Cindr Board Game Rules For Dating Dreamboat Dragons

Cindr board game thumbnail

Tired of the bar scene? Looking for more excitement in your romantic life? Ready to give up on dating apps? Then you’re a perfect candidate for Cindr! Simply cast this cantrip app on any enchanted item, and you’ll open THE premier portal for the dragon dating scene!

Or you know, just buy the card game. Either way, you’ll want to read the terms and conditions, conveniently located on the first page of the rulebook. You can also see how this app-themed game works by checking out our playthroughs and the full rules below!

First player is determined by the person who last went on a date. This may have led to some…realizations by Meeples with significant others.

How To Play Cindr

Player Count: 1-5
Estimated Play Time: 30 minutes
Cindr Rules PDF

To be honest, I had my doubts about Cindr at first. The dragon dating premise seemed pretty silly, and I was dubious about the potential depth of a push your luck dice game. On the other hand, Smirk and Dagger has created other games I really like, including Hex Hex and Shobu, so I ultimately decided to give this game a shot.

And I’m really glad I did!

Like much of the Smirk and Dagger & Smirk and Laughter catalogues, Cindr’s concise rulebook made it super easy to jump in and start playing. I also picked up the playmat to make organization a little easier, but it’s really not necessary for a good experience.

Cindr rules
Click or tap the Cindr rules image for the full size version.


Start by giving each player a Try Again card and having them select a User Profile card. User profiles are not mechanically unique; instead, they’re jumping off points for creating the character you’ll be playing.

Have everyone take the time to give their character a name, pronouns, a like, and a dislike. Leaning into this aspect of the game is crucial, just as it would be in RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, as it helps you invest a little of yourself in your character and the world they’re navigating. I’ll explain my reasoning for this later on.

Next, you’ll select 1 attribute from each of the 4 Compatibility Traits on the right side of your card. Each of these will be compared against any dragon you date throughout the game, which in turn will determine the dice you get to roll for a date.

  • Exact trait matches net you a Green die (these are the most likely to roll hearts with a 2/3 chance)
  • Traits that are 1 step away from yours (left or right) will net you a Blue die (50/50 chance of hearts)
  • Traits that are 2 steps away from yours result in a Red die (these are the least likely to roll hearts with a 1/3 chance)
Cindr gameplay
In the picture above, Flower Bloodsnort receives a Red die for Treasure, a Red die for Climate, a Blue die for Lifestyle, and a Red die for Social. Not a great start for the date with Keone. And what’s that say about my face?!

No more than 2 traits can be selected per vertical column, so choose these wisely! It’s almost always advisable to pick 2 middle traits to minimize the odds of seeing Red dice, but you can be perfectly successful leaning on the left and/or right columns too. It all just depends on the dragons that show up from the app deck.

Speaking of, it’s time to shuffle the App deck and place it in easy reach of everyone. Next, shuffle the Location deck and place it next to the App deck. Finally, place the stacks of Try Again, Apology, and Do over cards off to the side, as well as the 12 dice.


While the rules state that the player who most recently went on a date goes first, feel free to roll a die or choose another method if you wish instead. Play proceeds clockwise thereafter.

On each player’s turn, they will proceed to date a dragon. Here’s a quick summary of how that process works:

  • Choose A Dragon To Date
  • Assemble Your Dice Pool
  • Draw The Top Card Of The Location Deck
  • Check Dragon Powers And Location Bonuses
  • Go On Your Date!

Obviously the gameplay is slightly more complicated than that, so let’s go over the finer points of what you’ll need to know for each phase of your turn.

Choose A Dragon To Date

Examine the profiles of the dragon on top of the App deck and the up to 3 dragons found in the dating pool. Going first is a little tough, as the dating pool will be empty at the start of the game, but you can “Swipe Left” up to 2 times for free each turn to help cover for this.

Swiping left moves the dragon on top of the App deck to the leftmost spot of the dating pool. Move any dragons currently there to the right one space to make room for this dragon. If there are already 3 dragons in the dating pool when you do this, the rightmost one is discarded. If the App deck becomes empty, shuffle all discarded dragons back in.

Cindr Dating Pool

If you’re not vibing with any of the available dragons, you may also spend 1 Love Point as many times as you like to swipe left an additional time. I generally recommend spending your Love Points this way – after all, you’re trying to be the first to collect 21 to win the game! But the option’s there if you’re in a bind.

I also recommend against spending Love Points on extra swipes because of the need for caution when reading profiles. Some are written in a way to help you easily guess one or more attributes of a dragon, but others suffer from unreliable narrator syndrome, meaning you could come to logical conclusions only to find out your expectations were completely wrong.

