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Clans

English language edition


List Price: $27.95
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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 30 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Leo Colovini

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Venice Connection

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Product Description

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...

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Abstract Strategy Game, 2004
Spiel des Jahres
Finalist, 2003
Deutscher Spiele Preis
3rd Place, 2003

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Leo Colovini

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Venice Connection

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 30 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 741 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #237

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).

Contents:

  • 60 huts
  • 5 secret clan cards
  • 5 small scoring discs
  • 12 village chips
  • 1 rules sheet
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Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4.3 in 18 reviews

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by Scala
Another Leo Colovini treat!
September 02, 2004

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!

 
 
 
 
 
Simple, elegant, off beat
July 23, 2003

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.

 
 
 
 
 
Can be played with young children
July 02, 2003

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.

 
 
 
 
 
by Carl
the real Spiel des Jahres
June 30, 2003

I can't believe Alhambra is the winner. Clans was much better, much more strategic and original. There is only one kind of move in this game: the player, whose turn it is, moves all the huts from a territory of his choice to a neighboring territory, provided neither territory is empty. In this manner some territories become vacant while villages are formed in others.

This is the first very strong mechanism. The second one is the score: it's no matter of banal majorities as in Alhambra, but every color present in a villages scores the whole value of the village. This means you have to spread as much is possible your pieces. Only one kind of move but thousand of possibilities!

 
 
 
 
 
by Wong SH
This one has to win
June 15, 2003

Clans fits my idea of a true game, simple rules, intuitive but deep play, and a chance to attack an opponent when they least expect it. Though good counting is critical, good balancing of urgent-important counts for more. This is a game you simply must have in your collection, and be prepared for battles with tricks up your sleaves. My strategy: urgent points for now, benefits less against an important surprise identity later.

 
 
 
 
 
Give me your tired, your poor, your hutted masses
May 29, 2003

Game mechanics are well descibed in the editorial review by Bob Herried which frees me up to discuss other things, like the ever-intangible 'fun-factor.'

The production is great: 60 wooden huts in 5 colors, score markers, cardboard chips to mark the rounds, and a huge gameboard that they somehow managed to fit in a box the size of TransAmerica (I believe Leo Colovini and Winning Moves have somehow manipulated the space between atoms thus ushering in a new era of scientific megaboxology!) Where was I? Ah yes, the GAME!

First of all, I am happy to report that the game played with rules as written is a very challenging, very simple, very fun game that plays quickly. How simple are the rules?

Players move all the huts from one territory to another. Players may only move into occupied territories, never empty spaces. When hut/group of huts can't move because it's surrounded by empty spaces, it is a village and score as many points as there are huts for every color in that village.

Throw in the 'strife' and 'un/favorable terrain' rules, and you are ready to go.

Gameplay is largely tactical, and since players can only move huts from one region per turn, and usually there are at least three regions they wish they could move, decisions are tough and fun. The game is excellent 2 or 3 players, and fun, but decidedly more chaotic with 4.

I taught this game in less than a minute to several different groups and everyone who has played this -- non-gamers and gamers AND young children -- have enjoyed this game and request it when we get together. They like the artwork, the simplicity of play, and the fun decisions.

Now for an issue I have with the box: it lies. It says 'Age 10+' and 'Playing Time: 30 minutes.' Fact of the matter is that I've played it with an 8 year old and a 9 year old and they liked it so much that the next time they came over, out of all the games I have, they requested to play it again! And, I suspect that if you eliminate the 'strife' and 'unfavorable terrain' rules as a variant, you could play it with children as young as 5 years old, which makes this game worth buying on that criterion alone. The other lie is 30 minutes. Try 15 or 20 minutes. Which means it's short enough to be 'filler' but fun enough to want to play it often.

I think for the price, the duration, the age range, the non-gamer appeal, the simplicity, the tactics -- this game should not be passed up. It's not going to make a gamer rewrite his Top 10 list, but it sure will get played a lot. Short, fast, simple. Recommended.

