Colorblind Review: Scoffton

For me, 1980s buffets in the Midwest U.S. included Pizza Hut, Golden Corral, and Ryan’s. The goal? Eat a sickening amount of mediocre food to “get the most for your money,” including that second trip to the ice cream machine.

Scoffton captures the disgusting nostalgia of the all-you-can-eat restaurants of yesteryear. Designed by Marcus Finlay and Gavin Vance, with art by Len Peralta and Jonathan Calleja, Scoffton plays 2-4 players in about 60 minutes. Players are patrons at Scoffton All You Can Eat, and each diner’s goal is to earn the most Value for Money (i.e., Victory Points) at the end of their meal.

Underneath the theme, Scoffton is a basic worker placement game, with each player controlling three workers and a blocker. The Manager cards introduce a little chaos between worker placement and activation, and a couple fun elements (Lost and Found and a Claw Machine) add alternate scoring possibilities.

With the right group who are into the theme, Scoffton’s gags will induce laughter and fun memories, and the solid mechanisms make it more than “just” a humor-focused game.

Colorblind Accessibility

Meeple colors weren’t great for me. I cannot readily distinguish or identify the two different colors in the image below.

Two colors I had trouble telling apart

I played a 2-player game for this review, so I selected two colors I could distinguish quite easily – I think they were yellow/orange and blue-ish. At lower player counts, meeple colors probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re playing with four I recommend a modification or swap-out using your own components.

Board, tiles, currency. Besides the meeple colors that could cause issues for me at 3-4 players, I had no color vision issues with any other components. The food items are easy to identify, and scoring uses simple dots on the tiles and victory points are tracked with chalkboard-style numbered tiles.

The victory point tiles were only printed on one side (the other was a stylized background), but I didn’t see a situation where having them face-down would be useful. This resulted in some annoyance, flipping some over to see their number.

Interestingly, this is the first time I’ve seen currency in every denomination, 1 through 8. So instead of finding the “5” and two “1s” to get to 7 points, I just grabbed the 7-point VP token. I liked it a lot and would like to see it used more often.

Yes, that is a stomach and intestinal tract

Scoffton is a silly but not-simple worker placement game with a fun theme, and colorblind players should be able to navigate it without help.

You can learn about Scoffton’s availability from at the Vamoose Co website.

Mmmm, shrimp under heat lamps…

Colorblind Games received a complementary copy of Scoffton from the publisher for this review.

Colorblind Review: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Stuck in the Middle With You

Some of my favorite music moments are award show performances that combined two seemingly unrelated artists: Aerosmith and Run-DMC, Jay-Z and Coldplay, Elton John and Eminem.

Stonemaier Games and Bezier Games captured similar magic with Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, a mashup of Stonemaier’s Between Two Cities and Bezier’s Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Designed by Matthew O’Malley and Ben Rosset, Between Two Castles plays 3-7 (with a 2-player variant) in 45-60 minutes.

Between Two Castles’ hook is that each player must semi-cooperate with the players to their left and right, as each castle is built by a team of two. In the end, each players’ final score is the lesser of the two castles they built, requiring balanced building.

3-player game with end-game scoring completed

I’ve played the game at 3 and 4 players, and I enjoyed both. The game seems like it will scale well from 3 to 7 without adding time to gameplay. Regardless of the number of builders, everyone focuses on two castles.

Colorblind Accessibility

My experience of Stonemaier Games from a color vision standpoint has been hit-and-miss. I can play Wingspan out of the box, and Viticulture is about 95% playable. I had the most trouble with My Little Scythe, which I could not play without modifications.

I asked Matthew how he and Ben incorporated the needs of colorblind gamers during design and development of Between Two Castles. He described how they ensured color wasn’t the only distinguisher for components.

“We double-coded all of the color-related information. Room type icons have a shape as well as a color, and the blue tile border (for outdoor rooms) is only for outdoors and fountains, so those are double-coded as well.”

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig includes seven primary room types, each with its own type name, icon, and color. The player aid and score sheet clearly distinguish the rooms and their attributes using these icons. I also found that “table talk” naturally leaned toward room type names (e.g., Food, Living), not color, which is helpful for anyone with color vision deficiency. This game is playable in full greyscale, which is the “gold standard” for colorblind accessibility.

