Abstract Academy

Abstract Academy

RRP: £9.99
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At the Abstract Academy, competition is fierce. You and your fellow art students vie for top marks with professors while trying to put your own spin on each assignment. The twist? Art school really broke the bank, so you must share a canvas with your rival classmates! Abstract Academy is played over three rounds by either two or four players, with the players completing a new canvas…
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Category SKU ZBG-CFG015005 Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The vibrant colours
  • The satisfaction from solving three puzzles all at once
  • Creating an actual work of art every round
  • Small box means it travels well

Might Not Like

  • Four player mode is definitely chaotic
  • Possibility for contradictory goals
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Description

At the Abstract Academy, competition is fierce. You and your fellow art students vie for top marks with professors while trying to put your own spin on each assignment. The twist? Art school really broke the bank, so you must share a canvas with your rival classmates!

Abstract Academy is played over three rounds by either two or four players, with the players completing a new canvas each round. At the start of the game, you lay out 2-3 scoring cards for each round, so you all know what you're trying to achieve to score. Additionally, at the start of each round, each player receives an inspiration card that shows a pattern they're trying to create on the canvas.

In the two-player game, players take turns playing canvas cards into a shared 4x4 play area, and in the four-player game, they play in a shared 5x5 area. Canvas cards are divided into quadrants, and each quadrant is colored yellow, red, or blue. The canvas grows organically as you all play cards, and the edges aren't fixed until you have four (or five) cards in a row or column. The edge of the canvas closest to you is your home row, and once the canvas is locked in size, no one else can play in your home row (unless all other spaces are filled).

Once the canvas is filled, the two rows closest to you form your scoring zone. If the color patterns in your zone complete a scoring card better than the patterns in anyone else's zone, then you claim the scoring card. Additionally, if you've created the right pattern in your scoring zone, you can score your inspiration card. Whoever has the most points after three rounds is the star pupil of Abstract Academy and wins!

If you fancy yourself as the next Rothko, Kandinsky or Pollock but don’t want to keep rinsing your brushes or putting newspaper down on the floor, then this might just be the game for you!

In Abstract Academy (a two or four player game from Crafty Games), you’re competing with another art student to come top of your class and be one step closer to the fame of your own gallery exhibition. The only snag is that it turns out that Art School is pretty expensive, so you’re sharing a canvas with your rival.

Setup & Play

This is fairly quick to setup and get into and is played over a total of three rounds. To begin, separate and shuffle the six different decks and deal three canvas cards to each player as their starting hand. Exactly what and how you need to paint varies slightly over each of the three rounds.

You’ll take an Inspiration card at the beginning of each round. This will give you a particular four-quadrant shape that your professor wants to see in your next masterpiece, and if you’re able to fit it in, you’ll score some handy points.

The first round sees you studying colour theory, and you’ll be working towards a scoring condition for each of the three primary colours in your palette. For example, you might have to try and paint the largest red area, or the highest number of individual blue regions. In the second round, you’ll be given two assignments direct from your professor – perhaps having the largest single region of any colour dominating your painting. In the final round there’ll be a mixture – one last assignment from the Professor and two more colour theory challenges. Any ties are scored by the artist holding the Teacher’s Pet card, but you then pass this to your opponent. Whoever scores the most points from their Inspiration and Lesson cards over the three rounds graduates top of the class!

Sharing Is Caring

The fun in this comes from canvas that players share as they strive to create the better painting. Cards are divided into four quadrants and have a mixture of the three colours on them. As you start to place cards in the canvas area, you’re not entirely sure where the boundaries of the painting are going to be, and you can easily have your next brushstroke in mind before your rival seals in the edges and thwarts your plan.

Ultimately, you’ll end up with a 4×4 grid of cards that create each of the three paintings, but each player only scores based on the 2×4 rows closest to them. Keeping an eye on how the canvas is being formed, while trying to place your cards to meet the public Lesson card objectives and your own private Inspiration card is a challenge.

There’s a real risk you play the perfect card, only for it to end up on your opponent’s half of the canvas because they’ve realised it fits neatly into their plan. Nothing is fixed until you have at four cards in one row or column.

Work Of Art

This is a really clever puzzle in an almost pocket-sized box. It’s certainly portable, and as long as you have a space big enough for 16 cards at a time, I think you’d be able to play it anywhere.

There are a couple of things I really like about Abstract Academy, the first being how deceptive difficult it can be to place a card as you weigh up all the scoring conditions you’re trying to satisfy. It doesn’t particularly suffer from analysis-paralysis, as you only ever play eight cards in any round, and the actions of your opponent can force your hand a little. But there is a little bit of mental agility needed as you work out how you can set the canvas in your favour and maximise the number of Lesson cards you can score.

The second thing is my favourite aspect of the game, and that is that you get to create something! At the end of each round, there’s an actual picture in front of you that you’ve hopefully got some real pride at having painted. The vibrant colours on the cards really pop, and the huge number of ways to place the 54 canvas cards means you’re truly seeing something different time. Win or lose, that’s a really nice moment.

Final Thoughts

This really is a delightful card game. The theme of being a struggling art student feels like it’s been carefully woven into the rules, the scoring objectives and the canvas cards. On the surface, you’re simply trying to create different sized areas of primary colours. But the way the idea of being a painter is presented means you’re placing cards with a real sense of creative purpose every single time.

There are moments where the luck of the draw on scoring cards might mean you have some contradictory goals you need to choose from, which is doubly tough if your opponent has decided to make the same sacrifice as you. You can also occasionally find yourself with cards in hand that can’t benefit you in any way, though that’s been rare in my experience.

The rule changes for four players are minimal (you play with a 5×5 grid), but the scoring zone for each person overlaps with the player on either side of you, meaning of the 10 cards you play, eight share a zone with other players. As the rulebook freely admits, this leads to a lot of increased chaos.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun and it’s surprisingly quick to play. The fact that you do physically create a masterpiece every round adds a huge amount to the puzzle. Once the canvas boundaries are set, you tend to focus less on your opponent until there’s suddenly a finished picture in front of you and that’s a really nice touch to finish with.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The vibrant colours
  • The satisfaction from solving three puzzles all at once
  • Creating an actual work of art every round
  • Small box means it travels well

Might not like

  • Four player mode is definitely chaotic
  • Possibility for contradictory goals