As a graphic designer by trade, I spend a ton of time working with color. I even took a test once to measure my color acuity and did very well . So, a game about sorting out cards by color seems right up my alley.
Today we are going to look at a card game called Illusion. This quick-playing game from Pandasaurus has 2-5 players trying to sort out cards based on the amount of a specific color showing. Easy right? Not so fast.
The cards in Illusion are two-sided, with one side having an optical illusion/pattern of 4 colors, and the reverse side listing how much of each color is showing on the card (expressed as a percentage of the total card).
At the start of each round, an arrow card is drawn, which shows the color players will be working with that round. On a player’s turn, they can either play or challenge. If they choose to play, they draw the top card of the deck and place it into the line of cards. The goal is to place the card in ascending order by the arrow color. So, if you think a card is 20% covered in blue, you’ll put it between the card you think is 15% and the card you think is 50%.
If instead, you think the line of cards isn’t in the correct order, you can challenge. All cards are flipped over to reveal their percentage and if the order was indeed incorrect, you take the arrow card as a point. If it was correct, the previous player scores it. Then a new round begins.
Play continues in this manner until one player collects three arrows and wins.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the gameplay in Illusion. It’s a small box with minimal components, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s actually a lot of fun. In my opinion, Illusion is the perfect filler game. The rules explanation takes all of 30 seconds, the gameplay is intuitive, and the playtime is about 10-15 minutes. More than once we’ve pulled this one out at the end of a game night when we had a little bit of time left, but no desire to learn something heavy.
Illusion also makes a solid travel game as the box is small enough to be tossed in a bag and its table requirements are fairly minimal. I could easily see this being a game we play at a pub—whenever we start going out to those again.
When It comes to player scaling, I actually think two players is the best number for this game. While it does play fine even at the higher end of the range, with two players it almost becomes a battle of wits. You vs your opponent to see who will screw up first. If you challenge, you are getting the point or your opponent is, with no middle ground. With 4-5 players, simply sitting next to the worst player at the table can help you win. And a wrong challenge won’t necessarily lose you the game.
Finally, I do want to talk about the accessibility of Illusion. From a mechanics standpoint, it’s fantastic. You can play this game with your kids, neighbors, elderly parents, or even your gaming group. There is almost no barrier to entry here and everyone I’ve played it with has had a good time. From a components standpoint, I don’t know how well it fares with colorblind folks. Red and green together can be a bad combination, but since I’m not colorblind myself, I can’t really say whether this game has any issues or not. I did try and run it through a photoshop colorblindness feature and I could somewhat tell the reds and greens apart. So, your mileage may vary with this one.
If you are looking for a filler game that you can play with just about anyone, you’ve found it with Illusion. It’s fun, quick to get to the table, and you can play it with just about anyone. And with the holidays right around the corner, this one makes a great “stocking stuffer” due to its low price point.
While Illusion doesn’t have a ton of depth, it works great as a travel game or an “every once in a while” title to pull off the shelf.
Credit: Illusion Review