Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stick to Colours Review

Designer: Ilya Proshin
Artist: None
Publisher: GaGa Games
Year Published: 2015
No. of Players: 2 − 4
Ages: 12 and up
Playing Time: 15 − 20 minutes



Overview from BGG:

"Easy and fun card game for those who are not afraid of trading, bluffing and taking risks for the sake of the win. In the card game Стой На Своем ("Stick to Colours"), you collect sets of cards with figures by making bets with the cards you... don’t need! It’s the first auction where you can turn down offered bids in order to get what you need! A simple and compact game for adults and kids alike!

Each round first player picks a card from the market. This is the card he probably wants to get, and this is the card the players will start bidding for. After the card has been chosen, the players start bidding on it or they can pass and not take part in the auction. To place a bet a player puts a special token on a card he refuses, which means, that during the game he can never get this card. The one, whose bid is the highest, gets the card and leaves his refusal tokens on the cards he has refused during the round. All the other players take their tokens back. Then the game proceeds till the deck of cards and the market are empty. In the end of the game players score victory points for different sets (by colour or by value) on their hands."

Set Up and Game Play:

Set up for a four player game.
To set up Stick to Colours shuffle the deck of 48 colored number cards dealing two to each player. The remaining deck goes in the center of play. Each player then receives six double-sided tokens of the same color and a scoring reference card.

Then five to six cards—depending on the number of players—are turned face up from the deck to create the "market".

The "senior" player is chosen as the starting player and is given the dealer's token.

The game is played over a series of rounds consisting of three phases:
  1. Choosing the card to auction. The player with the dealer token chooses a card to put up for auction OR passes to the next player. The chosen card is pulled out of the market and rotated 90 degrees indicating it is up for auction.
  2. Bidding and passing. Players—starting with the dealer—bid or pass on the card that is up for auction. To bid a player must place one or more of her double sided tokens—question mark side up and only one per card—on any of the OTHER cards in the market. Note - a player's bid must always be one higher than the previous player. By placing your token on a card you run the risk of not being able to bid on and win that card in future rounds. Players may also discard a card from their hand and place a token on it as one of their bids.

    OR a player may pass on their turn. If they have already played tokens onto cards in the market they may retrieve those tokens that have the question mark side up.
  3. Resolving bids. Once all player have passed except one the bidding phase ends. The player who did not pass wins the card that is up for auction and puts it in his hand. Players who did not win the auction can take back all their tokens from the cards in the market that have the question mark side up. Any card used out of a player's hand is now discarded regardless of the player winning or losing the auction.

    The player who won the bid turns all his tokens from the question mark side to the "X" side and leaves them on the cards in the market. This signifies that he may not choose those cards in future rounds for auction, bidding, or refusing (IE placing your token on for bidding purposes).

    If there are any cards in the market that have all player's tokens—"X" side up—except one, the player without a token on that card takes that card into their hand.

Middle of game.

Once a round is finished the dealer's token is passed clockwise and any empty spaces in the market are refilled. A new round now begins with the new dealer choosing a card to auction.

The game ends once all the cards in the deck and market are gone. Players then tally their scores. To do this they look at the sets they have collected. Three cards of the same number but different colors are worth 3 points. Sets of cards of the same color that have at least three cards in numerical order are worth however many cards are in a set. For example player one has a 4, 5, 6, and 7 of red and would score 4 points. Runs with the 7, 8, and 9 of a certain color are worth 6 points as there are only one of these numbers in each color. Players may use a single card in a variety of sets. For example a player may use a blue 3 in a set of 3's (red, blue, and green). That same blue 3 could also be used in a run of 3, 4,  and 5 in blue.

The player with the most points wins!!! I forgot to snap a shot but in the game above the Yellow player won with a whopping 34 points. He shot the moon with three 7, 8, 9 sets and more.

Review:

I was very surprised by Stick to Colours. After struggling through the English rules for a bit I finally caught on to it and wow, there is a good game here.

Theme:
There isn't really a theme to speak of here. It is an abstract game similar to games like UNO and Phase 10. Not all game need to have themes to be good.

Mechanics:
There are two great mechanics going on in this game. The first is set collecting which is the way players score points at the end of the game. Not a new concept but it works well in this game. The second mechanic here is bidding and that is where Stick to Colours shines. I have played quite a few bidding style games but this is something completely new. Basically as you are bidding you are ruling out other potential cards for future turns so you have to be careful to not hurt yourself long term to gain a card now. Very clever!

Components:
So here is the trouble spot with Stick to Colours. The cards are thick but hard to shuffle and kind-of soft (IE easy to bend). Also the tokens are thick but I can already see wear-and-tear on them after just a couple plays. The artwork is minimal which you would expect from an abstract game like this, however the box art/graphic layout does not capture your attention. Too bad because the game is solid.

The Good:
The bidding aspect of the game is amazing. I really like how this mechanic is used and how it works well with the set collection. You can really hurt yourself if you are not careful and if you are too careful you can hurt yourself too.

The Bad:
Components. Glossy cards would help the shuffling problems and larger tokens may have helped the token issue. Not a deal breaker.

Overall:
I like this game and think it will play well with a lot of game groups. It plays quickly so it works well as a filler too. I am giving this game 3 out of 5 super meeples!

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