Saturday, 10 September 2016

boardgaming in photos: Coloretto, For Sale

19 Aug 2016. I keep quite a few games at the office. I bring games which I think may inspire my colleagues in their work, but I also bring them simply to have fun. This day I taught my colleagues Mamma Mia and Coloretto (this photo). The response to Mamma Mia was just so-so. I guess the memory element felt like work. Coloretto was very well received. I was again reminded what a clever and fun game it is. Everyone quickly understood the most important technique in the game - "make it dirty!"

I'm going to take the opportunity to explain this classic game. You collect cards to score points. They come in many different colours. At game end, only three colours count towards your score. You will be penalised for cards in other colours. So you want to collect many cards in three colours, while avoiding cards in other colours. You don't need to decide on which specific colours to score points with at any time during the game. You only decide when the game ends.

What makes this game a lot of fun is its mechanism of collecting cards. Every round every player must collect one set of cards, which can vary from 0 to 3 cards. A round starts with the same number of empty sets as there are players. On your turn, you either draw a card and add it to a set, or you do not draw a card but instead claim an existing set. Once you claim a set, you temporarily sit out from the game. You rejoin when the next round starts.

What makes the game so delicious is how you get to contaminate your opponents' collections. Everyone's collection is open information, so you can easily see what colours everyone wants and doesn't want. When one set contains one card which is valuable to one player, everyone else will want to contaminate it with a colour that he doesn't want. Sometimes you create a set which is particularly valuable to you, e.g. containing two colours that you want, only to have someone else claim it before you can, denying you at his own detriment. Sometimes you end up taking a lousy set which you have helped build, because everyone else has taken all other sets. The game is full of these funny situations.

When I played with my colleagues, they were quite cautious, sometimes even taking a set with only one card in a colour they want, rather than risk it getting contaminated later. This is a highly interactive game because you must always pay attention to what your opponents want and don't want. There is constant discussion, unsolicited "advice", and cheers or groans depending on what colour is drawn from the deck. It's as lively as a party game.

I had thought the game must be out of print, now that it has a descendant Zooloretto which has won so many awards. I asked Jeff (of BGC) and found that it is still very much in print. I have always liked Coloretto more than Zooloretto. Zooloretto is a full-fledged board game and has more stuff, but I feel the additional stuff is not really necessary. I prefer enjoying the gist of the game in its pure form. Coloretto is an old game now and is rarely discussed. If you have not tried it, I highly recommend it.

One day, a few weeks after introducing Coloretto to my colleagues, I noticed that they took it out for a spin by themselves, teaching another colleague who had not tried it before. This is the sign of a good game. It spreads.

26 Aug 2016. For Sale is an old game too, also a classic game more discussed a decade ago around the time I got into the hobby, but now not mentioned much. I rounded up a group of colleagues to teach them the game. This game supports up to 6 players. This is an auction game. In the first half you bid for houses, and in the second half you try to sell them off to the highest paying customers. My colleagues keep encouraging one another to bid higher. This is a dangerous thing to do. If you run short of cash too early in the first half of the game, you may end up with many lousy houses, and this greatly affects your profitability in the second half.

Cards with higher values have nicer houses. #22 is a mansion. #9 is a wooden hut on the coast.

No comments: