Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 26 October 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Contrast

Game: Contrast

Publisher: Pink Monkey Games

Designer: Julien Percot

Year: 2017

Contrast is a small box card name, which at first glance is trying to do something similar to games like Dixit and Mysterium, using weird artwork to create a sociable party game. Contrast is a game for 2-6 players in which each player has the same 6 cards, each showing 12 symbols. These 12 symbols is the way you'll need to describe each artwork card, with one symbol which might be; a circle, the colour green, a small or large weight or a tall or short arrow. If you can get into the same mindset as other players then you're likely to score points, unless everyone picks the same, obvious symbol, meaning that no-one scores points.

The rules only take around 1 minute to teach. First you remove two of the 6 cards from your hand an put them face up on the table. Everyone then looks at the card in the middle, decides which symbol represents it best and places that card face down in the middle of the table with the chosen symbol pointing towards the artwork card. All players then reveal their choices - if everyone matches or no-one matches, then no points are scored. If just some people match then everyone who matches gets an artwork card to represent their point score. The game continues until the stack of artwork is exhausted - the stack height is altered depending on player count.

The best part about the game is the deduction you can used based on the two cards every player has face up in front of them. If there is a really obvious symbol choice for the central card but one player doesn't have that card available to play then it's really easy for all the other players to know that it's safe to play the obvious card and that they'll all get points. With some new players though, I've found that they can take some time to figure out the benefits of this element of the game and unfortunately, if they don't figure out how to leverage this, they very quickly find the game boring and don't understand how to find the enjoyment.

Here, two players thought square was most representative of the rectangular bushes in the artwork and purple could not play a square, so yellow and green score points.
The two player games works completely differently and is a cooperative game where you're simply trying to pick the same symbol as your partner for every card in the deck. You have to succeed with a certain proportion of the deck to 'win'. We did enjoy our first two player game, since it's always interesting to see if you can develop a language for how you use the quite abstract symbols in relation to different pieces of the artwork. However, part way through the game, we had developed this so well that it became too easy to win and we would never play two-player again (except with a different partner) because we've now spoiled the experience.

Some of the artwork from the game is quite nice, but the cards are very, very small, which can be hard at a large table. There are also some repeating themes, like 'The Borrowers' which can be very easy to  latch onto for easy wins.
We found a 4-player group who loved playing this game, but unfortunately, after trying it with different audiences, Contrast has gone down badly with everyone else. My work game group and my parents, who all typically stick with lighter games just didn't take to the game. At such a low price point, I would suggest that Contrast might be worth a try and if you do try it I'd say that a larger group is the best way to play. However, I think Contrast doesn't stand up to competition from similar games like Dixit, which are more of a crowd-pleaser for every situation except 2-players. For the Yellow Meeple, Contrast is a 4.5/10.

Contrast was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is be available for an RRP of £13.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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