Real talk time. Mr. Peaches and I are actually huge gamer geeks. We used to be part of the committee of our University Games Society (Mr. Peaches was even the Chairman on occasion) and we both have at least one Magic: The Gathering deck. Munchkin, Settlers of Catan, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and more, our list of board games played goes on for quite a while.
And I think it’s because of this that we’ve both been quite sceptical of adult board games for quite a while. When you’re already judging normal board games on their quality and content is it really fair to expect adult games to match up?
However, when I saw the Ardor Couple’s Card Game I couldn’t help but feel intrigued. Strategy? Exp? Fantasy? I was in my element!
I was provided a copy of Ardor in exchange for an honest review and got stuck right in. What followed were some hilarious, intimate, and truly revealing moments that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Ardor, The Couple’s Card Game
Ardor is a game that encourages sexual exploration, creativity, and discussion. The game was made with the objective to provide a platform for couples to openly discuss what they want from their love life in a fun and enjoyable manner.
With the slogan “Live your love with Ardor!” and bold claims such as “You have complete control; express your sexuality” I was pretty excited to try this game out.
Rules have never been my strong point when it comes to games (I know, I’m the worst gamer ever), but I’ll do my best to briefly try and explain how Ardor works.
Because Ardor is all about exploring your sexuality it is essential to set the mood beforehand. As such setting the scene is a legitimate starting point for the game.
Essentially before you start playing you need to make sure that everything you might need is easily accessible before playing. This can include (but is not limited to) sex toys, accessories, your favourite foods, and ice. Once all of this is made accessible you can get down to actually playing the game.
Ardor has two different stages: Win Your Fantasy and Live Your Fantasy.
During Win Your Fantasy you’re basically trying to match up cards during a linking system. Each player starts with 5 cards and the one who purchased the game or won the last game goes first. There are many different suits in Ardor (such as Truth or Dare, Foreplay, Sex, Toy, etc.) and the objective is to place down card of the same type (drawing a card each time you play a card) until you can no longer do so or until you reach 10. At the end of it the winner gets to keep the cards they won.
Some cards also have experience on them. There are 30 experience cards in the game and you need 15 experience to win. There are 6 types of experience and you can match experience types instead of matching suits. Once an exp card has been played its exp type must be followed for the rest of the chain. If it can’t be followed then the player unable to continue the chain loses.
There are also special cards that have different effects. These are the Take a Shot cards, the Item Off cards, and the Ardor cards. If Take a Shot and Item Off cards are played then the person who loses that chain must take off as many items of clothing and have as many shots as the cards that were in the chain.
The Ardor card, on the other hand, acts as a substitute for a card that you don’t have. It can act as a substitute for any suit or exp type, so acts as a useful buffer in a difficult round.
Once this round has been one players take their exp points and use them to spend on special blue cards which offer different powers. These are things like “I’ll do it”, “Pass to Partner”, and “Refuse”. These cards are to be used during the Experience Your Fantasy round and each one has a difficult exp price to them—so even if you lose the game exp does matter. The player who lost gets to purchase these cards first, which is a nice way to balance things out a bit. Then comes Live Your Fantasy.
In the Live Your Fantasy round you have to strip off and players then take it in turns to draw from decks that are custom created by the winner of the previous round.
To build these decks you essentially take all of the card that you won and create:
A Truth or Dare deck of 5 cards.
A Foreplay deck of 5 cards.
And a Sex deck of 5 cards.
The Lick, Accessory, and Toy cards can also be attached to applicable cards. Once you have the three decks ready you shuffle them and then take turns pulling cards from each deck. The winner of the last round gets to go first and the decks are used in the order shown above.
The game ends when you have experienced your fantasy and climax during the last sex position.
The rules do sound a bit confusing when described but trust me when I say that you pick them up easily enough after the first game or so.
Mr. Peaches and I played this game a fair few times and we had a lot of fun. On the first ‘trial run’ game I admit that I was completely flummoxed and frustrated by the rules though and people who have similar problems grasping game mechanics might find themselves more annoyed than aroused, but after getting over this hiccup we had a lot of fun.
During the Win Your Fantasy round cards had actual depth and importance to them and it did feel like a real risk to put down cards that you wanted to win in a precarious situation. We also played dramatic music during one game, which upped the ante to silly levels of tense.
Although Mr. Peaches and I are already quite well acquainted with our bodies we found that Ardor did give us new ways to communicate and we learnt things about each other that we had sincerely not known prior to Ardor. We also had a lot of fun during the Truth or Dare and Foreplay rounds.
