A while back, I was approached by the creators of Ardor to try their brand new tabletop card game. To be honest, I’m really not a tabletop player. I have attention span issues, and it usually takes me a good few games to pick something up. But because Ardor was designed to open the channels of communication and get people out of their sexual comfort zones, I really wanted to give it a try.
How to Play Ardor
Ardor is a game for two people, ages 18 and up. Traditional game play only works with two players, although we’ll get to my “outside the box” suggestions at the end of this review.
Round One is called “Win Your Fantasy,” and the gameplay is a lot like Uno. Each player starts with 5 cards. One of you lays down a card of your choosing, then your partner has to lay down a card that is either the same suit, also has a point value, or is an Ardor Card (which trumps any other card). When all 10 cards have been played, or when one player cannot follow with another card, the “trick” is over and the player who won the trick collects the cards and their points.
Round One, “Win Your Fantasy,” is over when one player has amassed 15 points.
Round Two is called “Live Your Fantasy,” and the gameplay gets a little more challenging. The winner of Round One collects the Ardor Prize Card, allowing them to ask for any sexual favor they want from their partner. The winner also gets to choose the cards that are used in Round Two. The two players then play through three parts: Truth or Dare, Foreplay, and Sex.
Our Experience Playing Ardor
Well… Mr. MarvyDarling and I sure aren’t gamers.
The first time we tried to play, we were completely baffled. It devolved into us just ignoring the game and doing whatever we wanted instead. Which, I mean, isn’t bad as far as sex goes, but it’s not really helpful for a review.
We’ve successfully grasped the rules now, after viewing the above tutorials a few times and playing some practice rounds, but we really didn’t get into it. The problem that we had was that there were a fair amount of cards with activities that we’ve already tried and didn’t enjoy, or that we’ve ruled out altogether because we know we wouldn’t enjoy them. That’s not to say that I think it’s a bad game or full of bad suggestions – it’s just that we wound up throwing a lot of cards out of play because we knew we’d have a better time without them. Traditional gameplay just wasn’t for us.
Using Ardor as a Communication Tool
One night, after bemoaning the challenge of coming up with new or uncommon (for us) things to do in bed, I had a wonderful idea.
I started by separating our Ardor cards by type, because I was only interested in the Sex & Foreplay cards. Then I decided to add a handful of Truth or Dare cards, just for good measure. I shuffled the cards and split the deck in two.
“Okay, I want you to look through these and set aside any that appeal to you. Don’t worry about finding something we’ll both definitely like. Just set aside cards that pique your curiosity. I’m going to do the same.”
About five minutes later, we each had between five and ten cards in hand.
“Now we’ll swap. You set aside the ones that you’re interested in from my pile, and I’ll do the same with the ones you’ve picked out. Once we’ve narrowed it down, let’s just try everything that’s on the cards and see what works.”
This turned out to be brilliant. Not all of the cards that we chose worked for us, but it was so much fun trying them anyway! We ended up exchanging full-body, but not explicitly erotic, vibrator massages. We tried two new sex positions, one of which left us in a fit of hysterics1, but the other became a new favorite that I think we’ll be definitely be using again. We also learned a little bit about what we’re interested in, and which of those interests we share – things we’d never even thought to bring up before.
So, even if you’re not normally into tabletop games, don’t write it off just yet.
What Could be Better?
I would be remiss not to mention that there are a couple of flaws in the game, from a healthy consent point of view. Now, it has to be said that these things aren’t going to automatically be a problem – it depends a lot on your relationship.
Included in the deck are “Take a drink” cards and a special “Refuse” card for if you want to pass on completing an action.
Generally speaking, drinking and sex is not a combination that I like to endorse, because a person who is drunk cannot legally give consent. Am I being nitpicky? I don’t think so, in part because drinking is not a necessary part of this game. You can easily play this game stone-sober, and that’s how I would suggest you do it.
Now, as for the “Refuse” card, I can see why they included it. What if someone just said no to every single card that was played? Well… that’s their right. It may not be much fun, but it’s their right. So I would encourage you to play with normal consent rules, but to try to keep an open mind about trying new things. You might find after starting to strip, for example, that you really don’t like it. You don’t have to finish everything you start.
Who is Ardor for?
Ardor is great for couples who are interested in trying new things, particularly those who struggle to verbalize their desires. It can be a lot easier to play a card than to ask for what you want, and the goal of this game is improve communication. It would also be great for tabletop game enthusiasts who want something a little spicy.
Staying in with a romantic dinner and a game of Ardor (traditional, or the MarvyDarling version) sounds like just the ticket for Valentine’s Day, in my opinion.
Thank you, Ardor, for providing me with the game in exchange for a fair and honest review.
- Because we are apparently not built like the people on the Ardor game cards. ↩