The Deadlies is a card shedding game that feels like a more advanced version of UNO with a cool Seven Deadly Sins theme.
This is another game that a publisher insisted we bring home from Origins, kind of like what happened with Psychobabble. Did The Deadlies go over as well as that did? Read on to find out!
Disclosure: Thanks to Curt from Smirk & Dagger for suggesting we take a review copy of The Deadlies home from Origins. Some links in this post will be affiliate links.
Learn about The Deadlies from Smirk & Dagger
The Deadlies was designed by Paul Saxberg and features artwork by Leah Fuhrman. It was originally released in North America in 2020 by Smirk & Dagger Games and has since been localized to a number of different countries.
Despite featuring the seven deadly sins as a theme, The Deadlies is a three to six player game, with the rules for six players being a variant.
A single round of The Deadlies takes about half an hour but we’ve found that most groups like to play a few games in a row.
The Deadlies is a shedding-style card game. This means that players are trying to play all of the cards in their hands. These cards come numbered one to seven in seven different suits, one for each of the seven deadly sins. There’s also a few special cards that keep things interesting.
In The Deadlies you play either a set of cards from the same suit, a set of the same number, a straight, or a single card. Each suit has a different special effect which includes thinks like forcing other players to draw cards, swapping hands, stealing cards, and more. The first player to void their hand three times wins the game.
I don’t have an unboxing video to share with you this time. We ended up getting this game at Origins 2023 and cracked it open right away so that we had something light to play after a long day of networking at the con.
The Deadlies comes in a small card box with a cardboard insert that’s basically just a divider. One side holds the cards and the other holds some tokens. You get a total of fifty-two cards, with forty-nine cards split over the seven suits and then one card each for Corruption, Purity and the Halo.
The card art on is fantastic as is the card quality. You do a lot of shuffling in this game, as you end up going through the deck more than once, and I have no worry about the cards being damaged by this.
The various card abilities are all summarized on each card in a pretty large font. This does mean that the cards aren’t reversible. They are layed out more like trading card game cards than say playing cards (or UNO cards for that matter).
In addition to the cards, The Deadlies also comes with nice thick cardboard tokens for tracking your Wickedness Level and a very clear and concise rulebook, featuring many full colour examples. The rulebook includes a very detailed summary of what each card suit does. You are going to want to leave that section open for your first couple of plays.
Playing The Deadlies
The Deadlies is nice and quick to set up and get playing. Everyone takes a Wickedness Token and puts it in front of them with the number six facing them. The Halo card is removed from the deck and placed in the center of the table and the remaining cards are shuffled.
Everyone is dealt six cards. The most “angelic” player becomes the starting player and is dealt an additional card.
On a player’s turn they play one or more cards from their hand with the goal being to play every card. The cards are played in a stack, and the top card of the stack has its ability go off.
The cards played can all be the same suit. The order here doesn’t matter, as all cards in the same suit do the same thing, so it doesn’t matter which one is on top.
The cards played can be all the same number. Here the player determines which card they want to have on top as cards played will be from different suits and thus have different abilities.
The cards played can be a straight of any length. The highest valued card played is the one that will take effect.
Each of the seven different suits and the three special cards have a different effect. This is a summary of what each of them does. You can find a more detailed descritpion, including examples, in The Deadlies rulebook.
Pride – Pick an opponent. If they have a Pride card in their hand you draw a card, otherwise they draw a card.
Gluttony – Either draw three cards or pick another player and take a random card from their hand. Then take another turn.
Envy – Draw two cards. If at that point you have no Envy cards in your hand (after drawing) you can choose to swap hands with another player.
Wrath – Pick an opponent. They draw two cards. They can then play a Wrath card on you. You would then draw two cards and could then play a Wrath card on them. This can go back and forth until one player is out of, or chooses not to play, a Wrath card.
Sloth – When you play sloth you put the card on the table. It stays up until your next turn. Whenever sloth is played anyone who has a sloth card sitting in front of them draws a card.
Lust – Pick a partner. That player chooses if they want to play along or not. If they chose not to, nothing happens. If they want to play along you both discard a card. Any Lust cards discarded (by either player) forces their partner to draw three cards.
Greed – Deal cards to the other players until you have dealt two different cards that aren’t Greed. You can then force the other players pick up these cards or you can keep drawing. If you ever deal two cards from the same suit that aren’t Greed, you must pick up all cards dealt and add them to your hand. However, if you manage to deal five cards in total without busting, you get to discard your entire hand.
Corruption – This card counts as all seven suits while in your hand. When you play it pick one of the seven suit powers to use.
Purity – You take the Halo card in your hand. That’s it, once you see what the Halo does you will know why that’s plenty.
Halo – Play this to discard your entire hand.
When a player empties their hand for the first time they reduce their Wickedness by two, turning their token to show the new level and drawing a new hand of cards equal to their new Wickedness level. You start at six, then go to four, then two. The first player to void their hand three times wins the game.