Icons on the Scoresheet

Similarly the outdoor rooms are denoted by a blue frame that is easily distinguished from the white frame of other rooms.

Could the icons be bigger? Yeah, a little.

Low Vision Accessibility

Are the icons too small? Maybe a little.

Since I’ve only been concerned with the tiles and castles right in front of me, I didn’t have much trouble at the current icon size. However, if I need to see details of a castle across the table (which I understand might be a mechanism in the upcoming expansion), this could become an issue. Jamey Stegmaier and crew described icon size as a production feasibility issue on their website’s FAQ.

“We would have needed to make the tiles and icons HUGE to make that possible (the icon size is constrained by the tile size, which is constrained by table size).”

The only icon pair that confused me a little were the Special Rooms and Mirrors. As shown below, these are pretty similar in shape. However, they had different purposes (one is a room type; the other is a type of wall hanging), so the icons never show up in the same corner of a tile, and after a couple plays it was a non-issue.

Mirror (left) and Special Room (right) icons were a little confusing during my first play

I would’ve appreciated iconography being 30% larger on the tiles, with the background art still prominent, but I also understand the desire to make the art shine. The selection of most icons is excellent, making this a minor quibble.


If you are already a fan of either previous game, then I can recommend Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig. Regarding color vision accessibility, the game is colorblind-friendly out of the box!

Colorblind Games received a complementary copy of Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig from the publisher for this review.

Colorblind Review: Tussie Mussie

Tussie Mussie Cover
Flower Power

Tussie Mussie, designed Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Button Shy Games, is an 18-card, I-cut-you-choose game set in Victorian England. It continues the Button Shy model of clever game mechanics that fit in your pocket, and within those design constraints it’s also colorblind friendly!

Accessibility

Tussie Mussie uses double-coding to provide a second distinguishing feature among the different card colors. It also adds a clever trick that I’d consider “triple-coding,” as can be seen in the image below.

Tussie Mussie cards

Note the scoring condition of the Violet: “+1 for each of your purple cards, including this one.” Along with clarifying how the card is scored, it literally told me that this card’s color is purple. It also named the card Violet. See that the adjacent card is called a Red Tulip.

Jason Tagmire shared the desire and challenge of addressing color vision accessibility in Button Shy’s designs.

“We usually try to double code as much as possible. With 18 cards, everything can be tighter than normal, and color palettes often lean towards thematic over mechanic, but we always have it in mind.”

The Expansions

More Flowers. One new expansion to Tussie Mussie adds two new colors to the mix – orange and green. I start to get nervous seeing yellow, orange, and red in the same game, but it appears from the Kickstarter page that the team has continued to carefully pattern each card to help colorblind players tell them apart.

Ribbons. The current expansion also includes ribbons – new items that can be added to the player’s typical 4-card arrangement for additional scoring. Along with subtle distinguishers that remind me of The Isle of Cats‘ ears-and-tails, each of the ribbon colors is clearly identified by name at the top of the card. Triple coding again!


I’ve had the pleasure to review several of Elizabeth’s games (see Wingspan and Mariposas), and I provided first impressions of the Button Shy 2021 reprint campaign. The Tussie Mussie expansions continue to use clear descriptions and double-coding to support colorblind gamers. From the fun I’ve had with the base game and the look of these new additions, this was an easy Day 1 back for me!

Check out the Tussie Mussie: Expansion Collection campaign for yourself!

Image Credits: Button Shy Games

Note: I’ve had extensive hands-on experience with the base game components. My review of the expansion content is based exclusively on the images in the Kickstarter campaign page. The components and final art may change in the final published version.

Colorblind Preview – Keystone: North America

“Nature invites us constantly to be what we are.” -Gretel Ehrlich

Keystone: North America is the first game from publisher Rose Gauntlet Entertainment. Isaac Vega (Ashes, Dead of Winter, Forgotten Waters) and Lindsey Rode (Labyrinthos) have joined forces, along with a team of co-designers and artists, to capture the beauty of nature in this card placement game. It plays 1-4 in about 30-60 minutes. A basic description of gameplay and general reviews are available on the Kickstarter page.

Following is a first look at the game’s components for those with low-vision and/or color vision deficiency.

