Corinth (2019) – Accessibility Teardown

Game Details
NameCorinth (2019)
ReviewMeeple Like Us
ComplexityMedium Light [1.74]
BGG Rank1675 [6.82]
Player Count2-4
Designer(s)Sébastien Pauchon
Buy it!Amazon Link

Version Reviewed

English-only edition

A review copy of Corinth was provided by Asmodee Nordics in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Introduction

Urgh, you’d think after a four month break I wouldn’t be so grumpy coming back to this site. Despite giving Corinth three stars in our review I also managed to wrap that up in some of the most fiercely negative commentary this site has given in quite some time. Having said that, the other big notable feature about a fourth month hiatus is that ‘quite some time’ could literally have been our previous review. It wasn’t though, because that was Parks and Parks was, and is, awesome. Why don’t you go play Parks? Don’t waste your time with this blog. It’s no good, and the author is clearly in a Mood even after a long break.

Anyway, Corinth.

Okay, so it doesn’t do anything new in the gameplay stakes but accessibility is one of the areas where I do love to see incremental improvements on that which is already standard. Maybe Corinth’s real innovation is in how it presents itself to players with impairments? Let’s find out! It’s been a while!

Colour Blindness

Good news to begin with – while Corinth does have a problematic palette, it makes use of art, positioning and textures to differentiate clashing sections of the board. While you may not be able to tell, from colour alone, which part of your pad is being activated… you’ll still know without any need to ask for confirmation from the table.

Colour blindness and Corinth board

That’s great news, because the last game we looked at from Days of Wonder was Yamatai and its colour blindness profile is grade Y, for Yikes. Hopefully this is a sign that Days of Wonder have now incorporated checking for colour blindness into their graphic design.

Colour blindness and Corinth pads

There are two different kinds of dice in the game – white and ‘gold’. They too are perfectly accessible from the perspective of colour blindness.

We’ll strongly recommend Corinth in this category.

Visual Accessibility

The story is a little less positive here. First of all, while the dice are standard d6s, there are so many of them that using accessible replacements is unlikely to be feasible. Even if you did have twelve accessible dice handy, you need to assign them to sections of a board that are unlikely to be large enough to contain them. Luckily in that respect the position of the sections are fixed and they can be reasonably easily committed to memory.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom if accessible dice aren’t available because the face values of the dice are only relevant in two areas. The first is assigning them to sections, which would have to be done by a player that could see their face values. The second is in applying their face values to the steward. The dice pips are indented, which for someone with really sensitive fingertips might be enough to work out what a die says, but realistically I think at least one player at the table needs to be sighted.

In all other circumstances with the dice, it’s the number of dice rather than their face values that matter.

Corinth pad

The pad though is where the largest inaccessibilities are going to be observed. Players must mark off symbols and circle numbers as dice are spent on their accumulation. There are a few situations (such as being the first person to mark off all icons in a particular section of the pad) where the timing is important. It would be possible to play Corinth, to a large extent, by representing the pad with simple tally marks as long as this is linked to the completion bonuses. ‘I got four goats, so I’m marking down four on my pad’ sort of thing. However, it’s also straightforward for someone to mark a visually impaired player’s pad for them – articulating all the options a player has is straightforward because there are six at most, with easily explained impact.

Mostly.

Steward close up

It’s the wandering motion of the steward that’s likely to be the issue here. You can use any dice you collect to move the steward instead of triggering their usual action, and in that case you use the die face rather than the number of dice. If you pick up three dice showing a four, you move four. If you pick one dice showing a four, you move four. But you can also spend gold to adjust how much you move, and one of the buildings you can construct lets you further adjust the movement by one or two. And the path the steward can take through the market can be as winding as you like, and will often have to be to land on the specific bonus you want. Given the range of options, it’ll be difficult to fully outline those for a visually impaired player, although it’s possible to play by stating a goal and working backwards. ‘I want a gold die, can I do that with the options I have in front of me?’. That though starts to veer dangerously into playing the game for someone as well as adding a maze solving optimisation challenge to the act of play.

Corinth then isn’t the least accessible game we’ve seen in this category, but it does suffer from numerous issues that will significantly impact game flow and player autonomy. We can tentatively recommend it in this category overall, but consider that kind of an averaging. Those with more minor visual impairments will likely be able to play it without serious issue.

Cognitive Accessibility

Corinth benefits in this section in that it doesn’t require anything special in the way of memory to play competently – all the information you need is right there in front of you, marked on your sheet. There’s no hidden information, and no complexity of strategy to recall. In that respect, it’s about as ideal a roll and write can be with regards to that facet of cognitive accessibility.

Similarly in terms of fluid intelligence – some arithmetic is needed to work out your best options, and the steward is probably the most complex area where that’s needed. It involves applying a range of possibilities to a range of options, and working out what they mean in the wider economy of your board. Otherwise, your best option is usually your highest scoring choice from the dice you have available although you can choose riskier plays for higher rewards if you feel confident in the odds. That does require a degree of numeracy, but it isn’t very complex.

It’s not thoughtless because you always have options as to how to spend your dice, but really the decision you take mostly is is ‘play safe, or gamble’. There are though some specific plays that can yield high values but do require a consistency of strategy. There’s little point constructing the building that gives you points for each building you have unless you’re going to double down on buildings, and that in turn means you need to consider the order in which to build them and which of the other opportunities of your pad you’d be best emphasising. That in turn depends on what other people are going for, so a lot of Corinth is about assessing likely competition over dice and then hoping the roll goes your way. You can influence that to an extent with gold dice, but in the end you’re at the mercy of the rolls and need to adapt.

So, we’ll recommend Corinth for people with fluid intelligence impairments, and strongly recommend it for those with memory impairments alone.

