An addition to the ever growing ‘roll-and-write’ genre, Wolfgang Warsch brings us Ganz Schon Clever (That’s Pretty Clever). The genre necessitates dice rolling and careful selection, but how does this title weigh up against its competitors?
What's in the Box?
In the box, you are provided with six, six-sided dice of various colours: purple, green, yellow, blue, orange and white. They’re wooden dice that roll well and are slightly bigger than the average die. No complaints to be had here!
You also get a thick pad of scoring sheets, which is where most of the magic happens. This, of course, means you have a finite number of plays in the box, but you’ll struggle to deplete your supply any time soon and refills can be found online. Laminating a few sheets is also an option for the more eco-conscious gamers out there. This is par for the course for any ‘roll and write’, so not worth bearing a grudge over.
The game also arms you with four small marker pens with which you will crush your friends. Of the components provided, these are the only ones I have any beef with. I’m generally in favour of a more graphite-based approach. Marker pens are at risk of drying out and I always managed to spackle myself with ink each game. Equally, marker pens prevent you from correcting any mistakes or changing your mind, but that could also be considered a feature. That said, all of my marker pens write well, and I’ve had no issue following a couple of dozen games.
The ultimate goal is to earn more points than your opponents by filling in numbers on your score sheet. Different coloured dice are used in different sections of the sheet, and different sections must be filled in and scored differently.
Gameplay consists of the ‘active player’ rolling all of the dice and selecting one of them to add to his/her sheet. At this point any dice with a lower number than the one selected will be discarded to the ‘silver platter’. This is the illustration upon game box base. The active player then repeats this process two more times until three dice are selected for their sheet and another three sit upon the platter.
Then, observing ‘passive’ players select one of the dice relegated to the platter to add to their own sheet. Play then rotates to the next player - rinse and repeat! Allowing passive players to select one of the discarded dice encourages players to remain engaged when it isn’t their turn and keeps downtime to a minimum.
Now, for scoring. The orange, purple and green sections must all be filled in from left to right. There are no limitations on what can go into the orange section - go crazy. Your score equals the value of the numbers you write in, which is also how the purple section scores. The twist with the purple section is that each number entered must be larger than the last. This resets after a six. With green, each box has a number already written inside of it. Cross off a box using a green die result that is equal to or higher than the number in the box. Crossing off more boxes produces more points.
Yellow and blue sections are a little different. Boxes in the yellow section are numbered. Roll a yellow six? Cross out one of the two sixes. Roll a yellow two? Cross out a two, and so on. Points are scored for filling in columns. Blue is similar, but the numbers in the boxes range from two to 12. That’s because you use the sum of numbers on the blue and white dice to cross numbers off. Points are scored for the amount of boxes you manage to cross out.
Across every section there are some very seductive bonuses that make the game super satisfying to play. Some of these bonuses are re-rolls and extra dice selections which you can build up over the course of the game. However, the juiciest ones are those that let you cross off a box in another section. As you progress, moving along the tracks or filling in entire rows and columns, more and more of these become available. This can lead to rewarding combos where unlocking one bonus will allow another to be acquired and then another and another, triggering a lush domino effect that will keep you coming back for more.
Finally, the foxes, depicted on the front cover of the game, are a bonus that encourage players to take a balanced approach to their colour scoring. You see, each fox you’ve earned by the end of the game will have the value of your lowest scoring section. Neglect blue all game and gather a measly eight points? Each fox you’ve gathered will each be worth eight points. This can be a death knell against a player that’s carefully curated their selections to include an even spread of scores. Equally, foxes are often late game prizes that are rewarded after significant amounts of attention have been paid to a section, so select your dice wisely.
Final Thoughts on Ganz Schon Clever
Ganz Schon Clever is a relatively simple game that’s easy to introduce to new and experienced players alike. This makes it incredibly easy to get to the table, which means you’re going to get plenty for your money. It’s easier still to get the best bang for your buck when the RRP is only £12.99.
There is enough strategy in the game to be competitive, whilst remaining random enough that the game is exciting. Thank you, dice mechanics! The mechanism of discarding dice of a lower value after selection gives a ‘push your luck’ element to tickle your addictive little gambling neurons - science! Subsequently, it’s got a fair amount of replay-ability. However, hardcore gamers may be left yearning for a little more after a couple of dozen games.
We’re not exactly drowning in theme here, but I’ve certainly never yearned for a one during any of my playthroughs and I’d be happy to forgive a roll and write for its absence. Ganz Schon Clever knows the strength of its genre and it’s risk-taking, dice-throwing goodness.
There are largely no problems with the components. The only change I’d make would be to swap out those small marker pens with equally sized pencils. However, everything carries out its job nicely, whilst keeping the costs down and remaining small and portable. This portability has allowed me to transport it to an array of events and subsequently reached the table far more than my larger boxed games. Furthermore, this game can be played solo, which I’ve dabbled with a few times and the gameplay remains strong. Generally, I prefer a social experience, but this title performs fine solo.
Finally, for those that enjoy the game, Ganz Schon Clever already has a ‘sequel’ to scratch more of the same itch. Doppelt So Clever has similar gameplay, but an entirely different scoring pad and alternately coloured dice. I can’t vouch for the gameplay personally. However, this iteration has an identical score on BoardGameGeek and the scoring looks at least as interesting as Ganz Schon Clever.
That said, hopefully a successor with translated title of “Twice As Clever” doesn’t deter you from checking out this game. Ganz Schon Clever is a great little game that absolutely deserves your attention.