Colorblind Accessibility

While I can appreciate a summer sunset or new-to-me bird in the backyard, rarely can I name the colors that bring me joy. With this limitation, I’m always a bit leery to play new nature-themed games, though I’m usually pleasantly surprised by how colors are handled by the designers (see Cascadia, Wingspan reviews).

Keystone: North America’s components and cards include colors I can only guess at based on context (Forest/Woodland is probably green; Summer is likely yellow). However, my colorblindness does not affect my ability to play. The graphic designers used double-coding to create icons that are easily distinguishable from each other, making the cards easy to understand – even in black & white.

Icon descriptions from the rulebook

Other icons and game elements are similar. I can’t confidently name the colors of anything in this game, but I don’t need to.

Minor Issues. I have two quibbles in my initial preview.

  1. Some of the Time Track numbers are low contrast against their background, so a change there would be appreciated. However, since some numbers (4, 6, 8, 10) have higher contrast, it’s pretty easy to work around this issue as a colorblind gamer.
  2. The Species Card Anatomy image above is so useful that I’d like to see it as a player aid, at least for colorblind players, similar to what we see in The Isle of Cats.
Keystone: North America Time Track

Low-vision Accessibility

Having not played through an “on the table” version yet, I’m not sure how important it will be to see opponents’ player boards. While the icons appear to be large enough to see from the Field (i.e., market row) and Species Deck, and on a player’s own board, seeing across the table could be a challenge. Here is a typical set up for 4 players.

4 Player Setup

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I can recommend colorblind and low-vision gamers back Keystone: North America without any significant visual accessibility concerns. It’s a beautiful game, and I’m excited to get my hands on the physical copy!

Check out the Keystone: North America Kickstarter campaign for more info.

This preview is focused on the digital elements available on the Kickstarter page, not a physical prototype. Components and final art may change in the final published version.

Colorblind Games Profile: Jim Bottomley

Jim Bottomley, based in Prince Edward Island, is the Design Director at Other Ocean Interactive. I met Jim online and asked if he would share his experience as a colorblind video game designer and tabletop game player.

Project Winter by Other Ocean Interactive

How did you get into tabletop games?

“I’ve played games for as long as I can remember. I’m old enough that, as a young kid, we had no home computer – they didn’t yet exist – so my brother and I would spend hours making our own games, or adapting other games by adding new features. I doubt that they were very good, but I remember having fun!

When home computers arrived on the scene, board and card games took a back seat. I wasn’t reacquainted with them until many, many years later when I moved from the UK to Canada. When I joined Other Ocean Interactive there was already quite an active community of board and card game players here who had grown up during the 90s with Magic The Gathering – a game that had totally flown beneath my radar because I was too busy making video games. I had no idea how far board games had come since my childhood and was hooked instantly!”

When and how did you learn about your own color vision deficiency?

“My earliest recollection of my deficiency causing me embarrassment was in a color-based geography lesson at school. The teacher asked me why I’d colored the land brown and sea purple. The extent of my condition became known when we were covering color deficiency in a science class. We were shown those cards that have a circle of colored dots on them, and we had to correctly identify the letter or number that was contained among the dots on each of the cards. I scored one out of eleven.

School was the most challenging part of my life as regards my color deficiency, because some kids can be quite cruel when they realise someone else is different. It was also character building, and I learned at a young age not to give much heed to others’ unwarranted negative opinions of me.”

What colors do you tend to confuse the most?

“Red/green is the major bane of my deficiency. Blue/purple is also tricky for me to distinguish, and a few other combos cause me grief: red/brown, green/brown, pink/grey.”

What are some of your favorite games? Have you modified any so you can play?

“Pretty much anything by Paolo Mori (I love Libertalia); most of Button Shy’s output, which are amazing games squeezed into an 18 card format; and Coup, which is just amazing. I love a bit of Space Empires 4X, and I’m quite enamored with Merv at the moment.

But, my favorite game is the best game ever created in any format – that’s Android Netrunner.

One of my favorite games of all time is Race For The Galaxy, but I really do think that the graphic designer on that game really had it in for colorblind players! I eventually enlisted my wife’s aid to help me mark up the cards with a sharpie so that I could play properly.”

Android: Netrunner (Credit: Fantasy Flight Games)

What do you wish people would know about your vision deficiency? How do you describe it to others?

