Druid City Games
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Board Game Spotlight

 

The Chameleon: Keep Calm and Blend In

 

Publisher: Big Potato
Designer: Rikki Tahta
Players: 3-8
Time: 10 min

Bottom Line

The Chameleon is a laugh-out-loud party game of blending in, as the chameleon, or trying to catch the Chameleon as everyone tries to bluff their way out of trouble.

Picture courtesy of Big Potato 

In the Box


The Chameleon comes in a neat box with a visual eye trick. If you stare at the box straight on, the name is harder to distinguish, but if you look at an angle, the words "The Chameleon" are easily read. The box includes two sets of 8 “code cards,” blue and green. A large stack of “topic cards” and two dice, a D8 and standard D6. Each set of code cards comes with one chameleon hiding in the them. The code cards depict coordinates that will allow players to decipher the secret word on the current topic card. The green and blue Code cards have different equations for the word coordinates as well. The Chameleon card does not have a code; the Chameleon for the round will have to bluff their way out of the the spotlight!


Initial Thoughts

Party games are a huge hit among my friends and family. So when I heard about a new, social deduction word game, I had to check it out! How does The Chameleon compete against the competition? Does it stand out or blend into mediocrity? Let’s find out!

How to Play

The Chameleon is played over rounds, where one player will try to outsmart and outwit the others in a game of wordplay hide and seek. To begin the game, deal each player a code card, with one of them being The Chameleon. Congratulations, one of you is now the Chameleon. It’s okay; stay cool, blend in and don’t get caught! The dealer reveals a topic card and rolls the dice. The two numbers will lead everyone, except the Chameleon, to a coordinate on their code card. This coordinate will now lead players to the secret word on the topic card. While players are deciphering the code, the Chameleon must pretend to play along, because they do not have a code to decipher and won't know what the secret word on the topic card is. 

Starting with the dealer, each player will take turns giving a one-word clue related to the secret word but think carefully! If your word is too obvious, the Chameleon will catch on and figure out the word. If it’s too vague however, other players may think YOU’RE the Chameleon. 

 

When everyone has given their clue, players will debate the identity of the Chameleon. Wannabe attorney’s will now try to explain how they aren’t the Chameleon but explain how you are.

After everyone has a chance to speak, players vote by pointing at the player they think is the Chameleon. The player with the most votes must reveal their code card. If you accused the wrong player, the Chameleon escaped; you’re all terrible detectives! If you revealed card is the Chameleon, you’ve nearly won. However, the Chameleon has one last chance at guessing the secret word. If they get it correct, they win and you’re all horrible at giving subtle clues. If the Chameleon fails to guess correctly, all other players win! You've uncovered the Chameleon and you can pat yourself on the back.

4th Wall Break: The Secret Word here is Baseball. If you're the Chameleon, you'll want to choose a clue that corresponds to as many of the words as possible. Of course, you won't know the secret word is baseball, so a clue like "fans" or "professional" would work. 

 

 

 

 

The Chameleon becomes the dealer for the next round and you simply switch color code cards. You can play the same topic card, or choose a new one before starting your next round.

4th Wall Break: Scoring is optional in The Chameleon. It’s all about having fun! For the Alpha gamers, if you must keep score, follow this OPTIONAL scoring guideline:

  • If the Chameleon escapes undetected: Chameleon scores 2 points.
  • If the Chameleon is caught but guesses correctly: Chameleon scores 1 Point.
  • If the Chameleon is caught and guesses incorrectly: All other players score 2 points.

    The first player to 5 points wins!

Positives and Negatives

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Positives

  • Fast-paced, quick set-up and laugh-out-loud funny!
  • Easy to learn and teach.
  • Incorporation of a “code” to decipher is both intuitive and creative.
  • Includes a “create your own” topic card. Customizing a topic provides countless of hours of fun!
  • A plethora of topic cards keep Chameleon fresh.
  • Solid components at an affordable price and a clean design on the topic cards and code cards.

Negatives

  • Feels “similar” to other hidden player games i.e. Spyfall, Dixit, etc.
  • Random deal of the Chameleon card means one player may play the Chameleon more often than others throughout the game. This can be good or bad, determined by the strength of the liars at your table. 

 

Final Thoughts

The Chameleon is a simple game, with simple components and simple rules but don’t let that fool you! Only a true camouflage master can outsmart their opponents and it’s not as easy as it looks. Unlike its direct competition in Spyfall, The Chameleon puts the odd-player-out for each round on more even footing by using a  topic reference card. While the task of blending in is still difficult, sometimes the Chameleon can get lucky enough to give a clue that could sway the groups opinion one way or the other and shed doubt on other players. Often times though, the Chameleon’s clue is not only outlandish but also absurd to the point of hilarity. Few social deduction games have us laughing as hard as we do when we play The Chameleon. It plays quickly with its simplicity of one-word clues as opposed to questions or long sentences and I like choosing how long we play. Sometimes you'll want a quick 20 minute filler between heavy games and othertimes you'll play for hours during game night. Overall, The Chameleon blends the form of hidden roles and the function of a word game into a remarkably fun social party game!

You will like this if: You enjoy hidden roles, social deduction, bluffing and being witty.

The Chameleon earns 4 "obvious chameleons" out of 5.

A quick note on my *new* rating scale:

5: This game is nearly perfect in every way and the Positives far outweigh any Negatives.
4: This game is outstanding and the Positives outweigh the Negatives.
3: This game is fun but feels average and the Positives and Negatives are nearly equal.
2: This game falls below average and the Negatives outweigh the Positives.
1: This game is bad and the Negatives far outweigh any Positives.