Dale Yu: Review of Color Code

Color Code

  • Designers: Julien Gupta, Johannes Berger
  • Publisher: Chili Island
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 14+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with copy provided by publisher

Color code

Chili Island is a new imprint, one that focuses on family games – from the company page on BGG: 

  • Creative, communicative, and cooperative – are our games.
  • Easy as pie – are the rules to our games.
  • Artistic – are the cover and the game materials.
  • Critical – are we about plastic, climate change, and discrimination.

I was given a set of three of their newest releases at GenCon 2022, and we gave them a try at a recent family reunion.  Most of the players were not gamers, but I felt like this was the sort of audience that Chili Island is looking for.

In Color Code, players “try to get a feeling for the color associations of your fellow players by using empathy and intuition, thus cracking their individual COLOR CODE”.  The game has a display board with space for three word cards.  One one side are indentations for round colored circles.  On the other side, slots for colored cards (placed facedown).   There is also a hexagonal scoring board which holds the special tiles and the bonus tiles.

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The game will be played in a number of rounds – in each round, one player is the color coder and the others work together as a team.  The Color Coder will reveal 3 word cards and place them on the display in the three word slots.  Now, they look at the 8 color cards and place one facedown in the corresponding card slot – with the color that they associate most with the word above it.  Each color card can only be used once, so there will be three distinct colors placed facedown.

The color coder also has the option to use one special tile per word. There are 6 total for the game, a pair each of three types.  The Insider tile is used to tell a specific person that the answer refers to a joint experience between that designated player and the color coder.  The Color Filter tile can be used to reveal one of the color cards not used this round so that the team knows it is not an option.  The 50/50 tile allows the color coder to place two color tiles next to one of the words so that the team has to only choose between those two colors for that particular word.  There is no limit to the number of special tiles used, but each is only used once in the whole game, so they should be used wisely.

Once this is done, the other players now discuss what they think the color code is.  They are allowed to freely discuss this, and the Color Coder should be careful not to give any hints at all.  If consensus cannot be achieved, the player to the right of the Color Coder is allowed to make a final decision.  The team ends the round by placing three color circles into the round slots above the cards.  If they are confident about their answer for a specific word card, they can use one of the three bonus tiles – this will increase the scoring for that word if correct.

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Now, it is time to reveal the color cards played by the Color Coder.  For each correct match, the word card is placed next to the scoring Hexagon.  Each of the six sides represents a level, and the level is complete when you have placed two cards next to a side.  If the team played a bonus tile and correctly matched the word, the bonus tile is placed as if it were a word card.

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Now, the job of being the color coder rotates and this continues until all players have had an equal number of turns to be the coder.  Now, you judge your score by how many levels you have achieved.

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My thoughts on the game

This worked pretty well at the family reunion – I think that it helped that we all knew each other to some degree, and we had some knowledge of people’s likes and dislikes, and some shared history to draw upon.

The game is simple, and it takes maybe 2 minutes to teach it to people, and honestly, it can be played by people much younger than the 14+ that the box suggests.  If there are only non-gamers or illiterates around, there is a QR code on the cover of the rulebook to a rules video.  The QR is also found on the box as well as a separate flyer on the inside.  

The word choices are pretty good, as we found few cards that were complete slam dunks.  As the example in the rulebook shows – a word like Surfing might be blue (for water), yellow (for sand), green (because everyone knows that Emma’s surfboard is green), etc.   The team can definitely use information they know about the coder to help solve the code.  Also, there is some process of elimination – to continue the example above, say Fruit was another card, and everyone was pretty sure that a banana is my favorite fruit… this would take yellow out of the running for surfing then…

This is one of those games that borders more on activity than game, as the joy for us was in the guessing of colors and then laughing at the stories told as to why people chose particular colors.  In the end, no one really cared if we were level 4 or level 6 at the end of the game – we just enjoyed playing it with our family.  

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One thing I would mention is that I think the scoring maybe could have been done a bit easier by making the hexagon slightly longer per side which would then allow you to simply stand up two word cards next to each other, making a trail of cards around the outside of the hex.  Sometimes it’s not easy/intuitive to see a stack of two cards to know that you’ve completed a level – but hey, it’s not that big of a deal.

I have yet to play this with a group of strangers; but it was quite enjoyable to play with cousins, in-laws and friends at the reunion.  I think it will still work without knowing the other players, but it was very enjoyable and entertaining because we DID know each other.  For a family reunion, this was the perfect game for us to play, bringing us together with funny stories and good memories.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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