Dale Yu: Review of Twice As Clever

  • Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
  • Publishers: Stronghold Games/Schmidt Spiele
  • Players: 1-4
  • Time: 30 min
  • Times Played: >15 with review copy provided by Stronghold Games

So, I have mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again — I’m a big fan of Wolfgang Warsch (the person), but I am pretty much bipolar on his games.  I’m not the biggest fan of partial communication, and some of his games (The Mind) have left me wanting…  But, like them or not, I think it would be hard to argue that there are many other designers that have produced such a wide array of games of different types/genres.  It seems like every month there is a new WW game on the market, and they tend to be completely different from all the others. 

Well, I’m sad to say that that streak is over.   Twice As Clever is the follow up to last year’s Kennerspiel des Jahres nominated That’s Pretty Clever – and it’s really quite similar to the original game.  Twice As Clever uses the same premise as Ganz, six dice, six different colors, six different scoring areas.  How you score points has changed dramatically though – many thanks to Brandon Kempf for this description. 

The quick lowdown on how to play both Twice As Clever and That’s Pretty Clever is like so. At the start of a player’s turn they are going to roll all six dice. At this point, the player may choose one of those dice and mark the appropriate space and place that die on the used portion of their score pad. If there are any dice that were rolled of a lesser value than the chosen die, those dice will then go to the silver platter. The player then will take the remaining dice, not the ones on the silver platter and roll them again to choose a second die, doing the same as they did with the first, marking the appropriate box on the scoresheet and placing that die on their scoresheet and anything lesser in value onto the silver platter. If they have any dice remaining to be rolled, the player will roll and do the same thing a third and final time. The object of both games is to score more points than your opponents through careful planning, usage of actions and a bit of good luck. 

It would all be so simple, and honestly quite boring, if the scoring was the same for each segment on your score sheet, but thankfully, that’s not the case. Let’s start with the easiest first, the blue dice. The blue dice in Twice As Clever are used just like in Ganz. When you choose to mark something in the blue section, you choose either the blue die or the white die and you add the two together. Whatever that number is, you will write in the first available box on the far left. After that, each blue number you write in the blue section has to be less than or equal to the previous number. At the end of the game you score points based on how far down the line you get in blue. 

The green section is a bit of a unique change in the game. The green section has boxes in pairs, on the left side, you want to put the high number, on the right side you want to put the low number. You do this because you are going to subtract and the difference between the two is what you are going to score. You do still have to mark from left to right though, so you can’t skip boxes to place them in better spots. Your total score in green will be the cumulative differences.

Pink, an exciting new color is an interesting scoring section. There are no requirements for writing numbers in the pink section, and you will score the cumulative points at the end of the game. The catch here is, in all but two boxes there is a requirement and if you don’t hit that requirement you do not get the action under that box. You will score every number at the end of the game, but the actions will not have been achieved. 

The yellow section is a bit different. When you choose to take a yellow die, or a white die and call it yellow, you are going to mark the corresponding number in the yellow section. The first time you mark a number, you are going to circle it. The next time you mark that same number in yellow, you will mark it with an X. The X’s are what are going to score you points at the end of the game, not the circles. So in order to score in yellow, you are going to have to mark numbers twice. Circled numbers in yellow will unlock the actions that you can earn, but will not score points. 

The grey section is the last section to cover and probably the most unique of the bunch as it necessitates a new action that we haven’t even discussed yet. When you choose to mark a grey, you take the grey and you will mark the color of your choice for the number of that grey die. In addition to that you will mark every die you rolled that is lower than that grey die in the grey section in their appropriate box, the white die is still a wild. Those dice that you just used, other than the grey, go directly to the silver platter and are unavailable to re-roll. Scoring in the grey section is done in rows, you score each row based on how many marks you have in that row.

The actions in Twice As Clever are mostly the same. You still have your re-roll action, along with your plus one action. There is one new action however, the unlock action. The unlock action allows you to return dice that are on the silver platter, back into your available pool of dice to re-roll before you roll the dice. 

Another interesting new addition for Twice As Clever is that there are now bonuses at the ends of the action tracks. This means if you earn six of any of the different actions, you will gain another bonus, and bonuses are the key. A four player game lasts four rounds, a three player game goes five rounds, and a solo or two player game will go six rounds. The player with the highest total points is the most clever one of them all!

