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Games That Accommodate Colour Blindness

Games That Accommodate Colour Blindness Feature Image

The Olympics may be over, but we have something else to look forward to – the Paralympics. A time when people can see athletes with disabilities take part and compete at the pinnacle of their chosen sport. Rules are tweaked, certain disabilities are set in specific classes and equipment is modified to allow athletes to take part in their discipline. (Have you ever seen wheelchair rugby, it’s intense!)

Nowadays, we are always looking for ways to make inclusivity a highlight and board games are no exception. To someone with certain types of colour-blindness for example, a lot of the pieces look the same. Colour Blindness, or Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD), is a common problem. It is said that 1 in 12 men in the UK, and 1 in 200 women are affected. That's nearly 5% of the population. It’s something they’re born with. It comes in varying degrees of impact and there are other types, but red/green is the most common. So how do we navigate this issue with board games? Read on, my friends, for our list of games that accommodate colour blindness!

IngeniousNathan Coombs

As a man who is colour-blind, I often get asked by my kids, what is it like and how do you cope? I often mix up the green and brown tokens. On some occasions, blue and purple translucent cubes look the same (looking at you Pandemic on the Brink). The problem is exacerbated in poor lighting conditions for me; colours are harder to distinguish depending on the tone and intensity of the pieces. I would certainly struggle with Hues and Cues.

My “go-to” of the games that accommodate colour blindness has to be Ingenious, by Reiner Knizia. This is a purely abstract game for 2 to 4 players. The large hexagonal shaped playing board is marked ready to accept domino-style tiles. The object is to position your tiles so that the colours match where possible and form long, straight rows with previously placed pieces. Each player has their own scoreboard that contains six scoring tracks, one for each colour.

The clever thing about Ingenious is the rules for final scoring. The winner is not the player with the highest scores overall, or even the highest aggregate score across the six colours. In Ingenious you want to be the player whose lowest colour is the highest of all players! This might sound peculiar, but it ensures that players achieve a balance of colours.

So how is it CVD friendly?

Firstly, the colours are sufficiently bright and distinct to allow them to be distinguished. The tiles are very vibrant, the green a much darker hue. More importantly, each colour is printed as a recognisable symbol. The yellow is a large sun shape, the purple is a big ring. These symbols are copied over onto the player scoring tracks. With a maximum of two colours to score on each turn, there is very little chance of colour and symbol confusion.

Ingenious, as a game is thought-provoking and family-friendly. Our children have grown up loving Ingenious and with its colour-blind friendly symbols, I have been able to enjoy it without embarrassing myself during the game.

Gates Of DeliriumCallum Price

As someone who has vision-based problems, I know how impacting having problems with your sight can be. You can live with it, but when it’s a problem it’s a proper problem. However, colour-blindness wouldn’t always necessarily affect folk in day-to-day life… but with board games, it’s a little more prominent. Red and green in particular are common colours for players and components, which may make things trickier for them. Luckily, many games produced now are colour-blind friendly in one way or another.

Gates of Delirium by Renegade Games Studios is a game I can confidently say is one of the games that accommodate colour blindness. For background, it’s an area control, set collection game. It's centred around investigators controlling zones, creating sets of portals, maps and runes, and summoning monstrosities for points. Also, the game plays across two contrasting split action cards: sane or insane. One player chooses whether the round is sane or insane and then players plan accordingly. The game ends when the final monstrosity is summoned and whoever has the most points, wins.

Gates of Delirium makes superb use of some openly accessible ideas and goes extra steps to make it colour independent. It’s not reliant on colour whatsoever. For one, the meeple for each player are distinctly different colours. Not only that, these colours are not generally found on the spectrum for colour-blindness together: yellow, orange, purple and green. Also, they’re all custom to one another. Even without colours, you can tell one from another easily based on shape and style. This goes for player scoring markers, too!

Now, although the gates and cards are colour based for sets, they are all labelled for which set they belong to as well. All these little elements ensure the game is accessible for colour-blind players, regardless of the type.

As I’ve hopefully made clear, I’m a massive advocate of ensuring games are colour-blind friendly at their core. I acknowledge games can be upgraded and altered to ensure they’re accessible… but for me, games should be for everyone regardless. Gates of Delirium is a superb game for both its engaging and fun gameplay and for its accessibility.

