Monday is here again — a perfect day to focus on game review. To start, let me share my plays from the weekend. They include Card Capture, Poker (first time to just sit and play no-money Poker with friends in a long time), Shards of Infinity, Space Base, and Carcassonne. There were some personal highs-and-lows in those plays, including an unfortunate update I need to make to a prior storyline.
My favorite play of the week: Carcassonne — specifically, the game I got to play with my 7-year old son. This was our first time to try out the Tower expansion. My son loves this game: the tile-laying…and his favorite is building cities, but he doesn’t fully grasp the strategy behind when/where to best place Meeples. That said, he managed to pull off a solid 24-point city early in the game and at about the midway point, he actually managed to take the lead for a bit. It was great to see him having some success scoring points. Beyond just the fun of playing a great game with my son, though, was getting initiated to the Tower expansion. It is unique, because it doesn’t do anything (outside of providing extra tiles) to create points — it is a defensive-minded expansion that is more about stopping your opponent(s) from scoring points. In this game, my son audibly admitted that he didn’t really understand how the towers worked — but he definitely enjoyed getting to place a tower somewhere on the board. Personally, I can see the tactics that come from using this expansion and am interested in getting the chance to use it in a more competitive game with some older players.
Closest game of the week: Card Capture — if you are unfamiliar, this is a solo game designed by Lucas Gentry. Using a normal deck of cards (jokers included), this is a deck-building game with the goal of capturing all of the face cards without letting any of them “escape.” The game was going well and I felt like I had started to get my deck strong enough to start taking out face cards consistently. The road to victory looked paved ahead of me. Except that a situation arose in which I had four good cards in my hand, but nothing that could specifically make a capture. No problem, I can send that face card — about to escape — back into the draw deck. I just have to “trash” two of the cards in my hand. But wait, I don’t want to trash that joker…he’s valuable (can duplicate any other card in my hand), so better “trash” these other two cards. Alright, good. I proceed to play a few more turns and then notice something about the Escape pile…there’s a Jack in it. How’d that happen? I didn’t let any face cards Escape!?! Oh wait, that turn when I held onto the Joker card…I accidentally trashed a Face card. No!!!!!! (you see, letting a face card get into the Escape pile in any way is how you lose the game). So, essentially, with what felt like a clear path to victory, I managed to squander my own success –> a perfect reminder that in any game, focus is important. A silly mistake can be quite costly.
Review Game: This week, I am going to be reviewing a new, 2019 family title: Color Brain, Disney Edition.
The stats: Published in 2019 by Big Potato; it claims to be for 2-20 players (essentially whatever number of people you want to have playing in teams of 2-4); estimated at a 20-minute play time (from my experience, 20-minutes is an accurate expectation); for ages 8+ (I would say you could go younger if playing with teams)
The background: I had not heard anything about this game until my family was at Target at the beginning of March and we came across this title in the board game section. There was a game sale going on that weekend, so we picked up Color Brain and a couple titles for my youngest son’s birthday. We love Disney movies in our house, so this seemed like a no-“brain”er.
The setup and components: In the box, there is a scorepad to keep track of points for the four teams –> themed as Mickey Mouse, Princess, Pixar, and Frozen. The rest is cards: 250 question cards, 44 color cards (11 colors, one for each team), and 4 color catchers — villain cards (one for each team). The color cards are normal size, but the question cards are mini-sized. [what? No, I said mini, not Minnie]
Setup is very simple: each team gets their set of 11 color cards, one villain card, and then make sure the question stacks are shuffled up. Pick someone to be the scorekeeper and then the game is ready to begin.
The gameplay: The goal of the game is to be the first team to score 10 points. On each turn, a question card will be revealed. The card will list a Disney item (i.e. the main color of Carl’s house from UP) along with the number of colors in the answer, in this case…1 color. Each team gets an appropriate amount of time (15-30 seconds) to make their pick and then lays the answer card(s) face-down on the table. When all teams have made their choices, answers are revealed. Now you can tell if everyone is in agreement or had different memories of what the correct color is. Then, flip over the question card to see the correct answer.
