Kickstarter Preview: Click Click Boom by Thing 12 Games

If you follow us on Twitter, you know that we have all kinds of gamers show up to our Gumbo game nights.  Some of our friends come to play deep strategy games that take two or three hours to develop. Some gamers are looking for complete immersion in highly thematic games. And some come just looking to play the newest hotness on BGG.

But there is one common trait — at the start and end of the night, we typically like to play a fast moving game that can be taught quickly and scales well as people drop in and out.
Do your game groups like bluffing games that play quickly? Do you enjoy push your luck games where the players can wield unique special powers? We do, and we found a great game to add to any game night….Click Click Boom by Thing 12 games.

Click Click Boom — coming out on Kickstarter June 6 — is billed as a “Bluffing Game of Russian Roulette”. It was designed by Sean Epperson with art from Diony Cook Rouse. (You may recall Thing 12 Games from their indie hit, Dice of Crowns, designed by Sean and Brander “Badger” Roullett.) This is essentially a card game with special powers for each player that plays over three rounds in about a half hour.

COMPONENTS:

We were provided a reviewer’s version of the game, and the components, art, text and rule were not finalized yet. However, the art we saw on the cards was whimsical and serviceable. The game consists of 36 playing cards of three types: two with “clicks” (where your character survives) with different coin events and one with “boom” (which knocks your character out of the round.) The game also comes with unique character power cards, a double sided turn card, and 78 plastic coins.

GAMEPLAY:

The rules are simple and easy to teach. Imagine Hanabi but in a competitive, bluffing, knock-each-other-out implementation and that’s close to what Click Click Boom is. Each player is given a mini-deck of three “Click: Pay 1 coin” cards; two Click: 2 coins stolen” cards, a “Boom” card, your character (which stays face up until you are knocked out by playing a boom card, and an optional power card (which changes the rules of the game in each player’s favor.) Each player starts with 13 coins.

Players shuffle the cards, and then fan them out in front of them with the fronts of the cards facing the other players. No one is allowed during the round to look at their cards, so the information you will get from the other players is…well…suspect at best and malicious at worst!

The object? Survive the round and score some coins! After three rounds, the player with the most money wins.img_2782

After each player antes up, the first phase of the game, the “Ask” phase, takes place. Each player asks the player on their left, and then the player on the right (this rotates depending on the front of the double sided turn card) which card they should play. The player was was asked must choose a card, but does not have to answer any questions, although a skilled player will know what to say and when.

Once all players have asked the players to their left and right, the selected cards are placed face down on the table, and then at the same time, all players reveal ONE of the two cards. That’s right…you have less than a minute to decide which of your “friends” is being friendly and helpful, and which one is just trying to blow you up.

If a player reveals a click card, then that player stays in the game and does the action on the card, either paying one coin to the pot at the center of the table, or giving two coins to the player on the left or right depending on which card you chose. If a player reveals a “boom” card — well, better luck next time, pardner.

All players that survive then pass a FACE DOWN card to the player on the left or right, depending upon the orientation of the turn card, all without looking at any of the cards. That is an excellent time for you to pass a boom card to your “friend”, but expect the same friendly treatment in return!

This continues until one player is left or all players have only one card. The loot is divided, and another round begins with all players back in the game and anteing into the pot again (one coin for losers, two coins for the winner).

The designer recommends that the first round be played without special powers, but we enjoyed the rollicking chaos that ensues with the special powers. Some of these are more over powered than others, but that also puts a big fat target on the back of any player with a powerful card. Plus, each card can only be played once per round, and is turned over once played to signify, which equals out the powers.

WHY SHOULD YOU PLAY CLICK CLICK BOOM?

As gamers, we are all looking for games that can be introduced to newcomers to the hobby that still give experienced gamers some depth of play. Plus, every game night needs a good game that can play 3-6 players even if players are joining in as they walk in. Click Click Boom fits both bills. The rules are very simple, yet there is a lot of strategy in deciding when to use your special power, deciding when to help someone or finish them off, and looking at all of the cards in all of the players’ hands to guess at whether people are helping or hurting you.

My favorite memories at game night involve laughter, and Click Click Boom provides it in spades. The very first time we saw two boom cards presented by one of the players in their fanned out hands was an absolute laugh-out-loud moment that lasted for a long time. The first time a trusted player turns on you and convinces you to choose a “boom” card is another bust your gut moment that still resonates in my mind.

Yes, there are some “mean” elements in this game, and even the dreaded “player elimination”, but the turns go by very quickly. Each player takes turns helping and hurting neighbors which mitigates the meanness, and the downtime out of the game when you choose a “boom” card is very short. If you like Dead Last, you will probably enjoy this game, too, and if you thought Dead Last was a little too mean spirited but like the concept of bluffing games and hidden information, then this game will scratch that itch without creating the hidden alliances that sometimes break down other games in this category.

How mean do you like your bluffing, take that games? Leave a comment below or post in Twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

— B.J.

Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers

Every December, BSA Troop 10 holds a board game / video game camp-in called the Cyber Camp-in.

One scout troop. Twelve computers linked to a home brew network. 12 straight hours of gaming, with Age of Empires/Mythology on every screen!

Usually, the adults and Eagle alums play board games like Kingdom Builder or Betrayal at House on the Hill or King of Tokyo or a hundred other board games. Most of the younger scouts gravitate toward the Minecraft servers. But, I will admit that a big highlight has been setting up multi player contests of RTS games like Age of Empires.

