Swatch: The Abstract Game of Art is a colorful looking game that has a bunch of strategy and depth behind it. This game is made for one to four players, and takes around 30 to 60 minutes to complete, as you attempt to draft cards, select actions, and mix paint to match your color palette!
At the start of the game, each artist is given a color palette card, with three rows of colors. The aim is to get one color from each of the rows to complete your palette. This is done by mixing different paint colors together, then trading in a set number of paint colors for your specific color. This may sound complex, but it is not.
At the top of the game area, there are a bunch of cards to showcase the different swatches, and each one has a set number of round tokens you need to trade in for it. You can get round tokens by mixing square tokens. Square tokens are earned through playing the game. Below the colors of paint in Swatch, there is the main game area. This has rows of action cards. At the start of the game, you and the other players race to bid on the cards in the top row. Then, going left to right, you resolve the actions.
These actions can be used to get a specific number of the square colored tokens, all in the same color, and add them to your pile. Or they can be to trade tokens with another player or mixing your tokens to get a specific number of final colors. These cards do all have limits on the numbers of pieces you are going to end up with, often saying to mix to get 3 colors, or to add 2 cyan tokens to your pile, etc.
In the next round, it’s less of a race. Starting with whoever placed their artist token on the first card from the left to the right, that’s the order that the players will place for the next row. Each player will also get an action card that they can play before or during the next round. These cards are the same as the cards in the field, but by controlling the order in play you can totally change your plans.
In Swatch, this row by row gameplay continues, with players trading in colors to get their palette cards until someone has completed one in each row. It’s a game that has a lot more thinking in it than the bright colors and funny names would have you assuming. I, at one point, actually laughed at the green I got, which was called “pspspspsps green” like the sound you make to cats. A lot of thought has been put into these cards, clearly, which shows through the game. At the end of the game, you also want to make sure you do not have extra paint tokens on your artist, or you might end up so messy that you lose points.
We got the chance to play a short demo of Swatch at Tabletop Gaming Live, where we were impressed with how complex this simple game looked. You can currently purchase Swatch from the developer’s website, where they have a great looking Pride version too.