As we inch ever-closer to the holidays, there's plenty to be excited about. Perhaps you've spent the year away from your loved ones, or it's been a particularly hard 2020 for any number of reasons. Given the significance of family get togethers this season, why torture yourself with the same old party games you've trotted out for years? Sure, old party games aren't the biggest problem in the world, not by a long shot, but the thought of spending time with your friends and family while playing the same trivia game you've played since 1996 just feels daunting. But there are games out there, brand new games, in fact, that are perfect for parties and family get togethers while still feeling fresh and uncomplicated. Enter: Hues and Cues, a color-guessing party game from The OP.
The most striking feature of Hues and Cues is, without a doubt, its massive board. On the board, 480 squares of color sprawl out, and it's your job to communicate effectively enough with your opponents to single out specific colors. To do so, each player takes a turn as the clue-giver. They draw a card from the stack with a selection of specific colors on it. They choose the color they'd like to get their opponents to guess, and then give a one-word clue to lead them toward the color. After the other players play one of their two guesses by laying down a pawn, the clue giver then gives a second and final two-word clue to help the players hone in on the correct color. If they guess right, they and the clue-giver both score points, and the winner is the person with the most points after a set amount of rounds! Perfectly simple, right?
Well, rules-wise, it is perfectly simple. But actually getting your opponents to zero in on the exact color you're thinking of is extremely tricky, and a lot of fun. Here's how it could play out: You know the secret color, and you've got to get your opponents to guess it correctly. The card you hold in your hand is a deep, rich red. The first thing that comes to your mind is a ripe Macintosh apple. So you give the clue "apple." Opponent #1 guesses a color close to what you've got in your head, but Opponent #2 is thinking "Granny Smith," and places their pawn down on a yellowish-green spot on the board. Now you've got to wrangle that player closer to the red section of the board for their second guess, while still keeping Opponent #1 in the right area. What word would you pick to get them back on the right track?
The components in this game all feel and look incredible. The pawns are simply cast, but have a tactile feel that can only be described as "nostalgic," in a way that's hard to put my finger on. Maybe it's just that components these days are all tricked out and hyper-detailed, but here's a family game with simple, well-made pawns, and it's truly all we need to get the job done. You can also be guaranteed that the color on your card is the exact hue of the color on the board (this game would be ruined if it were sloppily printed), and all around this game feels sturdy, like it's meant to last your family a good 20 years.
The Bottom Line:
We review all kinds of complicated, wonderfully tactical board games here. And for as much as we enjoy larger, in-depth strategy games, in fact, as much as we've committed a large part of our lives to learning, playing, and loving those games, there's a tool for every job. And when we're coming home for the holidays to spend time with loved ones, we just don't need to be lugging around heavy games (and, try as we might, we'll never convince our cousins to try out the new Warcry Starter Set). But what makes Hues and Cues so special, in my opinion, is its simplicity to diversity-of-play ratio. What I mean by that is that the rules are barely there, but they provide a play experience that is varied, often hilarious, and constantly changing based on the cards you draw and the people you're playing with. And here is a rare bird, indeed: a party game that isn't an iteration on a previous hit party game, isn't based on some '80s or '90s pop culture IP, and isn't too complicated for your non-gamer friends and family. Hues and Cues, and all its colorful pageantry, is, simply put, a minimalistic triumph.
Get This Game If:
- You're looking for an accessible family/party game
- You're a fan of guessing and deduction games
- You spend hours staring at the wall of paint chips at your local hardware store
Avoid This Game If:
- You have a hard time explaining yourself
- You think "red" and "maroon" are basically the same thing
- You're looking for a more strategic party game
The copy of Hues and Cues used in this review was provided by The OP.