Bob Ross The Art Of Chill Board Game
Bob Ross would be happy to teach you how if it’s just about painting. The only thing is that he needs his viewers’ full attention at all times, so whoever reaches maximum chill first in this game wins!
Game Time: 30min
Release Year: 2019
There may be painters more famous, but few have captured the pop culture zeitgeist like the late great Bob Ross. His soft voice, love of nature and seriously impressive afro made him a superstar in the world of art instruction. Believe or not, Ross was actually an Air Force drill instructor at one point. He said he did so much yelling that after his 20-year military stint, he never wanted to yell at anyone again.
He taught entire generations of adoring fans to embrace “The Joy of Painting,” won three Emmys and became synonymous with television art instruction. The show had humble beginnings as a local program on Muncie, Indiana’s WPIB. It began spreading and would eventually run until 1994, producing more than 400 episodes. As with anything insanely popular, it had its fair share of critics. Ross’ hastily painted landscapes were schlocky, they said. He wasn’t really teaching people how to paint well, they said. But at the end of the day, the show, the man and the vibe he created will live forever.
The recent Netflix documentary Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed was one of the most viewed items on the platform. Slight spoiler because it’s important: Bob Ross is still cool, it was people around him doing the betrayal stuff. Decades after his debut, they still can’t get enough of Bob Ross. It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a board game celebrating him. That someone is Big G Creative, makers of the Kraft Heinz Variety Game Pack and Mega Mouth: The Game of Reading Lips. It’s designed by Prospero Hall, who has brought us Jurassic Park Danger: Adventure Strategy Game and Back To The Future: Back in Time.
In Bob Ross: The Art of Chill, players collect paintbrushes and other art supplies to create almighty mountains, majestic landscapes and of course, happy little trees. If a competition doesn’t seem like the laid back Bob Ross’ style, don’t worry. The whole objective of the game is to be the most chill person at the gaming table. During a GenCon preview of Bob Ross: The Art of Chill, Prospero Hall Game Designer Brian Kirk called it “competitive chill.”
Players: 2-4 | Game Time: 30-45min. | Complexity: Low | Age:12+
Bob Ross turned people into painters when they never could have imagined it happening. Bob Ross: The Art of Chill has the potential to turn people into board gamers when they never could have imagined it happening. It’s light enough for the entire family to enjoy but has a surprising amount of strategy involved.
Much of the success of “The Joy of Painting” came from seeing how quickly Ross could put together incredible landscapes. He would accomplish this by doing three paintings. He’d paint the first off camera and have it set on an easel as a reference doing the broadcast taping. He would do a very quick during the show while doing his instruction, and then a more detailed one after the broadcast. The most detailed ones were used in his instructional books. Bob Ross estimated he created more than 30,000 paintings, many of which aren’t in circulation. The quest to find original Bob Ross artwork could be its own board game, honestly.
In keeping with the theme of making great art quickly, the game challenges you to finish your masterpiece before the art legend can. Players will earn “chill points” by painting landscape features such as almighty mountains and happy little trees. The colors and brushes in your hand can help you achieve your goal, but keep a watchful eye on the other painters. If things aren’t going according to their initial artistic vision, players may need to wash their palette and try a new painting plan. Hey, sometimes it ain’t easy being chill. Bob Ross advances across the easel as the game progresses, setting the pace for victory. Along the way, Ross will dispense invaluable painting wisdom and further opportunities to unlock chill points. These points can come from painting features, being first to complete features, and for using certain painting techniques.
The game components are covered in Ross’ artwork and adorned with his quotes, reminding us of how much joy Ross spread through his work. It’s almost impossible to be surrounded by his words and landscapes and not feel good. And yes, you’ll hear his magical voice in your head every time you read the quotes.
“We have been brainwashed to believe that Michaelangelo had to pat you on the head at birth,” Ross once told the Orlando Sentinel during an interview. “Well, we show people that anybody can paint a picture that they’re proud of. It may never hang in the Smithsonian, but it will certainly be something that they’ll hang in their home and be proud of. And that’s what it’s all about.”
As with The Joy of Painting, even if you’re just hanging back and enjoying things you might mess around and learn something. The game ends when someone completes three painting features or amasses 30 chill points. Can you feel the chill?
You might not expect a great deal of strategy from a game based on the world’s most easygoing painting lessons. But Bob Ross: Art of Chill has a lot going for it. There are all manner of bonuses players can achieve as they race the zen master of public TV across the painting track. There are bonuses for tasks such as being the first to paint a feature, how many colors were used, or painting a feature before Bob Ross can. Mastering the use of a particular color can also gain a bonus that can keep scoring you points throughout the game. You may need to completely wash your palette and try something different if another painter has made more progress. Competitive chill indeed.
