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Subject: Clubs - Review rss

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Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
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Design by Dominic Crapuchettes
Published by Northstar Games
2 - 6 Players, 30 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser


My tastes in gaming run from silly, light party games to deep strategy games that can take hours and hours to play. Generally, the environment and nature of the gathering will largely determine what type of game will be brought to the table. If I am getting together with my family or friends from church or our neighborhood, I will usually bring out lighter fare. When meeting with our East Tennessee Gamers group, however, more often than not the games brought to the table will be deeper strategy games.

With social (rather than gaming) gatherings, I have had great success with lighter card games such as The Great Dalmuti and Who's the Ass? Most folks grew-up playing traditional card games such as Rummy, Clubs, Hearts and Spades, so it isn't much of a leap to comprehend and play games such as these. As such, I am always on the lookout for other games that will fit nicely into that niche. Clubs from Northstar Games is one of those games.

Clubs consists of a deck of 60 cards, numbered 1-15 in the four traditional suits of clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds. Suits, however, mean nothing here; rather, it is only the values that matter. Players are each dealt a hand of ten cards, and as with The Great Dalmuti and Who's the Ass?, the object is to play all of your cards before your opponents deplete their hands.

Game play is quite simple and bears a strong resemblance to the aforementioned titles. The lead player may play one or more cards, but if playing multiple cards, they must either be all the same value (for example, all 3's) or form a sequence (3, 4, 5, etc.). Each subsequent player must follow this lead by playing the same number of cards, but with a higher value. For example, if Lindsay plays three 4s, Benjamin must play a set of three cards with a value greater than 4. Of course, he can also pass. If Lindsay plays a sequence containing cards with the values of 5, 6, 7, 8, then Benjamin must play four cards with at least one card having a value of 9 or greater. This continues until all players have passed, with the player having played the last set of cards to the trick taking all of the cards and leading the next trick.

The object of the game is to collect the club cards, as they all grant points. The lower-valued clubs grant more points than the higher-valued ones. Thus, one must time the play of his cards properly so as to win tricks containing these valuable club cards. No other cards earn points.

As players deplete their hand of cards, they take the top bonus card available. Bonus cards range in points from a high of 10 to a low of 0. The number and value of the bonus cards in play are dependent upon the number of players. Thus, the earlier one can deplete his hand of cards, the more bonus points he will earn.

The only other twist to the game is the "double or nothing" rule. After dealing cards to each player, a player may call "double or nothing". If that player is the first to deplete his hand of cards, he will double the value of his points earned. However, if he fails to be the first to deplete his hand of cards, he will score nothing. Experienced players will gain a better knack for determining the value of their hand and will thus be in a better position to attempt this tactic.

New hands are played in the same fashion until one or more players achieve 50 or more points. The player with the most cumulative points is victorious. A typical game lasts about four turns and takes about 20 - 30 minutes.

Clubs certainly falls within the same family of light card games such as the ones mentioned earlier. It is extremely easy to learn and doesn't require one to remember a large number of meld possibilities or numerous special rules or exceptions. People of just about all ages can play and play reasonably well. It is also compact and easy to carry, making it ideal for playing while relaxing at a local wine bar or bier stube.

To be clear, fans of more complex card games such as Tichu or Chimera will likely find Clubs to be far too easy and light for their tastes. Still, when those same folks find themselves at a gathering of non-gamers, those games may prove too daunting for those unaccustomed to such fare. Clubs is far more suited for those types of events, as well as for light gaming with family, friends and neighbors. In those venues, Clubs is all diamonds.

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Pee di Moor
Netherlands
Rotterdam
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gschloesser wrote:
Clubs is all diamonds.


No No No No No
This is Clubs:

and this is Diamonds:


Do not confuse them please.
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:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Elk Grove Village
Illinois
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Nice review of the base game.

Once people get comfortable with that, then spring the Crazy Club variant. Crazy Clubs is wild --- if a set of 3 5's is played you can also play any 4 of a kind, not just a set of 3 that is greater than 5. Or if a sequence of 4,5,6, 7 is played you can play any sequence (or run) of 5 cards or more like 1,2,3,4,5.



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Dominic Crapuchettes
United States
Bethesda
MD
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North Star Games designs party games that don't suck! Play them with your non-gamer friends over the holidays.
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First there was Hearts, then there was Spades, and now we bring you Clubs. The suit of clubs finally gets some respect!
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moorwild wrote:
gschloesser wrote:
Clubs is all diamonds.


No No No No No
This is Clubs:

and this is Diamonds:


Do not confuse them please.


And please please do not confuse the taglines for these two games!
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Patrick C.
United States
Milford
New Hampshire
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Own both and Clubs is the better game. Agree with review, great for social gatherings. I've given several copies of it as a gift to friends and family.
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