Designed by: Mike Elliott
Published by: Asmodee
Playtime: 15-30 minutes
Review copy provided free of charge by Esdevium Games.
Ah, the sophisticated, wonderful world of art. On this very site I reviewed The Gallerist, a hefty, complex game which was based around running a successful gallery, done by investing in talented artists, buying stunning artworks and selling them to the highest bidders. Final Touch is on the other end of the complexity spectrum, played in a short amount of time using very simple rules.
The idea is that you’ll be playing not as a famous artist, but rather as a group of forgers attempting to copy the greatest works and sell them for huge profit. You’re sort of working together in this grand scam, but pride means it’s really all for one with whoever puts that final touches on a piece claiming the glory. Or in this case, points.
At the start of the game one potential artwork is placed on the table, revealing the next one on top of the draw pile so that at any time players can see what will be coming next. Then each person gets five color cards representing their paint and the game begins.
Players take it in turns to play color cards that match whatever the painting calls for, like two blues, a green or four browns. Each color also has a symbol in order to help out colorblind players, which is a nice touch. If the painting needs more than one of the same color you can play as many as you have in your hand, or as few as you wish. The more complex paintings need more colors to complete but unsurprisingly they give the most points, too.
The other thing you can do is smear the painting, either because you simply don’t have a card you can play or because you want to, because you’re a horrible, horrible person. Should a painting ever get three smears then it is deemed ruined, but it isn’t just tossed to the side, rather the opponent gets to score the lesser amount shown on it. If there’s more than two people then the painting gets placed between your two opponent’s and they all score that lesser amount. With four players the game shifts so that it’s two teams of two players each, with the ruined painting being given to the opposing team. This means you can win the game because someody else smeared a painting and ended up giving you the points for it. It’s a very interesting concept and helps keep the game moving forward at all times.
Assuming the painting doesn’t get wrecked, though, whoever plays the final card, or in other words the final touch, gets to flip the painting over to its completed side and claim the points for themselves. The first one to twenty-five points wins, and considering some of the complex paintings can earn you to twelve points on there it makes for quick matches. There are no lulls either thanks to paintings being either complete or smeared. No matter what somebody is always scoring points and coming closer to victory.
And that’s it. Final Touch is an incredibly easy game to learn and teach. It’s obviously a very heavily luck-driven game too, especially in regards to paintings being smeared simply because you don’t draw a useful card, but there is some strategy at play too. If a card calls for four greens and you have them, should you actually play them all? Doing so might make it too easy for someone else to put down the last color needed to finish it. Every card you play brings you closer to nabbing those points, but it brings everybody else closer, too. Maybe it’s worth smearing it in the hopes that by the time your shot comes around you’ll be able to finish it. Plus, the next painting is visible as well, so it’s sometimes worth abandoning the current one in favor of keeping cards for the next one.
It’s easy to appreciate the way Final Touch plays around with real masterpieces, too, altering them to match its cartoony style and bringing a light comedy touch to the game. It’s not exactly a thematic game, but it’s nice to see the designer and artist trying to inject a little something extra.
Simple yet surprisingly good fun, Final Touch is a good family card game that earned the approval of both my niece and my mother, so that’s some glowing recommendations. As for me, I quite like it, too. There’s just enough thinging involved to keep me interested in the action without it ever really needing to a lot of brain-power to enjoy. It’s a superb filler game, and it’s relaxing, making it a good choice for a chilled evening. Do you absolutely need to run out and add it to your collection? Nah. But if you have a little extra cash to spare and want something to slot between those meatier games then it’s a reasonable choice.