My thoughts on the game

I really like this new implementation – the general rules are the same and the flow is exactly the same, but surprisingly with the changes, it manages to feel completely different.  Any of the rote strategies that I had for That’s Pretty Clever (As well as any groupthink) are thrown out the window.  I have been forced to look at this as a brand new puzzle. 

That’s Pretty Clever was one of my favorite games from last year, and I have been carrying it around everywhere – I ended up laminating a few score sheets, packing them up with the colored dice and a few mini dry-erase pens.   https://amzn.to/2HB7hDv  This second game is going to be thrown in as well – and I’ll only need to add the pink and silver dice to the set to be able to play both!  (Ideally, I’d love to mash this up with the original – though that will require doctoring up of one of the score sheets to allow this).

Based on the layout, I have had a much harder time coming up with a successful strategy. I’m at least a dozen games into Twice as Clever, and I still don’t think that I have figured out a consistent way to score points.  I have just managed to break 300 – and I know that a few of the other OG writers can get into the 400s already!  For me, the foxes seem to be the hardest things to score – firstly because they seem to be further along the tracks to collect, and because of that, if I strive for foxes, I end up with a fairly dismal score in at least one color – which means that I don’t score much for foxes anyways.

Thus far, I have loved my games of Twice As Clever, and while I think I prefer it to That’s Pretty Clever – it does not fire the predecessor.  There is definitely room for both in my game collection, and I can see myself playing both for a long time to come.

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers:

Brandon K:   Being new over here at the Opinionated Gamers most folks won’t know just how obsessed I was with That’s PrettyClever. Nearly forty plays with other people and almost one hundred plays on the app version. With that many plays you start developing a pattern, and then everyone else playing against you starts developing that same pattern and the game kind of loses its luster. It becomes more about who can roll the right dice versus finding the right scoring combinations.   Twice As Clever is definitely more of a challenge than That’s Pretty Clever, at least it feels that way to me right now. The new ways of scoring points make you feel like you need to plan more than you did previously. Using the grey die at the right time is kind of tricky, especially early on in the game when you have no access to unlock actions in the game. This will lead to lots of greys being used with the ones, twos and threes, when that’s not always the best play.   Once again, just like in Ganz, the ability to combo bonuses is key, and even sometimes you may want to hold off on scoring or marking something just to set up a bigger combo later, especially when other good options are available.   Twice As Clever is another hit for Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele, and here in the North American market from Stronghold Games. Twice As Clever requires a bit more thinking than its predecessor, and that’s a good thing. The choices have more weight and they can take you away from the fact that you are playing something that is ultimately quite familiar, in spite of being completely different. 

Tery: I agree with what everyone has already said; it’s a well-designed roll-and-write that adds layers to That’s PrettySchon Clever, which was also very good but not quite as complicated. These layers add more to the game and for me has come at a time where I am just starting to get tired of Ganz, so I am happy to have a new challenge.

Chris Wray:  It’s a brilliant design.  I think it might actually be deeper than That’s Prettyclever: there’s a much wider decision space, which I suspect will result in higher replayability for those who play the game frequently.  It sacrifices some simplicity to achieve it, so I’d recommend teaching new players the predecessor first, but this is a great next-step from Ganz.

Larry:  I agree with Chris:  Twice As Clever is less straightforward than Ganz, but might be the better and deeper game.  My favorite way of playing it (just as with Ganz) is solo on the very well designed app; while the multiplayer game has that nice decision about whether you should give your opponents good dice, the downtime is still a bit of an issue, particularly with 4.  But it’s still a very good 2 or 3 player game and yet another impressive achievement from Warsch. I consider the two games to be the best examples of the ever growing roll ‘n’ move genre and am always happy to play either one. Right now, I prefer Twice As Clever–I just find it more interesting.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

  • I love it. Brandon, Chris Wray, Tery, Erik Arneson, Dale Y
  • I like it. Eric M., Craig M., Larry
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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3 Responses to Dale Yu: Review of Twice As Clever

  1. Pingback: Dale Yu: Review of Twice As Clever – Herman Watts

  2. Garry says:

    I believe someone created and posted a file on BGG that uses the same colors as Ganz Schon Clever unless you really want to create your own:). I agree that Twice as Clever is deeper and for me, a better game. That said, I largely just play them solitaire.

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