each player starts the game with a dragon card bestowing them a pair of unique innate abilities, three Hijinks cards, a tiny treasure, and a lot of ambition.
The game’s turn structure is incredibly straightforward. At the start of each player’s turn, they reveal the top of the Havok deck. If it’s a Treasure card, they get to keep it, adding it to their pile in front of them. If it is an Event card, the card stipulates what happens. Maybe everyone loses a treasure, or maybe you get to take one from the discard pile. That card is resolved and discarded.
Then, the player may choose whether or not to play a Hijinks card. These cards allow you to attempt to steal or destroy treasures from the other dragons, play additional cards, or a number of different outcomes. Many Hijinks cards even come with certain bonuses if the card has a symbol that matches your dragon. (Because you’re special like that.)
Hijinks cards fall into two playable subcategories: Play cards, and Crash cards. Play cards can only be used on your turn, while Crash cards are generally used in response to one of your fellow dragons trying to do something you don’t like. If more than one dragon tries to interrupt you, settle this tiebreaker in whichever manner you feel best befits young dragons, though we feel a dice roll should suffice if you do not have a medieval village nearby. Whenever a Hijinks card is successfully played, you draw a replacement.
Alternatively, if you opt not to play a Hijinks card, you may choose to instead discard one and draw another.
What’s more, you can use your middling dragon powers in addition to or in response to Havok & Hijinks cards, but doing so is costly, as it takes effort for them to become available again. You’ll need to be careful when to time their use. These are young dragons after all; they don’t have the same stamina and are still learning to be ferocious.
Then, the next player takes their turn. This continues until one player amasses 15 points of Treasure cards, and should their stash survive any last-minute attempts at sabotage, that player wins. For now.
Havok & Hijinks’s goal is to be accessible for the whole family, and in this it certainly succeeds. It has a very quick play time with an easy turn structure, and much of what happens in the game is at the whim of the Havok deck. Well, that plus whatever Hijinks cards that people throw down. (Dragons are unpredictable like that.)
That said, it isn’t a purely luck-based game. You do have to make decisions as to when one should play certain cards and on whom. This allows someone to have some modicum of control over the chaos that ensues when upwards of four disparate trouble-making dragons get together. Still, even with a variety of game terms and a concise goal, it’s obviously not designed to be the type of game you pull out when you want something incredibly serious.
Havok & Hijinks also avoids coming off entirely as a kids-only game, which helps its wider appeal. Many of the card names and depictions, while family-friendly, have a Pixar-like duality to them: there is enough subtle references in this game to a variety of topics that older audiences can appreciate.
Oh, and did we mention the artwork?
If you want to partake in this some havok & hijinks of your own, and are looking for a quick card game with some light strategy, you can find these little creatures running around on their Kickstarter.
Havok & Hijinks has been awarded the CR Seal of the Republic.