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How To Play Calico

Calico HTP

It's Calico time... Okay, so you’ve got your cat and you’ve got your quilt. But how do you turn those beauties into points? Well, have no fear for I am here to show you how to play the purrrrrfectly puzzly Calico!

Sewing Up

I’ll run through the 2-4 player mode here, but, check out the Solo Review tab for single player rules.

Now, there is a specific “Beginner Set up” in the rulebook but the only real difference there is that it specifies which Cats and Design Goal tiles to use (and where to place them). So we are going to jump into a regular game so you can hit the ground running!

S0, start by giving each player a unique colour coded player board (quilt) and corresponding set of six design goal tiles. Pop the cat tokens and button tokens within easy reach. Everybody then chooses 4 of the tiles at random and then further narrow this down to 3. Those get placed on the slots on their board (wherever they like) and the others are returned to the box.

(NB: for added competition, we tend to select 3 at random and then have everybody place the same ones in the same slots on their own boards).

3 Cat scoring tiles are chosen at random – 1 from each group (1, 2 or 3 dots to signify complexity) – and 2 black and white patches are randomly slotted in underneath each one.

Give the bag of patch tiles a big shake and everybody takes two into their hand. Finally, 3 patches are randomly picked to form the market.

And that’s it! You are ready to play nice……or scrap like alley cats!

On Your Calico Turn

On your turn (and you’ll have 22 in total), you will be carrying out two steps;

  1. placing a tile from your hand onto any empty space on your quilt board (there’s no adjacency rule here); and then
  2. picking a tile from the draw pile and placing it into your hand ready for the next round.

(NB: Once a tile has been placed it cannot be moved. Also, the market is replenished with a tile from the communal bag as soon as your turn ends so that there are 3 tiles in readiness for the next player’s turn).

Now, each patch tile you place in Calico is going to have the potential to score points or ruin your chances of scoring points! And that is because those Design Goals are sneaky! And they can often contradict each other in what they need in order to be satisfied! But you do have two chances per goal.

To score the higher yellow Design Goal points shown on the tile, you have to achieve it for both colour and pattern. For example AA-BB-CC means that you have to encircle that goal tile with 6 tiles comprising 3 pairs of the same colours and patterns. They don’t have to be identical pairs, but the 6 tiles must comply with the goal. E.g. you could have 1 yellow fern + 1 blue fern + 1 blue spot + 1 green spot + 1 green stripe + I yellow stripe as that would equal 2 x yellow, 2 x green, 2 x blue, 2 x stripe, 2 x fern, 2 x spots! 11 points thank you kindly!

The lower blue points just need colour or pattern. So in the AA-BB-CC example, so long as you have e.g. 2 blue + 2 yellow + 2 green patches or 2 stripes + 2 spots + 2 ferns, you’ll have achieved that objective and will score 7 points at end game!

Button It, Kitty

But Design Goals aren’t the only way to score points in Calico (phew!).

If you can also (or alternatively) connect at least three patches of the same colour, you can sew (add) a colour co-ordinated button onto any one of those matching patches which is worth 3 points at end game. Indeed, get a button of each of the six available colours and the rainbow bonus token is yours!

Similarly, if your patch placements have connected a number of tiles of the same pattern in a configuration that satisfies one of those hard to please Cats, you can add the corresponding cat token onto your quilt and you’ll score the relevant number of victory points shown on the cat at end game.

And the partial tiles around the edge of your unique board count when it comes to totting up matches for buttons and cats. So build off them if you can!

NB: play your tiles right and you might even achieve a purrrfect combo move gaining cats, buttons, and goals in a single turn; enough points to make even the judgiest of felines flick their tail in wicked delight!

The game ends when the last player has placed their final tile. Then it’s time to score. And, in case you forget which features give you points, there’s a cute little score pad inside to help you tot up your totals for Design goals, cats, and buttons!

When you’re feeling kitty-cat confident, there are also some Achievements you can work through which include added rule restrictions and 10 complete scenarios for games with even more crunch! But I’ll let you explore those for yourselves because right now I need to get back to my Calico game – we are scrapping over prize tiles like territorial alley cats!