In an effort to make life easier for color-blind gamers, of which I am one, I've compiled a list of games which I either own or have played, and indicated whether or not I had any color-related problems with them. There is no guarantee that someone else won't have trouble with these games, but it's better than nothing.
For reference, I appear to be a red-insensitive dichromat, which means that the red cones in my eyes respond to green light. I can usually distinguish between red and green provided the brightness (saturation?) of the shades are relatively distinct (for example, a dark red and a light green.) Browns are difficult to tell from either red or green, as are some dark purples from blues. For some reason, I also have some small trouble with light green and yellow.
Estimates vary, but it seems that somewhere between 9% and 12% of the male Caucasian population has some degree of colorblindness. It's very rare in pretty much everyone else.
General tips: Make sure there is adequate lighting, and position yourself at the table so that you can see well. Note that colors will appear different under incandescent light than under fluorescent. If you own a copy of a game, marking or repainting pieces is a possibility. (I'll be doing this with both Web of Power and Carcassonne as soon as I get around to it.)
Separating pieces of similar colors in an area can sometimes be done, depending on the game. (This is a viable option in El Grande, for example.) And if possible, try it before you buy it.
Please note that all data below are taken from my own experience only. Unless otherwise noted, the usual problem is red-green confusion. And I've quit adding games that I don't have trouble with.
|Citadels/Ohne Furcht und Adel||Hans im Glueck||good||Color combined with text - hurrah!|
|Cosmic Encounter||Eon||good||Depending on what colors you have in the set. Metallics are good.|
|Landlord (1st ed)||Rio Grande||good||Black and white version only.|
|Maka Bana||Tilsit||good||Has red/green and blue/purple tokens, but different shades work well enough.|
|Tyros||Kosmos?||good||Black/white/grey/red ships and tokens.|
|Zero||Berliner Spielkarten||good||Color-based, but really bright.|
|Arena Maximus||Fantasy Flight Games||fair||Only problem is matching chariot color to hazard color; otherwise can use symbols instead of colors.|
|Ausbrecher AG||Ravensberger||fair||Possible token confusion - red, brown, dark green, light green, orange. OK for me in good lighting.|
|Balloon Cup||Kosmos||fair||Yellow and green cards too similar. Different patterns, but subtle.|
|Carcassonne||Rio Grande||fair||Red and green meeples, possible tile problems.|
|Carolus Magnus||Venice Connection||fair||I can't recall the specifics.|
|Heimlich & Co||Ravensburger||fair||Card and token colors don't match, important in this game.|
|Ticket to Ride||Days of Wonder||fair||I find the Red/Brown, Green/Yellow, and Blue/Purple cards can be a bit confusing. Green/Brown/Red routes are also borderline bad. Cards have different symbols on them, which helps. (A color vs. card symbol chart on the board would help.)|
|Vino||Goldsieber/RGG||fair||Clear discs on a pastel board get sort of lost, but otherwise okay.|
|Web of Power||Rio Grande||fair||Possible map problems, but uses text. Possible token problems.|
|Alles im Eimer||Kosmos||bad||Red and grey (!) buckets and cards too similar.|
|Cosmic Encounter||Mayfair||bad||dk blue and purple tokens and cards too similar.|
|Durch die Wuste||Rio Grande||bad||Cute pastel camels are all clones. Better in strong light.|
|El Grande||Rio Grande||bad||Token colors are Yellow, Blue, Brown, Brown, Brown.|
|Lost Cities||Kosmos/Rio Grande||bad||Green and yellow cards too similar. Use the pictures instead.|
|Magna Grecia||Rio Grande||bad||Red, orange, yellow, and brown bits. City tile colors especially hard to discern.|
|Mamma Mia||Rio Grande||bad||Cards are colored, but it's easily worked around.|
|Muscat||Die Sternspieler||bad||Three of the tile colors (purple, blue, and turquoise?) are indistinguishable.|
|Pompeii||Adlung Spiele||bad||Seven? background colors on cards, of which I can distinguish maybe three.|
|Nicht die Bohne||Amigo||bad||Card suits are differentiated by color only.|
|Rage||Amigo?||bad||Green and orange cards too similar.|
|Santa Fe Rails||GMT||bad||Red/brown and green/orange confusion (see below).|
|Serenissima||Descartes||bad||Commodity tokens and port dots confusing. Flags are good, though.|
|Settlers of Catan||Mayfair||bad||Tile colors poor, but token colors okay.|
|Sticheln||Amigo||bad||Red, green, and brown in an otherwise good color-based card game.|
|Supergang||Ludodelire||bad||Red and green tokens and markers.|
|Vernissage||TM Spiele||bad||Artist cards and token colors don't match.|
|Vinci (1st ed)||Descartes||bad||Map, tokens both pretty horrible.|
GMT's Santa Fe Rails has some color issues, but they are restricted to the short lines, which don't appear until midgame. So it isn't really much of a problem. On a more opinionated note, why the heck is the UP red? It should be Armour Yellow. I may have to custom-paint a set with the SP pieces in Daylight colors and the ATSF in Warbonnets. Still a good game.
Here are some additional links on color perception:
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Last updated 7 September 2004
Last updated 7 September 2004