As much as I like board games, I always get a special smile when I see the guys on the big AoE / AoM server.

My sons and I have had many, many nights battling each other in those classic RTS games. Sure, Civ gets a lot of the awards and crew, but to me AoE and AoM just seem more fun. (And faster, too!). I am always on the look out for a board game that can duplicate that classic feeling of searching the landscape for resources, building your little settlement into a powerful civilization and declaring victory.

So, there I was at Gen Con 2016, at the Portal booth for probably the third time, when I swept my eyes over Imperial Settlers, Ignacy Trezewiczek‘s big seller the last two years. Although Imperial Settlers has some great expansions, tons of good pub, and a rabid following, I have never played the game.

I have been looking for a good game to get my 16 year old back into board gaming. He is at the age where he thinks bytes are more interesting than bits, and CPUs are more impressive than cardboard. Oh, he still loves Viticulture (and he really enjoyed playing Cry Havoc recently) but he would rather jump on his favorite MMO any night.

So, I asked Ignacy to give us his best 30 second pitch — why should we buy Imperial Settlers.? He took one look at my son, Jack, and asked if Jack had ever played a computer civ type game. “Sure,” was the reply, and Jack immediately mentioned Age of Mythology. Ignacy’s eyes lit up, and he proceeded to describe his game.

It is a card board version of your favorite civ games, said Ignacy. You will send scouts out, develop your civilization, add production and buildings, and even attack opponents if you want, he promised.

All of that made my heart sing, and my son eyes widened. We snapped it up right there. But is it enough to entice an RTS fan to put away the keyboard? (With a big thanks to @thediceyreview1 for the germination!)

Well, if your family game nights are getting bland or even nonexistent, and your family loves RTS civilization games like Age of Empires, then Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers.


First, a little bit about the game. Imperial Settlers is essentially a civilization game, with a race for victory points lasting five rounds. Building cards, action cards and special featured cards which can all help you gain victory points all come in a common deck from which all players will draw.

But, the base game also comes with four factions (Romans, Barbarians, Egyptians and Japanese), each with a unique faction deck.  

The players send their “scouts” out to look for more territory (in other words, draw faction and common deck cards) as the first part of the round. (Aside: we use the three card round robin drafting style now instead of the basic draw as it is quicker and more fun, plus it seems more thematic).

Next, the players “produce” resources from the buildings they have built and the trade deals they have made. Then, the players use their cards and resources (meeples, coins, fruit, wood and stone) to build buildings or take actions from the cards to produce effects like more production or more victory points.

The players take turns doing one action in round robin fashion until all players have passed their turn.  During those actions, the players can target their own common cards or even each other’s common cards using “raze” tokens (the little sword tokens shown below) which can help to generate resources or even slow an opponent down.

 This helps keep the game from being a ‘solitaire’ contest of civ building, since you always have to watch out for the other player’s buildings. Knowing just the right card to raze (either in your hand or your opponent’s territory) is a big key to winning the game.

After five rounds, the bonus points from building your faction and common building cards are tallied, and a winning civilization is declared.

So why is this game spicier than Age of Empires or Age of Mythology computer games.?

First, well, it is a board game, right? Here at the Gumbo, we are all about analog cardboard treasures, rather than pixelated solo games (yes, I know AoE and AoM can be played multiplayer, but the vast experience is playing solo).

Second, I love the playing time. Ignacy has built an engine type game with only five rounds to play, so players with experience can knock out a good game in about 45-60 minutes. (Your mileage will vary depending upon experience and AP prone issues.) There is something delicious about playing a relatively quick game that has so much depth to it.

Third, I love the asynchronous play of each civilization. The factions play differently, and while luck is always a factor (this is a card drawing game, right?), luck can be mitigated with good strategy and recognition of the combo opportunities that each faction deck provides.

I have read on BGG many posts suggesting that one faction is better than the other, and that just tells me that Ignacy has done a good job with the fourth important factor, namely, balance.  In our early games, the Egyptians seem to be the strongest, but already the wheels are turning as to how the Romans and Barbs can get around the Egyptian money stronghold.

What about art and aesthetics? Here is where the game really shines. I love the artwork on the cards. Each tells a little story, and you can tell that someone really thought about the design of the player boards, the iconography and the placement of art on the cards. Really well done.  I have to point out one flaw — the type on the cards is way too small for comfortable reading. I would go with bigger type in the next printing, because it is noticeably too small.


I have not tried the solo option, but I will as I usually like learning about the depth of the game during solo play. I also have not had the opportunity to play the Japanese faction, but will update the blog when I do. We have had so much fun playing the first three factions, and we all feel like we are still scratching the surface on strategy with these three.

Portal Games has already put out at least one new faction (the Atlanteans) plus expansion cards for the factions and common cards (Why Can’t We Be Friends, 3 Is A Magic Number), with more on the way. So, if you are worried about the staying power of your game, there is always ways to spice it up.

We love this game! Just as I hoped, my son and his friends really latched onto this game. It goes on a short list of board games that feel enough like a video game to attract the attention of the video-obsessed teens. We agree that even after a half-dozen plays, there is still so much more to explore. Plus we have the expansion packs, the new factions, the Aztecs on the way…poo-yie, that’s a lot of game!

I give Imperial Settlers 5 out of 5 cayenne peppers, and congratulate Ignacy Trezewiczek for a tight, elegant civilization design. So next time you want to drag your teen off of the latest civ game he is playing on the computer, Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers.

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.