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Subject: Click-Chek: poorly designed packaging; well designed game rss

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Keng Ho Pwee
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Click-Chek is a cute little game that I picked up in pristine (i.e. previously unopened) condition from a local thrift store because it was cheap, had a nice wooden board and coloured balls for pieces. I certainly didn’t buy it because it had a great description on the packaging and it was so patently clear how the game was played. In fact, it wasn’t till I opened the transparent plastic cover and removed the opaque packaging strip that I realised that the board actually had depressions in it to hold the balls.

The documentation with the game is sparse to the point of absurdity. There’s no indication who the manufacturer is or when it might have been made. There’s a packaging strip that winds round the board (obscuring it in the process) and it has the instructions for playing the game on the back in Dutch, English and German, which is probably an indication of where it was first intended for sale. The rules are the height of minimalism:

How to play CLICK-CHEK ®
In turns one CLICKET is placed on the board.
The player that causes CLICKETS to click together has to take these CLICKETS back.
The player who first is rid of all his CLICKETS is the winner.

Nevertheless, once you open the game and set it up for play, you find that information is precisely all you need to know to play the game.
The Clickets are little plastic spheres that contain magnets. Each player gets six Clickets that sit in a row at your end of the board. Four of these are bi-coloured, with yellow and red hemispheres – this allows the player to tell the polarity of the magnets inside the balls. The remaining two are uniformly coloured – one player gets two all-red balls, the other gets all-yellow balls. There’s no way to tell which end is which and that’s a clever trick in design.

The board itself is hefty enough so that it doesn’t get jostled easily when you play and it has 3 X 4 shallow depressions where you can place the Clickets.

Just reading the rules and looking at the components, you wouldn’t think there is much of a game in it. However, start placing the Clickets on the board and you realise that the magnets are strong enough to influence neighbouring balls. They are not so strong that the Clickets immediately jump together, yet they are able to sometimes cause orthogonally and diagonally adjacent balls to turn and align themselves ever so slightly with the Clicket you just placed. It also takes some dexterity and finesse in placing the Clickets. Too hasty a placement will somehow enable neighbouring balls to gain enough momentum to leap out of their depressions and click with yours. Unfortunately, this also tends to happen when the board is already crowded and the result is a chain reaction that could end up linking most of the balls on the board. Following the rules of the game, you have to take all these Clickets back onto your row.

In practice, once players get a feel for how strong the magnets are, the board will slowly fill up. Initially, the natural impulse is to place Clickets far apart. However, the board will eventually get crowded and a player will be forced to place Clickets in close proximity. When placing the Clickets, it is nerve-wracking to watch as other already-placed balls swivel ever so slightly, as if to see who is coming to join them on the board. Players will learn that aligning your Clicket with those on the board a certain way will increase your chances of a click-free turn. However, you do have two Clickets with no visible means of telling one end from the other, and you will enjoy the pleasure of not knowing how the other Clickets will react to these when you place them.

Alright. There really isn’t all that much of a game here. The player who causes a late click often starts a chain reaction that clears most of the board and gives the victory to the other player. Nevertheless, it is good for a few laughs and not a bad filler for the first couple of players to a gaming session, while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. It can also be a good solitaire game – see how many of the Clickets you can place before a click occurs. You don’t want to play this with your kids, since they will probably be better at it than you are. Oh, and of course very young children shouldn’t be allowed near it since the Clickets might end up in a nostril or ear and I don’t think the magnets are strong enough that you can use one to attract another out.

 
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Chris Hawks
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Oh, and of course very young children shouldn’t be allowed near it since the Clickets might end up in a nostril or ear and I don’t think the magnets are strong enough that you can use one to attract another out.

laughlaughlaugh
 
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