“It's all in the mind.” ― George Harrison
Devoted Follower of the Most Holy Church of the Evil Bob. Possessed and down the road to become chaotic, evil & naughty. All hail the Evil Bob and his Stargate.
Clocks is the 2012 game of the small Belgian publisher SandTimer. After their first two games (Aquarium and Experiment which I both enjoyed) they advertised Clocks – a dice game – as their Essen 2012 novelty. Hey, I like dice games. And the missus likes them too, so I pre-ordered this game as soon as the opportunity arose.
What you get
An oversized box, 4 oversized mounted player boards, 4 oversized player aids and a handful of plastic discs, to be used as coins. And – as the main attraction – 50 dice in various colors and 1cm edge length (so, the dice are not oversized). And a black bag to hold them.
Printed on each player board is a clock face with 12 slots for dice, numbered from 1 to 6 two times, corresponding to the hours. Beside each hour (and dice slot) are icons, which present the players with rewards or special actions, if certain conditions are met. Also, the player boards are double sided with a variant board on the backside, which is a nice add-on. Each player may choose which side of his board he will utilize for the game.
Goal of the Game
To put a dice in every hour-slot of your playing board. Try to place the right numbers as the more of these ‘perfect dice’ you have placed, the more victory points you will get. You also score victory points for having color sets of dice – each set of a white, red, grey and black dice is also worth two points. And the winner is the player with the most victory points! Who would have thought …?
The player on turn draws a number of dice out of the bag (equal to the number of players plus one) and puts them on auction. This means there is one pair of dice on offer and the others are all single dice, so everyone will get at least one dice, while one player will get two. For the auction, all players take any amount of coins in her fist and open it at the same time. The high bidder selects his die first first, then the others (ties are broken in start player order). All bets go back into the bank. Of course you can bid nothing and still get a die. You just have to take whatever is left.
The so purchased die (or dice) is put in the middle of your clock face and then every player takes his turn by doing the following phases:
Place the new die (or dice) onto your clock face.
Basically you have to do this in order – starting at one o’ clock and then clockwise (!) around your board. You may skip hours, but you have to pay for them, so you want to do this only under special circumstances. If your placed die is lower than the number printed on the board, you get nothing; if the die shows a higher number, you get the difference in coins from the bank. But if the die shows exactly the right number, it is called ‘perfect die’ and you get the bonus printed beside that hour (which is either a number of coins or a special action).
If you have purchased a red dice, you may chose not to place it at all, but to re-roll it and take that amount of money, returning the die into the bag. If you have purchased a black die, you may skip one hour without paying for it. White and grey dice have no special abilities, but count for set victory points.
Take one free action.
Which is either taking three coins from the bank or a free re-roll of an already placed die (try to be lucky and roll the number needed, so that you get a ‘perfect die’).
Take an extra action.
This is one of four actions as shown on the inner side of the clock face. These actions are only available if you have already reached that space with already placed dice and they cost money. These actions allow you to increase a die by one pip (2 coins), decrease a die by one pip (4 coins), flip a die upside down (6 coins) or exchange two adjacent dice (8 coins). By doing this, you try to get more and more 'perfect dice' onto your clock face, thus earning victory points.
After that, pass the dice bag to the player on your left and start a new turn. The game ends if one player has a complete and ‘perfect’ clock or all players have 12 dice on their clocks. Count victory points and crown a winner.
As said in the intro, I basically like dice games. Even abstract ones – and this is a totally abstract game. The clock topic does not
tick click at all – you simply place dice on a board. And you wouldn’t even have needed a board! Putting them neat into a row in front of you would have sufficed. The bonus actions could have been printed on a player aid, which brings me to that player aid, included in the box.
Oh boy, this is the ugliest and worst piece of player aid I’ve ever seen. I hope no one demanded money for designing this! Apart from the fact that the information would have fitted on a half as big sheet, the inconology of the game board is not explained (alright, it’s not that hard to memorize, but nevertheless). It looks too grey, too big and the icons look too clumsy. The board isn’t a beauty as well, but it works. In fact, it even looks a little gothic. You could find such a clock in the Mansions of Madness, I guess. But of course, this is only my humble opinion and your mileage may vary; but also my gaming buddies found these sheets to be ... erm ... in need of improvement.
Apart from that, the game plays ok. It has no highs and no lows, no laughs and no gloating. Roll, auction off, place, and select an action. Approximately for 30 minutes. Even with AP prone players. You can influence the luck of the initial roll enough so that you don’t have the feeling the game plays you. You have a certain amount of control. Although two of the rewards for placing a perfect die demand you to roll two special yellow dice, trying to get a 7 (at 7 o’ clock) or an 11 (at 11 o’ clock). Doing so gets you 7 or 11 coins respectively. This is a nice gag, but brings an absolute useless additional luck factor into the game. All in all, the game does not convince me. You get a lot better dice games in smaller boxes for less $$. Clocks is not a bad game, no, not at all. It’s just that being mediocre is not enough, nowadays.
So my BGG rating would be 5 – “Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it”. The average rating at the moment of writing this review is 6.65, so I’m a little below par here. But that’s probably only because I just rolled a few dice from the Dungeon Roll game ... but that would be another review.
Thanks for reading.
PS: The images I used have been uploaded by users Sdan, A skinned math nerd and Mr Penguin. Thank you!
It sounds like they tried to fuse the strategy of a Euro with the high rolling fun of a dice game, but instead got the worst of both worlds: boring and random.
Thanks for the heads up.
Sorry, I disagree. I really like this game and the artwork of the board. I do agree about the player aid - it's ugly and unclear. And about the time theme wich doesnt relate to the game. Dispite of all the dices, expect a bidding game and not a dice game. I'd like to play it again and again!