Klunker is a game by Uwe Rosenberg, the creator of such greats as Agricola, Le Havre, and Bohnanza. In this game, each player is a jewelry store owner looking to maximize their profits. It will play with 3-5 players and each game takes about 30 minutes to play.
As there have been no reviews of this game for almost five years, I’m going to cover the components and gameplay as well as my take on the game. If you don’t care about the nitty gritty details of the game, you can skip down to the conclusion.
The components of this game are quite simple: cards! (Image courtesy of scottredracecar)
I have the Rio Grande edition, and while the cards take some heat for not being that attractive, I think they are a far cry better than the Lookout Games edition. There are 94 jewelry cards, five shop window cards, five purchase order cards and one start player card.
The jewelry cards are the cards that are bought and sold in each round. There are seven different types of jewelry, ranging from a tongue stud to a necklace. The cards each show an image of the piece of jewelry, and are different colors depending on the different jewels. Here are a few examples of the jewelry cards: (Image courtesy of boneroller)
On the reverse side of each card is the image of a bill, which is the money used in the game. (Image courtesy of scottredracecar)
Each player also gets a shop window card, and has a space in front of them that will be dictated as their “safe”.
The game is played over several rounds. Before starting the first round, a starting player is chosen and is given the starting player card. The instructions say that the youngest player should start, but we mixed it up after each play. This person takes the jewel cards, shuffles them up, and deals one face down (which stays face down) to each player. This becomes their starting bank and is placed face down in front of them. After the banks are set, everyone is dealt a hand of six cards, with the remaining deck being set off to the side.
Each round is broken up into three phases. In the first phase, beginning with the start player, each store owner places any number of jewel cards that they wish to in their store windows for sale. In the first round, every player MUST put at least one jewel card in their window. These can be any number of cards, and any variety. The only rule here is that cards cannot be hidden. Any jewels placed in the store windows will be available for purchase by any player. Play continues clockwise until all players have filled their store windows.
Once everyone has jewels in their store windows, the next phase begins. In this phase, players can place jewel cards that they wish to try to convert into money into their safes. Beginning with the start player, each person may put ONE card into their safe, face up and not hidden by any other cards. Any number of cards can be placed in a safe, but they must be one at a time. Play continues around a circle until someone passes and chooses not to place any cards in their safe. Please note that it is not required to put a card into your safe.
The first person to pass will then take the #1 purchase order card and place it in front of them. They will be the first person to lead when the next phase begins. The remaining players continue in this fashion, with each one taking an order card until everyone has finished.
When cards are put into the safe, players have a chance to convert them to money. As soon as you place a jewel card down that brings your total for the specific card to four, you must sell them. If you only have one type of jewel in your safe, you flip all four of them over and place them money side up in your bank. If you have two different types, you keep three of them, discarding the other one. If you have three different types, you keep two and discard two, and with four or more types of jewels you keep one and discard the rest.
The only exception to this rule is the necklace. When four of the necklace cards are cashed in, all of them are kept, no matter how many additional jewels are present.
After players are finished placing jewels in their safes, the third phase begins. The player who has the #1 purchase order card starts. At this point, they may buy the cards in someone else’s window for the price of one “dollar”. This is a fixed price, and the player cannot refuse to sell their cards. If there are three cards in the window, it is a dollar, and if there are thirty cards there, it is a dollar. If they are so inclined, the person may opt to purchase their own window, which costs them nothing.
Once cards are purchased, they are placed immediately into the buyer’s safe, the dollar is put into their bank, and any jewels are cashed in according to the making money rules above. One important thing to note here deals with jewel cards totaling over four. If you have three headbands in your safe in front of you, and buy a window containing two more, you can only add one to the ones in your safe to be cashed in. The other one will go into the safe, but will count as a new type of jewel.
It is important to note that no player is obligated to buy from a shop window. If they choose to, they may opt not to buy and the round will then be over. So if the person holding the #2 purchase order card does not want to buy from a window, the round ends and numbers 3 and 4 will not be able to buy from a window, including their own. And, of course, if the first person chooses not to buy, the round ends.
The first person choosing not to buy from a window is now the next round’s start player. They gather up the discard pile, as well as the unused jewel cards, and will then shuffle them into a new deal deck. New cards are dealt out to each player starting with the dealer, to bring their hand total back up to six. Play then continues as listed above. After the first round, it may be possible that you still have jewel cards in your window, in which case you do not need to put any additional cards up for sale if you do not wish to.
The game ends when there are not enough cards in the deal deck to bring everyone up to six cards. Play ends, everyone counts the money in their bank, and the richest person wins!
I picked this game up a few weeks ago on a whim, figuring that it couldn’t be too bad as I’ve liked all of Uwe’s other games that I’ve played. I think I made a good choice. This is a nice little filler game, which plays quick but still has a lot of decision making to be done. I won’t play it every day, but it will see a lot of play time in between the heavier games.
The decisions in this game are not vast, but they can take a bit to wrap your head around. I think at first you are inclined to try to keep one type of card, or two at most, hoping to maximize your trade in value. But I have seen people win while cycling through many different types gaining only one or two bucks for each trade in.
All in all, this is a nice filler game worth checking out. The artwork isn’t the greatest, but the gameplay is solid and there are still some decisions to be made. You can feel a little bit of some of his other games in this one as well, so that makes it even more interesting.
I was introduced to Klunker many years ago by Andrew Looney at a con and fell in love with it. I think if you call it "Schaufenster" with a heavy german accent it's quite a bit more entertaining than simply calling it Klunker.
It is a great little game that plays a lot like Bohnanza in some respects but with a bit more subtlety to the trading aspect. Rather than cards simply being traded back and forth they are "sold" in lots that may or may not be attractive to other players. Deciding what your show window (or Schaufenster) will hold you can telegraph what you are selling and what you are not yourself looking for.
I'd recommend it for people who like Bohnanza, or people who like Bohnanza but think that the trades can be too easily manipulated by a fast talker.
Our favourite Rosenberg. When it's around, Bohnanza never comes off the shelf. Hand management takes on a whole new meaning when you're effectively managing 3 hands.
I'd be all over it like a rash if it recieved the kind of graphical treatment Edel,Stein and Reich had. These days now my collection is pretty big a game has to be cheap or play fantastically to get away without good to great graphics. Klunker suffers for this.