I love a party game. They are engaging, fun and can be played with ‘non-gamer’ friends and mixed groups. But, by their very nature, they can quickly outstay their welcome if played too often with the same group. The same jokes keep cropping up, the same clues, the same visual charades. A sort of group shorthand develops, which can sap the fun from them. I like to keep the party game section of my shelf well refreshed with enough options to alternate. It's important to give a favourite a rest before it becomes stale! The latest game to hit the party quadrant of my Kallax is Hues and Cues from The Op.
Here’s Looking at Hues, Kid
The thing that first drew me to Hues and Cues was its appearance. A vast and glossy board filled with a rainbow-encompassing grid of different shades and tones. A sort of Dulux Paint Chart in board game form (or Farrow and Ball, if you’re more that way inclined). I wasn’t sure whether to play it or start a mood board for a living room makeover with it.
The other components are also quality for the price bracket. The player markers are brightly coloured wooden cones that match the minimalist, slick, chic design of the boards. The cards are robust enough for how they’re used. The square used to determine points is a clever solution for speeding up scoring. Even the box is chunkier and stronger than most games of its type and cost.
The artistic design of Hues and Cues is almost faultless. My only niggle is the thick black margins surrounding colours on the cards! It creates a visual perception effect that makes them appear slightly different to how they appear on the board. More on this later.
Hue You Gonna Call?
As you’d expect from a party game, play is fast and easy. Players take turns to give the titular cues. You draw a card from the deck and choose one of the four options presented and give a one-word cue to the hue.
The clue you give cannot be a primary or ordinary colour word (yellow, blue, red, orange), but it can be a shade (violet, fuchsia, magnolia). It also cannot be an object present in the room you are playing. A rule of thumb is to think it needs to be something that can be misinterpreted or, at least interpreted, differently by the group.
Once the cue is given, players take turns to guess the correct hues with their markers. Once all players have a guessed, another two-word hint is given and players get another opportunity to pinpoint the specific shade. For this second clue, we banned the use of words like light, dark and pale after someone followed the clue ‘poo’ with ‘darker poo’.
Points are scored by guessers for their closeness to the shade and by the clue giver for the number of cones that fall within the scoring square. This latter rule keeps the role of cue-giver honest and removes the temptation for ultra-competitive players to get strategic with bad faith clues. After everyone has had one or two opportunities to give a clue, the game ends and the player with the highest score wins.
Hue, Cue, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb
Hues and Cues is a solid party game: casual enough to allow for conversation above and around it. It's simple enough for children to be included (we let them pick another card if they couldn’t think of a clue for the four colours on the one they drew). It's attractive enough to get people interested in the first place. Another bonus is it can accommodate up to 10 people with no down time. I find it best with 4-6 players, Pringles, drinks and Haribos (other brands of snack are available). Thanks to the grid references, it is possible to play socially-distanced with one person managing the board.
There are a couple of drawbacks. The most glaring being that it is obviously not inclusive of people with colour-blindness and other visual impairments. I also mentioned the visual perception effect of the black margins on the cards. This can be remedied with a quick glance at the board, but you must be careful not to give too much away as you look for it.
Hues and Cues: Final Thoughts
Hues and Cues is a solid party game: casual enough to allow for conversation above and around it. Simple enough for children to be included (we let them pick another card if they couldn’t think of a clue for the four colours on the one they drew). Attractive enough to get people interested in the first place. Another bonus is it can accommodate up to 10 people with no down time. I find it best with 4-6 players, Pringles, drinks and Haribos (other brands of snack are available). If that wasn’t enough, thanks to the grid references it is possible to play socially distanced with one person managing the board.
Originally, I thought this game would not work for people with colour-blindness. However, I am reliably informed this is an ignorant assumption on my part as the game is based on colour perception not matching. Visual perception does present the problem described earlier however, where colours can appear different on the cards with their thick black borders to how they appear on the board. This can be remedied with a quick glance, but you must be careful not to give too much away as you look for it.
I would heartily recommend Hues and Cues. Coming up with clues is hard and it works better when people lean into vague, creative and crazy descriptions and stop worrying about being precise. Only by embracing the wacky and absurd will you finally get the answers to such questions as: What is the colour of a dirty grapefruit? If tiger rage were a colour, which colour would it be? And what exact tinge of green are newborn peas?