The Chameleon is a game of hidden identity. In each round a Topic card is dealt face-up to the table, showing 16 loosely related words on it – it might be animals, music, or something else.
A card is then dealt to each player and everyone looks at them secretly: one will tell that player that they are the chameleon this round, and all the others are identical: giving grid references for the Topic card. Dice are then rolled and – using the grid reference – players see which word on the Topic card is the Secret Word for this round. At this point the chameleon will be pretending to to the same, even though they can see no such grid!
Everyone takes a moment to think, and then each player must say a single word in quick succession: the non-chameleons are trying to show they know what the secret word is, without giving it away. The chameleon is trying to give the impression they know the word, even though they don’t, and might be best served feigning confidence even if they feel their answer is ludicrous. Remember, the Topic cards contain related words, so it’s easier to feign knowledge than if the sixteen potential answers were totally random.
Everyone then discusses who they think the chameleon is and why, before each player simultaneously points at their suspect of choice. If the chameleon avoids a majority vote, they win the round instantly. If they are successfully identified, they can still win the round – by correctly identifying the secret word!
Play as many rounds as you wish. Scoring and winning in The Chameleon is definitely secondary to the play!
This was fun, although we found the Chameleon was often identified easily – and could often identify the word as well. But that’s not a failing of the game, more our playing of it. The single-word idea will thrill some and frustrate others – personally I liked the challenge of coming up with a single related word. If the secret word is Christmas, what is too obvious? You don’t want to say Santa, Reindeer, or Bauble, because that would give the word away to the chameleon. But then if you say Here because it’s a synonym of Present (- Christmas Present) are you getting far too convoluted and implicating yourself as the Chameleon? Conversely, going very generic can also cast doubt on yourself, as what you say could apply to multiple words on the Topic card. And if you’re the Chameleon, that’s a whole other challenge. I don’t know if it bumps Insider as my favourite hidden role game, but I did enjoy this.
It depends how you feel about being falsely accused of being a chameleon.
The game is really about conversation and deduction, and everyone is involved throughout.
The rules are simple although for younger players the lateral thinking might be a stretch in cases: if a related word is too "obvious" the game ceases to really work at its best.
Play is always the same, but the Topic cards are obviously different and you never know who the Chameleon will be - at least, not at the start of the round. However the variety in play comes from the players themselves, and the challenge of finding a related word that doesn't give the game away - literally!