Now it does have a classic issue of the player who starts in first place being difficult to catch. There aren’t really any “take that” mechanisms to stop them, which is understandable. Everybody smashing everybody else’s work would certainly not be very “chill,” and would disrupt the entire theme of a Bob Ross-inspired board game. If you’re going to err while making this type of game, you should definitely do so on the side of caution. Luckily, it’s a light, fun game that captures the chill vibe of Bob Ross and his style. With a playing time of around 30 minutes, you’ll find people willing to go again. You’ll also find people who might not ordinarily have any interest in a board game willing to give this one a try.
3. Player Interaction
Your journey to being the most laid back artist in the world begins in Bob Ross: The Art of Chill. Each player begins with three art supplies cards. To start you’ll take one of the double-sided painting cards and place it on the easel provided. Cool Ol’ Bob will start in the first space on the painting track. Now, on your turn, you have some options. A player can take three actions on their respective turn. First roll the Bob die. It has six faces, three of which are Bob and three which provide bonus actions for the player. Thus, the die both provides actions and determines how far along the paint grid Bob Ross will advance. Also, every time you roll a “Bob” you’ll get a new chill card. After rolling the die you can take an art supply, claim a matching technique card by discarding two matching cards, sweep the art supplies, place a paint on your palette, wash half your palette or complete a section of a painting. Art supply cards except the “wild card” are dual-ended, allowing players to use them either as a paint or a brush. Here the designers show serious fandom, as it was not at all uncommon for Bob Ross to use a palette knife as a brush. Art supply cards allow players to paint the canvas, paint a feature or players can trade them for point boosting technique cards. See, told you there was learning if you weren’t careful!
After players paint a feature it’s time to remove those cards from the palette. Then the scoring happens. Add up the number of points from techniques used, colors used and any bonuses from painting certain features before anyone else. Then check the game state. If Bob has reached the end of the painting track (basically finishing the painting) or if any player has completed all three features of a painting, reveal a new painting and reset Bob’s marker. Remember to give those happy little trees some character. You want them to be special trees.
4. Art And Style
Art is always an important component of a board game. But since this is quite literally a game about making art, it’s even more important than normal. It wouldn’t be any kind of Bob Ross game if the art wasn’t beautiful, and it is. Prospero Hall had the unenviable task of narrowing Bob Ross’ estimated 30,000 paintings down to the 30 they used in the game. The Art of Chill is filled with the vibrant colors that populated Ross’ happy little clouds, almighty mountains and happy little trees. Paints include cadmium yellows and titanium whites. Some of the faces on the die feature Bob Ross complete with afro and beard. It’s an unmistakable likeness. The cards feature quotes from the 31 stellar seasons of Joy of Painting.
“When things happen, enjoy them,” one card advises. “They’re little gifts.” Even though the TV show and this game are about painting quickly, one card asks you to not move Bob’s icon along the paint track. Why? He’s just chilling.
“This is not something you labor about,” the quote on the card says. “Enjoy it.” We could use a few more board games, and a few more television programs that capture that kind of vibe. Even the box the game comes in is gorgeous, showing Ross’ signature afro covered in his nature landscapes. You’ll want to put this game front facing on your shelf, it’s just so pretty. Speaking of his well known afro, the painter actually decided on the hairstyle because he didn’t have a lot of money when he began instruction. The permanent afro helped him save money on haircuts. It quickly became a huge part of his brand. Even after he had grown tired of it, cutting it became basically unthinkable. Bob Ross was a supremely chill dude, but he understood more than a little bit about marketing.
Prospero Hall pulled off a Herculean task here. So many licensed games end up being fluff that doesn’t even appeal to the people that like the product, let alone a more discriminating consumer. The board game graveyard is filled to the brim with promising sounding projects that missed the mark entirely. Bob Ross: The Art of Chill captures the feel of the license as well as Ross could capture a sunset over some almighty mountains. Somehow, they made competitive chill a real thing. That’s a vibe I wouldn’t mind seeing crop up again in a game.
A board game wrapped in Bob Ross’ beautiful, vibrant, happy art and filled to the brim with his inspirational, uplifting quotes is the chill we all need right now. If this game is to your liking, you may also enjoy Clash of the Titans, a game that pits great artists from throughout time against each other. Another one you might try is Masterpiece, a game about bidding for great pieces of art and spotting the forgeries. There’s even another Bob Ross game, Happy Little Accidents. Because every board game needs a friend.
Rating: 7 out of 10