Ganz Schon Clever/That’s Pretty Clever Review

Released 2018
Designer Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher Schmidt Spiele (Website)
Stronghold Games (Website)
Players 1 – 4 (Have been solo playing a lot)
Playing Time Solo with App – 5 min
Physical Game – 8-10 min per player a good guide
Category Roll and Write
Combination Builder
Push your luck
Similar to Worker Placement
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

You just roll the dice and fill in numbers, where is the fun in that?  Wait, how did you score 4x my score?

Roll and Writes continue to come out at an amazing rate, and pretty much all of the publishers are now adding Roll and Writes to their lineups.

Last year, I kept hearing about this amazing one from Wolfgang Warsch (The Mind, The Quacks of Quedlinburg) called Ganz Schon Clever.

And of course, it sold out.  Then I heard Stephen Buonocore talking about it, and an English distribution via Stronghold Games. “Yay!” I think to myself, I can finally play it!

So I ordered it, and lo and behold the German edition lands on my doorstep just prior to moving.  But that didn’t stop me from playing it in the end.

You can play That’s Pretty Clever on almost anything it seems

Sadly putting the physical game in a box (and even sadder, as of this morning it’s still in there!), I thought I would not be playing Ganz Schon Clever until June.

But then on the Google Play store, up popped a recommendation based on apps I purchase.  Ganz Schon Clever! The universe decided I was going to play this game after all.

So I fired it up, started a new game, and was immediately lost.

Where there is a will, there is a way!

Wait, is this an app review or a board game review?

A little bit of everything to be honest. Once you are into a solo game, the digital versions (yep, versions – more on that soon) are a great implementation.

The confusion came simply because of an assumption on my part. I have gotten so used to the start of any digital game being the tutorial, I didn’t stop to read the rules, I just jumped in. The confusion was 100% my fault, and my problem.

The basics of Ganz Schon Clever/That’s Pretty Clever are really simple.  Roll six coloured dice, and select which die you want to use to cross of an area of your play board.

Yellow die are used in the top left corner.  If the pips on the die match the value on a square, cross it off.

In the blue square, you cross off the sum of the blue and white die that roll, but only lock one of them.  This will make sense as you play, but it is the most complicated placement rule in the game.

Fill out the sections to maximise your score. Simple in premise, not so much in execution
The app does make it easy to see your legal choices - and consequences. Sure I can use the 6, but look at all the dice I lose!

The final three sections are filled left to right.

The Green die face value must equal or exceed the value on the sheet.  Orange you can place any value, and Purple must go in ascending order, with a 6 resetting the count.

So as you can see, it looks pretty simple. Roll dice, mark off where you want it to go.  Basically, dice worker placement, right?

Well, sort of.  There are catches, and when first learning the game it’s these little quirks that can catch you out.

The first thing is the old ‘select which die to use’.  It’s true, you can pick any of the rolled die.  But any dice with a value lower than the one you selected get discarded for the rest of the round.

This adds a timing and luck element to the game. You really want to use green for that 5 places, but it’s the first roll of the round and everything else is ones and twos.  You will effectively end the round if you pick it!

It’s these kinds of little quirks that makes That’s Pretty Clever work so well, but it’s also not quite a game you can just roll and teach.

The other thing that takes a game or two to click is the positioning of the dice.  Each section has a different scoring method, and your final score is the total of all the sections.  But on top of that, there are also bonuses that can be utilised.

Some are instant use, like mark of any unmarked yellow square.  Some you can use when you want, like reroll the dice or reuse a die – possibly the most powerful move in the game.

If you ignore a section, you will get very heavily penalised as the fox head multiplies your lowest section score

So you enjoy it?

Solo – absolutely.  Once you know how to play, the digital versions let you belt out a game very quickly.

I will probably only pull out the physical version for a multiplayer game.  And there is the typical catch for a lot of these strategy heavy games – you only really want to play against people at around your experience level.

Because of that, That’s Pretty Clever is going to remain a solo or teaching game in my library I think.

So how can I enjoy it?

If you want to play with others, grab the board game.  Learn together, play together, and have a great time.

Only want to play solo?  Grab the app.  It handles all of the bookkeeping and rules for you and lets you focus solely on your technique.

