SNAP Review – Ultimatch

We’re the Family Gamers, so we play a lot of matching games around our house.

But in this case, we’re not just going to match. We’re going to ULTIMATCH!


Ultimatch is a cooperative card game for up to 5 players, designed by Justin and Anne-Marie De Witt. It’s published by their company Fireside Games.

The box says it’s for ages 10 and up and takes about 20 minutes. Honestly once you learn the game, you can play a little younger, and you can play it a little faster.


So Anitra, let’s talk about the art in Ultimatch.

The whole game is just brightly colored cards, in six colors. Each number, 1-8, shows up exactly once in each color, for a total of 48 cards.

Even though the “suits” in this game are just colors, there are subtle symbols in the background that add some visual interest and make it easier for colorblind players to distinguish them. The top and bottom corners of each card also have an indicator to remind you what color it is.

Purple, Green, and Orange Ultimatch cards
Orange, Purple, and Green cards even have a reminder of which colors can be combined to match them.


So, we talked about combining colors. That’s kind of important in Ultimatch! Let’s talk about how we actually play.

Start by making a pyramid of cards – either five or six rows depending on your player count. All these cards should be face-down except for the bottom row.

Then deal out a hand of cards to each player. Any cards left over cards become the draw pile.

Each player chooses a card from their starting hand to contribute to the “Altahand”. This is just a public set of cards that any player can use on their turn.

You’ll reveal your contributions to the Altahand simultaneously. The player who contributed the highest card to the Altahand becomes the first player.

On your turn, you are trying to make a match with a visible card in the pyramid. You can do this by matching its color or its number. You can do it with a single card, or you can use two cards, adding or subtracting their values to match the target number. Or, you can use two primary color cards to match the target color – for example this red 3 and this yellow 4 to match an Orange card.

Ultimatch player guide

But the best option is to match both the target color and the target number. Since every card is unique, you can only do this by combining two cards. But if you do, you’ve made an ULTIMATCH!

Any time you make a match, you move all the cards in the match to the discard pile. Then reveal any of the other pyramid cards that have been uncovered.

Normally your turn ends there. But if you made an Ultimatch (Ultimatch!), you get to draw two cards from the deck. Keep one, and put the other one in the Altahand. Then move on to the next player’s turn.

Now that you know how to play, let’s point out two more wrinkles in the game.

First, you are allowed to trade a card with another player at the beginning of your turn. Any other player can offer you a card for trade – but no one is allowed to reveal their card or say anything about it! (But they can make motions.) This is still a helpful way though, to move cards to people who need them.

Second, if you CANNOT make a match on your turn, you must pass and draw a single card. You MAY pass if you can only make matches using the Altahand. But if every player passes, one after the other, you immediately lose the game.

This actually gets really tough when you get close to the end and there’s only one card available that you can match to.

You need to clear out the whole pyramid to win.

Two Ultimatch cards - a red 3 is visible.


So what did we expect from Ultimatch?

[Andrew] I first saw Ultimatch at the GAMA Expo, and I even got a chance to sit down with Justin and Anne-Marie to play the game (which, by the way is the best way to play).

I could tell immediately this was a game that was going to have cross-generational appeal. It’s simple, it’s fun, but it’s got that kind of long-term elegance to it, like a classic solitaire game, despite the bright, kind of garish – but fun – colors.

[Anitra] It was really easy to understand how to play. And I love how colorful and simple it looks.


But let’s talk about what surprised us about Ultimatch.

I was really surprised by the layers of tactics needed to play this game. You MUST find ways to draw more cards in order to have more options.

This means for me, I have to back up my strategy a little. I can’t just look at the matches I can make immediately. I need to make trades to either get more Ultimatches – or trade away the cards from my hand that are too easy to match, so I can get the option to pass and draw a card.

Another great example of tactics is that although number arithmetic can be add or subtract, color arithmetic can only be addition. So, since there are no duplicate cards, you can never Ultimatch with a single card. It makes sense to keep primary colors around to get the Ultimatches in the pyramid.

And because so much of your card information is secret, this is a cooperative game where everyone’s choices really do matter. In fact, we played with some friends who normally don’t like co-op games (but they were good sports) and they enjoyed this one. It’s really quick, but it’s tactical, and no one can take over and tell everyone what to do.

No quarterbacking!

I also found that Ultimatch transitioned really smoothly to a solo game. It feels a lot like traditional solitaire at this point.

You get a much larger hand to start with, but there’s no public Altahand and obviously no passing on your turn. You have to play your cards really carefully to get lots of Ultimatches and still keep some flexibility as you reach the top of the pyramid.


So Anitra, does that mean that we recommend Ultimatch?

This is a game that does exactly what it sets out to do – it’s easy to learn, it’s really portable, and it’s just the right difficulty for a family cooperative game.

With gamer adults, we won more than half the time, but it’s a little less than that with kids. You can also easily adjust the size of the Altahand to get the challenge a little bit higher or lower; just right, wherever you want it.

The rules are really intuitive, but the strategy isn’t, which makes this a game I think we’ll come back to over and over again.

So I guess the answer is yes, we absolutely recommend Ultimatch. In fact, we’re going to give it five matches out of five.

And that’s Ultimatch, in a SNAP!

Look for Ultimatch in June, or pre-order it now at Fireside Games.

The Family Gamers received a copy of Ultimatch from Fireside Games for this review.

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

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

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Number of Players: 1-5
Age Range: 10+ (can go younger)
Playtime: 20 minutes (or less)