Fairway definitely has a thing for art games. Today, he previews the current Kickstarter, art-themed card game: Pigment.
Pigment is a two- to three-player, worker-placement card game from Copper Frog Games. In the game, players attempt to collect resource cubes to try to complete works of art. I was provided a pre-production, prototype copy so the art and components are likely to change. The Kickstarter campaign is currently going.
- This game isn’t quite a microgame, but it’s close. The game consists of about 30 cards and a handful of paint cubes.
- The game is easy to teach with only a few mechanisms to learn and plays in about 20 minutes or so.
In Pigment, players take on the roles of master painters who are trying to complete enough paintings to win the game. To start, each player is given two apprentice meeples. These meeples will be used to gather paint cubes and finish paintings.
Paints are gathered from a central bazaar. The bazaar is ever-changing and formed from a series of face up bazaar cards placed in the center of the table. The game begins with the same starting cards, but then, with each passing turn, the end card is removed and a new card is added.
Each bazaar card has two available actions that provide the player with a way to either get new pigments or trade for different colors. During the game, players will take turn placing their apprentice meeples on the bazaar.
In addition, to bazaar cards, a deck of paintings is shuffled and three are turned face up. These paintings have a specific pigment requirement (e.g., a number and colors) necessary to complete the painting. The paintings require some combination of the three available colors: red, blue or yellow. In addition, each painting has an active power that provides the player with a special power while it remains the “active painting” in their gallery.
A game of Pigment is played over a series of rounds. Each round consists of players taking turns placing their meeples either on a bazaar card or, if they have the required paint cubes, on a painting. Each round begins with a first player who places one meeple and continues clockwise until each player has placed both meeples.
If a player places a meeple on a painting, the player must be able to pay the paint requirements. Then, at the end of the round, the completed painting is brought into the player’s gallery and placed on top. The top card’s active power is available for so long as it remains that painting remains the active painting.
The game continues until one player completes the required number of paintings.
On the green
Quick, easy. Pigment is a quick and easy introduction into worker placement games. The mechanism is easy to understand and the goals were quick to grasp. The game itself from setup to cleanup was easily under thirty minutes even at three players.
Check out this related TIGR story
Where it comes up short
Choices. One issue that repeatedly came up is that players felt like they were deprived of valuable choices. Many rounds would work out well, but then for one reason or another, no valuable choices were available. This manifested in two ways: doing the expedient thing and not being able to do anything productive.
In the first case, the “choice” was obvious. Rarely, was there much drama as a result. You might block another player from the obvious choice, but that’s the point I suppose. However, the consequence was more of the second case.
In the second case, it was a bit disheartening, for example, to be forced to take red cubes when few of the paintings required red. This is probably a result of the limited colors and the few numbers of paintings in the game.
Player count. Neither positive, nor negative, but this game seems to play best with two players and has at most three players. The game has a limited player count by virtue of the number of cards. Any more players and some of the above game place concerns worsen. And, I take it, adding a fourth player would require a few more paintings as well. That leaves it with an awkward player count: 2 or 3 players. And as between those, two players felt like it’s sweet spot: enough available action spots and selection, rapid fire game play, more ability to plan, etc.
State of the art. One thing players noted was the often low-resolution, dark and faded versions of the art on the cards. I asked the designer, and one of the plans for the Kickstarter is to get higher resolution art. This is a definite must-do for the game.
Comparisons to Starving Artists
It was inevitable, I suppose, that this game would get compared by everyone who played with me (and even those who have played the game and alerted me to the existence of Pigment) to my own game. The games share a number of things in common: paint cubes on paintings, trying to win by completing paintings, two actions each turn and a sell/collect a completed painting, a draft of available works of art to complete, use of public domain art, etc.
That said, Pigment does stand on its own. While it does track many aspects of my own, it does so using a worker placement mechanism packaged in a near-microgame size.
In the hole
Pigment is a two- to three-player worker placement game about Renaissance painters. The game is quick, portable and easy teach. Fans of art-themed games should definitely take a look at this one.
However, because of its similarity to Starving Artists, I don’t think I can impartially score the game. The Kickstarter will continue through the middle of November.