Card Game Review: Circle of Six, a quick to learn light set collection card game

Circle of Six is a set collection, card based, party game currently only available print on demand through DriveThruCards. 

Try to collect a full set of cards numbered one through six while denying your opponents from doing the same in this very easy to learn take-that card game.

Disclosure: The designer, who I know personally, set me a copy of Circle of Six to check out. The Misdirected Mark Podcast is also one of our Patreon Patrons and Bob, the designer of this game, is a member of that podcast. Links in this post may be affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps support this blog and our podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What do you get with a copy of Circle of Six?

The card back for Circle of SixCircle of Six was designed by a friend of mine, Robert M. Everson and published by the company he does editing work for, Encoded Designs. Robert, or Bob (or Old Man Logan), is also one of the hosts of the excellent Misdirected Mark Gaming Podcast, which is how I met him.

Bob has been playtesting and showing off Circle of Six for a number of years. After having no luck with finding a publisher, in 2020 he decided to release it to the public as a print on demand game through DiveThruCards.

Circle of Six plays two to six players, with a round of the game taking under fifteen minutes. A full game, which is played until someone wins three, five or seven rounds, will take significantly longer. This game has a price of $14.95 USD.

The goal of a round of Circle of Six is to collect a set of cards numbered one to six. These can be your cards or your opponents. You collect cards by placing your cards into the circle or manipulating the marker and collecting cards from the circle. 

For a look at the quality of the cards and how they were shipped to me, check out my Circle of Six unboxing video on YouTube

A plastic deck box containing the game Circle of SixMy copy of Circle of Six came in a very solid sealable clear plastic card case. The cards are US Poker Card Quality. You get Six Circle Cards, two Marker Cards, six Player ID cards and then six decks of fourteen cards in six different colours. These decks contain the numbers one through six twice plus two wildcards. 

In addition to being colour coded, the individual decks feature unique symbology to assist with any visions problems players may have. 

What is notably missing from this plastic card case are rules for how to play. While you can download a copy of the Circle of Six Rules from DriveThruCards that is the only place they can be found. 

I have pointed out to Bob that he may want to do something to include some rules for his game in with the cards, even if it’s just a QR code to where they can be downloaded. 

The card set also includes a second, bonus Marker Card that you can cut to use as a three-dimensional marker which you turn during play instead of flipping. 

How do you play the card game Circle of Six?

The circle of 6 is made out of circle cards in a game of Circle of SixStart a game by creating a ring with the six Circle Cards so that they are in numerical order clockwise. Cover one of these cards randomly with the Marker Card. 

Each player takes one of the six decks in the colour of their choice and places the player ID card of that colour in front of them.  Everyone shuffles their cards and draws a card. The player with the highest card goes first, with the wild card being the highest possible draw. Draw again for any ties. 

Once the start player is determined, players shuffle their decks again and discard the top card of their deck face down into the middle of the circle and then draw a second card into their hand. This means each player will be missing one card from their decks each round.

A round of Circle of Six is played until one player is able to collect a full set of cards numbered one through six or everyone runs out of cards. 

Each turn you draw one card, collect any of your coloured cards still face up in the Circle since your last turn and put them into your scoring area, and then take one action:

Circle of Six, a light card game on the table.Add to the Circle: Play a card from your hand onto the matching circle card. Note you cannot play on the number the Marker is currently covering. This card is placed on top of any other cards at that location. 

Move the Marker: Discard a card from your hand to move the Marker in the direction shown on it a number of spots equal to the value of the card discarded. Take the top card from that spot, if there is one, and put it in your scoring area, replacing it with the Marker which is flipped over to the other side.

Wild cards can be played on any Circle Card and then count as having that value for the rest of the round. Wild cards used to move the Marker have you discard every card in the circle except those under the marker (cards are placed in their appropriate players discard pile), and then flip the Marker. 

The Marker Card is two-sided. No one can play on a spot covered by the marker nor can you collect cards under it. The marker features a set of arrows pointing clockwise, or counterclockwise, that indicates which way the marker will move with a Move the marker action. Once the marker is moved it is flipped over to the other side.

How to organize your cards when playing Circle of SixThe Player ID card indicates where cards should be placed when discarded and when scored. Discards and scored cards are public information. As the game stands right now you must remember what value a Wild Card had when you score it or use some form of marker like a D6 die. The designer is working on a more suitable solution for this. 

A round ends when a player collects a full set of six cards, thus winning the round, or when everyone has played their last card.

If a round ends due to players running out of cards, starting with the first player and going clockwise, each player draws one card from the center of the circle (the pile of face down discards from the start of the round) and uses it to move the Marker removing the card (if any) the marker lands on from play. A Wildcard removes all cards from play. Once everyone has done this step, players next collect any cards of their colour that are showing and score them. This can lead to someone collecting a full set of cards and winning the round.

