Coloretto : collect those chameleons!

Yes, I’m back! It’s been a month and my move has been successful. While the game part of my living room isn’t completely done yet I can now live and game in my new apartment. I haven’t had time to set up any new games but I thought I’d give you all a quick overview of a really neat little filler game about chameleons that I took pictures of several months ago. It is called Coloretto and is a really neat and simple little card game with bright colours. In it you simply have to collect these charming little chameleons. But don’t make your collection too diverse, or you might lose. Ready to spot some chameleons? Good, cause here we go!


The Basics

coloretto-box
As I already mentioned this is a very simple set collecting card game. By drawing cards and placing them in rows in the middle of the table you can try to set up a good haul for yourself when eventually collecting them, or mess up your opponent of course. The game consists of a deck of chameleon cards, plus a few reference cards and row indicator cards. Nothing more, nothing less. The chameleons come in seven different colours – blue, green, yellow, pink, orange, brown, and grey – and there are eight cards of each colour. There are also three rainbow cards that work as jokers, as well as ten +2 cards that simply translates to victory points at the end. Even if this is a game about colours, you can technically play it even if you are colourblind. While all the chameleons are the same, the background they are camouflaged against has a different texture. Green has leaves while orange has some kind of drops for example. The cards, with exception of the draw pile of course, are all visible to every player as well, so if there is any question about which colour a card is (I’m thinking maybe the green and pink texture could look similar?) you can just ask.

coloretto-cards
All available cards, including the last round marker.

Coloretto is easy to set up. Depending on if you’re playing with two players or three to five players you place the corresponding row cards on the table. While they differ in colour (green for 2-player game, brown for 3+) they also have handy dandy numbers on the back to separate them. Each player receives a scoring card and you decide which side to use (more on that later), as well as two chameleon cards of different colours (no rainbows). Fifteen cards are counted face down, the arrow card put on top of the pile they form, and then the rest of the deck on top of that – this is your draw pile. The game can begin!

During your turn you have two actions to choose from: either you draw a card from the deck and place in a row, or you claim the cards in a row. If you choose the latter that row can’t be used again. Turn the row card to show that. You can claim a row whenever you want – it does not have to be filled up! Once you have claimed a row your have no more turns during the round. If you’re the last player left in the round you can place however many cards as you want in the spots that are still free before you claim the row, or you can grab it immediately. The player who claimed the last remaining row gets to draw and place the first card in the next round.

In a 3+ player game each row can contain a maximum of three chameleon or +2 cards (which does not include the row card of course). In a 2-player game the rows are different (see example further down). If all the rows are filled up you have no choice but to claim one. Any claimed cards go in front of you, for all to see. This means that there’s no memory component to the game, and you can decide where to place your drawn card to best mess with your opponent. When you claim a row you must take all cards in that row.

coloretto-4player
A four-player game where only the two middle rows are filled up.

Once you hit the arrow card you know that it is the last round. Yes, last round not last turn. This means that the arrow can show up in the very beginning of a round and you can place many of the last 15 cards (or even all if it’s a 5-player game) before the game actually ends. Whoever drew the arrow card places it to the side and draws the next card instead. The round then proceeds as normal. When everyone has claimed a row the game ends and you score.

Scoring is of course very important, and it is what dictates your strategy when placing and claiming cards. There are actually two different ways to score, but both adhere to the simple core rules: you only score positive results from three colours. Any extra colours gives you negative points by the same point system. Before tallying, the players choose in which pile to put their potential rainbow card(s) to maximise their score. Then it’s just a matter of math. If you use the standard (brown side) point system the more cards of the same colour you have, the more you will score. If you go past six cards of the same colour it will have no effect – that colour will still only be worth 21 points. The alternate version (grey side) is a bit trickier. The score increases up until 3 cards (worth 8 points), to then decrease as you collect more. But again, more than six cards does nothing and you just stay at 5 points. Personally I prefer to play with the standard system. Once you’ve tallied your chameleons you simply add your +2 cards and you’re done!

coloretto-points
The two sides of the scoring cards.
coloretto-result
The scoring piles of a player at the end of the game. This has been played using the standard point system (or you probably wouldn’t collect six yellows). The blue card is worth -1, and the total score becomes 37. Not too shabby!

The game scales nicely depending on the number of players. A two-player game is played without two of the chameleon colours. I prefer to remove grey and brown as they are the dullest colours and I like my game vibrant. It’s also played with the green row cards giving you a 3-card row, a 2-card row, and one row with a single card in it. This creates the possibility a “safe row” so to speak. A 3+ player game is played with the brown cards for 3-card rows. The rules state that in such a game you put the same amount of row cards on the table as there are players.

coloretto-2player
A two-player game with all rows filled up. The next player has to claim a row.

I had tried this game once but didn’t remember the specifics when buying it on vacation. When figuring it out I played it with my friend in the 2-player variant. We later presented it to her parents for a bit of a family game night and played with all the brown row cards, because I did not real the rules properly. This meant that once again we had a “safe row”. A couple of days later my friend and I went to another game night, this time with five players, and we played Coloretto once again. As it’s a game for a maximum of five players this meant we suddenly had no “safe row”. And let me tell you, it made the game harder and more nerve wracking. Playing it as a two-player game a lot I’ve gotten used to another type of strategy for it as well. So if you want a game in which you can create a bit of a safe spot for yourself (but possibly not for your opponents) I suggest you play a 3-player game with four rows, and a 4-player game with five rows. Try it both out and see what you prefer!

This is a pure card game, and as such there is not a lot to say about the components. The card stock is good and that’s it. Now, it does exist in a few different versions, with alternate art as well. Mine was bought in the US a year ago, and is the small Rio Grande edition. Yes, I say small because of course there’s a bigger version. Not with more or bigger cards, just a bigger box. I think this is ridiculous but I also understand it. Game publishers want to stand out on the shelf, and for the game to adhere to one of their standard boxes. I really like when small games come in small boxes like this. It means it’s an easy game to pop in your bag, or even pocket, and take with you to whatever event or gathering you’re off to. Coloretto is one of the games I used to keep in my backpack last semester when I had group assignment classes so that we would have something nice to play once we were done with our work.

Coloretto  is an easy game that can definitely be played with children, without actually being a children’s game. I am going to try it with my parents this summer actually as I’m on a mission to find a couple of games they actually enjoy, and such a game needs to be simple. Sometimes the game seems super easy to teach and sometimes really confusing. It might just be that I have gotten better at explaining games overall, or it has to do with the people I’m teaching. It should be an easy game to teach at least!

So in the end Coloretto is a great filler game. It is quick to set up and play, and it looks nice with all the colours. I really recommend it if you’re looking for something easy and small, maybe to bring on summer vacation? I sure enjoyed it during mine!

 

THE SPECS

  • Title: Coloretto
  • Designer: Michael Schacht
  • Publisher: Rio Grande Games
  • Players: 2-5
  • Time: 30 min
  • Type: set collection, cards
  • Size: small
  • Release year: 2003

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