“I don’t expect people to understand my color deficiency. I can imagine it’s tricky for them to come to grips with. When people ask me about my color blindness, the best description I’ve come up with is to draw a parallel with a conversation in a busy room.

Imagine you’re in a room with lots of people, all chatting, and someone across the table is speaking to you, but they’re kinda shy and quiet and you don’t hear everything they say. Some words are clear, others are half-heard and others still are lost entirely in the noise all around you. Given this limited information, you try to reconstruct what they’re saying to you, and you often get things wrong.”

What color vision issues have you run into during your work?

“Believe it or not, I spent my first few years in video games as an artist at Core Design (the creators of Tomb Raider and many other titles). I had painted a character in a game we were working on – a demon in human form – and one of the other artists commending me on my use of color, saying how ‘original’ and different the character’s skin was. To me, it was a simple mistake. I thought the skin color was normal!

Universe by Core Design Limited

How can we see more of your work and follow you online?

“You can head over to www.otherocean.com to check out Other Ocean’s fine line-up of video game goodness. I don’t have a personal website – I’m too old for that kinda stuff, and besides, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to listen to what I have to say. But I do lurk on Twitter, so if you really want, you can find me at @jimbotmasey.”

Colorblind Review: The Isle of Cats

Head-to-tail Accessibility

The Isle of Cats – designed by Frank West and published by The City of Games – combines beautiful art and clever gameplay into a rewarding tile-laying experience. On top of that, it is a master class in accessible design.

Colorblind Accessibility

Many designers help gamers distinguish colors within an art style and theme. Strategies range from obvious to subtle, embedded to tacked-on. The Isle of Cats incorporates colorblind-friendliness from head to tail…literally. For example, the blue cat tails are fluffy, while the green tails are spiked. A careful look at the cat’s ears will reveal more small differences.

I love placing these tiles!

Accessibility features are included on player boards, too. The icons on treasure map spaces make it easy for colorblind players to distinguish red/green or purple/blue items at a glance.

The elegance of this method is clear. With no colorblind gamers at the table, the graphic design and art direction lead to a beautiful board game. For me, the attention to accessibility results in a wonderful experience.

Colorblind-friendly by Design

Frank provided me with a wealth of information about his process designing The Isle of Cats, starting with his early experience related to accessibility.

“While I am lucky enough to have no issues with seeing colours, I have found myself in many situations where accessibility was the focus. In my early career as a web developer, I created several websites for schools for the blind, and this introduced me to the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). Over time I came to realise accessibility could be achieved through early planning and rather than seeing it as a problem, I should see it as a challenge to do better.”

I also asked Frank what led him to embed colorblind accessibility so deep into his game.

“When I started designing The Isle of Cats I knew it would be a colour dependent game, and from the beginning I was very aware of the challenges I was going to face. I remember sitting down for hours, brainstorming icons and thinking about how they could be present on the tiles without looking messy. Perhaps I could blend them with the wooden backgrounds?

Eventually I moved on to an approach I think everyone should be using: merging them with the artwork itself. This is what led to the cat tails being so unique as they felt like a natural way of hiding iconography within the artwork, and I was very pleased with the results.

As the design progressed, I reviewed each element where colour was a requirement and made sure to add as many subtle pointers as possible, from labeling the backs of cards, to adding unique shapes to meeples and the maps on the boats.”

This was huge for me. The Isle of Cats goes a step further than most games by incorporating the unique cat designs (like pointy purple ears, spiky green tails) into the tiles and five unique meeple designs, too. I love it.

Unique meeples for each color

Once Frank had a near-final game, playtesting confirmed the strategy was effective, and it led to one more addition.

“It was the moment I did a playtest with a colour blind player, without knowing they were colour blind in advance, that I truly felt satisfied with the game. That also led to the inclusion of the colour reference card in the game, as I wanted all players to be able to enjoy the game equally, without feeling the need to ask others for help.

This is the ideal situation, and something I’ll always be considering in my designs.”

Reference card empowers colorblind players

I asked Frank if he had any additional advice for game designers and artists.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who is designing a game, to consider how the artwork can be designed to include iconography within it, as it helps make the game more accessible without impacting the overall look and feel.”



