Is dice boring? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!

Wolfgang Warsch, the shooting star among the game authors of the current year, has given lovers of tricky dice games a particularly clever gift. One that the jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV has even nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2018. If a pure dice game can possibly be awarded such a price, there must be more to it than one initially suspects. And in fact, Ganz schön clever from Schmidt Spiele is exactly that: very clever.

You can find out what is behind the game idea and how good the dice game by Wolfgang Warsch is in the following review of Ganz Schön Clever.


Minimal equipment, maximum entertainment

Sometimes it doesn't take much so that even experienced frequent gamers can have a lot of fun with a board game. A few dice - six in number - and colorful slips of paper: that's all that players at Ganz Schön Clever need to be royally entertained for around half an hour. Wolfgang Warsch's dice game can be played either as a solo game or with up to four participants. Previous knowledge is not necessary, the gameplay will have understood the gameplay after a few rounds: this is important, because this is the only way quite cleverly can develop its full potential. The dice game was chosen by the jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV nominated for the Kennspiel of the year 2018. 

Even if the competition prevailed in the end (here it goes to Review of Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg), the list position already shows how entertaining Pretty clever has to be.

““ Pretty clever ”fascinates as a brisk dice game with high demands. Author Wolfgang Warsch has linked several mini-tasks so intelligently that the players have to make a tricky decision with every throw. "

Jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV

In fact, the game is extremely fluid.

At the beginning everyone receives a colored game piece of paper on which the number of laps is indicated in the upper area. The rest of the game slip has to be filled with numbers and crosses as the game progresses. That sounds extremely simple, but it turns out to be an extremely tricky matter that forces players to make clever decisions again and again. The course of a round is always the same: the active player throws the six dice and then selects one of them exclusively for his own use. The special feature: all dice that show a lower number than the selected one go straight to the paper silver platter - and are then available to all other players. This process is repeated a maximum of three times by the active player, at the latest then all remaining dice are free for the player round.

There are also certain actions behind the active player's choice of dice, which are carried out immediately. If you play cleverly, you will receive up to three actions. When the active player has finished his turn, each player secretly looks for one of the dice from the silver platter and takes the appropriate action. In order to make the game even more complex, the active player can use the special action "New dice" at any time, provided this is available for him; then any number of dice are rolled again. The other players are also allowed to reroll one of the six dice, provided they have already unlocked the corresponding special action.

The mechanics behind the supposed chaos of the dice are cleverly thought out: the player's rate of action is high, only persistent brooding causes an increased waiting time ("down time") in individual cases. In view of the tactical possibilities, however, occasional pauses for thought are recommended in order to get the most out of your active rounds. By adding up to three actions, clever dice fans can at least gain noticeable advantages, even if these balance out again and again during the course of the game. To ensure that the game is really clever right from the start, players receive bonuses free of charge in the first four rounds - so you can maneuver wisely from the first second.

The colors are the stars

Rolling the dice and ticking or filling in is easy, if it weren't for the color-coded segments on the game slips. The appropriate color in which the game action must be performed is automatically derived from the color of the dice. The only exception is the white die, which acts as a joker and can therefore take on any color. For a better understanding of the game mechanisms, it makes sense at this point in the review to explain the individual color areas and their actions.

The yellow color box with 4 x 4 fillable fields shows numerical values ​​that can be crossed out if the selected die shows one of the open numbers. For each completely filled column, players will receive points in their account at the end. When and which numbers are ticked should be carefully considered in order to earn the maximum number of points from this area.


Pretty clever is pretty clever. It starts with the packaging design: the silver tray on which the dice are stylishly arranged is integrated directly into the game packaging. Photo: André Volkmann

In the blue segment, players always tick the numbers that result from the sum of the numbers on the blue and white dice. Each cross gives you points at the end - so every single cross counts here.
The green bar is a pure progress bar that has to be filled in completely from left to right and gives more points the further you progress as a player. A minimum number of eyes is required on the green die - or on the white joker die.

The orange progress bar, which also has to be filled from left to right without any gaps, is trickier. However, any number on the orange dice on display may be entered. The trick: there are bonus fields with multipliers.
The task behind the purple bar is also pretty clever. It must be filled in again without gaps from left to right, but always with increasing numerical values, whereby the "6" resets the current row.


