Simple yet entertaining concept
Uses luck and strategy
Great for a variety of ages
Boosts familiarity with card-playing basics
Less fun with more players
My childhood was defined, more than anything else, by playing cards, often into the wee hours of the night at a table that always had room for one more, with my Grandma Ethel at the helm. It’s fair to say that cards are in my blood, and as long as a deck of cards is involved, I’m in. So, when I came across the Jax Sequence game (essentially a board game melded with cards) several years back, I was more than excited to give it a try.
Back then, my two older kids and I were big fans and played the game regularly. Unfortunately, after lots of love, our board ripped, cards and pieces were lost, and we forgot all about it. (Having three more babies might have something to do with that.) Now that my younger ones are all old enough for cards and other family games, I’m testing out board games to bring into our game night rotation. I was thrilled to rediscover this old favorite with a new crop of kids. Read on to see if Sequence is still a royal flush.
Sequence was created by Doug Reuter in Owatonna, Minnesota, and debuted in stores in 1982. It’s unique in that it combines a board game with a card game.
A rectangular foldout board contains a grid of 100 spaces, in a 10 by 10 configuration. The four corner spaces are printed chips and may be used by any player as a free space, while the rest of the spaces correspond to cards in the included deck.
There are two spaces on the board for each card—that includes hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs, from Ace to King, minus the Jacks and the Jokers. I like how the board clusters some of the cards in order but also mixes them, so a 2, 3, and 4 of a certain suit may be next to each other, but the 5 is all the way across the board.
I personally think Sequence is more fun with a single opponent or two, but I’ve found that team play is a good way to incorporate younger players.
The sequence deck contains 104 cards, including eight Jacks: four with two eyes and four with one eye (more on that later). Meanwhile, the playing pieces are color-coded tokens: 50 blue, 50 green, and 35 red. Red tokens should only be used when there is a third player, which is why there are fewer.
This game can accommodate two or three single or team players up to 12 total. I personally think Sequence is more fun with a single opponent or two, but I’ve found that team play is a good way to incorporate younger players.
Concept: Easy to grasp
I appreciate that the concept of Sequence is simple—all you really need to do is make a match—and can help acclimate kids to playing traditional card games.
The gist is that the player or team who gets two “sequences” of five tokens each down on the board first, wins. During a turn, each person plays a card from his or her hand, placing it in the discard pile and marking one of the corresponding card faces on the board with the color-coded token. That player then draws a card to add to his or her hand.
It’s simple enough for young ones to understand and still enjoyably challenging for tweens, teens, and adults.
Sequences can be made in a variety of orientations, including diagonal, and can overlap each other if the duplicate spot is taken by one’s own chip. There are also the aforementioned freebie spots in the four corners that anyone can use. Two-eyed Jacks are “wild” and can be used to claim any available space. One-eyed Jacks are “anti-wild” and can be used to replace any token not already part of a completed sequence. “Dead cards,” or cards in your hand that are no longer available on the board, can be replaced by drawing a new card.
Entertainment Value: We were hooked
This game offers an alluring combination of luck, variables, stealth, and strategy that had my kids and me hooked. The tag line on the box is exactly right: “It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s Sequence!” One reason it is so appealing is that it’s the perfect game for families with multiple kids (mine span eight years). It’s simple enough for young ones to understand and still enjoyably challenging for tweens, teens, and adults.
For adults: I loved this game back when I first started playing it. I love it more now. After playing with five different kids in short succession, I’ve found that it feels like a unique game each time. I try to keep to the center of the board, which I think my kids have figured out. I’m always on the defensive and never play a fourth token until I have the fifth one at the ready. To me, the best is when you scan and rescan the board only to find you have an almost completed sequence secretly lurking, which you can convert for the win.
This game offers an alluring combination of luck, variables, stealth, and strategy that had my kids and me hooked.
For teens: With Charlie, my math-focused teen, strategy and defense take center stage. He is a master of the bait and switch and usually sees my sequences before I do. My high schooler, Violet, employs all kinds of rituals, such as stacking her spare tokens just so, using a specific one each turn, and intentionally ordering her moves throughout the board. She often seems to be playing haphazardly, making me sure I’m about to win until she sweeps in with a surprise sequence. At one point, she beat me 11 games in a row.
For tweens: When my hyper-competitive tween, Hank, plays, he’s always on the attack. I have to be super careful not to let him catch wind of a sequence in the works or it will quickly be obliterated. For my fourth-grader, Noah, the game is more straightforward, but unlike the others, he always focuses on the outside of the board, which creates more space and creativity in the play of the game.
For younger kids: Walter, 7, seeks to cluster his tokens, which I do as well. He’ll often choose spots that don’t make any logical sense (to me). This tends to catch his opponents off guard, meaning he can easily be underestimated—to our detriment.
Educational Value: Card-playing primer
This game teaches so many great skills, including the basics of cards, sequencing, strategizing, and decision-making. Advanced players learn when and how best to block opponents or remove chips strategically as well as the pros and cons of playing offensively or defensively. Plus, it’s a great segue into playing traditional card games.
Many spin-offs of the game are available, including Sequence for Kids, Sequence Dice, and Sequence State Capitals—some of which have specific learning opportunities. However, in my opinion, the original is still the best and never gets old.
Age Range: Elementary age and up
Sequence is super accessible to young players, which is rare in a game that’s truly enjoyable for adults. The manufacturer suggests ages 7 and up, although in my experience even younger kids who are proficient with basic games can easily play as well. My now-14- and 12-year-olds, both math-and-cards-lovers from very young, capably played Sequence when they were in kindergarten. Their other siblings took a bit longer to acclimate to the game, but they were up and running with it by 7.
Kids don’t even need to be able to read to play; they simply need to understand matching and basic numbers. With younger players, I tend to not introduce wild cards at first. Once they’ve played successfully a few times, I add in the option of using the wild Jacks.
Price: A worthy gaming investment
The list price of this game is $24.99, but you can find it online or in stores for as low as $10. I would happily pay the full price for Sequence; it’s a rare gem of a game that I never tire of, so I think you really get your money’s worth.
Competition: Jax Sequence vs. Qwirkle
Qwirkle is similar to Sequence in that it uses matching, strategy, and luck, and it can be accessed by younger, non-reading kids. Qwirkle retails for around $21 and comes as a set of tiles, each with one of six colors in one of six shapes, which players make into sequences that score various points. In this way, Qwirkle combines elements of Scrabble (using shapes and colors instead of letters and words) rather than inspiration from playing cards as Sequence does. If I had to pick between them, I’d lean toward Sequence, but both deserve a slot in any game night.
- Product Name Sequence
- Product Brand Jax Ltd.
- MPN 8002
- Price $24.99
- Weight 2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 8.1 x 2.2 x 10.4 in.
- Players 2-12
- Manufacturer Recommended Age Range 7+
- Weight 2 lbs
- What’s Included 1 folding game board, 2 decks of Sequence cards, 135 playing chips, and game instructions