Full disclosure: A review copy of Catalogue was provided by Big Cat Games.
Excitingly, we’re nearing the tail end of these! I think there are a few I haven’t covered yet, like Capturing Cage and Kami-nine, but by now I’ve probably gotten myself cycled back up for even more games to review! I’m writing this on the first of May, and the targeted publishing date is early July, just for an idea of how deep the queue goes. Either way, let’s get back into it.
In Catalogue, your whole goal is to get to know your co-player(s) better! Team up, and try to figure out what they like. On the plus side, you can use anything! Get out some old magazines, line up your board games, break out some Codenames cards; if you can lay them flat on a table, you can figure out how to go from there. Will you be able to predict what your co-player holds most dear?
Setup depends a bit on how you’re doing it. First, set aside the heart tokens:
Now, you’re going to need at least seven objects that fit a particular category. You could use board games, or some of the included pamphlets. Whatever you choose, take the squares in your color:
Place them on those objects, randomly. Now, give each player a set of cards:
One player will be setting the game up by ordering their cards secretly in their order of preference for the objects they picked earlier in the game. The other player waits until they’re done, and you’re ready to start!
To play, your co-player reveals the cards in an order of their choosing. Usually, we say a number like “last choice” or “first choice” and then reveal. The start player then reveals where the card their co-player revealed sits in their card line. If they match up, the co-player gets a Heart Token. That’s pleasant.
Play continues until the last two cards. Reveal one, award a Heart Token if needed, and then reveal the other. Since it’s kind of a process-of-elimination thing, you can’t get a Heart Token for the second one.
If you want to play semi-competitively, you can reverse roles and go again! If not, spend some time chatting about your preferences. It’s nice.
Player Count Differences
You can play this with more people; you would just have other people guessing what the person likes, in lieu of using cards. You count three, two, one, and everyone points; everyone correct gets a Heart Token. I can see how that would be fun, but I like that the two-player mode is cooperative and feels very intimate. It’s a very pleasant gaming experience, like Codenames Duet with much lower stakes. I’m very into it. I’d recommend this exclusively at two players.
- This one’s on you. I can’t give you advice on this one, honestly; it comes down to how well you know your co-player and how well you can judge for yourself how they’ve reacted to your clues already. Maybe there are themes! Maybe there’s something to their choices and you can pick up on a pattern. Every pair of people playing this game will be different, and you just kind of have to figure it out for yourself.That’s half the fun, anyways.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- A very pleasant couple’s game. It’s definitely a game for couples, hence, the Heart Tokens, but friends could play it as well. The party game version is a much more solid “get to know you” variant that I think gives the game a bit more wide appeal than just “play with your partner”.
- The heart tokens are really nice? They’re very well-made, fairly sturdy, and they have a nice color and weight to them. Plus, they look good when the game is being played, so, nice job on table presence.
- Very short game. It literally ends when six cards are flipped over. That’s basically no time at all.
- I appreciate that the game system can be applied to multiple different types of things. Try it with books! Try it with video game boxes! Try it with Marvel superheroes! If you can print them all on a paper, you can play this game with them (and even if you can’t, you can probably figure out a way to make it work). It’s similar to when people were playing Codenames with Dixit cards; it speaks to the flexibility of the game system, which is good.
- Very portable. It comes with a cute pouch sorta thing that you can use to fit everything inside. As long as you can safely place the tokens, you can play this just about anywhere.
- Slightly bigger tokens would be nice. Not the Heart Tokens, of course; they’re perfect. I mean the small tokens that show what object you’ve selected. They’re a bit small- currently, and I worry I’ll eventually lose one of them, which would make the game tough.
- If you’re buying this looking for a potential strategic activity, you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s very much a like, how well do you know this person game, not a “let me try to deduction this problem to its logical conclusion” sort of game. That may be unsatisfying for some players, but, that’s just the kind of game it is. If you’re looking for a strategic deduction version of this, try playing Codenames Duet instead.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, I think Catalogue is a great little game! I’m excited to see (at least I think I saw it online somewhere) that it’s seeing a wider release, so hopefully more people get to try it out. One thing I noticed is that it’s also seeing a lot of success in being used with children who have some difficulty verbalizing, which is a cool bonus, too. For couples or two people trying to get to know each other better, Catalogue is a great break in between other games or a great way to kick back, trade off, and go through some common interests at a pretty quick clip. The party mode doesn’t interest me a ton, since it’s that but all directed at one person. That’s fine; just not my particular cup of tea. To be fair, I’m also a sucker for great components, and the big, chunky Heart Tokens are really nice, too. All that in a tiny box is generally a good tradeoff for me, so, yeah, if you’re looking for a great game for couples, a quick game for friends, or you just want to know how people feel about a wide variety of different objects, I’d recommend checking out Catalogue! I’ve had fun with it.