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Subject: Clout? The original name of BattleCaster is cooler. rss

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Paul DeStefano
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Let’s get this out of the way right now: Clout Fantasy is a collectible with horrible pricing. There is no doubt about this, there is no fighting this.

I bought my starter stacks for $7.99 per pair online – I could not find this game locally for the life of me. So for $16 +S/H, I got the 4 races starters of 15 chips each. This is not a half bad deal at all. About a quarter per chip. Seems reasonable. Boosters - $1.75 for 2 chips! And there’s 250 chips? Some ultra rare chase chips? Whoa, Nellie, that’s no deal!

Well, of course, I did buy a few boosters, I can’t lie. BUT, there’s a fairly inherent problem with this absurd cost. If you play a Goblin stack, you can only have Goblins in it. That’s right, you can buy a starter pair and boosters, and theoretically get no playable chips in the boosters.

OK, you can ignore the faction rules, but it will really detract from the game. The faction flavors are nice and well defined by chip selection.

So, let’s talk basic game, no boosters.

If anyone thought ‘POGS!’, well, they either don’t know what pogs are, or have never played this game beyond the poorly introduced demo.

It’s all about area control.

OK, maybe not quite as subtle as Go, but Go doesn’t let you chuck things through the air.

You take your stack of 15 chips. No more. No less. Built in game timer. And you take turns tossing them to your table. We cover the table with a towel so the things don’t simply all bounce off.

First, chuck a base. You have to start with a base. It will have probably some ability and some stats and maybe some Clout points. Clout points win the game. Or lose them. Most Clout points on the table at the end win. Of course, throw a chip with a lot of Clout points, and you may as well put a target on it. A thrown chip usually activates some ability, like attacking nearby chips. Or creating a zone of weakness around it, providing a setup for later chips. Some chips even get to move, in case your throw stinks.

Man, this is sounding pretty stupid, isn’t it?

OK, so you throw your base and… fast forward a few turns later. You’ve got a base, providing some nice bonus to nearby chips, and they’ll all be worth extra points at the end. Your turn comes. You shuffle through your stack and select an Action chip. Actions don’t stay on the table. Poof, gone. Unfortunately, they usually cost you Clout points to put into your stack, which must contain an exact number of chips AND clout points. Anyway, you choose this action, which cannot score you points, since it will not be on the table. It lands between two enemy chips. You can choose to either remove a high scoring chip of the opponent, OR a non-scoring chip that is making several other chips tougher.

Hmmm. Interesting.

There’s actually thought to this…

Do I use my mighty warrior now to do damage, or wait, hope I get a perfect throw later and leave less turns for him to be a target? What if it rolls?

Strike. Counterstrike. Destroy. Ambush. Fly. Cool abilities. After you check the rules once, no need to check again, they’re fairly straightforward 95% of the time.

The game is simplistic in concept. The dexterity element is iffy, it’s bound to screw up a shot once or twice a game, which is interesting. The interactions of chips is fairly minor, since once a chip is on the table, well, there it is.

The order of what you do is hugely important. Support has to occur before attack. Otherwise, at the end game, you have things going out that support but are incapable of attack.

OK, so it doesn’t have much going for it. It certainly ain’t a serious wargame. Nothing is nearly as innovative as they claim.

BUT

It has ‘it’.

That stupid, undefinable giddiness that makes you want to play a game. At least for me, this game works. I’m putting this with Attacktix as a game that has a lot going on under the toy exterior, and that I’m embarrassed to like. After a few plays, I had it as a 7. I’ve raised it. This game is fun. It is by no means a great game. It is great fun.
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Adam Conus
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Good, honest, opinions. Thanks!

I'm sooooooo glad you hit the fun button. Fun is what I push more than innovative. Everything about Clout is designed to be easy and fun. Tournaments, in particular, are meant to be more relaxed than other games.

