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Can Having Your Own Color Break a Game?

It seems like a funny question when you say it out loud, or even if you type it out, but can having a favorite color break a game for you? Purple has always been my go to color. Ever since my oldest daughter began to learn colors, shapes, and numbers, her curiosity of what everyone's favorite color was became a priority to her and of great importance coming only after being able to identify someone by their name. When game night was each week in my basement, my daughter would come and say hello and would then remind everyone that she knew what each person’s favorite color was. She knew Dennis was orange, Cory was red, Everett was green, David was yellow, and I was, of course, purple, or blue when purple was not available.

This was fine for most games, especially back in the 90’s when the games were far more limited, but these days those colors are not set in every game, and then what happens when a game introduces asymmetric player powers but those powers are set to a specific color? Let me give a couple of examples of situations that have come up in our game night that might better focus on why this could even be a question.

Most of the regular players that come to my weekly game night all had a preferred color choice including us who host Meeple Nation. Andy is Blue, David is Yellow, Logan is Black, James is green because Andy is blue, and I am Purple, Now purple is not in many games, as such, I have always fallen back on blue as my chosen color. So, I play blue far more often than I get to play purple. I am used to playing blue, and Andy is also used to playing blue. So, when we play a game together, we both reach for blue when it is an option, and will both often be moving the same pieces because we both use blue. Recently in playing a game of Great Western Trail with Cory and James, it was discovered that James is also a player of blue. There were several times that I was moving his pieces because he was playing my color.

David has some mild anxiety issues, one of which is he likes things to maintain a status quo, meaning he must play yellow, the board needs to be oriented correctly for him, dice need to be resting with highest value showing (or charging, as he likes to call it), and also all of the card stacks need to be clean, stacked correctly and facing in the same direction. David also loves to try new games and he loves to try multiple roles within a game. He is very much into new experiences within a game. However, sometimes games will use asymmetric powers and sometimes those powers are tied to a character of a specific color. Thus feeding David’s inner turmoil, does he play what is new, or does he play yellow? I want to play a new character, versus I need to play yellow.

Metro, is a game from 1997. Players add tiles to the board that represent the French metro paths. Each track will return a metro car to a different train station. Players gain points for having the longest total tracks. Simple little game. It is a 2 to 6 player game. That being said, it only includes enough pieces for the appropriate player count. Meaning in a two player game, you have your choice of two colors, Red or blue; if you want to play yellow you can’t do that until you have four players in the game because yellow does not have enough metro cars to be used in a two or three player game. Of course purple, my color, can only be used in a 6 player game. So if I want to play my color in Metro I need to have five other people to play it with.

Colors like purple, pink, and black are not among the most popular colors used in many produced games. I am sure that has some sort of history of why that is, that is beyond this article. I have often considered altering some of my games to include purple pieces. It would be simple to do in a game like Catan or Carcassonne. I have not done it because I have the inner conversation with myself, "is this really worth my time and effort to alter a game color option." I guess at the end of the day, my mind tells me if the game designer wanted purple to be in the game, purple would be in this game. It also comes down to time and the short supply of it that I have to make that a priority.

Having a preferred color is great, I see people at conventions wearing shirts that introduce an individual by player color. “Hello, I am playing purple”, or something to that point. I support having a favorite player color. However, if someone else is playing your color, or the game only includes your color at a certain player count, or may not contain your color at all, does that diminish a game's appeal in your mind?

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Douglas Stewart
Douglas Stewart
15 sept 2021

Interestingly, my color preference comes in a different form. I don't mind too much what color I play, but I really dislike playing as red or green. I will always go out of my way to avoid playing either of those colors. It also drives me crazy when a game comes with two colors that are so similar you can hardly tell them apart. Atlantis Rising comes with an orange and a red that are so close in color we have banned them from being played together.

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