Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Kevin Russ

Alderac Entertainment Group

No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

Cats have a very strong attraction to internet users of all ages. The click rates of cats YouTube videos and the number of memes shared on social media don't tell lies. Cats that do funny things or look especially cute attract so much attention that most boardgame influencers can only dream of. A few cats even become stars. The question may be asked what the hell cat owners have given their house cats to place them in such funny situations or make how the make them so feeling so comfortable that they can film or photograph them in such funny moments. At least for the latter question you now get an answer from AEG. Kevin Russ shows us how to create an environment in which cats feel so comfortable that they will sit down and chill out for a while in an appealing pose.

In Calico, that's the name of the game, players try to sew a quilt that attracts cats as crazy as possible. At set-up players receive personal quilt boards on which they can let their creativity run wild simply by placing patch tiles on these boards. We start with only the edge of the quilt already pre-fabricated. The rest of the patch tiles that hast to be be sewn into the quilt is available to the players as hexagonal puzzle pieces in six different colours and six different patterns.


Click on image to enlarge!

Three different cats are available as scoring tiles and can be lured to a player's quilt by fulfilling the matching combination of pattern and number of connected patch tiles indicated on the cat scoring tile. It is important to know that cats are colour blind. As a result, they are only interested in the patterns of the patches not the colours. As oposed to this the arrangement of colours and patterns of the patch tiles both are important to make the quilt attractive to human eyes,which plays an important role in the final scoring.

For this final scoring we have two categories. First, a player may sew a button token on his quilt if he puts three Patch Tiles of the same colour on his quilt side by side. In addition, at the beginning of the game, three Design Goal Tiles are laid out on designated places on the respective player board, which makes demands on the Patch Tiles surrounding the tile in terms of colours, patterns and their respective number. These are the long-term goals for the final scoring at the end of the game.


Click on image to enlarge!

Fortunately, needle, thread, and sewing skills are not necessary to succeed in the game. Calico is played in several rounds in which a player simply places one hexagonal patch tile on the player board each round. Each time a tile has been placed, a player checks if he has sewn a special pattern so that he receives a cat or a button token. In that case the player immediately places the appropriate token on their quilt. Finally the player takes a new patch tile from the three-tile market and refills the market from the cloth tile bag. The game ends after all players have completed their quilt board with patch tiles (22 rounds in total).

That's all that is to do! So, as far as the rules are concerned, the game is very easy to understand. Even in the first rounds, when there are still many free spaces on the quilt board, you have the feeling that you are easily able to keep track and find the best Patch Tiles for all possible tasks. However, with each new tile on your quilt, the choices become less. Moreover, the available tiles on the market represent often an insufficient selection of tiles. So, with each new turn, the players have to switch their plans and goals to the available choice of tiles, and the have to decide which goals they better sacrifice in order to achieve the still best possible score. While players can get three points for sewing on a button (all you need are three patch tiles of the same colour lying next to each other), they can get up to eleven points for attracting cats. But of course that's much more difficult and to achieve that goal up to seven tiles must be placed adjacent to each other.

A difficult choice! And I still haven't mentioned the design goals! These nasty little friends set guidelines for the surrounding tiles and can earn you up to fiftee n additional points. But of course, only if you meet the requirements in terms of shape and colour. However, thanks to these manifold scoring options, the game is very well balanced and offers the players good chances of winning in the later phases of the game even if they have often to adjust their strategies. In the end, the player with the most points is the winner and can call her- or himself Master Quilter.


Click on image to enlarge!

In summaray I think Calico to be a wonderful game. It's quickly explained and easy to understand. Simple rules and a quick turn order with little down time. The good quality of all of the game material and the very detailed graphics by Beth Sobel (who also worked out the graphics for Wingspan and Lord of the Rings: The Card Game) make the game even more fun. First, I only played the family version (without using the Design Goal Tiles) with my children and my wife. This already worked out to be a lot of fun and a very balanced game. It's often difficult to find family games that challenge the adults and give the children a realistic chance of winning ath the same time. But Calico is definitely one of those games. But after that I also experienced that adult players also enjoy the game, mainly because of the manifold tactical possibilities. Honestly, when I presented Calico to my grown-up buddies, they were a little unsure what kind of game the face (the cat theme played a major part in that). After the first or second turn however, this scepticism quickly disappeared and gave way to a concentrated tension in the faces of my fellow players. One could literally see how the quilts were mentally put together, resewn and rearranged again.

Although I am not really talented in handcraft matters, I still would like to say: I'm really looking forward to a lot of further sewing sessions of Calico. If that isn't worth a Gamebox Star! If I practise hard, I might even be able to become a successful influencer in social media with my newly acquired skills!

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