The Isle of Cats receives Colorblind Games’ highest recommendation. It is available at your friendly local game store and anywhere games are sold. You can contact Frank via Twitter and The City of Games online on Twitter and Facebook.

Boat full of cats (Credit: The City of Games)

Colorblind Games Profile: Tiru Raghavan

Tiru Raghavan (he/him, Athena’s Dad on Twitter) was born and raised in India. He came to the U.S. in 2010 for college and has been here ever since, now working as a Product Designer. As a colorblind gamer and photographer, Tiru brings an interesting perspective to the hobby.

Image: Tiru Raghaven

When and how did you learn about your own color vision deficiency?

By accident!

I was 26 years old. My glasses broke, and when I went in to get a new pair, I was told that my 4-year-old prescription needed to be updated with an eye exam. As a part of the test, the clinic (in Rochester, NY) also did the Ishihara Test where I was told to spot numbers. I couldn’t get past the fourth plate. I came to know later that color-blindness testing is not standard, and I am ever thankful to this eye clinic for diagnosing me.

What colors do you tend to confuse the most?

Purple and pink – oh my god – I cannot tell them apart for the life of me! Sometimes I cannot tell red and pink apart, and I also tend to mix dark red and shades of brown.

I can see red and green! When I tell people that I’m colorblind, this is the most common question that I get asked.

What’s the most difficult for you when playing games?

Cubes, especially brown and red. Sadly, almost all Euro games have at least one component with dark-red or brown cubes in them.

I also had a particularly hard time with a simple card game called Loot. The older version had four suits of cards – orange, green, dark blue, and purple. The blue cards were very similar to purple for me, and there was no other distinction on the cards to tell them apart. It was extremely painful for me to play.

Image: Tiru Raghaven

What do you wish people would know about your vision deficiency?

I wish people didn’t challenge or ridicule me. Once on Board Game Geek, I spoke about my problem, but fans of the games were quite militant in defending their favorite game. I wish that people wouldn’t get defensive about their favorite games. I wish they would just acknowledge that some people like me might have difficulty playing it.

Are there any color-based games you assumed you could not play, but surprised you as colorblind-friendly?

Azul: Summer Pavilion. I have difficulty telling pink and red pieces apart, but since there’s no hidden information, I can just ask people at the table what color it is. It’s not great, but I can get by. Asking others doesn’t sour the experience for me.

What are your other favorite games? Who do you play with?

My wife is my primary board gaming buddy, and we have a baby girl!

I love Kingdomino, Santorini, Takenoko, The Grimm Forest, and King of Tokyo – all bright and colorful! I love bright, colorful games!


Image: Tiru Raghaven

You can learn more about Tiru and see his work online via his Twitter feed, @dad_athena.

Colorblind Gaming 101: The Basics

Alongside reviews, profiles, and colorblind-friendly game mods, I hope these essays will help increase understanding of color vision deficiency and how it relates to gaming.


Color Vision Deficiency

Up to 90 percent of tabletop gaming is visual, and much of that information is color-specific. From player tokens to cards to the board itself, color is an integral part of the gaming experience. Unfortunately, for colorblind gamers, this information has little or no meaning or causes confusion, making play difficult or impossible.

An estimated 4-5 percent of the population have some sort of color vision deficiency, and others suffer from low vision. The effects of colorblindness are not well-documented, and in many cases game designers, developers, and publishers inadvertently alienate this part of the community.

The Science of Color Vision

Seeing behind your eyeballs with rods and cones. Two photoreceptors on the retina take information from the environment, through our eyes, and to the brain. The rods handle light-related information, and the cones handle color. The three cones take certain areas of the spectrum to the brain—red (R), green (G), or blue (B)—like an old “RGB” computer monitor. The combination of these three cones produces color vision.

If any of the cones has a problem, the color absorbed by that cone changes, which then changes the RGB combination received by the brain. Because any one of the cones can malfunction (or be missing altogether), the type and severity of colorblindness are nuanced. No colorblind person sees the world in exactly the same way as another, which is one reason addressing this issue is complicated. It’s also why running a game design through an online colorblind filter not enough.

The most common type of color vision deficiency is Deuteranomaly, a malfunctioning of the green cone. A red cone malfunction, called Protanomaly, is also possible. Rarely, one of these cones may be missing altogether; this is called Deutronopia (green) or Protanopia (red). Rarer still are malfunctioning or missing blue cones: Tritanomoly and Tritanopia.