Emotional Accessibility

There isn’t a lot within Corinth that is likely to get anyone het up – the only competition is over the rolled dice, and all players will get an opportunity to score in some way, shape or form. I especially like the way the gold dice work by giving only the rolling player an advantage, since that stops others slipstreaming off of your luck, and prevents a circumstance where one player invests in dice bonuses which discourages others from doing the same.

That said, this is a game where luck is very important and as such skill is only a secondary aspect to the outcome. It’s possible for someone to get very fortunate on their own rolls while you experience no luck on yours – in that circumstance, there’s nothing you can do to win. On the negative side, ‘get luckier’ is a terrible basis upon which to build a strategy for future success. On the positive side, games of Corinth are very quick and you could easily do it tournament style to help mitigate the randomness.

We’ll recommend Corinth in this category.

Physical Accessibility

The physical activities expected by Corinth are:

  • Rolling dice
  • Arranging dice on the board
  • Collecting dice
  • Marking purchases on your pad

Given the number of dice you roll, everyone regardless of physical accessibility issues would benefit from having a dice tray. However, players with physical impairments may well find even with tools this can be difficult to do properly. The good thing here is that there is no part of Corinth that cannot be actioned on someone else’s behalf save for the actual decision making. Actions are easily verbalizable, even down to moving the steward around since they conform to a standard compass arrangement. ‘Move me north then west into the golden die square’ is something that cannot be misinterpreted.

We’ll strongly recommend Corinth in this category.

Socioeconomic Accessibility

There’s not a lot of art in Corinth, but the four prominently displayed characters are an old white guy, a big white guy, an Egyptian woman (I suspect, given the attire and the prominence of Egyptian trade in ancient Greece) and a white woman. In the background can be seen a few other figures. It skews white, as you might expect from the setting, but is also reflective of some diversity. The term ‘steward’ is gendered, but other than that the manual makes use of gender neutral pronouns.

Corinth box

You can pick up Corinth for anything from £12 to £16 depending on where you look, which is a price which compares favourably with Welcome To, Railroad Ink, and Imperial Settlers Roll and Write. As you might have gathered from the review, I don’t really feel like any of them are seriously better than any of the others so Corinth wins out in the comparison purely on financial grounds. Plus, during the pandemic Days of Wonder released it as a print and play and you can’t say fairer than that in terms of value for money.

We’ll strongly recommend Corinth in this category.

Communication

There’s no required literacy, and no formal need for communication during the game.

We’ll strongly recommend Corinth in this category.

Intersectional Accessibility

Memory impairments that coincide with visual impairments are likely to be a problematic scenario, given that many of the memory prompts in play require the ability to view your sheet and the sheet of other players. They’re summarisable with relative ease, but there could be a significant impact on game flow if someone has to keep inquiring of players with regards to what resources they favour.

Corinth plays very rapidly – the box suggests around thirty minutes but honestly that seems pessimistic. It also neatly captures all the key elements of game state, so if players need to take a break at the end of a round they can do so without having to keep the game out. Its short playtime and low-impact mechanisms mean that it’s very unlikely to exacerbate issues of discomfort or distress. It’s not ideal though if a player needs to drop out, which differentiates it from many roll and write games. Here, when a player collects up dice in a round they remove them as an option for other players. That means if someone stops playing, the relative value past and future of everything else shifts. Not likely to be a huge problem given its paciness, but something to consider.

Conclusion

Well, now I feel like a bit of a dick for using Corinth as a punching bag in the review. ‘Nothing new to offer’, I said. ‘Couldn’t pick it out of a lineup’, I implied. And yet here it is – its main point of differentiation is that it is much more accessible than any other roll and write we’ve covered on the blog. I’d go back and rewrite the review except that it’s still fundamentally accurate as far as game criticism goes. And also I don’t want to. Still, first game after hiatus and it’ll go on our ‘Accessible Games on a Budget’ list. Not a bad start overall.

Corinth, Meeple Like Us, [CC-BY 4.0]
CategoryGrade
Colour BlindnessA
Visual AccessibilityC+
Fluid IntelligenceB
MemoryA-
Physical AccessibilityA-
Emotional AccessibilityB
Socioeconomic AccessibilityA
CommunicationA

The visual accessibility category is the only one in which our recommendation is tentative, but even there depending on the extent of the visual accessibility issues it might play better than the grade would imply.

It’s good that games get two chances to shine here on the blog, because while I did rate Corinth as three stars in the review it was with such grudging resentment that I’m sure it doesn’t come across that way in the text. I’m delighted to see though that I can be more full throated in my endorsement with regards to its accessibility. If you’re wondering which of the many interchangeable roll and write games to pick up and don’t have any strong feelings, I’d say you should pick up Corinth and send a market signal that accessibility sells.

A review copy of Corinth was provided by Asmodee Nordics in exchange for a fair and honest review.


A Disclaimer About Teardowns

Meeple Like Us is engaged in mapping out the accessibility landscape of tabletop games. Teardowns like this are data points. Games are not necessarily bad if they are scored poorly in any given section. They are not necessarily good if they score highly. The rating of a game in terms of its accessibility is not an indication as to its quality as a recreational product. These teardowns though however allow those with physical, cognitive and visual accessibility impairments to make an informed decision as to their ability to play.

Not all sections of this document will be relevant to every person. We consider matters of diversity, representation and inclusion to be important accessibility issues. If this offends you, then this will not be the blog for you. We will not debate with anyone whether these issues are worthy of discussion. You can check out our common response to common objections.

Teardowns are provided under a CC-BY 4.0 license. However, recommendation grades in teardowns are usually subjective and based primarily on heuristic analysis rather than embodied experience. No guarantee is made as to their correctness. Bear that in mind if adopting them.

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