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Game Preview: Doppelt So Clever, or Rolling the Dice Again and Again

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: That's Pretty Clever!
Board Game: Twice as Clever!
The amazing thing about Doppelt so clever isn't that Wolfgang Warsch designed a sequel to his award-nominated Ganz schön clever that feels pretty much like an alternate Earth version of the original — even though it is remarkable that they seem more like twins separated at birth than parent and child, given how similar they are — but rather that publisher Schmidt Spiele released the app for this game before the physical version even made it to store shelves.

The original Ganz schön clever game was fun, yes, but the app is what seemed to push people over the edge into addiction. You can complete a game in minutes, then do it again...and again. The app doesn't perfectly replicate gameplay against humans given that you are always presented with the lowest dice when it's not your turn, but it's a compelling enough puzzle laced with randomness that many people played hundreds of times, sometimes burning out in the process.

The Doppelt so clever app has been out for less than two weeks at this point, and it seems like people are already blowing hour after hour on it, with scores topping 400 for some. Holy smokes, I barely breached 160 in the four games I've played on a sample copy from Schmidt.

What is this game, you might ask? Doppelt so clever follows the model of Ganz schön clever. Each turn the active player rolls six colored dice, chooses one of them to mark off a space on their scoring grid, places any dice with lower numbers to the side, then re-rolls any remaining dice. The white die is a joker and can be used as any one of the other five colors. After the active player chooses at most three dice, then the other players chooses one of the set-aside dice for use on their scoring sheet. After 4-6 rounds depending on the number of players, the game ends and players tally their score.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

That brief holds true for both games, so if you know one game, then you know enough to jump into the next with only a few pointers about what you're scoring this time:

• In the blue zone, you sum the blue and white die, with each subsequent number being entered in this zone needing to be equal to or lower than what's come before. You score points for blue based upon how many boxes you fill in, and over the course of the game you want high numbers, then low.
• In the green zone, you multiply the number on the die by 1-4 depending on the particular space you're filling, but you get points only by subtracting the second number in a pair from the first number. If you roll a 5 and double it, then roll a 3 and double it, you've scored (10 - 6) 4 points. Whoopee. Thus, you want alternative high and low rolls.
• In the pink zone, you can enter any number you want, but you receive a bonus action only if the number entered meets a certain threshold, meaning that you generally want higher than average numbers, both for the bonuses and because your pink score is the sum of all numbers entered.
• In the yellow zone, you can circle a number and if you circle a row or column of numbers, you receive a bonus action. If a number is circled, then you can X it out, and your yellow score is based on how many Xs you made. All numbers are good for yellow, but you probably won't get all the numbers.
• In the silver zone, when you choose the silver die, you mark out a digit matching the number rolled. In addition, for all the dice you set aside at this time, you get to mark them off as well. If you fill in columns, you receive bonus actions, but if you fill in rows, you'll score more points. What to do, what to do? Hope for high silver numbers on your final roll, I suppose, but fat chance of that happening.

The bonus actions I've mentioned allow you to mark off additional spaces in a zone other than the one you just marked, and ideally you can pinball your way around the score sheet, for example, filling a blue space that allows you to circle a yellow, which lets you circle another yellow, that allows you to fill a green space, that finally allows you to fill in another blue space. Yay, five spaces filled on one die roll! You won't always be so lucky. I mean, clever.

Doppelt so clever gives you rerolls to use when you're active to give yourself another shot at something useful, bonus die actions that let you use an additional die on any player's turn (thereby grabbing the one number that you desperately needed to launch the pinball), and (new to this game) take-backs to use when you're active so that you can pull dice back from the "set aside" zone. Want to roll that joker again? Want to maximize what a silver die might do? Want to keep a certain die value away from opponents?! Now you can!

The only thing missing from Doppelt so clever is a way to combine it with Ganz schön clever. Both games include yellow, blue, and green dice, so those bonuses could carry over from one sheet to another should you attempt to mush them together in some manner. Perhaps we simply need to wait until Dreifach so clever is released, this being something I just made up but also something I wouldn't be surprised to see in 2020. We'll see how lucky we are in a year's time...

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