Want to learn first and give it a try for free? First, go to Board Game Geek and get the English translated rules.  User nyfilmfest has a great easy to follow translation, and it will explain everything I have left out – and there is a fair bit.

Then, go to http://m.brettspielwelt.de/ganzschoenclever/ and give it a spin!

Yes it's in German, but the game is almost 100% iconography. Just remember Wurfeln is basically Roll 😀

The rules are solid and will give you a solid background into the game.  The main difference between the web and app version is stat tracking, so if you want to just play for free and mark down your own high score, go for it!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Ganz Schon Clever/That's Pretty Clever

Final Thoughts

Ganz Schon Clever/That’s Pretty Clever is one of those games that scratches the logical pattern part of my brain really well.  My best game to date is 287, but I want to keep playing until I can break 300.

And that is the first part of what hurts That’s Pretty Clever’s score.  Longevity wise, I think I have cracked the strategy, so it’s a self-imposed goal that keeps me going.

Plus, there is already a follow-up – Twice as Clever – which would probably be the games killer.

Give the web version and/or the app a try, and if you like it, probably just grab Twice as Clever. If you do grab That’s Pretty Clever though, you will enjoy it – even if it might have a limited play span.

Overall
7.5/10
7.5/10

Pros

  •  Very addictive gameplay. You always know you can do better.
  •  Free web browser game – limits to solo, but hey!
  •  Small footprint, easy to take with you

Cons

  •  Long term play I don’t think is there
  •  Already followed up by Doppelt So Clever/Twice as Clever
  •  Different scoring sections can be intimidating to new players

Lockpicks a Legends of Dsyx Game review

Lockpicks Cover
Lockpicks Cover
Released 2018
Designer Robin Gibson
Publisher Button Shy Games (Website)
Players 1
Playing Time 10-15 minutes
Category Roll and Write
Solo
Push your luck
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Visiting another Legend of Dysx

So I still don’t know what Dysx is or why there are legends, but cruising through PnPArcade.com after reviewing Dragonvault I found what I thought would be a suitable follow-up.

While not explicitly stated, Lockpicks seems to have you as the successful thief from the first game trying to access your rewards.  You have the chests, but the treasure is what you are after!

Only thing is the dragon has these pesky loyal followers that are trying to hunt down the thief, so you can’t hang around all day.

So as you can see thematically, Lockpicks looked like a fun continuation to the Legends of Dysx roll and writes, so I decided to give it a go.

Lockpicks Components
A sheet of paper, some dice and a pen. Not much setup required 🙂

Playing Lockpicks

Gameplay is straightforward.  Firstly you pick a chest that you want to break into.  There are 12 in total, with 3 being of a particular level (1-4).  The higher the level, the better the loot – but the more time you will need to spend picking the lock.

Next, roll your five dice.  Each die represents a type of move you can make on the board, similar to chess moves.  Starting from the lock at the top of the chest, you then do the appropriate move and place a dot in the square you end up in.  I tend to draw my moves, but it’s not strictly necessary.

The goal is to put a dot into each of the circles in the chest, then finally the lock at the bottom of the chest representing the lock being opened.  Movement wise the only limitation is you cannot put a dot on a square you already have a dot in, so you are trying to make an efficient path with the random moves available to you.

Lockpicks First Round
Each die allows you to make a certain move, kind of like chess

Once you have used the five dice, or you can’t move anymore, tick off an hourglass.  If you opened a chest, roll one die and claim your reward on the tables on the right-hand side.  You can only claim each reward once though, so reroll any you already have.  This is how you score points in the game, and the treasures allow you special powers to reroll during the game.

The game ends in one of two ways.  The simplest is when you have had enough and cash in your points.  The second is when you get caught!  You are caught if you use all of the hourglasses and roll a 1 when rolling all five dice in the lockpick stage.  This means that the game can go on until you open all 12 chests – but this is going to be extremely lucky!

If you are caught, you lose all of your collected loot and score 0 points.  If you get away with the loot though, it’s simply a case of adding up your points and trying to beat your old score.

