Review: District Noir (Pandasaurus Games) – English

“Her blood-red lipstick unmistakably made it easy to identify the mysterious, nameless woman. The crime scene was just as dark red. In the dead of night, as I drift from my shallow sleep drenched in sweat yet again, I often reminisce about my time in the deepest and darkest corners of this dirty city: my precinct. The time when I proudly wore a badge. The time of this mystery woman and her murder that I could not prevent. A dark red time.

While I lie wide awake, the city sleeps. Only the denizens of the night move under the blinking neon lights, buried under a blanket of dreamy twilight…with me, they too are still awake at this hour. The reflection of the light reflects off the wet streets to cast the city in a dark light. The street is wet from the rain that may wash away the city’s garbage, but never its sins or emotional dirt.

Impulsively, I decide to go outside with the solitude of silence as my companion. I head back towards that spot where I first met her dark red lips decades ago. That night I was as lonely as I am now, and I thought the neon lights from the sign of a dive bar could dispel my darkness. In the bar, whose name I have been trying to forget after all these years, young people can sell their innocence for a pittance. As it did all those years ago, the bright pink light of the signboard speaks ominously to me. It greets me. Welcome to a world of mystery, trickery and deceit. Welcome … to District Noir.”

Goal and setup

In this short and fast-paced two-player card game, players will play and collect cards in order to accumulate the most points. District Noir has several typical characters and if you manage to rally the majority behind you, you earn points. Do you manage to win the city for you? Then you win District Noir. Watch out for gangsters, because before you know it you are sleeping among the fishes, but allies may know how to protect you.

District Noir greets you with dark cards with distinctive designs and colorful accents just like neon lights in a dark city. At the beginning of the game, the cards are shuffled, three cards are returned to the game box unseen (like the many victims in this dark city), and then each player receives a handful of cards. Keep these cards close to your heart.

Next to the draw pile, two cards are also placed face-up and players are ready to try to bend the city to their will or gather enough allies to prove their grip over the city.


Tonight I give you two options. Two choices. One deal you can’t turn down. An offer you can’t refuse. District Noir consists of up to four rounds ( until the central draw pile is depleted) and during each round, each player has six actions. Players can choose between two actions: draw cards or play a card.

At the beginning of a round, each player has five cards in hand. When a player plays a card, it is placed at the back of the row near the draw pile. Since a player has only five cards, this action is done five times.

Players can also take cards from the row if there is at least one card there. This player takes five cards from the back of the row, but if there are only five or fewer than five cards in the row, the player takes all available cards. A player does not add these cards to his hand, but places them sorted in front of him. This action is available to each player only once per round.

Should a player have collected all three city cards, this player immediately wins the game and otherwise the four rounds are played out. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins. Players earn points if they have the majority of a certain value card and players can get plus points for green cards and minus points for the red cards. Players also get points for each completed set.


District Noir is a beautifully designed card game for two players. The game mechanics are very straightforward, short and concise making it easy to play in between and quickly multiple games in a row.

Don’t expect a game with the complexity or depth of a film noir, full of twists and turns, but expect light-hearted entertainment for two players full of bluster. District Noir is a game where players can thwart each other by tactically playing minus points and not making it clear to the other player what cards are hiding in the shadow of your palm.