One version of colorblind simulation (Source: Colour Blind Awareness)

The cone problems that cause color vision deficiency impact are much more than a single color. Any faulty or missing cone (red, green, or blue) impacts color identification along the entire spectrum. Our overall color perception tends to be lower, increasing color confusion and the ability to identify colors by name. 

Impacts of Colorblindness on Game Night

Get ready for a little math.

If six players sit down to the table, there is an estimated 4.25% chance any one of them is colorblind. Thus, by the power of compound probability of independent events (thanks, Kahn Academy), we know there is a 23% chance that at least one person at that table is colorblind.

If you were to run a larger game night with 40 gamers participating, there is an 82% chance at least one player at your event will be colorblind, which will impact multiple games and multiple tables during the event. A small convention of 100 is almost guaranteed to have at least colorblind attendee, and on average will have four. 1

“We’ve given up with board games.”

Recently on Twitter, in a thread related to color vision accessibility, I read this tweet from a mother of two colorblind children:

This response hit me hard. Anyone giving up on tabletop gaming is heartbreaking, and more work encouraging accessibility can help make it easier for more people to play more games.

Where do we go from here?

I’ll keep playing games and sharing my perspective, and finding others who are helping make more games accessible to more people. And I’m open to your ideas, too!


1 Calculation for at least one colorblind gamer at any gathering, assuming a 50/50 split of male and female players: 1- [(1-0.0425)^(number of players)]

Image Credits: Colour Blind Awareness; Stan Wiechers

Colorblind Review and Mod: My Little Scythe

Eagles and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

The past few months, my game table has been dominated by short, solo games. Pandemic: Hot Zone – North America and Hit Z Road come to mind, and NMBR9 is one of my all-time favorites. My Little Scythe fits this category. It allows for up to 6 players, but playing 1-2 finishes is less than 30 minutes, which lends itself to multiple games in one sitting. It’s designed by Hoby Chou and Vienna Chou, with art by Katie Khau, and published by Stonemaier Games.

The origin story of My Little Scythe is heartwarming. Designer Hoby Chou wanted to play Scythe with his daughter, Vienna. Hoby described his inspiration in the game’s design diary.1

“Many of you know that I also had a very personal inspiration – my daughter and co-designer Vienna. The original prototype was – as many of you rightfully labelled – a labour of love… While sounding cheesy, love really is a powerful source of inspiration.”

Coolest designer in the business, Vienna Chou

Colorblind Accessibility

I had some trouble with this one, which was disappointing as I envision families with colorblind kids trying to play. My Little Scythe is not colorblind-friendly out of the box, so some players will need help.

CHARACTER COLORS
My Little Scythe’s 7 player colors: white, yellow, red, probably-green, and 3 others

The base game includes 7 different pairs of characters and action tokens. I like these options, as it lets me chose the best color combinations for me, especially at lower player counts. In my personal experience, up to 5 players works well, as I can ask fellow gamers to use black, red, white, yellow, and blue. The other two colors (purple and/or grey and/or green – I’m not sure) could result in color confusion.

THE DICE

The prototypes for My Little Scythe’s dice started off colorblind friendly, using the same background styles as the game board.

Jamey Stegmaier shared the team’s struggle to translate that design to production dice.

“This worked fine as a prototype, but how were we going to make it work for actual custom dice? For a 1:1 translation, we would need to use something like the dice in Star Wars: Destiny, which are fine, but I think custom molded dice have a better feel and table presence. Also, these dice just looked too busy–they’re sending too many signals to your brain (red die, blue background, red apple).”

“So we decided to flip things around a bit. We made each die monochrome, but we changed the color of the icon on the die to reflect the color of the region. So you roll a red die, and if the resulting apple icon is blue, you’ll place an apple token in the blue region.”

“This worked well, even though it’s not a perfect solution for people with colorblindness.”

Can confirm. The green and grey sides of the dice are indistinguishable for some players, including me.

Green and grey dice faces

I asked Jamey if he could provide further insights on this design choice.

“Thanks for asking about this. The dice were a very difficult puzzle to solve, and I’m sorry the final result wasn’t colorblind friendly. We used different textures on the boards for each region, but we couldn’t convey those textures on the dice.”