Scoring –> for any team that answered correctly, the amount of points scored equals the number of teams that answered incorrectly. If two teams answered correctly and two guessed wrong. Then, the correct teams would each earn two points. If all of the teams answer correctly, no points are scored, but the point from that round carries-forward into the next round as a bonus point. If multiple rounds occur like this, then the bonus points keep accruing forward (think Skins-scoring in golf). If there is ever a round in which no team guesses correctly, no points are awarded and no bonus points accrue forward into the next round.
Round after round will get played until a team hits 10 points as the winner.
Final note about the game –> there is a small “take-that” element in the game. Every team gets one villain card, a ‘color catcher’. This card can be played once and it is played on the team that is currently in the lead. So, if Team Frozen is in the lead, Team Princess may decide to play their villain card on the Frozen team — in doing so, Team Princess randomly takes 8 of the 11 color cards from the leading team. This is a one-round maneuver — thus, for the next round, the team in the lead can only answer using the three random colors they have left. In theory, this is a ‘stall’ on the lead team for one round. Since that team will most likely be incorrect, it also increases the likelihood that another team (or teams) will score points.
That said, I have seen the lead team get lucky and be left with exactly what they needed to still play the next round successfully — a good way to increase the bitterness of Team Princess towards those cute snowmen on Team Frozen!!
Review Thoughts: First off, I think it is important to appreciate this game for what it is and is not. If you are a high theme/strategy player or you love eurogames, then obviously Color Brain is not that. It is a trivia game — and just like any trivia game, your enjoyment will most likely correlate to your interest in the trivia subject. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, my family loves Disney movies so this is a subject we appreciate getting to explore — getting to compete on who knows Disney movies best. Something I really appreciate about Color Brain is that it provides a unique twist to the trivia game sphere. Many trivia games are all about remembering facts on the appointed topic — this is a mixture of facts, but with a higher focus on remembering colors. For example, the question: what are the two main colors of Timothy’s outfit in Dumbo? So, first this requires familiarity with the movie Dumbo and remembering which character Timothy is — I got that part down easy! That’s the part of Disney trivia I excel at — but the color part hits a weak spot for me (although, I definitely know Timothy’s outfit colors). I’m the type of guy who may remember a person’s name and some basic facts about who the person is, but please don’t ask me what color shirt he/she was wearing yesterday.
I say all that to again emphasize that I appreciate a new take on a trivia game — one that I think really helps even the odds in a family environment. I may be older and have seen some of these movies way more than my kids, or my nephews/nieces, but their ability to remember a movie visually may exceed my own and that helps create a great family game time.
Other thoughts: In any trivia game, there may be concern about how many questions are available. If the game is played enough, will everyone just start to memorize answers? Color Brain: Disney Edition comes with 250 question cards, which to me, feels like a strong amount of variety. To break that down (since I’m an accountant by-day), my guess is you will play 10-20 cards per game (let’s round up to 25 to be conservative). That said, it would take you 10-12 game sessions before you have seen all — or most — of the cards.
Thus, if your family ends up playing this game often (on a weekly basis), then yes, you may find that you wish there were more questions available. On that note, for a game that you can probably pick up for $15, that’s not a bad buy-in price to get a solid dozen plays in.
For most families, though, you will probably pull this game out every so often (even if monthly) it would take you a year to see all the cards, which is probably enough time to start forgetting answers (that short-term memorization will begin to erode). And if you’re like me, I will probably see a card a 2nd time and think, “okay, I am pretty sure I got this one wrong last time, but is it because I said grey and blue or white and blue — ach! I don’t remember!”
In the end, if you don’t like Disney animated movies, then feel free to move along — but if you/your family does, this is a great value-pickup.
Has anyone been able to get this game to the table yet? Who in your family is the Color Brainiest?