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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Saturday 15 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hues and Cues

Game: Hues and Cues

Publisher: The Op

Designer: Scott Brady

Year: 2020

Hues and Cues is a party game for 3-10 players where you are trying to get on the same wavelength as other players when it comes to colours.

Each round there will be an active player, who gets to look at a card from the deck and pick one of the 4 colours that card shows. They then give a single word clue to help other players guess the colour. Each player, in turn order then places out one of their markers on the grid to make their guess at which colour the clue giver meant. 

After all players have made a guess, the clue giver can then choose whether to give a second, two-word clue. If they do, then players take a second marker and mark a second guess on the board. At the end of either the one or two rounds, points are awarded. The clue giver gets one point per marker in a 3x3 square with their correct colour at the centre. Guessing players get 3 points for the correct answer, 2 points for being in the ring of 8 squares surrounding the exact answer or one point for being one space further out. A handy frame is provided to remind you of this scoring and you can mix up the frame to show different point configurations to vary your game. 

Every player gets either one or two turns as clue giver before the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

Amy's Final Thoughts

Hues and Cues paints itself into a weird position among party games, mechanically it feels like a strange mash-up of Dixit and Codenames, while being far simpler than either to understand. There is incredible purity in the gameplay, colour is something that almost everyone understands, but also that everyone experiences slightly differently (side note, I'm not sure how the game will play this with colourblind players). Giving a solid, relatable clue is surprisingly difficult and undeniably satisfying. The scoring mechanics are incredibly well implemented, giving the clue giver a difficult choice on whether to give a second clue. Should they choose to do so the players then need to pick between doubling down on their first guess, or assuming they messed up and making a second attempt in a different area. For such a simple concept there is plenty of decision making to be had!
With simplicity in gameplay inevitably comes repetition, and this is where Hues and Cues starts to show the cracks under the surface. Dixit's cards are fantastically imaginative, with each being easily interpreted in dozens of ways, Codenames has its unique combinations of words and answers creating a unique puzzle every time. But Hues and Cues has none of this replay-ability on its side, you can't create new colours, and while you might not be guessing the same brown every game, you certainly are guessing a brown every game. This creates a natural restriction to the style of clues that are given, people are drawn to giving a clue that is an object of that colour and little more creativity is ever demanded.
This shouldn't be taken as a failure of Hues and Cues design though. What it lacks in endurance it makes up for in accessibility, the greatest complexity is the scoring mechanics, but if you are willing to handle that for your group then you can get players of any ability having fun together. Hues and Cues is not I game that I predict will make a huge splash on the party game market, but it is a fun, easy to pick up party game that certainly a nice addition to the party game shelf.
Fi’s Final Thoughts

Recently I've been trying to add more party games to my collection as a result of wanting to stay connected with friends who I've not been able to visit. Hues and Cues has been a great addition to the line up because it's that style of game that is really an activity, that's accessible to all and can just be played until everyone has had enough. It's certainly got an even lower barrier to entry than a game like Codenames or Dixit where you have to try and think outside the box. In Hues and Cues, most people choose to be literal rather than clever with their clues and as a result it's a game that would work will all ages and shouldn't find resistance with a mixed audience, such a group of co-workers who might generally be a bit more reluctant about board games.

As a game to play over Skype there have been two main drawbacks we've found when introducing Hues and Cues to a new group of players. Firstly, the board is very glossy, causing some glare. Secondly, the perception of colours on different people's screens really put some players off when we played. I'm sure most groups might not take things so seriously for this to be a concern! In spite of these challenges, I think most players found Hues and Cues to be a refreshing change from our typically game night choices and a very laid back experience.
I must confess that I play almost every activity-like party game for points, like it says in the rules. I take point tokens in Concept and awarding points in Telestrations is one of my favourite parts of the game. For me, the game aspect of Hues and Cues is really tricky to understand. Those who want to score points are desperate to figure out whether giving that second two-word clue is going to be more helpful to them or to the players guessing and it's something that's really hard to judge. The best you can do as the clue giver is to get 9 points (if you're playing with 5 or more players) and each guesser could get 5 points maximum, so a good clue should net you more points than any single opponent, but it's generally not that clear cut.

Unless you have a very different group of players to us, then Hues and Cues might not exercise your lateral thinking like many other party games of its type, but it is a fun and relaxing activity that feels different enough to other party games and was a hit with the groups we play with.

You Might Like....
  • Using colours to give clues is surprisingly effective - we all think of colours in different ways it seems.
  • Hues and Cues is the style of party game that can support a large group with no real need to score or take it too seriously.
You Might Not Like...
  • Hues and Cues seems perfect to play over Skype, but every group we've tried with seems to complain about the variance of colour over screens and the glare on the board.
  • Scoring is very obtuse and it's hard to know when you should proceed to a second round of clue giving.

The Verdict
6/10 Hues and Cues is similar to other party games where you try and get inside the head of the person giving clues - like Wavelength or Concept. Using colours as the clue giving mechanism is an innovative concept that works a lot better than you might expect. The restrictions to one and two word clues give you a chance to come up with interesting clues, plus it's just interesting to see how people's perceptions or memories differ. Hues and Cues has a pretty obtuse rules when it comes to the game and its scoring, but as an activity it's one that a lot of our friends and co-workers have enjoyed.

Hues and Cues was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £24.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the game was tested with colorblind players. Many reviewers that have played it are also colorblind. Since the game is about color perception, not color matching, colorblind players can and do compete on an even playing field.

    If you're having problems with the glossy board, use the version uploaded by the publisher to BGG.