That’s for a standard three to five player game. However, the rules also include a six player variant where everyone’s wickedness level starts at four and everyone starts with a hand of only four cards. You only have to void you hand twice to win The Deadlies when playing with six players.
The Deadlies has been a huge hit locally
When Curt from Smirk & Dagger insisted we take a review copy of The Deadlies away from his booth at Origins I really had no idea what to expect. At the time he said something like “It’s UNO for gamers, you will love it!” as he walked away having tossed it on top of a pile of games I was holding.
This was on Sunday, the last day of the con and we continued doing con things for the rest of the afternoon. That night, we decided to hit a local bar for some celebratory end of con drinks and I brought The Deadlies with me. I read the rules as we waited for the first round to show up and we tried out the game.
The first thing we noticed is that there is a learning curve to figuring this game out. Not a steep one, but one that you have to get past. This curve is created by two things.
The first is trying to remember what sets of cards you can play. We found straights pretty easy to remember but all of us would forget either that you can play all of the same suit, or all of the same number at the same time.
The second hurdle is learning what each of the seven suits and the special cards do. While there’s a summary of these abilities right on the cards, It’s worth having the rulebook open during your first couple of plays so you can reference it each time a new suit comes up.
That said, it didn’t take long for us to internalize this information. By the time we were done our first game we had most of it down and only had a couple of suits we had to double check (Greed and Envy seemed to give us the most trouble).
By the time we finished our second game, we were good to go and since then I hadn’t even looked in the rulebook until I opened it just to make sure I wasn’t missing or forgetting anything before we reviewed The Deadlies on The Tabletop Bellhop Gaming Podcast.
So there’s a slight learning curve to get past but it’s totally worth it. Since that first play on Sunday in Columbus we’ve been enjoying each and every play of The Deadlies. Of all of the games we brought back from the con, so far this is the game that has seen the most plays with the widest number of people.
These people include my wife and kids, my mom, my eldery aunt and uncle, friends visiting from Ottawa, a mix of local gamers at our public play events, and, of course, Sean. At this point I can honestly say I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t enjoy The Deadlies.
I think the secret to this game’s popularity is how familiar it feels. The Deadlies really does give you an UNO vibe. The thing is it’s the good parts of UNO. It’s UNO without rounds that can go on forever, without the nastiness of multiple draw two and four cards being played (yes, I know that’s against the rules, but who follows that?), with no having to remember what the current direction of play is, and most importantly, no need to keep score.
Once everyone learns what the various suits do, I’ve found The Deadlies to actually be easier to play than UNO, and definitely much faster. Added on top of that is the Seven Deadly Sins theme and great artwork that goes with it.
This theme is one part of The Deadlies that I can see turning some people off. So far I haven’t met anyone that was upset by the theme, we’ve been playing with adults and sometimes their teen kids, but I could potentially see people disliking it.
The thing is, despite being about the Seven Deadly Sins the card art is more creepy cute than disturbing and while I’ve seen some interesting euphemisms used by people playing Lust cards, there’s no real adult content here.
Another thing some groups may not enjoy is the “Take that!” nature of this game. Messing with other players hands and trying to stop the current leader is a big part of The Deadlies. This game is quite confrontational, as you will be stealing cards from other players, forcing people to draw cards, potentially swapping hands, and just messing around with each other in general.
Personally, I love how interactive this makes the game. With all this card stealing, drawing and swapping going on, you can never be certain of what your next play will be. While you may have a plan and fully expect to void your hand when it gets to your turn, you shouldn’t be surprised to have that foiled before you have a chance to go.
Finally, you need to realize this is a quick, filler, party game. While it’s a game I have actually filled an entire game night with, playing round after round, this isn’t a deep thinky game where you are trying to outsmart and outplay your opponents. It’s more of a silly laugh out loud type of game, which could turn off some competitive players.
If you dig quick playing card games that are pretty easy to learn and have a bit of meat on them., games that are a step above mass market favourites but don’t get too involved or go too long, you will probably enjoy The Deadlies.
This is even more true if you enjoy take that, screw your neighbour, type games and can laugh when you are one card away from victory only to have your hand filled up with cards before you get to go again.
I had no clue what to expect when we were handed The Deadlies and now I’m super thankful that Curt tossed us a copy at Origins.
This game really has been a huge hit with everyone I’ve played it with. It is the kind of game I can see bringing out during casual game nights and public play events for years to come.
I love it when someone suggests a game to me, saying, “You’ll love it!” and they are totally right! This is especially true when I have no clue at all about that game before hand.
What’s the last game someone recommended to you that you knew nothing about, but took a chance on and ended up loving? Tell us about it in the comments below!
- Quick-teaching, dastardly card game for 10 & up.
- Highly interactive, “gotcha” style game play.
- Humorously themed on the Seven Deadly Sins, depicted as cute animal minions of evil, each with a unique special ability.