Designer: Michael Schacht

Artist: Guido Favaro, Michael Schacht, Oksana Svistun

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Chameleons are cool, but what about that freaky evil castle card? (Photo credits: Neven Rihtar@BGG)

Coloretto is probably one of the most-played filler in my collection. Last I checked, I have played at least 30+ games which I logged in recent years. Before I started logging games on BGG, I probably had a lot more plays. Well, the constant usage really shows in my copy of Coloretto. The Rio Grande tuck box is worn out and the cards looks a little grimy. I think if there is a game in my collection I would eventually buy a new copy, it would be Coloretto.

Well, if it still isn’t clear, I like Coloretto. Actually, I also enjoy many of Michael Schacht’s designs. For those of you who are not acquainted to Mr. Schacht, he produced several high-ranking gems in my collection. Folks probably know him best for Zooloretto, his spin-off of Coloretto which uses the same set collection mechanism. However, Zooloretto isn’t even my favorite game of his. The game that takes the top mantle is Web of Power which was later republished with minor tweaks under different names: China, Han and the soon to be released Iwari. That the game has been republished so many times by different publishers suggests its popularity. Even though Zooloretto won the coveted Spiele des Jahres, Web of Power is more highly regarded by gamers. To round things off, Schacht also published games such as Hansa, Mondo and Dschunke, all of which I enjoyed.

Coloretto is a very simple card filler with a fun selection mechanism. In the deck of cards are chameleons that come in 7 different colors with each color having a set of 9 cards. On your turn, you either flip a card from the draw deck and place the card in one of the rows or you take cards from a row. There are as many rows as there are players and each row can have no more than 3 cards. As cards are flipped and rows are filled, players will start to pick up the row of cards. Importantly, each row can have 1-3 cards and players do not have to wait until a row is filled before picking up cards from the row. Once a player picks a row, that row is removed from the round and the player who picked the row is done. Play continues until every player has selected a row of cards, at which point, all the rows are reset and the last player to pick a card starts a new round. The game ends when the final round card is drawn and the draw deck is almost depleted. Everyone then gets to complete the round and players tally up all their scores to crown the winner.

Sounds pretty straightforward as far as set collection goes. The meat though, is in the scoring. Players score point based on the number of similar cards collected. For 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 similar-colored cards you collect, you score a triangular sequence of 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21 points. The twist here is that only your first 3 set of cards score positive points, the remainder sets all score negative points. In other words, you want to score as many points are you can for the first 3 sets and nothing else. Your optimal score would be 63 points (21 x 3) for 3 sets of cards. Of course, there is a good chance you will collect other colors as well, but for those colors, if you can limit the cards to 1 or 2 per set, you won’t accrue too many negative points. To spice things up, the deck also contains +2 cards which just earns you 2 points and the multi-colored chameleon that functions as a joker for set collection. Since it can be plugged into any set, the joker is highly sought after and some players will take a row with only a single chameleon joker.

Many of you may not know but over the years, Schacht has come out with several card expansions for Coloretto. For example, the Zwei Neue Übersichtskarten introduces two new ways of scoring the collected sets. Instead of triangular scoring, you get maximum points if each set only has 3 or 4 cards. Collect any more or any less would yield fewer points. The Limit Cards changes not only the maximum number of cards you can collect per set but also the number of sets that score positive points. The Extra Cards expand the game by changing some parameters for game play. There are 8 cards in total and only one is used per game. Some of the rules will make you play Coloretto differently. There is also a 2 player version of Coloretto which alters how many cards can be placed in a row. Row 1 has 1 card, row 2 as 2 cards and the third row as 3 cards, you get the idea. I have always played basic Coloretto but these small expansions are worth exploring. The overhead is low (they are all print and play) and the changes are all intriguing. I previously printed most of these expansions and stashed them away. As I explore these expansions, I will add more to this column.

I love Coloretto and it is in my top 10 filler list. The game is surprisingly fresh after all these years and I like it over Zooloretto even though the theme for Zooloretto is spot-on. I just think that Zooloretto hasn’t evolved very far from Coloretto and all things being equal, I much rather play a strip down version of the mechanism. Coloretto remains a staple and I look forward to many more years of fun.

Initial impressions: Great!

Kids Corner

7 years 7 months: Great! We have now officially started into the adult gaming. Coloretto is among the first adult games to make a debut with my child. It took her a game to absorb the rules, two to get familiar with the basic strategies, 4 to win her first hand, fair and square. Me thinks she is ready! She made several very good plays to win her first hand, including one to gum up her parents selection. So, we are thrilled she is able to see the metagaming in the table. I think Coloretto will always be one of my top fillers. More so than 11 Nimnt!, Take That and others in the genre. This is a CLASSIC. Full stop.


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