And as if all of this wasn't complex enough, special promotions and bonuses are added in each individual color area. Every completed "system" - that can be a complete line or just a single field reached - triggers further features, so that under certain circumstances real chain reactions can result: even across fields. An action chain from the yellow field can then extend to the purple bar. And if that is not enough to test your personal cleverness, you should devote your attention to the foxes. The red fox heads play an important role in the final scoring. If every player was once an active player (the one with up to three actions), the color segments are evaluated. Foxes are special multipliers that multiply the lowest values ​​of a color range with the number of fox symbols earned. To make things a little easier: in the end, the player with the most points wins. It's pretty clever what Wolfgang Warsch has come up with with this complex rating system, isn't it?

Pictures of Pretty Clever

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 4 players
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 25 to 35 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
Author: Wolfgang Warsch
Graphic: Leon Schiffer
Year of publication: 2018
Language: German
Cost: 15 Euro

Summary

The dice game Pretty Clever is complex in a special way: instead of bringing players to the verge of desperation with material and detailed rules, the multi-layered point system ensures undreamt-of complexity in this title. If the first few games are more about understanding the basics of the game, the art of Ganz Schön Clever is the clever use of special promotions and multipliers. Once internalized, the scoring mechanism drives players to want to achieve new records over and over again. Time flies by - unless the typical brooders play along, who think about each of their possible actions for minutes and thus increase the waiting times. Apart from that, Ganz Schön clever plays extremely smoothly: the game literally splashes around, but at all times makes you think. Possible follow-up moves are always floating around in the minds of the players, especially when you know that you will be the "active player" in the next round. Whether the colored dice then bring the required combinations on the table is a completely different matter - but maybe you can influence luck positively with one or the other bonus campaign.

Particularly exciting are those decisions in which a good number is on display, but the selection of which means that the other players would have all the other dice available. The decision between accepting good combinations and favoring other players hovers like a sword of Damocles over a silver platter. With the clever trick of immediately sorting out lower dice, Wolfgang Warsch forces active players to sometimes unpleasant decisions: It can make sense to do without high eyes, but to be able to carry out further actions. Not always, however, especially when the chain reactions in question lead to more lucrative results. Because all players have their game slips openly on display, the entries made by the other players also want to be taken into account when selecting the dice. After all, providing templates rarely makes much sense in a competitive game.

What conjures up additional drops of sweat on players' foreheads - and sometimes brings tears to their eyes - is the decision about when available special promotions, such as rerolling, can be used optimally. Often there are situations in which an additional action could be useful, but would probably not lead to the best results. If you spend too long in your mind on your plans, you leave some special offers completely unused. After all: for the next game you learned quite a bit cleverly.

Whether the publisher's age recommendation is appropriate depends not least on the skills of young players. On average, eight-year-olds will probably be overwhelmed by combining the intelligent game mechanisms in a meaningful and, above all, profitable way. A playing age from approx. 12 years is better, because the ability to think at this age hardly differs from that of adults. We promise that it won't just be one round. However, one should not expect that the game rounds always run without delay, especially when players are out for a new high score.

The more players participate in a round, the longer the average waiting times. Nevertheless: It works pretty cleverly with any number of games - and always excellent. How much Ganz Schön Clever binds players to the dice can be seen in particular from the rapid wear and tear of the note pad. This is not a shortcoming, but rather testifies to the enormously high playful quality of this title, which was nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2018. Imagine what additional you could get out of the mechanics of Ganz Schön Clever - for example with variable game slips that motivate players to think again and again. Half an hour of playing time is seldom exceeded, even with a full cast: with Ganz Schön Clever, players quickly find themselves in a "flow" that makes chasing records so entertaining - and sometimes nerve-wracking.

Pretty Clever is one of the best dice games ever and not only inspires fans of roll-and-write titles. In addition, this game is a good example of how the use of clever mechanics makes more sense in terms of play than burning down a firework of materials - even if the haptic component plays a major role in many board games. With his dice game, Wolfgang Warsch presents a title that is almost perfect in terms of play. Aside from possible waiting times, you have to search for a long time to find really relevant flaws at Ganz Schön clever. The perfect game?

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