Big Game in a Little Box

Accessibility TL;DR. Components and iconography are language-independent and well-sized, eliminating reading during gameplay. All non-dice components are double-coded by shape and color. Dice (blue, yellow, white, green, and red) were easy for me to distinguish except red and green. I modified my green die and other components referencing it to make gameplay easier.

Introduction and Gameplay

The Red Cathedral, designed by Israel Cendrero and Sheila Santos and published by Devir Games, is a classic Euro that puts 1 to 4 players in the role of construction teams building St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow. One team will gain the most favor of the Tsar by building and ornamenting sections of the church.

Gameplay includes gathering resources, satisfying requirements to build or ornament a section, and several other point-scoring opportunities. The primary resource-related actions occur on the central 8-space rondel, which also includes the ability to gain favor from guilds based on quadrant (season). Players choose one of five dice to move along the rondel based on what die face is showing.

Solo Mode. I found solo play to be clever and easy to manage. It replicates the 2-player game, pitting a single player versus Ivan the Terrible, who has a randomly-assigned series of actions and dice to play throughout the game.

Accessibility Review

Colorblind Accessibility. In general, The Red Cathedral does a good job double-coding components. The primary building materials (stone, wood, brick, etc.) are different colors and shapes, making it easy to distinguish the components from one another. The four player colors (red, green, blue, yellow) and five dice (same colors, adding white) are in standard “Crayola 8” pantones, making most of them easy to distinguish. My only color confusion in the game related to the red/green dice and player pieces. I could tell the difference when they were placed next to each other, but not alone.

Low Vision Accessibility. Oftentimes those with low vision barriers struggle the most with reading text on game board, cards, or other components. The Red Cathedral was designed to be language-independent, with the rulebook providing instructions in multiple languages. Because of this, iconography handles all gameplay elements.

I found all icons to be big enough to read easily, though some players will more significant vision barriers may need help from other players. While the game is competitive, all information is open to all players, so there would be no need for a low-vision player to reveal secret information.

Colorblind Modifications

To improve the color vision accessibility of The Red Cathedral, I added a small vertical mark on each of the green components (dice, tokens that refer to dice, and the green player banners and score tracker) to make it easy to distinguish from the red pieces. I was able to distinguish the blue, yellow, and white clearly from the others, so I did not make changes to those. Other players – depending on type and severity of color vision deficiency – may need to make other or different modifications.

Conclusion

The Red Cathedral “punches above its weight class,” offering a crunchy Euro experience in a small box. It reminded me a little of Newton, but with less setup and clearer choices each turn. The rondel offers both the ability to plan ahead and the potential for that plan to be thwarted by an opponent.

While I could technically play the game without modifications, making small changes to the green components allowed me to play the game without unintended color vision barriers.


Image Credits: Box Cover, Devir Games; All Others, Brian Chandler

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