For those who’d rather pursue a known quantity, however, you can do that instead!

If you or your opponents have already successfully dated a dragon and added them to a dating circle, you can choose to date dragons from there instead of the App deck or dating pool. Dating dragons from your dating circle is free, but dating dragons from another dating circle costs 3 Love Points.

Once you’ve selected a dragon to date, you “Swipe Right” and flip the dragon card you selected over to see how compatible you are.

Assemble Your Dice Pool

We touched on this during the Setup section, but let’s take this opportunity to check back in with Flower Bloodsnort now that we’re a few turns into the game.

Cindr dice pool assembly gameplay
That’s…4 Green dice for Flower. A perfect match!

Flower’s definitely moved up in the world after that rough start. Since every attribute on Flower’s profile is an exact match with Arcanax, she receives 4 Green dice. Normally you’ll see at least 1 Blue die from having an attribute be a step away or a Red one for having an attribute 2 steps away, but since that isn’t the case, I’m betting Flower will go on many successful dates with Arcanax.

I wonder where they’re going on this date.

Draw The Top Card Of The Location Deck

Fortunately, I won’t have to wait long to find out. When going on a date, you’ll take the top card of the Location deck and flip it over.

Cindr date and location gameplay
Ooooh, the Snow Chalet. Perfect for Arcanax’s preference for cold temperatures!

Dating dragons is more than attribute compatibility though. Location and even your dragon sweetheart’s temperament can have a big impact on your date – for better or for worse.

Much like the App deck, once the Location deck is empty, shuffle the discarded locations back in to reform the deck.

Check Dragon Powers And Location Bonuses

Cindr Dragon Powers and Location

There’s a little bit to unpack here. So let’s start with a handy key for reading our dragon powers.

Cindr Dragon Powers

So we can see that after a successful date with Arcanax, we may choose to change one of our attributes by one degree. Pretty handy if you want to improve your future dates! However, if you get burned, you lose 2 of your Love Points. Not a big deal if you’re at 0, as you can’t go negative, but riskier in the later game if you aren’t compatible.

At this point, you’re probably asking what makes a date with a dragon successful. Well, if you look at our location card, it shows us that a successful date occurs if you complete the 2nd or 3rd stage of a date without getting burned (this isn’t specific to location – it’s a universal rule of Cindr).

You get burned if you roll 3 or more Fires on your dice that wind up on your character card during the course of a date. A Fire result on a die automatically moves the die to your card unless a dragon power or location bonus says otherwise, so it is not rolled during future parts of the date.

While this lowers your potential to rack up Hearts, it also means a Red die that rolls an early Fire result can’t keep sabotaging your dice rolls, which is nice.

Some flames on your dice will also contain a little star in the corner called a Spark. Dragon or location abilities will often reference these, so keep an eye out for them, as they can change your dice (The Snow Chalet, for example, lets you upgrade a die by one if you roll a Spark during the Skiing portion of your date), add dice, or even remove flames from play entirely rather than putting them on your card!

Cindr spark and flame die faces

Go On Your Date!

Now that you’ve assembled your dice, made any adjustments based on dragon powers and location bonuses, It’s time to go on your date! Dates are broken down into 3 rolls, beginning with the Meet Up, progressing to The Next Step on your 2nd roll, and concluding with The Next Level on your 3rd roll.

Rolls are pretty simple. After rolling your 4 dice, make a note of how many Hearts you’ve rolled. Place any dice that rolled a Fire result on your character card. Dice that rolled Hearts may be rolled again if you decide to proceed to the next phase of your date, dice that rolled Fires may not.

Assuming you haven’t been burned after your 1st or 2nd roll, you may choose to roll again or end the date where you are. If you choose to end the date or avoid getting burned after 3 rolls, add the number of Hearts your rolled to your total Love Points.

Further, if you successfully completed 2 or 3 rolls without getting burned, add the dragon you dated to your dating circle. You may choose to date them instead of a dragon from the App deck or dating pool on a future turn. Then play passes to the next player.

If you get burned (meaning 3 Fire results wind up on your character card), your turn automatically ends. Fortunately, there’s a consolation prize – a Second Chance card.