The green player's cards in Circle of SixCollecting a full set gives the winning player one point. If two players complete a set at the same time, the player whose set contains the most of their own colour wins with a further tie begin broken by the total number of cards collected. If no one completes a set then the point goes to the player who collected the most cards, using the same tie breaker I just mentioned.

When a round is completed, remove all cards and return them to their players, but leave the marker in its last position. 

A full game of Circle of Six is played to three points for a short game, five points for a regular game or seven points for a longer game. 

Circle of Six is an easy to learn card game with some cool mechanics. 

The Designer of Circle of Six teaching the game at Origins

I first got to play Circle of Six at Breakout Con in Toronto Ontario where I met a number of folks involved in the Gnome Stew Blog, the Misdirected Mark Podcast,  and the publisher Encoded Designs. A group that likes to be known as the GEM team. Bob, the designer of Circle of Six, was one of those awesome folk. 

I then got to play a few more rounds of it at Origins and at Queen City Conquest, and right from the start I thought Bob had a solid game on his hands.  My wife Deanna and my podcast co-host Sean have also had the chance to play Circle of Six with Bob and they both also enjoyed it and thought the game showed promise. So I was excited to hear that Bob had decided to release the game as print on demand and even more excited when he offered to send me a copy to check out. 

The prototype copy of Circle of Six

I was a bit surprised to see that the game that showed up looked identical to the prototypes I had played at cons in the past. I’m not sure that this is a bad thing. It’s just something I wasn’t expecting. The game features solid graphic design that is very easy to read across a table, though I do wish the contrast was a bit higher on some of the colours, especially yellow.  The design works, I just expected the final version to be somehow different or maybe pop more than the prototype. 

The biggest disappointment with this set of cards from DriveThruCards though was the lack of instructions included with the physical product. Now I know the game, I’ve played it, but even I needed a reminder of how to play. For someone picking this up who doesn’t know the game and has never seen it before I think they are going to be troubled by the lack of instructions. While the link to the rules is right on the DriveThruCards page, it’s not really obvious.

Along with this, even if you can find them, the rules aren’t very clear. Most of the GEM team are RPG folks who also play some board games, and, to me, it seems obvious that the rules for Circle of Six were written and edited by people who are more comfortable with RPG rules than board game rules. 

I won’t go into the details here, but I will note that I did send Bob an extensive list of questions and potential edits and he is working on updating the rules to be more clear. 

A green Wild card from Circle of SixMy only other complaint about this game is the way Wild Cards work. The fact they take on the number of where they are placed is fine, but having to track that in some way once you score them is a problem. After our last play, I decided to just make sure I have a bunch of D6 dice around to use if we need them. Other suggestions include some kind of playmat for each player, or using another set of cards as placeholders, or using cards in a player colour not being used to replace wildcards when scored. 

I ended up finding these problems very disappointing because overall Circle of Six is still a lot of fun. It’s a light, casual, easy to teach game that I think is perfect for a social game night. It’s the kind of game you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to. It’s one of those games where you can hang out and chat with friends while playing. 

That’s how I was introduced to Circle of Six, in a social setting where we were talking about our con experiences and getting to know each other and just happened to be playing a game while doing that. This is where I find Circle of Six still shines. With that, there is enough depth here for people who do want to take things more seriously and do things like card counting while playing. 

A game of Circle of Six in progress.The one thing we never did while playing with Bob at those various cons was to play the game to a set number of points. We played this game like people play Concept and many other party games. We played a few rounds in a row, not really keeping track of who was winning each round and stopped when we got tired of the game or when someone playing had something else to do. We didn’t track points at all.

Circle of Six works really well this way. What I question is playing the game to a set number of points. The default as presented in the rules suggests you play until one player has five points. With six players this could potentially take twenty-five rounds! That’s a lot of Circle of Six! I like the game and that’s more than I would ever want to play in one sitting. Even playing to three points can take a long time. 

While the rules could use an update, and the POD file should be updated to somehow include those rules, I think Circle of Six is a very solid light card game. While it has some take that elements, it never feels nasty. It reminds me of mass market games like UNO, with a bit more depth and strategy. 

A family having fun playing Circle of SixIf you are looking for a light, easy to teach, card game, something perfect to play out in a social setting, where you want to hang out with friends but play a game while doing it, you should check out Circle of Six

If you are a publisher who’s looking for a light party game to add to your catalogue, I know Bob would love to show you Circle of Six, and personally, I would love to see a professionally produced and designed version of this game out there on the market. 

Circle of Six isn’t the first thing I’ve ever reviewed from the folk at Encoded Designs. Way back when, I reviewed a PDF copy of Never Unprepared a book about RPG prep work.  Back then though I didn’t know any of these people personally. I hadn’t yet discovered Gnome Stew or the Misdirected Mark Podcast. I’m very proud to now call this bunch, including Circle of Six designer Robert M. Everson, friends.

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