 
 
 
 
 
Great!
May 19, 2003

Clans is a great little game! Very easy rules, no luck at all, and the games are over in 30-40 minutes max.

There's plenty of strategy so don't be deceived! I rank this right up there with Carolus Magnus, Dvonn, Medina, and Lowenhertz.

Big board, nice playing pieces, good price, and great gameplay, Clans is a bargain for sure.

I recommend this highly as a 2-3-4 player game. Glad I picked it up.

 
 
 
 
 
These clans must be Scottish. This game's a bargain!
May 02, 2003

This game, along with TransAmerica, is among my favorites. The play is abstract, there is ample depth and color. It is fun and the multi-player dimension and random set-up bring the element of chance into the game.

It's the type of game that plays so well and has such simple rules you wonder why it hasn't been thought of before.

 
 
 
 
 
a masterpiece
April 17, 2003

5 clans wander throughout prehistoric terrains in search to build communities and villages. The biggest villages built in the most favourable terrains worth more points. No one knows what color other players are and at least one color is owned by no one. The move consists in moving all the huts in one territory into an adjacent one that must contain at least one hut. If a territory is completely surrounded by empty territories, a village is born. During the game the time goes on and the 5 different epochs has different effects on scoring of specific kinds of terrain. When the 12th village is founded the game ends. Players then reveal their colors and add so many points as the number of founded villages. Clans is a great game, really a masterpiece. You have only ONE kind of move, but it is at the same time incredibly rich of original elements, and all of them are woven together wonderfully, and the result is lots of different strategies. It is a superb, brilliant, light, strategy game!

My rating: 10/10 in 2 and 3 players, just a little bit less in 4 players (9/10).

 
 
 
 
 
deeper than you think
April 14, 2003

Another fantastic game published by Winning moves, the publisher of other great but very simply games as Cartagena and Transamerica.

Clans is maybe the best one of the series. Rules are extremely simple but you need at least a game for understanding the deepness of its strategy. It will come frequently on the table, because every game you can try to adopt a different tactics in order to obtain a better result. I like this game very much!

I bet for the Spiel des Jahres 2003

(forgive my English!)

 
 
 
 
 
'Alley oop, oop... look at that caveman go...'
February 27, 2003

A silly fun song that gives away my age, but is appropriate for a fun, silly game.

Clans is Leo Colovini's latest from Venice Connection. It is a deceivingly simple game w/ more depth than hard-core gamers are going to credit it with. These players will howl when they see it in the Spiele de Jahres nominations, but this is exactly what SdJ judges tend to look for. Lest we forget Villa Paletti over Puerto Rico?!

Clans consists of five tribes (colored huts) dispersed over sixty land spaces. Each player secretly represents one of these tribes. A player's turn involves moving all the huts in one terrain to an adjacent occupied space. You may not move tribes into an empty space. Once a 'clan' of tribes is completely surrounded by empty spaces, it becomes a village and points are scored. Also, once 7+ huts are in a single terrain, it cannot be moved. Other tribes (huts) may still move in, though. After the 12th village has been formed, final points are awarded. Tribe colors revealed aka Top Secret Spies ('86 SdJ winner), high score wins.

Leo's Clans is a great little game. The production values are excellent; Good looking board, nice pieces, clear rules. This is NOT a 'Tigris & Euphrates' style AP game. Some will whine about the thin theme, but...SO WHAT! Would 'Twixt' be less of a game had Alex Randolph made it competing tele-communications companies? (actually, pretty cool idea!) In fact, with games like Clans, Cartagena, Top Hats, Carolus Magnus, Leo appears to be the heir apparent to the 'abstract' theme style of Alex Randolph. Not bad company...

Clans is a light fun game to use w/ new players to the genre or a nice filler between your 'big' games. BGoR rate it a 'buy'.

 
 
 
 
 
by Emory
Unique play mechanism
December 07, 2003

I would have rated this 4.5 stars if that were available. (I save 5 stars for games we go crazy over, like Carcasonne, but we haven't precisely gone crazy over Clans...YET.)

