Color Field – Abstractly Puzzling

Color Field game
Color Field game

People love to debate about abstract art. Is it meaningful because it’s beautiful? Can color and line really evoke emotion by themselves, without an identifiable picture?

But all paintings start as color and line. The act of daubing, brushing, or splattering paint onto a canvas can be simply fun, even if it doesn’t result in a masterpiece.

Color Field lets us play with matching up colors in an artistic framework. Mondo Davis designed this game for 2-4 players to complete in under 45 minutes, and 25th Century Games publishes it.

How to Play

Each player gets a Canvas board, plus a card and tokens in their color. Color Field is played over three rounds. Stack the paint tiles face down in the center area according to round number.

Starting equipment for Color Field - Coral player

Prime the Canvas

At the beginning of each round, players “prime” their canvas, drawing Foundation paint tiles and placing them in order on the open spaces of their canvas. Each Foundation tile has an “up” arrow to indicate which way to place it; there are no choices to be made here. It’s just a way to get the canvas covered with “paint” before starting.

Partially primed canvas in Color Field - Lemon player
Just put the Foundation tiles down in order.

Once everyone’s canvas is ready, set up the common Palette board with three tiles from the Paint deck for the current round.

Round 1 paint tiles and palette

Player Turns

Take turns to choose a tile from the palette to replace a tile on your painting.

The new tile may go in any orientation you like.

You also have three Inspiration tokens to use at any time during the game. Use an Inspiration to either rotate one tile on your canvas, or swap the positions of two tiles (without rotating them).

Replacing a paint tile in Color Field
Replacing a Foundation tile


Each round has a set number of turns (five for the first round, four for rounds two and three). When everyone has taken their turns, it’s time to score for the round!

Examine each of the six tiles on your canvas, one at a time. For each edge that matches the color of the edge next to it – or matches one of the colors of the canvas where it touches – score one point.

Some tiles give multipliers for a specific edge, making it worth 2-3 points if the color matches.

After computing your score for all six Paint tiles, try to find your largest contiguous area of color, which the rules call “largest patch”. Add one point for each tile and each edge of the canvas that is part of the single-color area.

Largest patch example
The navy colored “largest patch” earns 5 points (4 tiles + 1 for the matching bottom edge on the canvas).

After scoring, you’ll clear your canvas and prep with new Foundation tiles again. Players in second, third, and fourth place get to keep some of their tiles, giving them a slight advantage for the next round.

After three rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.

More Painting

For more advanced players, there are also Community Tools cards that can be added to the game. Reveal one randomly each round, creating an effect all players may use during that round.

Community Tool cards


I’ve played other games about painting, but never one that leaned into abstract art before. I love the idea that there’s no “right” way to assemble your painting in Color Field. You simply want to create pleasing swatches of color, both large and small.

But the implementation of this puzzle keeps it from being as interesting and unique as its theme is. Many times, the choices on the Palette all felt the same.

Palette with three similar choices
These three tiles are so similar, I guess I’ll draw one off the top of the deck.

And the choices on your board aren’t much, either. Maybe you’ll hit an obvious replacement once or twice per round, but the rest of the time, you’re likely to trade a two-edge match for a different two-edge match, gaining a point or two in the process.

There are no right answers; and when you’re resetting most of your work every round, it just doesn’t feel like there’s any progress to be made. I’m not frustrated that I’m no closer to a beautiful painting after four turns, nor bemoaning my bad luck; I’m not feeling anything. The whole game is just very abstract and requires as much luck as planning.

Maybe the problem is me, and my lack of appreciation for abstract art. Perhaps artistic teens and adults will find something here to whet their palette. But for such a colorful game, Color Field leaves me feeling vaguely bland.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Color Field from 25th Century Games for this review.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

Color Field
  • 9/10
    Art - 9/10
  • 7/10
    Mechanics - 7/10
  • 5/10
    Family Fun - 5/10


Age Range: 10+
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 20-45 minutes