Colorblind Mods

To mitigate the color vision issues described above and make My Little Scythe playable, I needed to modify my copy.

GREY, GREEN, RED

To address the most problematic issue I faced, I pulled out my favorite accessibility tool, recruited a family member, and went to work. I wanted to avoid detracting from the beautiful art while providing the graphic design modifications I needed to enjoy the game.

A simple black dot on the grey side of each die and the 5 grey spaces on the gameboard helped me identify grey from green. Adding a single line on the red dice-faces and spaces on the board distinguished red from green. I left the green spaces and dice faces alone.

POWER UP TILES

The two power up tiles, Move and Make, are only distinguished by color, and while the two colors used (Green and Blue) work fine for me, I still find it helpful to double-code when feasible. I added a small boot-shaped icon to the bottom-left corner of the Move card, and a hammer shape to top-right corner of the Make card.

Small markings added to the Move and Make cards

My Little Scythe a delightful game for 1-6 players that plays quickly. I recommend it for any age and skill level, and colorblind gamers can enjoy it with some minor modifications. You can pick it up at your friendly local game store or the Stonemaier Games website.


Colorblind Games received a complementary copy of this game from the publisher for this review.

1 Vienna photo, prototype dice image, and first two quote via Stonemaier Games, My Little Scythe Design Diary

Colorblind Review: Vamp on the Batwalk

Final Box Cover
…and I do my little turn on the catwalk

“I’m interested to see your take on Vamp. I know it’s not the most colorblind accessible.”

Cody Thompson, Jellyfish Game Studios, being dead wrong

Vamp on the Batwalk, designed by Jon Simantov and published by Jellyfish Game Studios. is a light-yet-strategic card game for 2 to 6 players. It boasts bright colors, a unique theme, and a trick taking twist: you see only the suits of your own cards (on the back of each), but you have full view of your opponents’ hands.

Color Vision Accessibility

The Kickstarter version of Vamp on the Batwalk provides 10 vampires to choose from, each with a standee and suited cards that are added to a shared deck. The color palette is diverse, but double-coding makes Vamp 100% colorblind friendly out of the box!

10 Vampires. 10 Colors. 10 Icons.

The magic in making a 10-player-color game accessible is ensuring color is not the only distinguisher between cards. Mike Rankin, the game’s graphic artist, brought his experience to this project. “My background is in UI/UX design for video games and mobile apps, so accessibility is always a high priority for me.”

Mike shared the work he and Cody did on graphic design for these cards.

Cody and I had considered accessibility from the very beginning, even before we designed the characters. Keeping each card primarily one tone, especially around its border, helped make the suits obvious, and we gave each vampire a very strong, unique silhouette which helped emphasis that. For the information in the corners of the cards, we made sure that each number and suit symbol had a solid, unambiguous silhouette; high contrast; and that they didn’t overlap any other graphical element.

For the card backs, we kept the same ideas: a single primary tone, symbols with clear silhouettes that didn’t have to compete with other graphical elements, and a uniquely shaped coffin to emphasis the unique suit.

For each pass on the cards, we checked the artwork under a black-and-white filter to make sure a player could always easily identify the suit just by the shape of the symbol, even if all other cues were gone.

These colors would be a problem, but the symbols make each suit obvious

Low Vision Accessibility

Beyond color vision, Mike and Cody addressed the needs of low-vision players, especially in a high-player-count game where they would need to see cards across the table.

With low-vision players in mind, I based the original proportions of the card by referencing a suit of standard playing cards. We knew that the cards had to read clearly from a distance, much further than normal cards, since a player not only had to read their own cards quickly, but cards held by the other players too!

Most games use a small tracker with identical tokens for scoring, and sometimes those don’t read clearly across the table. Cody’s idea for using the stage as a score tracker was an excellent way to represent players’ scores using big, strongly-silhouetted standees.

Vamp on the Batwalk Score Tracker

To purchase Vamp on the Batwalk and learn about upcoming projects, visit Jellyfish Game Studios. See more from Mike Rankin at his online comic, Rusty & Co.


Colorblind Games received a complementary copy of Vamp on the Batwalk from Jellyfish Game Studios for this review.