I can't help with the price. The game costs what it costs. To make up for it, I'm doing everything I can to make the game worth what you pay. Because of strict stack construction rules, we won't have to ban sets no matter how old they get, and we do listen to the players and retailers and make sure what we're doing is in line with what they want and need. For example, to help with the booster issue, the next time we reprint we're always going to put at least one chip in each pack that matches the color of the pack. If you buy the goblin pack, you'll get at least one goblin chip. The second chip will still be random.

Adam "Wildcard" Conus
Hidden City Games
Organized Play Manager
Website - http://www.hiddencitygames.com
Fling Into Action Blog - http://cloutfantasy.blogspot.com/
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Paul DeStefano
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Wildcard6 wrote:
If you buy the goblin pack, you'll get at least one goblin chip. The second chip will still be random.


That's very important and sorely missing from the first set.
 
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Steve Werth
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Okay Paul, you seem to know know what you're talking about. How does Clout stack up to Diceland, in your opinion?
 
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Paul DeStefano
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I only played Diceland once, Steve, so keep that in mind.

Diceland is way fiddly compared to Clout. Diceland certainly is a bit more random with the sides and a bit more complex with the facings. Diceland definitely edges out Clout in the way its marketed.

They are very different animals that share a somewhat unique component of tossing. But CLout feels more CCGish, Diceland more wargamy.

Sorry I can't do better than that.
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Jay Little
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Great review. I'm actually eager to get my elf/undead starter to the table, if I can find an opponent willing to play. It's a neat concept, despite my misgivings about the (too many?) special abilities and exceptions.

I was honestly looking for a game that filled a sort of X-Bugs niche -- manual dexterity is important, but strategy and the interplay of components is just as vital. Lucky shots can make or break a game, but don't necessarily happen every time you play. But hopefully with a narrower skill gap than X-Bugs... I've gotten so good flipping X-Bugs that very few of my gaming buddies will play it any more.

So Clout has some real appeal to me. Unfortunately, I gave up reading the rule book after 3 tries. It's too long and complex (since you have to explain every possible outcome in a rulebook, even if the starters only contain 1/5th of the total abilities available in the series) for what I was hoping would be a quick lil' game. Hopefully once I finally grudge my way through the rules, I won't need to refer to 'em again.

How significant do you think the manual dexterity element is? I noticed you said you play with a towel -- does that make the tosses too forgiving and static, or still allow some wiggle room? I usually play X-Bugs and similar games on my chessex soft padded battlemat, or on a folding card table with a soft vinyl surface... So there's some give, but not so soft that things just "stick" in place.
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Adam Conus
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Geosphere wrote:
Diceland definitely edges out Clout in the way its marketed.


Putting aside for a moment that Diceland is a Cheapass Game, and Cheapass Games are brilliant in every way, including marketing, how do you prefer Diceland to Clout marketing-wise?

Even better, how should Clout be marketed? I write this from an LA hotel room getting ready to run a weekend of demos and tournaments at Wizard World LA.

Adam "Wildcard" Conus
Hidden City Games
Organized Play Manager
Website - http://www.hiddencitygames.com
Fling Into Action Blog - http://cloutfantasy.blogspot.com/


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Adam Conus
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ynnen wrote:
Great review. I'm actually eager to get my elf/undead starter to the table, if I can find an opponent willing to play. It's a neat concept, despite my misgivings about the (too many?) special abilities and exceptions.

I was honestly looking for a game that filled a sort of X-Bugs niche -- manual dexterity is important, but strategy and the interplay of components is just as vital. Lucky shots can make or break a game, but don't necessarily happen every time you play. But hopefully with a narrower skill gap than X-Bugs... I've gotten so good flipping X-Bugs that very few of my gaming buddies will play it any more.

So Clout has some real appeal to me. Unfortunately, I gave up reading the rule book after 3 tries. It's too long and complex (since you have to explain every possible outcome in a rulebook, even if the starters only contain 1/5th of the total abilities available in the series) for what I was hoping would be a quick lil' game. Hopefully once I finally grudge my way through the rules, I won't need to refer to 'em again.

