English language edition
List Price: $27.95
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(Worth 2,235 Funagain Points!)
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The game is set in late pre-history, a time of transition -- when our distant ancestors, who had struggled and barely survived for ages in very small nomadic groups, began to feel their lives would be more secure and less arduous if they formed larger groups.
This led to the formation of the first villages. Clans has easy rules, but is very challenging. the players try to distribute their huts so they score often and large numbers. But they must keep their color secret from their opponents...
After thinking what a clever game Cartagena is, we were eager to try Clans. We were not disappointed! It has all the ingredients of a great game:
1) Easy to teach (though I had difficulty learning the first time from reading the rules),
2) Quick to play (about 30 minutes),
3) No luck involved - just pure strategy and anticipation,
4) No 2 games the same.
5) Makes you immediately want to play again.
We highly recommend both games!
This is a great little game. I haven't played Alhambra yet, but it must be quite a game to have beaten out Clans for the Spiele Des Jahres honors. Clans is simple to learn and play, but the strategy is elusive. It doesn't play like any other game I have -- a bit off beat. There are enough tactics and strategy for hard core gamers, but a good amount of bluffing and guessing for the socially savy. The game plays in 20-30 mintues, and it is well made and attractive.
We successfully played this game with a bright 5-year old (who cannot read yet). Engaging for the adults, but simple enough that the child could truly participate. He finds the game materials very attractive. Turns proceed quickly, and each one involves movement. Our child was, at first, intimidated by the secret color assignment. After we played a game with the color assignment in the open, he was comfortable enough with the mechanics to allow this important twist to be thrown in.
Randomly allocate a pawn, in one of five colors, to each of the map's 60 territories, featuring four terrain types. Everyone is secretly assigned a color.
Each turn, move all the pawns from one territory to an adjacent occupied territory. Score a point by creating an occupied territory completely surrounded by vacant territories or the board's edges. If all five colors are present, remove all singletons of a color. Remaining colors score one point for each pawn present. Bonuses are sometimes awarded for certain terrains. Reveal your color after the 12th scoring session, and add its points. Highest score wins.
Simple, but deep and tantalizing, Clans has no strong competition for first place.
Leo Colovini and Michael Schacht have been two of the more prolific designers over the last few years. Many of their games share common characteristics: simple but elegant mechanics, fast play with good depth nonetheless, and a clear basis in the purely abstract. The two have teamed up a few times already, with their latest effort being the very good Magna Grecia, but that's another article. Clans, by Colovini, fits this to a tee and the game falls into a 'fast but deep' filler category along with names like Web of Power, Paris Paris, and Carolus Magnus.
Clans consists of a board showing 60 territories in four land types. To begin the game, each of 60 huts, 12 each in five colors, are distributed one per territory according to a simple method. The huts are in five colors, and each player will represent one color. All five colors are used with any number of players, meaning that some colors will not be matched to a player. Tiles each showing a colored hut are shuffled and given face-down to each player, so at the beginning you know your color but no one else's.
Turns are as simple as one could make it: you take all of the huts in a territory and slide them into an adjacent occupied territory. That's it. You cannot slide into a vacant territory, thus every time a territory is 'moved from' it creates a vacant space that will not be reclaimed in the game. There is only one other movement rule: once a space has seven or more huts, they cannot be moved. Other huts can be merged into them, however.
Play continues until a village is created. A village is simply a hut or set of huts that is surrounded by empty territories. When this happens, the player creating the village takes a village chip and the village is scored. The basic value of the village equals the number of huts in the village, and every color represented moves that amount on the scoring track. Note that this says every color represented - not every hut! So, a village made up of three red huts, one blue, and one green hut, will score five points for each of red, blue, and green. Red has no advantage because they have more huts in the village. The village chips begin the game situated on a scale showing five epochs. In each of the first four epochs, one land type is particularly good and another is bad. If a village is created in the favorable territory, bonus points are added to the basic village value. If a village is created in the unfavorable territory, the village scores no points but the player who created it still gets a village chip. There are 12 village chips in the game, and once the 12th village scores the game ends. Players then reveal their color, move their marker ahead one space for each village chip they collected and see who won.
Initially it seems that you wouldn't want to double up huts in your color, since scoring in multiple villages is likely worth more than fewer single villages. But in a very clever rule, any village that includes each of the five colors must have any 'singleton colors' removed before scoring. Because of this, it can often be beneficial to get two of your huts in one area and then try to get one of every color there as well.
It is possible to create more than one village with a single move, but better players won't let it get to that point. Creating the village has clear advantages in the form of the village chip and being able to influence the final land type. But more important is to score often with your color and ideally in ways that do not make it obvious who you are so that others start to shut you out. The game plays very fast, and finding the opportunities to set up your color in favorable territories, ideally while helping only the straggler colors, is what it is about.
Because of the unknown player colors, the game has a bit of a Heimlich and Co. feel ('ah, you must be green!'). Clans would be too dry if it lasted any longer, and it works better with three than four since there is more control and having two unmatched colors adds to the ambiguity. This game won't appeal to everyone but its fast play and interesting idea make it a filler worth trying.
Clans is a remarkably simple game but with lots of excitement.
Despite the small size of the box, the board is a decent size because it is tri-folded. There are 12 regions on the board and each region has 5 areas. The game has 60 tribe pieces which are placed on every area of the board. The tribes come in 5 colors and they are placed in a uniformed manner across the 12 regions.
Everyone then is dealt a face down tile to let each player know what their color is. And the object is for your color to score the most points.
Turn order is simple, each player moves a tribe to an adjacent tribe (tribes cannot be moved into vacant areas). Once a tribe has be isolated, then who ever created the tribe scores a chip, and points are allocated on who is on that area. If all five colored tribes are in the isolated region, then there is strife and no one scores (basically).
There are 12 chips to be claimed and as tribes are formed, players accumulate them. However, the chips have a positive and negative regions, so if the Tribe was formed in the positive region those in that area would receive the appropriate bonus or if in the negative area, then receive the negative bonus. Bonuses increase from 1 to 5 points as the game progresses.
The games plays in about 20-30 minutes and is quite good--if you haven't had a chance to play it, do so ASAP.