How To Play: Calico – Setup, rule summary and strategy

This Calico strategy guide covers everything from setting up the game, mastering gameplay, to clinching victory with specific strategies like pattern planning, button economy, and cat goals. It offers a comprehensive look at making the most of your tiles and scoring points, providing readers with the insight needed to win.

Hey there, fellow board gamers! Ever find yourself tangled in quilts while trying to appease some pretty picky cats in Calico? Well, you’re in luck! This guide is your golden ticket to understanding not just how to play, but how to dominate this cute, yet cunning, quilt-making game. From the basics of buttoning down your board to strategizing your way to victory, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get those tiles ready and show those cats who’s boss!


What’s in the box

  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Scorepad
  • 4 Player boards
  • 108 Quilt tiles
  • 52 Patch tiles
  • 6 Cat tokens
  • 1 Cat Scoring tile
  • 12 Button tokens
  • 1 Cloth bag

How To Play Calico: Rules Summary


  1. Place the game board in the center.
  2. Shuffle the quilt tiles and place them in the bag.
  3. Distribute three quilt tiles to each player.
  4. Reveal three quilt tiles and place them in a row next to the board.
  5. Place the cat and button tokens near the board.


  1. On your turn, place a quilt tile from your hand onto your board.
  2. After placing a tile, draw a new one from the row next to the board.
  3. Then, refill the row with a new tile from the bag.
  4. Players can also earn buttons or attract cats by meeting certain patterns and color requirements on their board.


  1. The game ends once all players have filled their boards.
  2. Count the points from buttons, cats, and completed patterns.
  3. The player with the most points wins the game.

Special Rules & Conditions

    1. If you can’t place a tile following the color or pattern rules, you must discard a tile and lose a turn.
    2. Each cat token has specific color and pattern requirements to attract them.
    3. Buttons are earned by completing certain tile combinations. They count towards your final score.

Best Calico Strategies

Mastering Calico: A Guide to Winning Through Pattern Planning and Tile Selection

Winning at Calico demands a keen eye on pattern planning and tile selection. Let’s break it down.

Understanding Pattern Goals

  1. Identify pattern goals early. Knowing what patterns will score the most points guides your entire game strategy.
  2. Adapt your strategy. Board layout changes, so be ready to shift your focus based on the tiles available.

Choosing the Right Tiles

  1. Pick tiles that serve multiple purposes. Tiles that fit into several patterns are gold.
  2. Plan ahead. Anticipate the tiles your opponents might be after and adjust your choices accordingly.

Strategizing Button Economy

  1. Don’t ignore buttons. They can be a steady source of points, especially if you’re struggling with pattern goals.
  2. Balance your approach. Focusing too much on one aspect of the game can cost you the win.

Mastering Button Economy and Scoring in Calico

Winning in Calico isn’t just about making your quilt pretty; it’s about making it profitable! Focusing on button economy and scoring patterns is like picking the ripest fruits from the tree. First, let’s talk buttons.

Strategies for Maximizing Button Economy

  1. Plan your quilt layout to include as many three-of-a-kind patches as possible. More matches, more buttons!
  2. Balance your button goals with cat goals. Sometimes, a stray tile that scores a button is worth more than a perfect pattern piece.
  3. Keep an eye on available tiles. Adapt your strategy to grab those button-scoring opportunities.

Scoring Big with Patterns

  1. Identify high-scoring patterns early. Aim for those from the get-go.
  2. Don’t chase every pattern. Focus on 2-3 achievable patterns to maximize your score without spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Use wild tiles wisely. They’re your ace in the hole for completing tricky patterns or securing those last few needed buttons.

Remember, folks, Calico is a balancing act. By mastering button economy and strategic pattern scoring, you’re not just sewing a quilt; you’re stitching your path to victory!

Mastering Cat Goals and Tile Placement: Keys to Victory in Calico

Winning at Calico is not just about luck; it’s about smart strategies. Focusing on Cat Goals and Tile Placement is crucial. Here’s how:

Understanding Cat Goals

  1. Study each cat’s pattern requirements early. This guides your entire game.
  2. Prioritize tiles that serve multiple cats. Efficiency is key.

Strategic Tile Placement

  1. Place tiles to match more than one cat goal when possible. This maximizes points.
  2. Think ahead. Plan your next moves based on the tiles you expect to come up.
  3. Use wild tiles strategically. They can be game changers in fulfilling tough cat goals.

Adapting to the Game

  1. Be flexible. Sometimes you need to shift focus based on the tiles you draw.
  2. Keep an eye on your opponents’ boards. Block their strategies if it doesn’t derail yours.

Stitch Your Way to Victory!

And there you have it, folks – the insider’s guide to nailing Calico, straight from my game table to yours. Remember, the heart of Calico is not just in winning but in the joy of mixing, matching, and making those purr-fect quilt patterns. Keep those cat goals in mind, stay sharp with your button economy, and always be a step ahead with your tile placement. Play it right, and you’ll not only impress your feline friends but also secure those sweet, sweet victory points. So, grab your quilt tiles, summon your inner cat lover, and get ready to create a cozy masterpiece. May your quilts be cozy and your cats ever curious. Happy gaming!

Want to know what we think of Calico? Read our detailed review of Calico here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.