Lockpicks Mid Game
The lower level chests are easier, but don't score as many points

But…

A lot of the same ‘problems’ I had with Dragonvault are still present in Lockpicks.  The rules are reasonably clear, but putting them on a second page with examples would be better.

There is a strategy for a high score, and I am sure with luck I could score higher, but this relies on luck.  I don’t mean that as a negative overall, just if you don’t like luck based games skip Lockpicks.

And finally Button Shy does not seem to be supporting this series, even though the website is on each game board.  It is hard to clarify rules with no easily found interaction – not the games problem, but something I still find strange.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Lockpicks a Legends of Dsyx Game

Final Thoughts

Lockpicks seemed like a good follow on from Dragonvault, and mechanically it is.  It’s a fine game.  But it just seems to miss something – I can’t really explain it more than that.

In theory, this should be just as fun as Dragonvault.  But I will turn to Dragonvault before playing Lockpicks (to date anyway).

It’s not that I regret the purchase, but if you are looking at starting a PnP collection, I wouldn’t start with Lockpicks – there are better examples, even within the series.

Overall
6/10
6/10

Pros

  •  Cheap and quick to get into
  •  Still a good solid efficiency puzzle

Cons

  •  It just doesn’t feel as fun as Dragonvault
  •  A couple of vague rules that could use clarification

Dragonvault – A Legends of Dysx Game review

DragonVault Cover Art
DragonVault Cover Art
Released 2018
Designer Robin Gibson
Publisher Button Shy Games (Website)
Players 1
Playing Time 5-10 minutes
Category Roll and Write
Solo
Push your luck
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

If you are willing to give games not ‘On the Hotness’ a go, you can enjoy some great experiences

I have mentioned Print and Play (PnP) games before, as well as PnPArcade.com.  There are many advantages to this format, as well as some disadvantages.

When you aren’t sure if you should be paying for a game, the PnP versions offered by many publishers are a small glimpse of the whole experience.  For example, you can get a PnP version of World Championship Russian Roulette – just in case my review didn’t help make up your mind 😀

And then there are some complete stand-alone games that I could have problems paying full price for in a store.  Welcome To… is a good example of a game that straddles this mark.  Paying for the deck of cards and everything that came in the box and paying AUD$35 was a point I was OK with.

But sometimes the game is just a play pad. Dragonvault is an example of this.  One sheet of paper with the rules and playing area combined, three standard 6 sided dice and a pen does not make me want to spend $25-30.

But USD$3?  The designer gets a thank you, I print the scoresheet, and I don’t have to leave my house.

Dragonvault Components
A lot of people might be turned off by the idea of a game being one piece of paper, but they are missing out!

Yes, that’s right – the game cost me less than $5.  I only print one sheet, as I have a laminator, but I am already set up for PnP if you look at it that way.

If you had a hankering for something new one afternoon, doesn’t that sound like a great way to try a new game?

Legends of Dysx

Not going to lie – I have no idea about the world of Dysx.  Looking at PnPArcade.com and Board Game Geek, it’s obvious that Dragonvault is part of an ongoing series of different games.  I am going to guess it is some kind of fantasy world though, as here we play a Dragon guarding their horde against the annoying heroes looking to make a name for themselves.

Playing Dragonvault

The concept is pretty simple, but it took me about half of my first game to really get my head around how to play.

On your turn, pick up your three dice and roll.  You have one of three possible courses of action to choose from.

The first is the most common initially – Add Traps.  You do this by adding devices to the grid representing the dungeon.  Choose one die to represent the column in the dungeon, and one to represent the row, the last to represent the trap.

Assuming there is nothing built there already/previously (can’t build over old traps!), or the area is already blacked out, mark your trap and then knock off an hourglass.  This round is complete.

Dragonvault Turn 1
Roll dice, look up options, write result. Nice and straightforward 🙂

Secondly, you can choose to unlock special abilities.  These come in the form of either a sub-basement giving you more build area or magical traps.

To unlock an ability, you need to complete all the squares under what you wish to access.  You can use any number of your die rolls, but the next number in the sequence must be one number higher or lower than the one before it.

Knowing when to sacrifice building traps or having the out if you are unable to build is key to effective dungeon management in Dragonvault.

