There are very few games on the market that are themed around wallpaper. In fact, this might be the only one. That Old Wallpaper is a pattern matching, set collection, bidding game from the designers behind Medium and published by AEG. Will this tacky wallpaper be a hit with the family or a card game that just fades into the background?
Embrace the Tacky
Up to 5 players are building their own wallpaper built out of small pattern cards with a variety of shapes and colors. You’ll bid on pattern cards that roll out in the middle of the table. Colored patterns line each of the 4 card edges. Some cards are slightly more valuable due to having a wild pattern (gold foil finish) or memento symbols.
Each of the 3 rounds of That Old Wallpaper has players using numbered cards to bid on new pattern cards. The game relies on players being flexible as they earn cards that may not be their optimum choice. If 2 or more players bid with the same number cards, ties are broken using wooden discs that are in the center of the table. When a tie is broken, that players token moves to the back of the line.
If you lose the tie breaker, no big deal. You’ll receive a “hazy memory” card. This card has a wild pattern on one edge of the card and will be added to your display at the end of the game. This is an excellent way for players to fill in gaps in order to maximize scoring at the end of the game.
The newly earned cards are immediately added to the ever expanding wallpaper in front of you. You want to match as many card sides as possible when adding it to your display. Mismatched sides are allowed but they won’t be eligible to score points at the end of the game.
That Old Wallpaper has a simple to teach gameplay loop that ends up having some nice complexity. When building your wallpaper, you’ll score 2 points for every color/pattern that has matching set of large and small color/pattern. Building matching colors evenly earns you the most points.
For example, collecting 4 large yellow patterns and 3 small yellow patterns mean that you only have 3 matches, giving you 6 (3 matches x 2 points) points for yellow. Players need to evaluate what patterns they’re missing as the game advances.
Some pattern cards include purple memento symbols that score points based on how many of the 4 symbols you have at the end of the game. These are commonly the most sought after cards.
Everyone is a Designer
That Old Wallpaper is a really accessible game. We’ve taught kids, adults and seniors how to play with no problem. I really enjoy how bidding on pattern cards happens simultaneously, leaving very little down time for players.
When a pattern card with a red dot shows up, another card is added to this slot in the bidding row. It’s easy to get sucked into getting 2, 3 or 4 for a single bid when this happens. Just know, everyone else at the table has the same idea.
One thing we’ve learned is that players really benefit from having a copy of the score pad at the start of the game. This lets players keep track of the patterns they have and which they still need.
Players who struggle with decision making could slow down this otherwise fast-paced game. We’ve run into the an issue where a player is overthinking the placement of a new card, holds up the next bid for everyone at the table. This is really about knowing the audience you’re playing the game with. With lots of options and trying to maximize points, look out for players who overthink their decisions.
That Old Wallpaper has an odd theme that plays surprisingly well. The bidding mechanic moves fast and is easy to teach. When players tie, the results aren’t punishing. Earning “hazy memory” cards can be a huge win when you realize you’re missing patterns at the end of the game.
If pattern building and bidding are your jam, I can’t think of a better game that hits the sweet spot of these two mechanics. It’s easy enough for younger gamers while still offering enough decision making for seasoned gamers. Now, let’s roll out some tacky wallpaper!
- Excellent card quality with gold finish representing wild patterns
- Supports up to 5 players
- “Hazy memory” cards are an excellent consolation prize for ties
- Easy to teach new and younger gamers
- Players can overthink their pattern placement, slowing the game down