Dale Yu: Review of Clever Cubed

Clever Cubed

clever cubed box

Clever Cubed is the third installment in the Ganz schön clever universe.  In many ways, it feels the same, as the active player rolls 6 dice, isolates some, and then everyone makes marks on their scoring sheet – but there are different mini-games in play to still make this feel different from its two predecessors.

If you’ve played either of the other two Clever games (Ganz Schon Clever or Twice as Clever) before, you know most of the rules. If not, read on…

clever cubed sheet

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 of the matching color 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 passive players then choose one die from the silver platter and make an appropriate mark on their sheet.  For all players, if a bonus is achieved through making a mark, you then get to make further marks on your sheet, and this could lead to a cascade of bonuses.

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.   There are 5 different areas on the sheet, corresponding to the five different die colors (because the white die is wild and can be used for any color).

Yellow – crossing out fields, but you are restricted to the row equal to the roll number that you chose the die in.  For instance, if you choose the yellow die as the first die in your turn, you can only mark in the “I” row.  If it was chosen as the third and final die of your turn, you could only mark in the “III” row.  When you are the passive player, you can only mark off a grey background space in this area.  The bonuses in this area are accomplished when you mark off the spaces both above and below the bonus.  You will score points for each of the three rows based on the number of marks in each row.

Turquoise – Here, you mark off a matching number as the die chosen. However, if you have other dice previously chosen with the same number, you also get to mark off another square per match.  If you are the passive player, you get bonus marks for other dice on the silver platter that match.  Bonuses are scored for completed rows and columns.  Each of the 5 rows is scored at the end based on how many marks they have.

Purple – Here, you add together the value of the purple and white die and then write it in the next available space.  The catch here is that the center space is a 7, and you can only write down a number that is exactly one less (to the left) or one more (to the right).  The exception is that you can always write in a 7 (assuming that is what was rolled!) to reset the number line.  Bonuses are scattered along the line, and you get the bonus when you fill in the space above it.  Each side is scored based on how far you were able to write numbers.

Brown – Cross off a number on the line that matches the number. You must cross off a number to the right of your last mark, so you can never go back.  Bonuses are found between two neighboring spaces, and you only get the bonus if you mark off both spaces around the bonus.  You score points at the end of the game based on the number of marks in the row.

Pink – Here, you write a number in the next open space to the right, never skipping.  You generally have a choice here – if there is a multiplier above the space, you can choose to multiply your number appropriately and write it down, but if you do that, you do not get the bonus for the space.  If you choose not to multiply, you can take the bonus then.  At the end, you score for the sum of all the numbers written in the row.

As you play the game, you will gain Re-rolls, wild numbers and extra die choices.  You can use these to better your score.  You should also note that there are some bonus squares that look like foxes. These are important for the final scoring.

Play continues around the table for 4, 5, or 6 rounds, depending on player count. At that point, players tally up their scores. Each player scores the five colored areas per the rules above. But players also score their foxes, multiplying the number of them earned times the lowest score from the five colored areas. All six subtotals (the five areas plus the foxes) then equal the final score. 

My thoughts on the game

I loved the original Clever game as it really brought some fresh ideas to the roll and write genre.  Twice as Clever was OK, but I didn’t like it as much as the original.  Not sure if this was because I was just loyal to my first love, or if it was because I didn’t like the somewhat convoluted scoring less.

clever cubed start

That trend of convoluted play continues in Clever Cubed.  Many of my online friends have really liked the new scoring ideas.  It is pretty amazing that Herr Warsch is able to come up with new ways to generate scoring and combinations while keeping to the same familiar overall structure.

The Pink area always tempts you with the decision between a higher scoring box or the chance to get a good bonus.  There doesn’t seem to be a decision that is always right – a lot depends on how your sheet looks, and how the bonuses work for you at the moment that you potentially earn them.

The Turquoise area has proven to be a confusing one to explain as the idea of the extra marks seems to be muddled a lot by newbies.  Once you get it though, it can lead to some powerful plays – especially when you get to make 3 marks.  It can be a swingy thing – for sure- but hey, it’s a dice game, so this should be expected.

Overall, this is easy enough to grasp if you’ve played either of the previous games, but I will say that it may be a bit too complex to serve as the entry to the family.  I would definitely stick to Ganz Schoen Clever as the starter kit.

Interestingly, this one is available for solo play for free online – https://www.schmidtspiele.de/static/onlinespiele/CleverHochDrei/index.html – and I spent a good deal of my quarantine time playing games such as this.  I think that it’s great that the publishers have made games like this available in these times when it isn’t as easy to get together with friends.  We have also made sheets for play over Zoom, because it’s still more fun to have some conversation with others while playing games.  It’s not the same as playing in person, especially because it’s really hard to see what other people are doing on their sheets over Zoom, and this makes defensive dice choices harder to accomplish – but hey, it is what it is.

clever cubed round 3

For those who love the complex roll and writes, this will be a great fit.  I find that I still prefer the original of the three games in the family, but the availability of the game online has given me plenty of opportunities to play.  My best solo score is only 378, which is still three steps away from the best solo rating – so I continue to be tempted to play some more to try to beat my current high score.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Simon Neale Like Dale I prefer the original for its simplicity and speed of play. With Clever Hoch Drei there can be an amount of Analysis Paralysis as the bonuses allow you to choose a dice value which significantly increases the options later in the game. That said, I still enjoy it and the games get faster with repeated plays.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y, Simon N,
  • 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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