The theme of a game plays a large part in our enjoyment of it, it’s the presentation, the narrative that draws us in. Sometimes the theme can be a hard sell, like building industry in Birmingham. Other times designers can go such a cheating route that it almost feels exploitative. Calico is one of those games.
The goal is to build the nicest quilt for a bunch of cats of which pictures and bios are included at the back of the rulebook. The calming colours, attractive patterns, cute buttons, and adorable cats come together to create something so easy to enjoy that you’d have to go out of your way to dislike it.
Mechanically, it’s all about matching hexagonal tiles by colour and/or patterns to get cats to sleep on the quilt. There are challenge tiles that you have to complete which task you with surrounding them with three pairs of tiles, all different tiles, two trios, etc. And, if nothing else, you can match colours in order to sew buttons onto your quilt and score a few extra points here and there. The most player interaction Calico involves is the market pile that each player shares. After placing a tile, players draw one from the market then replace it with a new one from the bag and depending on who you’re playing with, this can get surprisingly tense. Taking a tile that someone else needed to lure Millie or Coconut onto their quilt will earn you their ire and some creative insults. If you’re not ready for that, there’s always the quite expansive solo mode which has plenty of achievements to try for.
It’s nothing ground breaking but Calico’s components are high quality, the colours are crisp and the cats are adorable. What else do you really need?
PLAY IT? Yes
Designer: Kevin Russ
Publisher: Flatout Games
Time: 30-45 minutes
This review originally appeared in Issue 50 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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