DraftosaurusDan Hilton

It is easy for a lot of us to forget that simple things such as the size of pieces, player colours, component heavy games etc can deter those who have been less fortunate than the rest of us. There are games that feature player colours or action colours that are so similar, that even I struggle to differentiate them.

Gamers who need physical aid or have visual impairments can sometimes feel left out when it comes to gaming as a hobby. One of my closest friends has a slew of visual impairments. Not only is he colour blind, but he also struggles with colour shades. So, even if colours aren’t affected by the colour blindness, if they are a similar hue, then he struggles to differentiate between them also. His eyes are very light-sensitive. He is also classed as legally blind and thus finds it hard to play some games. But that does not stop him. And nor should it.

There are plenty of games that lend themselves greatly to offering those with visual impairments a great gaming experience. So, with that in mind, my choice for games that accommodate colour blindness has to go to Draftosaurus. This game is a prime example of how adding that extra touch to a game not only makes it more appealing, but also more widely accessible. There is an uncountable number of games that simply use coloured cubes to represent different workers/placements/resources, etc. but Draftosaurus goes that step further and makes all of the dino-meeples are not only uniquely coloured but uniquely shaped. This simple decision takes away the need to rely on colours.

This makes it an easy recommendation as a game that accommodates colour blindness. It also receives high praise from me for having some of my favourite ever meeples!

Ticket To RideLuke Pickles

Ticket to Ride is often praised as one of the top tier intro games. It drew me into the world of gaming six years ago, and I’ve used it as an infection vector for my family. Alan R Moon’s train-based gem has been gracing the board gaming tables since 2004. With a choice of three options on each turn, it’s so simple to explain to anyone who wants to play it. And with the bonus scoring at the end, everyone is kept in the game throughout.

Pick up some train cards, claim a route between two cities; gamble on the bonus routes in the deck to extend your lead. That’s pretty much all you need to know to play Ticket to Ride. Don’t forget to connect your Destination Tickets and see why this game was honoured 23 times in six years, including being the 2004 Spiel des Jahres Winner.

The colour scheme would be difficult to see because the colours of the land routes have got potential for confusion. However, each of the train cards have their own little symbol on them, which corresponds with the board and the track squares. The little trains each player uses are very brightly coloured and are easy to distinguish at game's end. Also fittingly for the Paralympics, there are a number of variant locations that you can use to change up the gameplay, including several former host nations, such as Japan and France.

I think Ticket to Ride is one of the best games to introduce someone to the world of gaming and with the features which make it more accessible, it’s a fantastic game to introduce those who might otherwise be put off gaming by components and rules.

CalicoFavouritefoe

One of the most colourful, visually appealing games in my collection is currently Calico by Flatout Games and AEG. It is also one of the most misleading ones, mind you, as it looks cute as a button, but can scratch sharper than an alley cat!

It is perhaps a surprising choice, therefore, for a game recommendation for players with colour vision deficiency (“CVD”). But, in actual fact, the CoLab design team behind Calico are golden in terms of industry best standards. And for a game that requires players to satisfy scoring objectives based on colour and pattern combinations, that’s a pretty spectacular achievement!

A tile layer themed around creating the cosiest, cat attracting, button blinging quilt around, each hex is covered in distinct, colourful patterns. But look a little closer, and you will see that each one also contains a symbol; leaf, banana, blueberry, flower, raindrop, and mushroom. With each symbol corresponding to one of six coloured “buttons” (green, yellow, dark blue, pink, light blue and purple), players are able to distinguish between different colour tiles depicting the same pattern. So what looked like an “if-only” accessibility no-no, suddenly becomes gaming-a-go-go! And with the playing field levelled out, there is no reason why anybody is stopped from playing Calico based on CVD issues.

I should also mention that the theme in Calico is on point here. Whilst cats are superior beings in most ways, they do suffer from poor colour vision (presumably as they have human minions to deal with such pedestrian matters!). And the fact that there are feline bonus points based purely on grouping patterned tiles (shown monochromatically for emphasis) into specific shapes or numbers, is a clever and integrated touch. I can thoroughly recommend this on the list of games that accommodate colour blindness

There is no denying the beauty of Kevin Russ’ design, nor Beth Sobel’s art in Calico. And with a few very simple touches, success in this game comes down to your strategic skills, and not whether you can tell the difference between blue and purple!