The Chameleon Card Game Review (Big Potato Games)


The Chameleon is a social deduction card game in which players are trying to hide a secret word from a "Chameleon," who is trying to guess it. The Chameleon doesn't want the other players to know who they are, but all of the players have to reference the secret word without outright revealing it. If you like social deduction, The Chameleon streamlines and optimizes the process of social deduction until it's only the deduction that's left. That comes with all the classic excitement and drama of the genre -- if in a very light, casual package. 

The Chameleon Card Game Details

Players: 3 to 6

Game Time: 5 MInutes

Age: 10+

Genre: Social Deduction / Casual

How is The Chameleon Played?

At the beginning of the game, each player gets a card. If they are regular players, the card will reveal a grid full of numbers. If they are the Chameleon, the card will just read "YOU ARE THE CHAMELEON." Once everyone has a card, two dice are rolled. The dice correspond to a place on the grid. The grid corresponds to a number on a revealed "topic card."

So at the beginning of the game, players might roll a 6 and a 5. That could correspond to C3. C3 on the topic card might read "baseball."

Also the box looks like this and it's awful. 

At this point, every player needs to say a word that is connected to that phrase. The Chameleon, of course, doesn't know what phrase is being referenced. They need to guess. So a round might look like this:

Player 1: Sport

Player 2: Sphere

Player 3 (Chameleon): Paddle

Player 4: Field

In this example, the Chameleon may have been thinking of tennis, pingpong, or any other game that would involve a paddle, but it becomes obvious to the other players that the Chameleon doesn't really know that the word is "baseball." Of course, in actual play, the Chameleon would be far more subtle than this. Once players have shared their words, everyone votes on who they think the Chameleon is. At that point, the Chameleon can still save themselves by figuring out what the word really was (and the Chameleon can see the topic card, so they do know what the options are).

A Game of Subtlety and Paranoia

As a player, you need to figure out whether other players are being intentionally obtuse (so the Chameleon doesn't understand the hints) or if they really don't know what they're talking about. This can be extremely subtle, and it seems as though the game increases in complexity the more you know everyone else at the table. 

But because players are struggling to give clues without letting on what the actual word is (and the Chameleon, again, can see all the options in front of them), it is very easy for a real player to give a clue that no one else understands. It's a game of hedging your bets and figuring out who the odd man out is. As the Chameleon, your best bet is to try to figure out with as much certainty as possible what the actual word is.

There are only 16 options each time, so the Chameleon can (hopefully) derive the word through deduction. There are dozens of topic cards available. 

The Chameleon really drills down to the essence of social deduction games, by giving you a single piece of information about each person and having everyone argue from there. By stripping everything down to the least amount of information possible, it also gets rid of the biggest issue with most social deduction games: the incessant arguing over huge amounts of time.

Of course, that also means there's a limited amount that you have to go on. Either you suspect someone or you don't and some of the cards are much harder to play with than others. The Chameleon is a great game for people who want fast, filler games that are easy to teach. It isn't for those who don't like social deduction games to begin with -- and there is the issue that it really isn't a game that you can pull out and play often. 

The Chameleon Card Game Review
  • PRO: Essentially the simplest and most direct social deduction experience you can get.
  • CON: It's over and done in five minutes, and you can only play a few rounds before it gets repetitive.