Quilts & Cats of Calico Hands-on

Ned Jordan
In Short
Making quilts and playing with cats in Quilts & Cats of Calico, the videogame adaptation of the Calico board game.

Quilts & Cats of Calico is based on the puzzle board game Calico. While I play enough board games to have heard of Calico, I’ve never played it myself. Since I’ve heard generally good things about Calico, I was anxious to give a demo build of the game a chance.

When I played my first game of Quilts & Cats of Calico I missed that there was a tutorial available, but I was able to grasp the basics of play just by jumping in. I’d say that my experience demonstrates that both the board game and its video game adaptation fall into the “easy to pick up and play” category. If you’re new to the game, though, I’d recommend reading through the tutorial because there are a few nuances to the rules that are good to know. The demo featured a text-based tutorial that touched all of the bases, but it would be nice if the final release made the tutorial interactive or at least “watch and learn”. For a game based on making patterns, examples of those patterns are always helpful. Still, it’s not unusual for me to have to watch a “how to play” video for the board game before completely understanding the rules for the video game version.

Quilts & Cats of Calico is a game of building patterns with hexagonal tiles. The game board represents the quilt that you are building and has a limited number of spaces on which you can place tiles. At the beginning of the game, you’re given four tiles that have pattern goals on them. You’ll pick three of them and place them in designated spots on the board. The objectives all require you to surround the tiles with a specified combination of tiles, such as two sets of three tiles of either the same color or pattern. Do both, and you’ll score more points at the end of the game.

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On your turn you will have two tiles in your hand, and see three tiles that have been drawn from the tile bag. You’ll need to place one of your tiles on your board, and then replace it with one of the three tiles from the draw area. That tile will then be automatically replaced with a random tile drawn from the bag.

There are additional objectives beyond surrounding your pattern goal tiles. Place three tiles of the same color contiguously and you earn a button of that color. Earn a button of each color, and you get a rainbow button. All of which are worth points at the end of the game.

That covers the quilt, but you may be wondering where the cats come into all this. There are three cat cards picked at random at the start of the game, each with either a hex pattern or a number on the bottom. Two tiles are then randomly placed at the base of each cat card – these tiles only have a pattern; color doesn’t matter here. If your quilt uses tiles with the patterns in the layout on the card, you’ll get that cat to come and sit on your quilt. Each cat is worth a certain number of points at the end of the game, determined by the degree of difficult of completing the card.

Judging by the disabled menus in the demo build, the game will provide a story-based mode and support multiple human and/or AI players. In this build, though, only a single game against one AI opponent was available. I found that I enjoyed the game – it was like working on a logic puzzle, but one in which you need to adjust your approach to match the tiles that are drawn. You can easily switch the view to your opponent’s board if you want to see what they’re trying to do with their quilt and potentially block them by taking a tile that they need. However, I had fun just working on my own to complete my quilt for the most points and enjoying the game as a puzzle challenge. It’s the sort of game that I’d enjoy playing with my wife in which we’d both work to complete our boards for the most points possible, but then use that tally as feedback rather than as scores to compare and declare a winner. We really enjoy playing Sagrada like that, and I think we’ll have also to get ourselves a copy of the Calico board game for game nights.

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I really like the presentation in Quilts & Cats of Calico. The graphics are bright and colorful, as they should be for a game that has you making calico quilts. As you play, cats lounge around the board and sometimes walk across your quilt. Cats being cats, they sometimes will set themselves down in the middle of your board. A gentle brush with a tile will encourage them to move along.

Even though it was just a demo, I had fun with Quilts & Cats of Calico. I’m looking forward to playing the full game when it’s released later this year, and I am as curious as a cat about what the story mode will be like.

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Transmitted: 10/2/2023 9:52:03 AM