  • Try Again cards let you reroll one of your dice during a date. You get one of these at the start of the game, and can receive another if you get burned on a date because of 1 Fire result on your last roll.
  • Apology cards will remove a Fire result entirely from your card. You still can’t reroll that die, but it no longer counts as 1 of the 3 dice that can cause you to become burned. You get one of these if you get burned because of 2 Fire results on your last roll.
  • Do over cards let you reroll all Fire results from your last roll. You get one of these if you get burned because of 3 or more Fire results on your last roll.
Cindr second chance cards
Second Chance cards are even conveniently marked to show when you get them!

Once a player reaches 21 or more Love Points, this triggers the end of the game. Play proceeds through the turn order until all players have had an equal number of turns. Whoever has the most Love Points at the end of the game is the victor!

Cindr Game Variants

While CIndr’s base gameplay is plenty fun, it also brings 3 variants to the table to help spice things up!

Cindr Confidential

At the start of a normal game of Cindr, give each player one of the large Orange Cindr Confidential cards, then deal two of the smaller Cindr Confidential bonus cards to each player. Each player will select one of the smaller cards to keep, which will give them bonus points at the end of the game if they meet a specific condition.

Cindr Confidential

The larger card makes it easy to track the breath weapons of dragons you date (found in the upper left hand corner of their profile picture) and how your dates go, which is important as most bonus point cards scale based on the number of times you meet their condition.

These bonuses can dramatically change the standings at the end of a game, and actually might incentivize someone to risk going for more points even if their date has already put them past 21. It also forces players to pay attention to other details when choosing the dragons they date, adding some much needed depth to the gameplay.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes you’ll get a bonus card that is of no value to you whatsoever. In the 2nd game we played in the video at the start of the article, I had to choose between bonus cards that gave points for being burned on The Next Step or The Next Level – then proceeded to have most of my dates go amazingly.

I pushed for a risky play to end the game at 25 Love Points, but still moved down from 1st place when all was said and done because I didn’t get any extra points. So there’s still some luck and chaos factor with Cindr Confidential’s bonuses too.

Co-Op Mode

Cindr’s Co-Op Mode has players working together to score points instead of competing for who gets the most. Gameplay works like a normal game of Cindr, but dating a dragon in another player’s circle doesn’t cost 3 Love Points, and you only play 5 rounds.

At the end, you total everyone’s points and see where you wind up on the multiplayer Love Tester card!

Cindr Co-Op Mode scoring

Solo Mode

Solo Mode plays much like Co-Op mode. You play 5 rounds, but with an additional twist – if you get burned by a dragon, you may not date that dragon for the rest of the game.

Once you’ve completed 5 dates, see where you point total puts you on the Love Tester!

Cindr Solo Mode scoring

Cindr Review – Is It A Good Game?

I’m going to start by saying yes – but with a big asterisk. There are some caveats that really need to be addressed to explain my answer.

First, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed I mentioned concerns about the depth of gameplay Cindr offers at least twice. Those concerns proved to be well founded, as a really good start using the base game rules is extremely difficult for other players to catch up to.

Don’t get me wrong; with the ability to date dragons in other dating circles, swipe dragons in the dating pool into oblivion, and choose how far you push your luck, there are a lot of choices you can control through most of the game to control your destiny.

That said, having to blindly guess at dragon attributes, hope your dragon’s abilities and locations don’t set you up for a fall, and then hoping your dice then don’t get you burned on top of that means there is an absolute ton of luck involved in the early game that has disproportionate power over the late game.

Sure, someone off to an early lead might get a bad roll or dice swap that brings them back down to earth, but that is by far the less common result based on the games we’ve played.

Cindr Confidential addresses this problem somewhat, offering a potential catch-up or sneaky gotcha mechanic to the ending scores based on how attentive you were to the choices for your bonus throughout the game, but these are sometimes dependent on things you can’t control, like your dice rolls.

Unfortunately, it’s just not enough of a fix to justify this game hitting the table more than a couple times a year.

So why does Cindr still see even that much play at our table? This is where I circle back to when I mentioned how critical the character creation aspect of Cindr’s setup is to the overall experience.

Cindr’s premise lends itself to making gameplay into a spectacle. Leaning into the idea that you’re a bold (or foolish) individual looking for love from some of the most dangerous creatures to roam the plane via a magic dating app lends itself well to adding a little roleplay to your turns.

Just ignore all the rational thoughts in your head about why this is probably an incredibly bad idea for non-dragons, give yourself permission to be silly for a while, make sure everyone else feels free to do the same, and just have fun with it.

Get excited about the prospect of forming a power couple with Ka, The Sky Terror, or about competing to be the one who finally wins the heart of Nur after several failed dates led by your opponents.

This is what will keep you coming back even when the gameplay comes up a little short.

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