When you first start out in this hobby the influx of new ideas, strange concepts and unfamiliar player dynamics can seem neverending. As you become more familiar with the ebb and flow of design trends and the recent history of the board game boom, you begin to savor innovation and maybe even consider it an essential ingredient to any game that‘s worth your time.
Luckily, though, not every new release needs to reinvent the wheel, the cog or the cat door. Sometimes it‘s enough to take a familiar concept and build on its familiarity with players. If you can tweak it just right, you can wring a refreshing take out of it. This is what Colorful Treasure does quite admirably, so before you skip past this seeming knockoff of Memory, take a closer look.
Like its twice removed ancestor, the game starts with all the cards in play spread out on your table. While you will be flipping over some of them on your turn, in the hopes of finding a match, there is more to it than that. Designer Poki Chen weaves a layer of deduction into the game, which elevates this kindergarten favorite to something even an adult can enjoy.
No longer does play rely entirely on your ability to memorize the placement of any set of cards, that you or somebody else has revealed over time. Instead the game gives you enough information to let you make an informed choice about which two or three cards to flip over. More than that, you get to keep a card, even if you haven‘t revealed a matching pair. Or even more if you do end up with a match.
Deduction is the engine that drives play, but it‘s not the whole of the game. It‘s not enough to simply figure out which gem is hiding under which card. Instead you need to apply this knowledge to pick the right cards to maximize your score. Because the more gems of a type you can get your hands on, the more points you will earn. Gems have a non-linear increase of victory points the bigger your set is, while diamonds give a steady VP yield. Balancing your options before the game ends is key. As is picking the right time to steal a valuable card from your opponent. It‘s a delightfully easy game to teach, especially to kids.
If you‘re looking to play with people in the double digit age bracket, you can add some one-time abilities or special scoring cards. This won‘t fundamentally change the game, but it will add a few familiar wrinkles to the overall experience. A very fitting filler ready to be played at the start or the end of a heavier game night.
But it’s also a great game to play with younger players, especially when you find yourself bored to bits by the overtly simplistic nature of many games for kids under the age of 10. There is enough meat to this game to keep you interested for its short duration, and it skilfully avoids any usability issues. Considering just how often more sophisticated games of established publishers fumble such basic requirements, this is worth pointing out.
If nothing else, Colorful Treasures is the perfect gift for the friend who‘s tentatively poking their head around the fringes of the hobby. It‘s light enough to not outstay its welcome, but there is enough game there to keep you engaged.