- Designer: Jorge Zhang
- Publisher: Jay-Zee Games
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 13+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by designer/publisher
I was approached by the designer of Chroma Mix to take a look at it in advance of its KS campaign, and the theme of mixing colors really caught my eye. In this game, players use pigment cards to create the colors they need to win.
There are four levels of cards – corresponding to the number of pigment units required to create them. Each player starts with one each of soft cyan, pale magenta and light yellow. A market is setup on the table with 6 each of the level 2 and 3 cards dealt out. All of the level 1 and level 4 cards are always available. Each of the different colors has a unique combination of victory points as well as possible ongoing and/or instant effects. Each player is also given a player aid card which succinctly summarizes the actions each round.
On a player’s turn – the active player takes one of the four action options: Print, Mix, Refill or Swap.
Print: Play a card from your hand and then resolve any instant effects on the card. The card remains face up in your play area; and if it has any continuous effects; those remain in effect as long as the card is in your play area.
Mix: Take 2 cards from your hand (returning level 1 and 4 cards to the supply, discarding level 2 and 3 cards) and then take a card from the market which matches the pigment composition of the 2 played cards. If you take a Level 2 or 3 card, refill the appropriate row after you take a card so that there are 6 available.
Refill: Choose any number of cards from your play area and return them to your hand (note you can choose zero cards to return).
Swap: Exchange one card from your hand for any Level 1 card. This action does not trigger any card effects.
Before the next player goes, the active player should check to see if they have met one of the game winning conditions:
Ruby – have a Level 4 Ruby Red card in their play area as well as the other 2 Level 4 card (Emerald Green and Sapphire Blue)
Sapphire – have a Level 4 Sapphire Blue card in their play area as well as 16+ cards in their hand
Points – have 17VPs on the cards face up in their play area.
If a win condition is met, the game continues to the end of the current round. If multiple players have won, the player who has secured a ruby victory wins. There are other tiebreakers, but the rules are not clear in the rulebook.
There is also a solo game included in the box which uses a 9 card automa deck – with 3 special mix cards added in. Each turn, the automa draws 2 cards from its deck into a hand of cards – it does not have a play area. Anytime a mix card is drawn, the player looks into the automa’s hand and must mix a legal/available card, with priority going to any color that the automa does not yet have. The mix card and any cards used to mix are placed in a discard pile and will eventually get back into its deck. Since the automa do not have a play area, Ruby Red and Sapphire Blue cards trigger from the automa’s hand. The difficulty level of the solo game is modified by allowing the automa to have extra turns at the start of the game. You win if you can reach a victory condition before the automa does.
My thoughts on the game
Chroma Mix is an interesting pseudo deck-building game that packs a lot of punch in its short time on the table. Each player starts with the same starting hand, and players have to make tactical choices based on what is available in the market to expand their color palette.
The general limitation of using exactly two cards to mix means that you have to constantly be searching for the right color combinations in the market, especially the Level 2 cards. If you have options, the different actions might sway you towards a particular card, but other times, you’ll take whatever is available as you need to get Level 2 cards at the start of the game to move onto higher levels. You’re somewhat at the mercy of what is available in the Market – but that keeps each game from feeling stale…
Of course, if you get a Level 2 card with a beneficial instant action, you’ll be less likely to want to mix it as you’ll probably want to recycle it back into your hand so that you can play it over and over to take advantage of the action. LIkewise, cards with good ongoing actions are hard to sacrifice as you will lose that action when the card isn’t in your play area. Many of the harder decisions in the game come when you have to decide when it’s time to let go of a card.
I will say that I do not recommend moving to Level 4 cards early on – as they don’t give you any action benefits; and while you likely need them to win, they can really hamper your strategy early on when you’re still building your engine. I like to get the cards I need to mix into my endgame colors, but try to take advantage of their actions as long as possible.
I’ve enjoyed the games so far. The rules are fairly solid, and while we were confused a little bit due to the two column layout of the pages, everything clicked into place after playing through it once. The solo game has also proven to be interesting, though I’ll admit that I prefer to play the game in the multiplayer setting.
Games take 20-30 minutes and they have proven to be competitive and interesting. Again, there is a nice push and pull between keeping a card for a good action versus mixing it into something that helps lead towards your chosen victory condition. It’s hard for me to choose a target win condition at the start of the game as my final strategy is usually decided by which colors I’m able to mix to in the starting rounds; thus far it has been an interesting challenge to see what path is best for me in Chroma Mix.
The game should be hitting Kickstarter soon, and I recommend taking a look at it to see if it is something that interests you.
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor
Kind of off topic, but do you have a “page” with links to each of the individual games you have reviewed in the last few years? TBH, the last 15 or so you guys have looked at, did not find me wanting to acquire a single one.