I finally sat down with Canvas this weekend. Unfortunately, no one else in my family was in the mood to play so I decided it was time to try out one of the single player options.
When I first got into tabletop games and heard that some had “single player” options, I scratched my head. Why not just play a video game then! But now that I’ve tried single player with a few different titles I own (Wingspan, Set A Watch, Canvas) I can see the appeal, especially when you just have a quiet moment to yourself. Another bonus is that the single player modes are a great way to learn how to play a game beyond just reading through the manual or pretending you are two people.
I backed Canvas on Kickstarter back in late March of 2020. I went all in and pledged enough to get all of the extra cards, wooden tokens and the ridiculous little easels (they are adorable though I’m not sure how much I will actually use them…except maybe for post-game photo shoots with my artwork).
Canvas is a game for 1-5 players and it is all about creating a work of art! But like all great works of art, it doesn’t matter how great you think it is, it all comes down to what the critics think – and by critics, I mean the scoring cards that tell you which artistic merits earn you points.
You start the game with four inspiration tokens and three background cards. The goal of the game is to draft the artwork cards to get the most points based on the scoring cards across the top of the board. Each of the art cards is transparent, with it’s own unique image and across the bottom are different swatches of colors and symbols. You draft cards from the table, either taking the first one on the left or using your inspiration points to skip over to pick up a card to the right, laying down a token on the other cards. When other players pick up the cards you passed over, they get the inspiration tokens so it is a risk you have to take!
Once you have three cards, you can complete a painting, organizing them into a stack that gives you the best point combination. After you complete a painting, you take ribbons for each achievement. Everyone continues taking turns until each person has three paintings completed and (hopefully) a nice pile of ribbons. Then you use the ribbons points designated on each score card to see who wins.
And then everyone takes pictures of their unique piece of art and shares it online because how can you not???
For the single player variant, I took my turn as normal then I tossed Vincent’s tokens on the table. However many tokens landed face up, that was the card he got from the table. Vincent doesn’t make any artwork, just collects the art cards, so it is more about hoping he doesn’t steal the one piece you wanted for your painting. My score was respectable fro my first try – 29 points – one up from the lowest tier. I was reading the directions and playing the game, I think it took me 30 minutes total.
I am resisting the temptation to look at all of the gorgeous art cards because it was so delightful to pull a new one from the stack and place it on the table and see the image for the first time. I barely went through the deck for this game so I know there are a LOT of buried treasures I can pull out next time I play.
This is a game I think the whole family can enjoy, all ages. Yes, little ones won’t quite get all the scoring, but I can already envision the small child that finds this amongst their parents collection and takes out the art cards and just sits and creates pictures.
I can also imagine adding an element of roleplay to the end of the game, with each artist presenting their great works and describing their deeper meaning (hm, perhaps this will be my tie-breaker scenario).
I can’t wait to play this game with a group of friends and I am so glad I went a little extra and got the wooden tokens because the ribbons look so nice and the inspiration bits have a great weight to them. Beautiful game.