One fascinating thing about this game is that, even with two players, you will never know what color the other player is until the end of the game! In fact, a major strategy is to hide which color you are so that your opponent(s) will include your color during village formation, which is the major opportunity for scoring. So your whole experience of this game is different from any others.

I also love games that have a depth and variety of strategies that pop out of a small number of rules, and this is one of those games. I also love games that look unique and beautiful, and Clans is definitely that, when all of the multicolored huts are layed out on the nice board.

This is a game that is easy to overlook, so get it before it goes out of print one day.

 
 
 
 
 
by Kane
Hut ... Hut ... hike!
September 09, 2003

Despite it's theme of building villages, Clans is a fairly abstract game. It's easy to learn (there is only one type of movement allowed in the game), great production quality, and no luck involved. This game is pure strategy. It's a game that may take a few plays to really get into and learn the various strategies, but it's a very good game. My ranking of 4 stars comes after about 10 plays. I would assume that it will go up a little after playing more.

 
 
 
 
 
A nice semi-abstract
September 03, 2003

Leo Colovini seems to have a knack for abstract games with just enough novel mechanics to keep them interesting. He had a fairly substantial hit a couple years back with Carolus Magnus, and he is back in top form with Clans.

Once again, the theme is only paper-thin, but it does seem to work well for this game, much moreso than with Carolus Magnus. Each player takes the part of a farflung clan of hunter-gatherers at the dawn of civilization, just as someone gets the bright idea that banding together might be The Next Big Thing.

Initially separate, these small clans migrate to happier hunting grounds and when there is nowhere else to migrate, settle down to become a village. These burgeoning tribes can also become immobile if they become too large, although new emigres are always welcome.

It is this formation of villages that is the heart and soul of Clans. As the game progresses through ever-quickening Epochs, different terrain types come in and out of favor. A village formed in the currently cursed terrain becomes instantly extinct, while one in the favored terrain will gain extra points.

The mechanics of scoring are interesting, as players are rewarded for beding represented in each village, but moreso if they are able to force more of their opponents pieces together. Ethnic diversity can also be a bit of a problem since villages formed with all five clan colors represented may result in one or more colors being killed off if only represented by a single piece.

The game is short and full of tension, and with each player's color hidden until game end, there is also a certain amount of bluff invlved throughout, as players try not to tip their hands too early about their clan color.

While a bit abstract for my personal tastes, I do recognize that this is an extremely well-crafted game, and an extremely good rice. You get a lot for your money here. It is easy to see why it was a Spiel des Jahres finalist.

Definitely recommended.

 
 
 
 
 
Great and simple
May 23, 2003

Background:

Recently my buddy Tom Vasel and I realized much to our surprise and great (cough) discomfort that neither of us owned or had even played any of this years nominations for the 2003 Spiele Des Jahres. While we had both played Werewolf in a verbal form, or its close cousin Mafia, the other twelve had eluded us. You have to realize that between the two of us, we own over three hundred games, most of those being newer German style games and traditional strategy games. I looked through the list recently posted and considerd which should I buy? After rounding it down to two, Clans and Amun Re, I came across the former at a game store and Presto it was mine. Why Clans over Amun Re? Simple, Amun Re was not in stock.

The Components and Box:

The Venice Connection did a great job on the box construction and artwork. The artwork would have drawn me to the game even if I had never heard of it. The box cover is an intriguing painting of a few tribal people on a cliff side looking down into a green valley with a village and a few small huts and campfires. I also noticed three languages, German, Italian, and English on the cover. I dont mind printing out rules in English but as an English speaker I sure prefer English rules.

One detail that caught my eye was the huts on the cover. They were five different colors. I dont mean different shades of straw or mud, but bright colors like: red, blue and yellow. Id never seen an artist try to blend the theme and the actual game; it was interesting. I expected a smaller board due to the small size of the box, not even a square foot, but due to an ingenious tri-fold design it folds out to be a decent size.