I’m not going to name names here but I will say that someone did a lap dance to this music, someone burst out laughing during a blindfolded biting round (that became more of a tickling round), and someone might have been posed naked with dragon cuddly toys adorning their body like Daenerys Targaryen. Again, no names.
A good sense of humour can go a long way and I think the playfulness of Ardor is a big part of its charm. But there were also some sincerely arousing moments, some sincerely touching ones, and some sincerely insightful ones. Overall Ardor actually provided a very well-rounded experience each time we tried it…with a few house rules that is.
I have to admit this game is not perfect by any means and I did have a few gripes with it.
The first big issue I had with this game is the Take a Shot card. I’m a big believer that alcohol and sex don’t mix and Mr. Peaches and I never drink before sex, so this card was completely superfluous for us. As such we changed the Take a Shot cards into another suit, because we would have otherwise not used them at all.
While this is a game of strategy we also found some rather quick-and-easy strategies to win the game with relative ease (well I did at least). Once I’d figured the game out it didn’t take long to repeatedly win against Mr. Peaches and I actually had to rig the game to allow him to win.
This did come with its own playful element (in that I would deliberately put down cards that I wanted Mr. Peaches to use so that he could win them) so maybe it’s a win-win but I don’t know. I feel like hardcore game buffs could exploit Ardor pretty quickly if they wanted to but I don’t think the average game player would encounter this a lot.
I also wasn’t a big fan of Refuse being a special power you had to win.
Yes, I get the point that you’re supposed to be going out of your comfort zone and trying new things in this game, but I felt like the Refuse card could be a gateway into pressuring someone into doing something they don’t want to. Like:
“I’m not sure I want to do this”.
“Do you have the Refuse card?”
“Well then you have to give it a try”.
It probably doesn’t help that the Refuse card is the most expensive card to buy (costing 10 exp) so, yeah, I had some issues with it.
In the end my partner and I agreed to play by the games rules but we also had a house rule that no will ultimately mean no. Consent doesn’t stop just because you’re playing a card game, even if you can’t afford the Refuse card.
I also found it a bit of an oversight that the Sex cards don’t have room for an add-on like an accessory or a toy. What about if you want to use a position enabler, or a cock ring, or the We-Vibe 4? Me and my partner just allowed cards to be attached to any card we wanted. Vanilla rules be damned!
But by far one of the most irksome rules for me was that you have to shuffle the decks you make in the Live Your Fantasy round before drawing from them.
Uhm what? Come again?
I thought I had “complete control”? I thought the cards were “combined any way YOU want”? How is that possible if I have to shuffle them?
So, naturally, I just said “Balls to that!” and my partner and I instigated another house rule—the winner has complete control to combine the cards anyway they want and the cards stay that way. That way the evening is literally made to the winner’s exact desires instead of potentially ruined by chance. Seriously the idea of advertising complete control and then bringing in randomisation just baffles me.
There were a few other gripes that I had too which I’ll quickly run through now:
- This game seems to be made for a monogamous couple and isn’t really practical for polyamorous couples.
- Some of the sex positions are impossible unless you’re incredibly flexible. They expect a certain body type and I do not fit into it. This limited our options (but did allow for some fun discoveries when I did try positions that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered with some success).
- Some of the activities seemed to short whereas some were too long. For exam I would have liked to dance to a whole song with may partner instead of just 1 minute of a song.
- The amount of couples that simultaneously climax is miniscule and it’s puts a lot of pressure on people who prefer to orgasm in different ways. As such my partner and I completely axes that rules and decided to enjoy our orgasms the way we wanted to.
- Shuffling the very large deck can be very difficult, and it does need a thorough shuffle before each us.
As you can see Ardor isn’t flawless but, unlike a toy, the problems of Ardor can be fixed with a little personal tweaking. Adding house rules can make all the difference and adds another level to the game—allowing you to further explore what you and your partner are comfortable with. As such the biggest issues with Ardor are that the rules can be difficult to grasp at first and the cards are difficult to shuffle. Not too shabby really.
On a cautionary note a game of Ardor has never been shorter than 2 hours for us, so this is a game best played as a special occasion instead of a regular thing.
Overall Mr. Peaches and I had a fantastic time with Ardor and we both took something positive away from it.
While house rules were essential for us they weren’t hard to implement and allowed us to further explore just how far we were willing to go with each other.
We tried new positions, we learnt new things, and we shared romantic experiences, all with a smile on our faces.
If you and your partner are looking for a game to open up a fun discussion about your sex lives then I can definitely recommend Ardor. It may take a while to grasp but it’s almost certainly worth it.
People who like games.
People who want to try new things.
People who love communication.
Do Not Recommend to:
People with anxiety-based control issues.
People who dislike games.
Rules lawyers or power gamers.