Bob Ross The Art of Chill Review
Quick Glance: Bob Ross - The Art of Chill
- Game Type: Card Game
- Number of Players: 2-4
- Mechanics: Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Set Collection
- Difficulty: Light
- Release: 2017
- MSRP: $24.99 (Target Exclusive)
Bob Ross, the painter whose PBS series “The Joy of Painting” has reached legendary status and is having a renaissance in pop culture. Whether it’s nostalgia or a way for people to find a little tranquility in a world getting ever louder; Bob Ross’s laid-back style and serene subject matter seems to be resonating with people as much as, if not more than ever before. The one place I never thought I’d see Bob Ross was on my gaming table. But here we are. Bob Ross, The Art of Chill allows players the chance to paint Happy Little Trees and Majestic Mountains right along side of Bob. The question is, is the game a mistake, or is it a happy accident?
At the beginning of the game, one of 30 actual Bob Ross paintings is selected randomly and placed on the included easel. There are three different main features on the painting that players will be trying to complete. Each feature requires a different combination of colors and a specific brush to paint. On a player’s turn, they first roll the Bob die, and get a special action. After this, they get three more actions, and can choose from six total things to do. The ultimate goal of the game is to mix the proper combination of paints on their palette, then use the correct brush card from their hand to paint each feature. You then score points based on how complex the feature you just finished was, and how fast you painted it. You may also score bonus points if you used a special technique to paint that feature. The first person to reach “Chill” (30 points) wins (although, as the rulebook states, anyone playing this game is already a winner).
The rulebook is very well produced. This is a very simple game, and I can’t even think of one time I’ve had to reference the book except for simple things such as how many cards to deal at the beginning of the game. Lots of clear images and examples make this one of the better rulebooks I’ve come across recently.
This game carries the theme out quite well, with a couple small exceptions. You are using Bob’s original art. The colors are exactly the ones he would have used on the show, and even the brushes are the same. They’ve really made an effort to stay true to Bob’s work in this game. The only thematic hiccups are that this is a race to finish the paintings before your opponents, and indeed, before Bob. There is a “Bob track” on each painting. If you paint the elements before Bob makes it to that point, you will gain bonuses, but if Bob does them first, you won’t get those points. Plus, if Bob finishes painting before you do, the entire painting goes away. This feels backwards. Bob was a teacher, and never once watching his show do you ever feel pressure, but this game can get rather tense at times. It doesn’t generate the sensation of “Chill” that the game presents.
Set up and takedown times are both minimal. There are 3 small decks of cards to shuffle, and that’s the longest part of set up. They include a few baggies for most of the components.
It’s a very nice production. The cards are well made and colorful. I give them props as well for making each paint smear a different shape on the cards. I do have several colorblind friends, and even though the differences are subtle, they are able to figure them out and have fun with the game. Each player gets their own palette board, which is quite nice. The painting cards are quite large and double-sided and easy to see across the table. The game even comes with an easel for the current painting. If I have one knock against the components, it’s that the score board, while it looks nice, is a bit uninspiring. The player chips for bonuses are just cheap cardboard tokens. They don’t need to be anything more than that, but with how nice everything else is, these don't seem to match.
There is no official solo play mode, but a user on Board Game Geek has come up with a rather funny variant based on Bob’s decidedly less chill son, Steve.
This game should not work. It’s a mass market (ONLY available at Target) media tie-in game about a guy with an afro painting mountains 30 years ago. And yet, this game is so much fun. It’s a very light game in the vein of Ticket to Ride. I don’t think it has the depth or staying power that a game like Ticket to Ride has gained over the past decade plus. The one advantage it has over a game like TTR is game play length. This game is done in 30 minutes even with a full compliment of players. A few of my friends say they wish it was a little longer, in fact. I do worry about the novelty of the game wearing off if it were much longer. Bob Ross: The Art of Chill succeeds where so many media tie-in games have failed. Well worth a look.