The game has 60 tribe pieces, which are made of my favorite thing, wood. They are fashioned into little huts and painted into one of five colors: blue, red, black, yellow, or green. There are also five wood score markers, painted respectively, to keep score on the, always nice, built in victory point track. Rounding out the components are five clan cards, used to secretly decide player color, thirteen pressed cardboard village chips, and the nicely done instructions.

Game Play:

There are twelve regions on the board and each region has five territories on it. The territories can either be, forest, steppe, grassland, or mountain. The tribes are placed in a random but uniformed manner across the twelve regions. After everyone is dealt a face down tile to let each player know what his or her color is, play begins. To make things simple, on your turn you can only do one thing. You move the huts from one territory to another. There are only two exceptions, you cant move into an empty territory or move a group of huts once it reaches a total of seven huts. Once a group of huts or a hut is completely isolated from any adjacent huts it becomes a village and scoring begins.

The first step of scoring is to check if all five colors are present, if they are there is a small conflict of sorts. Any hut that is alone in a newly formed village with all five colors present is eliminated and does not score for that village. The player who formed the village then is rewarded a Village chip, to be added to his point total at the end of the game. Also, and very important, village building is divided into Epochs, which by definition is a particular period of history, especially one considered remarkable or noteworthy. These are recorded on the board in a chart and bonus points are given to the villages as they progress down the chart. Be careful though because these epochs can also be dangerous. Each epoch has a type of territory associated with it, one good and one bad. If you complete a village in a good epoch you are given a bonus, if you complete your village in the bad epoch terrain type your village is completely lost, not scoring any points.

Once the epoch and conflict has be resolved each surviving color is rewarded points equal the total number of huts plus bonuses, not mattering if a color has one or more huts in the village total. Play continues until twelve villages have been formed or no movement is possible on the board.

Thoughts:

Leo Colovini did a great job with this little beauty. It is a fast and thoughtful little game. Last year TransAmerica was acclaimed as being the game to introduce non-gamers to board gaming, this year Clans will wear this title. With only one possible thing for a player to do per turn the new gamer can easily assimilate this game in minutes. As he or she watches and catches on the strategy of the game will creep up on the new gamer. Should I move my hut into that village?, or will that be too obvious?, or should I move the red hut out of the path of that growing village and remove it from play and pick up a village chip to boot?

Personally, I own both and I doubt TransAmerica will come off the shelf much more after this. It is simple yet holds much more strategy then one might expect. The publisher did a great job with the components and the rules are simple and well written.

If I had a vote for this years Spiele Des Jahres it would be Clans, then again its still the only one that I have played.

 
 
 
 
 
Quick and Easy to Learn
January 20, 2010

The rules are really easy to learn and the games just fly by. While not the best game I've ever bought, it definitely keeps getting brought out; usually when everyone is too tired to think for more complex games, but not tired enough to call it quits or before everyone has arrived to pass time. The best mechanic is probably the simple fact hat one color always remains unplayed, but on the board. This keeps everyone guessing who's who and on their toes. Overall a good game.

 
 
 
 
 
Disappointingly thin
February 25, 2003

Sometimes you open a box and everything just looks great - production, components, the whole 'feel'. So it is with Clans. And the initial reading of the rules here will make you think 'this is going to be a deliciously sneaky game to play'.

Short, simple, and even abstract games are great. We love Carcassonne with its slow progressive build. Dvonn has proven truly addictive even though the end is usually short and brutal. In both there is a sense of real purpose throughout the full play of the game.

But in this game - which takes about 20-30 minutes - most of the time is spent pushing huts around a board almost randomly, with a few neat tactical tricks at the end determining the winner. And in the end. it is like the old cliche about NBA games ... you only need to come in for the last two minutes.

 
 
 
 
 
Pasted-on Theme
August 14, 2003

I played this game only once and it wasn't a lot of fun. I tend to enjoy themed games more than abstracts. This game is an abstract game masquerading as a themed game. There's not much to draw you in, even the overall game itself is rather shallow. If you like abstracts this may be a game you enjoy; however, if you're like me where you prefer theme, stay away.

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