“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.

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