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Game: Clans (Winning Moves)
Submitted By: Charles Bahl
Date: 5/10/2003 1:23:00 AM
"Clans" by Leo Colovini is not exactly the kind of game I was expecting it to be. Basically an abstract game of area control with a prehistoric nomadic tribe theme pasted on, I was initially pretty disappointed in it. I think I was looking more for an "Evo" or "Valley of the Mammoths". "Clans" on the other hand could just as easily be played on a board of plain hexes. In that sense, it reminded me somewhat of "Attila", another abstract game of area control. (It's also got the "secret color" idea of games like "Top Secret Spies" thrown in for good measure!) But that being said, it does have some interesting gaming mechanisms that grew on me with repeated playings. It may not be one of my favorite games, but it is a solid one, and is well worth taking a look at.
"Clans" starts with a single playing piece (hut) on each vacant territory. There are five colors of huts and each player secretly selects one color to be his or her own. A turn consists simply of moving all the huts from one single territory to an adjacent single territory with the following restrictions: the territory moved to cannot be vacant and the territory moved from cannot contain seven or more huts. The idea is to move the huts so as to create villages (occupied territories completely surrounded by vacant territories). Villages score points for all the colors that are present, with a bonus if the village is located in favorable terrain. The player who founds the village also scores a bonus point. When the final village is built, players reveal their secret colors, and the player with the most points wins.
With repeated plays "Clans" begins to reveal some pretty subtle strategies, enough to intrigue me and keep me coming back for more. In fact every time I have played so far I have discovered some new tactic. Of course trying to advance your color while keeping it secret is a key element of the game. But there are also a lot of positional considerations to take into account. This game definitely demands thinking as many moves ahead as possible.
Overall "Clans" is chess-like in its move-countermove type of play. In fact, a two-player game between experienced players of equal abilities can turn into quite a brain burner. In a three- or four-player game players have less control over their fates, and this has been frustrating for some people I have played with, although this aspect is obviated somewhat by the "secret color" rule. At any rate, "Clans" is a respectable game with above average replay value. If abstract games are to your liking, it should give you quite a lot of enjoyment.