Dragonvault Unlock
You want to open new powers, especially as the new heroes come through!

The last thing you can choose to do is skip your turn completely.  You mark this by circling an hourglass, with each circled hourglass giving you 3 points at games end.

However this isn’t the same as rolling and deciding you can’t do anything – if you decide to go for the bonus points, it must be before you roll for that turn.  This is where the push your luck aspect of Dragonvault starts to come in.  Is you your dungeon truly ready to defend against heroes?

Finally you will reach a door on the time tracker – this begins the defend stage of Dragonvault.

Roll one die and count that number on the list of living heroes.  The idea is the more you defeat, the harder the future heroes become.  They then begin their run through your dungeon.

As they follow the trail, you mark off the traps they activate along their path.  Most traps have a number of uses or a condition that destroys the trap, but each use also hurts the hero.

If they run out of hearts from damage, the hero is defeated!  However, if they make it through, you lose a chest and some points for the end of the game.

Dragonvault A hero comes
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

And that’s it!  Keep going until you have marked all of the hourglasses and doors to mark the end of the game.

Even if you lose all of your treasure, you would have defeated some heroes so it’s very hard to get no score, but it is hard to get a high score.

After about 20 games, I don’t think I have ever gotten away with all of my treasure intact – one always seems to get through.  I thought I was close in the game I have photographed for the review, but the last hero skipped past every second trap to their goal.

Dragonvault Final Score
Like many Roll and Writes, you are just playing to beat your own score - but it's still satisfying!

Some downsides to Dragonvault are if you want to play it safe, there isn’t much ‘game’ to it.  Concentrating on placing only traps and unlocking the sub-basement is a solid strategy, if not overly fun in the long run.

If you are unlucky with your dice rolls, you won’t be able to build over previous traps or unlock abilities. This high luck component will put off some more strategic players.

But that is only the opinion of some – the fact that Dragonvault is so quick and highly luck based makes this an interesting diversion for me to chuck some dice with.  And for a game that only needs three dice, how much depth did you truly expect?

I would like some more clarification in the rules though.  For example, a magical trap is a teleport that returns the hero to the start.  I am not sure if this is supposed to be to the start of the dungeon, or out of the dungeon where they start.

Assuming the simplest explanation was correct, I play as the start of the dungeon, but this can set infinite loops.  When this happens, I just play it as the second time the hero avoids the teleport.  Is that right?  Not sure, but it works for me!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD
Dragonvault - A Legends of Dysx Game

Final Thoughts

The ideas behind Dragonvault are interesting, and the game itself is a fine diversion when I want to play something with minimal setup.

But it’s not a game like Welcome To where I can see myself settling in for a few rounds back to back – I think two runs would be my limit.  But I would come back for another go.

That said, for the cost of USD$3 and a couple of printouts, you aren’t exactly being asked to pony up a massive amount of cash.  If you are even mildly interested, give it a go – it is fun 🙂  As for me, I will be checking out some more Legends of Dsyx games in the future.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  •  Easy to learn
  •  Leaves you that challenge of ‘I can do better”
  •  It’s USD$3 from PNPArcade.com!

Cons

  •  Rules could be on a second page and fleshed out
  •  Play draw area is a bit small

Welcome To Review

Welcome To Feature
Welcome To Feature
Released 2018
Designer Benoit Turpin
Publisher Deep Water Games (Website)
Players 1 – 20 (As long as you have sheets, any number can play)
Playing Time 15-25 minutes (Decision speed is the main factor)
Category Roll and Write
Pattern Building
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Beware the Home Owners Association – they may pinch your ideas!

There has been a major resurgence this year in a genre of game known as Roll and Write.  I have spoken about a few such games before, mostly in Last Week’s Gaming.

The premise is simple – you Roll some Dice and Write down the result to form some kind of pattern.  Everyone plays with the same roll, so it’s purely how efficiently you create your patterns that determine a winner.

But as with any design, this has been refined and played with.  One of my favourite ‘alternate’ Roll and Write games is the interestingly named Welcome To…!

What makes it an alternate game?  There are no dice to roll!  Everything you need in Welcome To… are some pens, the suburb score sheet, and some cards – that’s it.

