- Designer: Francois Romain
- Publisher: Repos Production
- Players: 3-6
- Age: 10+
- Time: 20-30 minutes
- Played 5 times on review copy provided by Asmodee NA
Repos is one of my favorite design houses. I have had the pleasure of getting to know the crazy sombrero wearing Belgians through the years, going all the way back to meeting them in Essen with their original game, Cash N Guns. Since then, they have been a publisher who has generally had at least one new game each year, with their centerpiece being 7 Wonders. In the past few years, they have made a foray into party/word games, with Concept and Just One getting lots of play time here in the past few years.
This year’s entry in that field is So Clover! In this game, players work together as a team to score the most points. Each player gets a clover board, which has four raised squares on it. The Keyword deck is shuffled, and each player gets 4 Keyword cards which are randomly arranged onto the clover. You will see that on the exterior of the clover, two words from adjacent cards will be paired with an area to write something above them on the clover itself.
While keeping their clover board secret, each player now tries to come up with a clue word that ties the two keywords together, and then they use the Dry Erase marker to write it in above those two keywords. Pretty much anything goes here – regular words, acronyms, proper nouns, onomatopoeia, etc are all valid. The only things strictly disallowed are: translations of words, words with the same stem as one of the clues and made up words.
Once you have written the four words down on your clover, draw an extra card (or more?!) from the supply, shuffle those cards together and then place them on top of your face down clover. When all players have done this, then you move into the Resolution phase.
Here, one player must be the Spectator. This player is not allowed to communicate in any way during their turn as Spectator. They turn over their clover and their Keyword cards, and all the other players must cooperate and decide where the cards should go and which card(s) are not used. Once the group agrees on the placement, the Spectator scores the attempt.
If all the cards are in the right places, the team score 6 points (one point per correct card plus a 2 point bonus for getting it right on the first try).
If the cards are in any way incorrect, the Spectator simply removes and incorrect cards without saying anything and the team gets one more chance to put the cards in the right places. On the second scoring, the team gets 1 point for each card in the right place (maximum of 4 points).
Either way, the spectator writes down the number of points for their board in the center, and then the next player becomes the Spectator and the whole process is repeated. Do this until all players have been the Spectator, and thus all boards are scored. Tally up the score and see if you have maximized your score! If so, consider playing again but with a harder challenge – decide on a higher number of Keyword cards to randomly draw after writing down your clues!
My thoughts on the game
This is my sort of word game/activity. I throw the term “activity” in there because at times this feels like a nice clever pastime – more than a “game”. In the end, it doesn’t matter because I enjoy the experience each time. For me, a lot of the pleasure in things like this (and Just One and Montage and Decrypto and cryptic crosswords) is devising or decrypting a good clue – and that is the heart of So Clover! I find each round to be a pleasing challenge of trying to come up with the right words to get my teammates able to identify the card locations. I also very much like working out the thoughts of my teammates on their boards as well.
The cards are randomly arranged on the clover, so there is nearly an infinite number of combinations possible. Some of the clues seem easy, but there are some other pairs that just don’t seem to go together at all! All of the keywords are basic normal words, so there shouldn’t be much problem having to explain anything to your teammates (not that you’d be able to do so anyways as all the keywords are supposed to be hidden).
The rounds can take a variable amount of time, but I’d say that 5 to 7 minutes per player is about what we’re getting here. Sometimes, you’ll come up with 4 clues instantly – but the game doesn’t progress to the guessing phase until all players have finished devising their clues. I used to get frustrated sometimes when I couldn’t get four great clues, but I’ve since realized that you often only need 3 – because if your teammates can get three of the clues, they automatically get the fourth!
So Clover! Is a great filler for me. It doesn’t last too long, so you can definitely play it to start a game session while you’re waiting for everyone else to show up, and latecomers can easily jump in and help out trying to solve the clovers, even if they didn’t do one themselves. Is it a game or an activity? Who cares – it’s a blast!
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
James Nathan: I was pleasantly surprised with this. For me, it had a mini- and simultaneous- Codenames vibe to it. Each player was coming up with clues at the same time, and you only had to hit 2 words with your clue.
While it solves the only issue I have with Codenames (the downtime for the first clue), it does introduce a few others. Firstly, as Dale alluded to above regarding it being an “activity”, I don’t like it’s general lack of structure. Not that the game doesn’t have it, but if I break it out with some friends for a night, one “game” doesn’t seem like enough, but I don’t want to play for 2 hours either. I wish there was a more natural built in way to make it last 40 minutes and then put itself away. Granted, I have the agency to do that myself, so maybe this is just a me-thing.
The other issue is sort of what Dale mentions above when he realized he may only need 3 great clues. It seems like there’s a group-think/convention way to only need….1. You could sort of “lock” the grid placement by having overly strong references to one clue card, and not minding that the other doesn’t match. There are multiple orientations possible with such a scheme, but having one-side strongly clued to both cards, you can make it one. That said, I actually tried that in a game with Dale, without bringing it up, and it, well, was a disaster! Haha, my “sure thing” clue turned out not to be, and then nothing else really had enough to sustain it.
Simon Neale: So Clover is a lot of fun to play. As Dale points out you don’t need 4 perfect clues, as provided players can work out one of the two words per side then they stand a good chance of solving the whole puzzle. So if you’re struggling to come up with a clue then just give a good clue to one of the two words and you’ll be surprised that people can solve it! My family is really enjoying this great filler from Repos.
Brandon K: It’s not bad, I still prefer Just One, but So Clover can be a lot of fun. Sometimes the clues come easy, but other times you have to make some big stretches and hope that the other clues lead your teammates to the correct answers. Groups that know each other pretty well, families and friends will have a lot easier time with something like this than strangers will, as there is only so much room for cleverness when folks don’t know what the other people know about you.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Dale Y, Eric M., James Nathan, Simon Neale
- I like it. John P, Brandon K
- Not for me…
I love it for the reasons you’ve all said!
“All of the keywords are basic normal words, so there shouldn’t be much problem having to explain anything to your teammates”
Except ‘magniscope’ perhaps :)
This is one of the few games of 2021 I’m interested in, but I’m hoping there’s an edition in Finnish. I’ve been intrigued by this since I first heard W. Eric Martin mention the game on BGG.