Canvas is a Quick and Beautiful Gateway Game for All Ages

As any of our readers might be able to tell, we are either fans or captives of the Kickstarter, we still aren’t sure which. I’d hate to admit it, but I am one of those that can be swayed to back a game based on its IP like Hellboy: The Board GameOther times, all I need to know is that it’s being published by a company like Awaken Realms who has continuously impressed me with games like Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, Nemesis, and most recently, Etherfields. In the case of Canvas I simply took a gamble because I thought it looked interesting. After only a few playthroughs, I can already say it was worth the risk.

Canvas Setup

At its core, Canvas is little more than a beautiful card drafting game. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in aesthetics, ease of teaching, and brevity. Normally, I prefer longer games than the thirty to forty minutes that Canvas offers, but it’s perfect as it is. Adding anything more complicated to the experience would simply be over-saturating and a game whose simplicity is among its greatest strengths.

Canvas Cards

The object of Canvas is to become the most acclaimed painter at an art festival and earn the most points by fulfilling objectives. Each turn players will either take a new card from the row of six face up art cards, or present their work of art. The farthest left card is free to take, but if players want to take a card farther down the row, they’ll have to pay one inspiration token for each market card they skip. Cards that players take are automatically replaced with a new one from the deck. If the selected card had inspiration tokens on them, the player will also claim those. Any cards taken from the market are immediately added to the players hand. 

Whenever players have at least three cards in their hand, they may create a piece of art on their turn instead of taking a new card. Should a player have five cards in their hand, they do not have the option and must create a piece of artwork. To create a painting, players will select three cards from their hand and order the transparent cards to accomplish as many of the four scoring objectives, earning ribbons for each one. Once a player presents their artwork, they immediately take the ribbons they earned.

Canvas Score

The turn order continues in this manner until every player has created and presented three different artworks. Depending on how players use each of their turns, it’s entirely possible for players to finish their game at staggered times. When all players have finished, players will count up their points based on the number of ribbons they earned for each objective. Each objective card has multiple numbers on it based on the number of ribbons earned. For example, the Variety scoring card awards players with a ribbon for each of their art cards where they have been able to include all four attributes (hue, shape, texture, and tone). At the end of the game, players who have one of the ribbons awarded by Variety will earn four points during the scoring round. If a player has two of those ribbons, they earn eight points, or thirteen if they earned three ribbons. 

is a remarkably easy game to teach. With only two possible actions per turn, it takes little time to explain how to play. Even better, the thematic scoring terms like composition (the five icon slots on the background art cards), hue (represented by a color wheel), texture (represented by diagonal stripes), tone (represented by a gradient circle), and shape (represented by a triangle) are made simple with the inclusion of easily identifiable symbols.

It should come as no surprise that an art themed game called Canvas as some excellent artwork. Each of the background’s players create their artwork over are lovely abstract water color patterns that bring out the details of the individual art cards. The wooden mixing palettes are a great thematic representation of an artist’s inspiration. Even so, there were a few elements that disappointed me a bit. When I backed the Kickstarter campaign, I went all in to ensure that I got all of the available content. What I didn’t expect was that the “premium playmat” was going to be such a let down. The final product was ultimately just a thin piece of canvas. While I appreciate the thematic effort the quality of the final product was underwhelming. 

But the quality of a playmat and artwork has little impact on the gameplay experience itself. Canvas is an easy-to-learn, quick-to-play game that, so far, is likely to end up in my top 10 of 2021. It’s not a particularly deep game, but that only contributes to its charm. Most quickplay games can’t hold my attention for more than a few times, but we’ve played Canvas a little more than ten times now and it’s just as fun as the first time. It’s easy to set up, clean up, and it only lasts for thirty minutes, even with a full table.

Canvas is Road to Infamy’s biggest game to date and I’m thrilled to see another great success. Their reimplementation of AEG’s card crafting system is a mechanically creative way of making this premise work. If nothing else, the beautiful design work that went into Canvas only makes me excited for future titles from Road to Infamy.


Player Count: 

1 – 5 players.

Play Time:

30 minutes.

Core Mechanics: 

Card Drafting
Hand Management
Set Collection


Clearly outlined symbols, simple rules, and a lack of heavy text make this an easy entry-level game for any age of player.


Water color backgrounds and whimsical artwork make Canvas a beautiful game. If I have any complain about anything, it’s that the special Kickstarter playmat was made of thin and underwhelming canvas material.

Replay Value: 

Canvas has a decent amount of replay value. With a range of objective cards and a handy setup graph to change difficulty settings, there’s enough variety to make Canvas an easy game to return to.