How significant do you think the manual dexterity element is? I noticed you said you play with a towel -- does that make the tosses too forgiving and static, or still allow some wiggle room? I usually play X-Bugs and similar games on my chessex soft padded battlemat, or on a folding card table with a soft vinyl surface... So there's some give, but not so soft that things just "stick" in place.


We've got several tournament organizers in Sedalia, which apparently is a Clout hot-spot in MO. If that's near you, just shoot me a message and I'll get you hooked up with them.

The rulebook suffers from the same ills that plaque many TCGs: lots of rules, tiny print, and written by R&D. We of course will improve the rulebook over time, starting with Clout: Marvel Super Heroes. It'll be a 100% compatible game with rules written by Teeuwynn Woodruff, a pro at writing great rulebooks.

In the meantime, I am very available to answer questions. The short online demo on our website does a great job of covering the basics, if a starting point is what you need.

There is no bad surface. We're building miniatures-style terrain for GenCon. The chips are waterproof, so you could play in a pool. I like slick, hard surfaces for maximum bounce and slide. Most people play on playmats, just like you suggest.

Adam "Wildcard" Conus
Hidden City Games
Organized Play Manager
Website - http://www.hiddencitygames.com
Fling Into Action Blog - http://cloutfantasy.blogspot.com/
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Paul DeStefano
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ynnen wrote:
Unfortunately, I gave up reading the rule book after 3 tries. It's too long and complex (since you have to explain every possible outcome in a rulebook, even if the starters only contain 1/5th of the total abilities available in the series) for what I was hoping would be a quick lil' game.


Don't read the second half of the rule book, it is unnecessary until the abilities come up. Your first game, just read the few you'll use and look em up during play. The game goes by in 10 minutes, just use the first as a learning experience.

The towel prevents massive roll, but it can still happen.

As for dex... Well, it certainly CAN ruin a shot, but they aren't that tough to aim. If your aim stinks, take a lot of pieces with MOVE, like the centaurs.
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Paul DeStefano
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Wildcard6 wrote:
how should Clout be marketed?


Where to start?

Smaller base sets.
More prearranged packs like starters, even if its only commons.
More chips per booster, but under $5.
Starters that are not 'paired'.
Ultra rare chase chips are an absurdity at the current price.
Reference sheets included in starters.
"official" playmats - tournaments will go to the person whos table is closest to the tournament surface.
And as a professional writer, the complete lack of fiction and even flavor text renders the world generic in the extreme.
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Ken
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Wildcard6 wrote:
Putting aside for a moment that Diceland is a Cheapass Game, and Cheapass Games are brilliant in every way, including marketing, how do you prefer Diceland to Clout marketing-wise?


A friend just introduced me to the game, and it's among the most fun new games that we've played in a long time. Light, easy to learn, easy to execute, and not horridly burdened with complex new powers.

I guess my advice on the marketing front is to provide those that don't like the "CCG" aspect particularly a way to secure their chips/sets without having to go through 150 boosters. At the cost per chip, I'd far prefer to be able to by a "Black Uncommon" or "Purple Rare" set of chips at a higher price point and just have them to play with. Trying to chase particular chips is just annoying from my (and most of my friends') perspective, and ultimately turns into a disincentive to continue purchasing the game. This "Magic Effect," if you like, is a major turn-off for me, which is sort of silly for the game company since I've got the income to support the game.

But since this is a game I can teach my kids, that I enjoy, that my wife enjoys, and that my friends enjoy, being able to pick up 1-2 of the sets and then supplement them with a booster or twelve? Yeah, I could see doing that.

I think your success in marketing will be balancing the CCG aspect with the "gamer" aspect. At the price per booster/set, I'd really prefer an avenue to outright buy a set or two to bulid fun stacks with. And you could price those in a way to make the boosters attractive to those with the collector gene without putting them at a point where I'm not interested in them.

My $.02, adjusted for inflation, anyway.

Congrats on a fun design, anyway.
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