Like a few other reviews in the past, don’t judge Welcome To… on the number of components that come with it.  This is a great game and logic puzzle that will keep you wanting to come back for more!

Welcome To Components
Not much to it - but Roll and Writes never do!

So what is Welcome To…?

Thematically, you are playing as architects in the 1950’s trying to design the ‘perfect’ neighbourhood.  You want to make estates of just the right size, parks and pools for recreation, and of course house numbers in the correct order.

Mechanically you are trying to do the same thing – neatly organised areas are more popular for buyers, hence more points.  Have a lot of parks in the area?  More points.  Got to install a lot of pools?  More points.  Had to slip in sub-housing such as 12A?  Well, that will cost you points.

Playing Welcome To…

First thing you do when you get your neighbourhood plans (Score Sheet) is to name your Suburb.  It’s part of the reason why the game is called Welcome To… – your perfect home hasn’t been named yet!

Then three City Plan cards are dealt out.  These are overall objectives that each player is trying to achieve, as well as an end game mechanic.

Initially these are fairly simple, basically grouping houses into estates, but if you want more of a challenge you can go advanced.  Advanced objectives are things like the first two streets must all have pools, or a certain street must be completely built.

Welcome To Initial Setup
You can just put your name, but where is the fun in that?

Once this is done, take the construction cards and place them into three equal stacks, numbered side up.  These will basically act as the dice of Welcome To… – whatever is revealed here is what everyone has to work with!

When everyone is ready, turn the first card over to reveal the effect.

Now the first turn happens.  Each player picks one house number from the cards on the left-hand side and writes that number on an empty house on their Sheet.

If you can’t place a house at any time, you must mark off a Building Permit Refusal box on the sheet.  These are penalties for not building, but can also end the game.

Once this is done, the player can choose to use the effect paired with the numbered card – this is optional, but these effects are generally how you improve your score and meet City Plan objectives.  This effect is also marked off on the Sheet.

Welcome To First Round Begins
So choose one number its paired effect. I have started with the high end number and a fence.

Repeat until an end game condition happens.  Ending the game happens when any player completes all three City Plans, uses all three Building Permit Refusal forms, a player has built every house in the suburb or any combination of the above.

Because play is simultaneous, it is possible for more than one player to reach an endgame condition – just play the turn out, then add up the scores!  Highest score wins.

Using the Effects

The building Effects are the score modifiers (and sometimes lifelines) in each game of Welcome To….

Generally speaking, they are all fairly intuitive.  For example, the Surveyor effect looks like a fence and lets you fill in a dotted line to make a fence and create a housing estate or group.

Similarly, the Landscaper looks like trees, and lets you fill in the Park score on the street you placed your house.

The Temp Agency looks like roadworks but allows you to change your house number by -2, -1, 0, 1 or 2 to a range of 0 to 17.  Why would you change a house by 0?  Because there is a bonus for the player that used the most Temp Agencies!

Welcome To Effects
You can mostly tell the effects just from looking at the image

The Pool Manufacturer looks like a pool.  If the house number you put down is in an empty house with a pool, you can ‘build’ the pool and mark it off on your sheet.  More pools equals more points!

The Real Estate agent looks like the stock market.  Think of it as marketing, where you can increase the final end game score for differently sized estates you build.  It’s all in the presentation after all.

And finally, there is Bis.  This hasn’t translated too well from the original French, and could throw some people.  All this is a mechanic showing a property has been slotted in, so an estate could be 3, 3A and 3B for example.

So now if you ever see ’12 Bis’ in a French street address, you know it’s just referring to 12A!

There is an additional advanced rule that also allows you to build Roundabouts.  By sacrificing an unmarked house and drawing a circle in it, you can instantly fence around the roundabout to quickly create estates.  Be careful though – this will also cost you points!

Welcome To Summary Board
Luckily the summary board makes almost everything easy to follow. Bis still throws some though.

So it’s just putting things in the right place?  How is that a game?

This is a question at the heart of many Roll and Writes.  Everyone has the same board, the same conditions, and puts things together as they wish.  But there isn’t one solution.

The player that does it the most efficiently or successfully pushes their luck the most is almost always the winner.

