Modern board gaming, as an industry, continues to struggle with accessibility. Fortunately, gamers are finding workarounds to deal with these limitations. Last year, Sarah Reed shared her efforts to modify Qwirkle and Incan Gold to make them friendly for her coworkers and for her husband, Will.
Last year I bought a copy of Century: Spice Road, even though I knew I would probably have trouble distinguishing the colors.
I had trouble distinguishing the colors.
Inspired by Sarah’s accessibility mods, I considered a few different options that would allow me to play Century: Spice Road while maintaining the game’s theme. It seemed a bit daunting, as I described in my initial review:
“The cubes could be replaced easily enough by custom items from Meeple Source to represent the spices. However, the cards have the same color-only identifier for each cube, so I would need to redesign each card to match the new spice bits.”
After looking through the components and comparing a few different options, I came up with a plan to modify the game. I sought out my favorite colorblind support tool – a sharpie – and I went to work.
To distinguish the colors I had the most trouble with, I needed to mark up some cubes and cards:
- Yellow (Turmeric): Easy for me to tell apart from all the others, so I left it alone.
- Brown (Cinnamon): Hard to add markings that would show up in black, so I also left these solid, too.
- Red (Saffron): Added a single dot.
- Green (Cardamom): Added a diagonal slash.
Cubes: Through some visual experiments putting the cubes in their bowls, I realized that placing a mark on just two opposing faces of each cube provided enough “player-facing sides” that I could tell the difference. One value I hold when I modify games is the Minimum Effective Dose (MED). I want to change the components as little as possible to add accessibility while maintaining the artist’s intent.
Cards: Matching these markings on the cards allowed me to more easily identify the four colors.
In the end, I had created a fully accessible-to-me version of Century: Spice Road that is fully playable for colorblind and non-colorblind gamers.
I continue to seek more games to review and modify for colorblind and low-vision accessibility. If you’ve struggled to play a game and would like some help, or if you have ideas or examples of games you’ve modified, please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.