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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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Dyeing to Play Again?:- Holi: Festival of Colors

Game: Holi: Festival of Colors

Publisher: Floodgate Games

Designer: Julio E. Nazario

Year: 2020

Holi is a 2-4 player area control/abstract game that takes place on a unique three-layered board. Each player has a meeple that will be throwing colours around, staining the floor and other players in order to earn points. Eventually you'll be able to climb higher on the tower, with any paint thrown on the floor on tier two falling down to tier one if there is an open space below it. From your high vantage point you can rain death paint from above to soak your opponents in your valuable points.

A game of Holi starts with each player placing their meeple on a corner of the ground floor 6x6 grid. On your turn you may do two optional actions along with one compulsory action. You can move to any space on the floor, should you end up on top of candy or paint tokens then you'll pick them up. Paint of your colour can then be thrown once again, but paint of other players and candy will be kept until the end of the game. The second optional action is to climb. If you are surrounded by paint on the four orthogonal spaces then you can climb up to the next layer, giving you a height advantage over your foes. 


Finally, the compulsory action is to throw paint. To do this you'll have a hand full of cards. Each card shows a 3x3 grid with three spaces marked as targets for your paint. You must throw paint tokens so that your character is on one of the marked spaces, the remaining two spaces get a token of your colour assuming they are empty. Should you throw a paint token onto another player you'll gain 1 instant point (if you were on the same level) and they would hold onto that token for the rest of the game. Alternatively you can discard a card facedown to throw a single token at any empty space on your level. While this can be extremely useful, you can't do it two turns in a row and you can't hit your opponents directly by doing this. Each player is out of the game when either they run out of cards or they have no more paint to throw. At this point players will get 2 points for every paint token of theirs held by an opponent, 1 point for every token on the ground floor, 2 points per token on floor two and 3 points per token on floor three. The player with the most candy will then score bonus points and the end game objective cards drawn for this game will be assessed.


Holi makes an immediate statement with its impressive table presence - a three-tall grid of 6x6 clear grids that gradually gets coated in layers and layers of colour. There's no denying that this game is a treat for the eyes, but it's also a challenge for the brain.  Even with the base rules deciding when it's worth moving up (potentially leaving the biggest piles of candy behind), not to mention engineering the space where you can do so, is a big decision. When is it worth stepping on your opponent's paint in order to get into the perfect spot to attack them? How often do you want to collect your own paint, giving you precious ammo, because if you don't do it at all your game will end early when you run out, but collect too much and you'll run out of cards before you run out of paint.


All of this comes together to create gameplay that feels like a dance. Player pieces make dramatic movement across the board to outmaneuver and splat an opponent, only to have another foe appear behind them and strike them with coloured powder. Of course most of the time it's as good, if not better, to cover the terrain in your paint to claim land for yourself. If you were looking for your board game of Splatoon, this is it! This does come with some occasional downsides though, with a hand of three cards and the ability to appear on any space on your level it can sometimes be a little AP inducing to decide what to do next. This only gets worse at higher levels as you don't want your paint to be falling down lower where it's worth less points. On top of this the random objectives each game only further increase the complexity of the decisions you have to make. Often to the game's benefit, but we have had a game or two where the particular objective combination seemed to cancel each other out rather than complement each other.

Overall Holi is a gorgeous game to look at at a surprisingly deep game to play. There is just enough randomness to keep things interesting, and enough variation between games to keep it coming back to your game table. When you sit down to play Holi you are presented with an interactive puzzle of how best to move to stay both on the attack and defence. The freedom of movement available in the game means that you are never short of choices (in fact sometimes you have too many!). 

7/10

Holi: Festival of Colours was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk  

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