This is a big part of the fun of these games – at the end, when everyone has added up their score, everyone will see something that worked better than their idea.  The allure of the ‘perfect’ formation is always there but is rarely attainable.

Because of the random nature of the resources involved and the lasting effects of decisions made, the challenge to simply ‘do better next time’ can be addictive to a lot of players.  This is where the fun of these games are – not in the actual mechanics, but in the satisfaction of what you have accomplished.

Welcome To Scoring
I have never been in a game that has finished the suburb, so it's all about maximising your score

More ways to play!

Welcome To… has a solo mode, which only slightly changes the rules.  Essentially you play the same way and try beat your high score, but you add a ‘Solo’ card to the construction deck, and you only make one draw pile.

Each turn, you draw three cards and choose one card for the house number, and another for the effect.  Once the Solo card is drawn, you can no longer score the higher City Plans scores, but that’s it – the game remains the same.

Expert mode makes the game a bit more complicated, but also adds another wrinkle to the mix.

Each player plays similar to Solo mode, except there is no Solo card (it’s used as a marker for dealing, but I would skip it in small groups).  Each player draws three cards from the central deck and chooses two cards to play as normal.

This third card is not discarded like usual though – you pass it to the player on your left, effect side up.  This hides some information for the next turn.  Next turn, each player then draws two cards, as they already have a choice in front of them.

Welcome To Expert Mode
Passing me a 6 makes the house number useless!

It might not sound like much, but forcing ‘bad’ choices onto a player will limit their play options each round.  Someone really needs low numbers to fill a street?  Hand over that 14 with a smile.

But remember, if a player fails to place three houses it’s game over, so you aren’t just messing with one player – your score is also in Jeopardy!

Welcome To… Mini and Home Boards

A version of Welcome To… has been announced called Welcome To… Mini.

This is an interesting marketing strategy in my opinion.  The Mini version comes with the cards, 6 laminated score sheets, and some dry erase markers.  That’s it – no rules or new additions.

If you know how to play Welcome To…, this is a great way to nab your own copy – as a gift, probably not so much.

For myself though, I have a laminator and if you get one on special, you will probably nab one for cheaper than Welcome To… Mini.  Yes, it’s a few minutes mucking around – but after those few minutes you won’t worry about running out of score sheets again!

Welcome To How to make a scorepad last
If you enjoy Roll and Write or any games with score sheets, a laminator and whiteboard pen works wonders!

Don’t like writing?  Try the App!

Blue Cocker has released an app that replaces the scoresheet in Welcome To…

Playing on my Sony Xperia XZ, the sheet works fine and because I am familiar with Welcome To… it was reasonably intuitive to use.

I do wish though that there were some instructions or a quick tutorial to help you work out how to actually use the app.  For example with fences I had to tap more than if I had built a pool – those icons just ‘felt right’.

But this learning curve aside the app does a good job of minimising mistakes in placement and makes scoring a breeze, plus it’s free!

Welcome To App Scoresheet
The app is mostly intuitive, but it could still be better. At least you don't have to add up!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Welcome To

Final Thoughts

Welcome To… holds a special place for me in my game collections.  It’s ‘only’ a simple Roll and Write game, but one that I can pull out and start playing in minutes.

There is that little bit more to it mechanics-wise that holds my attention while keeping its simple nature intact.  I wouldn’t play Welcome To… with 6-year-olds, but 10 and up would seem an appropriate age to me.

If you are the sort of person that enjoys a Sudoku or just logic puzzles in general, I think a game of Welcome To… is right up your street!

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

I don’t know what this game is, but I want the cover anyway

Dice Wide Shut Cover

Marketing really does work

This is an example of a game I want in my collection purely because I will enjoy seeing the box up on my shelf.

Dice Wide Shut Cover

Gameplay – who knows.  The Board Game Geek page has no real information yet other than it comes out later this year, and it comes with erasable boards and markers.

Roll and write games are exactly what they sound like – roll a dice and mark down the result.  For an example of a really fun (and free!) roll and write, check out Pocket Dungeon by Jonathon Gilmore.  You may know his name from little games such as Dead of Winter and Vault Wars as well 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD