Disclaimer: This preview is from a prototype copy of the game that was provided by Flatout Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Description: Calico sees players sewing quilts of varying colors and patterns in an attempt to score points in the following ways:
- Attract cats to your quilt by meeting their specific requirement in one of their paired patterns (such as a line of 3 or a grouping of 5).
- Add buttons to your quilt by making sections of 3+ tiles of the same color. Managed to get a button of each of the 6 colors? Congratulations, that qualifies you to also sew a rainbow button into your quilt!
- Player boards have 3 goal tiles placed at the beginning of the game. Meet the tile’s requirements with the 6 surrounding tiles (in color, pattern, or both) to score its printed points.
Each turn consists of 2 simple actions:
- Play a tile from your hand onto any open space on your board.
- Draw a new tile from the face-up market.
If playing a tile triggers bonuses, such as attracting a cat or achieving a button, add those bonuses to your board before drawing a new tile.
Once each player’s board is full, the game is over. Tally up points from the 3 categories above, and the player with the most points wins!
Review: First off, how freaking cute is this game. The pictures you see here were just the (very nice) prototype but holy cow, ADORABLE. The art is by the ever amazing Beth Sobel and you can tell. The kitty on the cover pops and the lovely colors are something else. Amazing.
And there’s a cat that looks just like ours. Come on. I have to love it.
Speaking of the colors, they did do some work to try and make things color friendly. The patterns are fairly distinct from one another, and there is a symbol on the top of each hex that indicates what color they are supposed to be.
I’m so glad that they decided to go with a recessed board for the game. While you could make it work without one, it helps to hold your quilt in place and prevents players from yelling “crap, I just messed everything up.” The board was also nice and chunky.
So, now that I’m done talking about how much of an eye-catcher that this game is, how is the game play? First, the rules are incredibly simple. What Scott wrote in the Description (did I ever mention that Scott writes most descriptions for our games? He does, and it’s fabulous) is 100% how the game is played. The weight of this game isn’t in the rules overhead – it’s in the meat of the decisions.
Every single round, you continue to build out your quilt. You’re constantly looking at your goals while also balancing the need to bring cats and buttons to your quilt. Do you sacrifice completing this goal so you can get that specific kitty? Do you push to try and get that bonus rainbow button?
While it’s not a heavy game, don’t let the cute kitties and quilts trick you. Your brain will melt at every turn, with every choice you need to make and it is glorious.
I also appreciated the multiple options for difficulty. Want to make it real easy for kids? Then don’t use the goal hexes at all and only go for buttons and cats. Don’t want to think too hard? Do the basic setup for beginners. Want your brain to fry like an egg on pavement? Have fun because there are a million ways to do it. This makes the game accessible to all sorts of people.
The variability is fantastic. There are multiple goal tiles to choose from. The cats’ scoring conditions can be different, they can be worth different amounts of points and apply to different patterns. And, because of that, every single quilt will look and feel different. You will rarely, if ever, have the same setup twice, no matter how much that you play the game.
The only issue we had was that it was hard to mix up the pattern tiles for each of the cats. Why? Because the patterns were on both sides, so you kinda have to mix them up under the table. It’s not a big deal at all, just a minor quibble. Everything else that was odd (rulebook typos, etc) were all due to the fact that this is a prototype.
Calico looks cute – but this cat has claws; it is well on its way to becoming one of the best tile-laying games that I have ever had hit my table. And that comes from someone that is obsessed with Carcassonne and has had it as her favorite game for years.
Kickstarter Info: Calico is coming to Kickstarter on Tuesday, October 8th. You can ask to get alerted for the launch here.