You Come and Go--A Single-Take Review of The Chameleon

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My game group loves party games. We use them as fillers, but often as a closer for the evening. But this "closer" could last 2 hours, mind you. Things such as The Resistance and Time's Up are perennial favorites. Well, we haven't played either of those in months, because they've been eclipsed by two other games: Werewords and The Chameleon. Today we're going to look at The Chameleon, a bluffing and deduction game for 3-8 players from Big Potato Games. Is The Chameleon a perfect blend of mechanisms, or does it stick out like a sore thumb? Let's find out!

 

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The Components

  • 1 D6 and 1 D8 die
  • 40 Topic cards
  • Two different sets of 8 Code cards--each with one Chameleon card among them 
  • A dry-erase board and pen

 

The Gameplay

You pass out Code cards to everyone--everyone except one unknown player, who gets the Chameleon card. Then you turn over a Topic card. Each has 16 words on it from a specific topic, such as Phobias: Monsters, Germs, Planes, Toilets, Ghosts, Spiders, etc. Now a start player rolls the two dice. The yellow D6 tells you which column you'll look at on the Code card, and the blue D8 tells you which row you'll look at. At that intersection, there's a coordinate that relates to one word on the Topic card.  Every time I've played, someone has screwed up the coordinates. It creates pretty dang funny situations. 

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(There are two complete sets of these, with different coordinates on each, so that if you're starting to remember the coordinates on the dice during a session, you can swap out and the dice will give you new coordinates. It's a nice touch.)

Now, starting with the person to the left of the start player, each player says exactly one word. That word must somehow relate to the secret word, and be specific enough to alert the other good guys that you know it, but not specific enough that the Chameleon can work out what it is. 

This, of course, presents a problem if you're the Chameleon and you're going first (or early) in the rotation. That's part of the fun!

Once you've gone around, everyone gets a chance to discuss who they think the Chameleon is. Then one-two-three: Vote. Whoever gets the most is killed. If it's not the Chameleon, he wins. If it is the Chameleon, he gets a chance to guess the secret word. If he does guess it, he escapes and wins. 

That's it! It's takes maybe 5 minutes per game. 

The Verdict

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If you're thinking that The Chameleon sounds a lot like Spyfall, you'd be correct. But there's an important distinction: no questions. In Spyfall, you're having to come up with a question that conveys your knowledge of the location, and traps the spy. But that can be incredibly stressful for nongamers. Ditching the questions, and simply having to come up with one word, means I can bring this out with gamers of any level and ability. And I have. 

I have two small complaints. The first is that this really needs at least 5 people. Our 4-person family played, and it was often a tie on voting, and since the start player breaks ties, that meant the Chameleon often won by simply choosing someone who wasn't him to die. 

The second is that this already needs new Topic cards. There are 16 different words on each, so a lot of replayability, but I want more. It does come with that dry-erase board, so as a group, you can quickly come up with your own Topic card with whatever words you want. That's another nice touch, though we have yet to use it in 40 games. 

Neither will keep me away from this fun game.

Firestone's Final Verdict--We've played The Chameleon every single week since I got it at Christmas. A game takes five minutes, it accommodates lots of players, and it covers gamers of all abilities. The Chameleon is a terrific game that should be in every collection. 

Thanks for reading! Have you played Chameleon? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!