Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 20 minutes ages 8+
Illusion asks the simple question: Can you trust your eyes? All you need to do is put cards in order, from low to high, based on just one color. Everything is right before you— if you can believe what you see.
Illusion takes child like concepts of shape and color, more and less, and turns them into Major Fun for everyone at the table.
Illusion has players ranking cards with abstract shapes, based on which card has more of one particular color. Each following player must either accept the order as correct, or challenge the existing order.
Illusion uses 110 cards. 12 cards make up the arrow deck, with 3 in each of the four colors(red, green, yellow, and blue). In addition, there are 98 color cards. These each have an abstract pattern on the front, using the four colors. The backs all state the ratio of each color on the card, ranked in percentages.
Shuffle the 12 arrow cards and flip one face up. This card will indicate which color matters for each player this round. The 98 color cards are shuffled, and the deck is placed face up. Now the top card of the color deck is placed in line with the arrow card.
After choosing a starting player, that person takes the next card from the color deck. Without looking at the back, the start player must order the two cards from lower to higher based on the arrow color.
Now, you, as the next player, have a decision to make. Are the two cards in the correct order, from least to most of the color in question? If you think they are, then it’s your turn to add another card to the queue. Ignoring the three other colors, where does the new card fit in? Least? Most? Middle?
On the other hand, you may decide the cards aren’t ordered correctly. You then question the validity of the entire row. Flip over all the color cards. On the back of each card are the percentage of the color in question. Did you guess correctly?
If you did, you receive the arrow card as a reward. It counts as one point to your score. The goal is to score 3 points, or to have the most points if you play through all 12 arrow cards.
However, if the row was in correct order, the previous player gets the point. Then, discard all the color cards, and begin a new round. In either case, the player who was awarded the card is the new start player.
1). Illusion asks you to consider math differently. Typically, math is all about formulas and numbers and ratios. I give you a certain amount of info, and you apply the theorems to find the exact answer. And, that’s just about as fun as that sounds.
Forget that. Illusion demands you use your eyes, your gut, your feelings, to determine if this card has more red than another. The exact numbers are hidden. You need to go on your instincts. The game even uses terms like trust and believe.
2). Illusion asks you to question what art is. The color cards are computer generated. Squiggles, lines, geometric shapes, and the occasional letter or number. Is this art? Strictly speaking, no. And yet, there’s a subtle beauty in every color card. Aside from serving a mathematical function, each one stands as a small piece of art, conforming to the demands of the game.
And, as you judge each card for its value, the simple beauty of the shapes and colors takes hold. You are taking in art and evaluating it, not only for its beauty, but also for its conformation to the rules of math.
3): Illusion is tricky without being overly complex. Those little triangles of green might add up to more than that big splotch on the other card. It’s magic is more slight-of-hand than make-an-elephant-disappear. It’s charm is simple, subtle, and impishly deceiving.
Illusion challenges your brains in a different way. Illusion is smart, without being smarter than its audience. And this makes it easily accessible to most ages. But even though you’ll be thinking or seeing in new ways, Illusion never forgets that the end goal is fun.
Illusion is, as its name suggests, illusory. It poses a simple question—More, or Less? But the complexity which results from that question poses a challenge for young and old.
And that challenge is most certainly Major Fun.
Written by: Doug Richardson