All that’s left to come now is a purple six. If I roll these, I get another blue box. This in turn gives me a bonus box in green and that gives me another bonus. So far I have checked the boxes very cleverly, but now it’s just one roll. And it’s a… three. Shit, the plan doesn’t work, and there goes the new record. But after the dice is before the dice in That’s pretty clever and so I start with a new game. Well, it’ ll be a quick one.
Dice with brains – That’s pretty clever
Dice games are very trendy. So much in trend that every successful board game must be followed by a dice game at some point. That’s Pretty Clever stands out from the dice games, because it is a pure Roll & Write. It’s a game where you throw the dice first and then write down your points on a scoring sheet.
But how does this game differ from other games like Kniffel or Encore! ? The difference to the forefather of all Roll & Write games are the different dice. A total of six different coloured wooden dice are waiting to be thrown by you. When it’s your turn, you throw all the dice and then choose one. You do this exactly three times. Hmm, not much difference so far! However, all dice that are smaller than the number you have just selected will be removed from the pool.
And this is where the first thinking starts: If you choose too high a value, the other dice are no longer available, and who knows if you can place the other colors on the next roll?
Each colour a box
Each die you select may only be entered in the corresponding color box. The only exception is the white cube, which you may enter anywhere. If this seems familiar to you now and you even have to think about Encore!, I would like to say: I felt the same for the first time when I heard about the game. But apart from the fact that it contains colors and is also a Roll & Write, that was it. Because every colour box has certain point requirements. So you get points in the blue area for the number of boxes checked. While with orange you get the sum of all your registered dice eyes as points.
And exactly this different rating confuses you at first. In the first game you concentrate on getting maybe one box or two full and the others run around like this. So in your first game you will probably get a score of around 150 points. And then?
Then it depends a lot on whether you’ve tasted blood or not. Because That’s pretty clever can have a high potential for addiction and can make you play one game after another to push the score higher and higher. But whoever doesn’t care, won’t play another game. So it doesn’t help that the game has a certain tactical depth. Because when to tick which box is immensely important to perhaps trigger certain chains. These chains are created by bonuses that you receive when certain boxes are filled out.
That’s pretty clever – the perfect game
That must be it, after all it was nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres. But that’s just not it. Because That’s pretty clever has a problem, and that’s the downtime. In contrast to Encore!, where the downtime is actually independent of the number of players, this is not the case here. With more than two players, a game can get quite scary. You can choose a cube from the dice pool that your opponent left at the end of his turn, but it may take until then. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have puzzlers sitting at the table. I haven’t experienced this until now.
So it’s That’s pretty clever is more for soloists or two players.
Personally, I like the game for in-between times, just to clear my head by thinking. But after more than 60 games, the “bad” awakening comes. Because That’s pretty clever is a game of chance. With certain strategies you can reliably score over 200 points in each game, but to break your personal highscore, you need a lot of luck with the dice. If you don’t have the dice you need, you won’t be able to break the record and I finished at 317 points. And it just bugs me that I know that I can’t do anything to increase my points even more, because it depends on the dice. And if even one die goes wrong and I know that I can’t set a new record, it’s more than frustrating.
I am torn
Thus the nominee leaves a very ambivalent impression. On the one hand there is a solid Roll & Write game with a high addiction factor in the solo area. On the other hand, there is a game with a lucky factor not to be underestimated and a relentlessly high downtime when played with more than 2 players.
Sure, I will play it every now and then in between. Especially because there is also a wonderful solo variation that I can play online, but that’s it. That’s pretty clever can’t give me more, because for me as a computer scientist the attraction is lost and it’s just a mathematical problem with a well defined algorithm to get high points. And that’s also why the chain reactions have lost their myth, because when they are triggered is, on the bottom line, completely irrelevant.
But who knows, maybe new scoring sheets will come onto the market that will make you start thinking again. And of course I’ll play along at any time, if it ends up on the table in the analogue version.