Players: 1 - 4
Game Time: 30-60 minutes
This colourful game sets you up as an interior / graphics designer at the fictional company Mix.Inc This company is responsible for some of the hottest colour trends, and it is your responsibility to compete against the other designers (players) to be the first to create the winning scheme.
The core gameplay element of Swatch is mixing paint colours, three to be specific.
Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.
These are mixed to create Red, Green & Blue, which in different combinations create a spectrum of colours.
Some of you reading this may say: "I don't know art or graphic design... am I supposed to know what the word 'swatch' means?!", and you're right to ask this question!
"What the hell is a swatch?"
A swatch is used in graphic design; they are samples of colour used to visualise colours to produce colour schemes. If you have ever been to a DIY shop to buy paint for a room in your house, you will have looked at a swatch to see what the exact colours look like.
In Swatch the game, you use colour theory as inspired by the Bauhaus movement, one of the most influential movements on the 20th century (my graphics design teacher Mrs Theobald would be so proud of me!). This German design school used simple shapes and BOLD colours in their designs and Swatch takes certain elements and style from this.
So how does this transfer into a fun Tabletop card game? Let's find out..
In Swatch, players take turns to choose and play cards that add colours to their individual palettes, trade them with other players, and mix them into new colours. These colours are then used to create swatches and build colour schemes. The first player to complete their scheme with NO tokens left over is the winner.
The core cards in this game are "actions", "swatches", "schemes" and for solo mode "solo track cards" and "solo turn cards".
- Stock images provided by Minerva Tabletop Games-
Game setup is pretty simple:
Separate the swatch cards into the six numbered decks. Then shuffle each deck separately, and then place them (numbers showing) in numerical order in a row at the top of the play area.
Shuffle the action cards and place the deck face down below the swatch deck, with a space for a discard pile.
Deal fifteen cards from the action deck and place them face up, in three rows of five cards, below the action deck.
Shuffle the scheme cards and deal three face down to each player. Each player chooses one and returns the rest to the box. This scheme is yours to keep secret.
Separate the colour tokens by type and place them in piles within reach of the players to form the supply. The area in front of the player is called their "Palette"
Each player takes one player token, or two of the same colour. The first player is the player to have last painted something.
Play then continues as follows for each player:
Firstly draw a card from the action deck. Play then proceeds with you picking actions from the 15 available in the three rows (1 row at a time). You MUST place your token below the action card you pick. You MAY then choose to use the action card immediately or put it in your hand. The final action is that you can discard a card to remove a colour from your palette. This is important towards the end game (more on this later).
The action cards are as follows:
Add - Take the number of tokens in the colour shown on the card from the supply to your palette.
Trade - exchange your colours (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow ONLY) with another player or the supply.
Mix - Choose the colour you wish to mix (Red, Blue, Green) and exchange the number and combination required to make the colour in quantities for the amount you need. Say you require two Green then you'd need to mix two Yellow and two Cyan to get the two Green.
At any point during your turn, you may create your swatch provided that you have the necessary colours to make it. The swatches even tell you the amount of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow required to make the Red, Green & Blue tokens to create it. When you have created the swatch, take the swatch card from its deck and place it face up as part of your scheme. A scheme is made up of three swatches from the numbered decks on your scheme card. You only need to make one swatch from each of those decks to complete your scheme. When you complete the scheme, reveal it to show it matches. If at the end of the round a player has completed their scheme and has NO remaining colour tokens left (that's where discarding cards can come in!) , they are the winner. That's it! Surprisingly simple and addictive.
- Stock images provided by Minerva Tabletop Games-
At this point of the review, I must point out we have received a courtesy review copy. We haven't been paid to do a review and while the copy of the game is a gift, I do have one thing I would like to point out...
The card stock isn't the best. I normally have longer nails and picking up cards is pretty easy, but with short nails I struggled to pick the cards up, which meant I damaged the card edges (edge wear). So I immediately had the urge to sleeve them. OCD, yes, I know. Even the linen finish on the 330GSM card couldn't hold up... However, it certainly wouldn't pass the bend test (too afraid to do this). All the other components are pretty standard, but I do like the custom screen printing on the player tokens.
Going to bust out the new style conclusion breakdown...
Replayability For me, I find this game highly replayable. With multiple swatches and different combinations of goals, I can't see playing the same game twice! The game comes with 14 scheme cards and 24 swatch cards which means there are roughly 800(!) possible colour schemes to be made, so you should never create the same scheme twice. Production Value The cards are of a reasonable quality. They have a nice gentle sheen allowing you to see the colours clearly. However, like I mentioned earlier the action cards will see lots of play, I can foresee edging damage and sleeves will help mitigate that!
Theme The game does exactly what it says on the tin (box)!
Complexity The game is pretty easy to learn, and if you struggle with colour (colour blind) you can use the reverse side of the solo play cards to manage your resources instead of tokens.
Rules The rulebook is well laid out and has lots of examples, making it easy to read and understand. The solo mode is probably one of the best examples (I have played) of solo mode. It doesn't feel like an afterthought, considerable effort has been made.
Uniqueness This is pretty unique but if you 're into abstract games (Splendour or Azul) then you will like this.
Value This game is extremely good value, it's great at two-player with the added bonus of probably being the best solo NON RPG based game I have ever played! Even more better value with four players.
So overall for me I give Swatch a 5/6 on the D6 scale. The game is full of colour and has a wide audience appeal. It's simple enough in concept but provides enough subtle strategy for the more advanced player. It is an inspiration of new and up-and-coming game design. The only reason I can't give it 6/6 is because if I sleeve the cards they do not fit in the box (basic set). Silly, I know, but in the end I only sleeved the action cards and it all just fitted. If you were to sleeve it all, it wouldn't fit. I only sleeve cards/games I foresee seeing a lot of table time and I want to protect the game.
I look forward to more to come from the designer Scott James at Minerva Tabletop Games. You can now buy Swatch here directly from their website for the very reasonable price of £29. Check out some of the awesome Promo packs and Pride specials also available!
Mr Chris - DOALG Founder & Talent
Want to hear from Scott from Minerva talking about Swatch? You can check out our UK Games Expo 2022 interview below: