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Claim Review


Quick Look: Claim


Designer: Scott Almes
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Publisher: Deepwater Games / White Goblin Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 20-30 min.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review:

tl;dr: Lightning-fast trick taking game for 2 players. Adorable art and theme.

Getting to the Game: Shuffle the entire deck of cards. Deal out 13 to both players. Set the deck aside. That's literally it. You're ready to play. Nice, right? Same.



The object of Claim is to have the most factions worth of cards by game's end, representing the various factions "voting" for you to become their next ruler. Given that each player starts out with an unequal number of total value of cards, the goal becomes to use what you have to pivot into the best position. The "suits" or factions of cards will help you out to a certain extent, but there are some cards that are just dead in your hand. 

Playing the Game: Claim breaks down into two phases--the first of which is a Setup phase, which brings a very cool level of preparation to a game that otherwise completely relies on the number on the card. In this first phase, you and your opponent are battling for a randomly-turned up card from the deck. The first player plays a card from their hand, and the other must follow suit. Play higher, and you win the card you're fighting over. Play lower, and you get the top card of the deck instead. Here we find Claim's first delicious mechanic--intentionally losing a trick. If a zero-goblin is turned up, the first player is likely going to play low to try and bait you into taking it into your hand for phase 2. You must follow suit if you're able, but if you don't have any of whatever they played, playing off-suit is guaranteed to lose the hand. They get that nearly-worthless zero card, and you get a blind draw off the top of the deck, which is almost certainly better. 

Once this happens 13 times, the deck is empty, and now you're playing phase two for the real money--the cards in your hand. The first player leads again, only now if you win, you get both your card and theirs into your scoring area. That zero-goblin from before is worth zero points still, only now it's a huge liability in their hand, as you can come over the top of it with a 9 Goblin in your hand, and you've netted yourself 9 points.



Even better are when the game allows you to play faction bonuses. Say your opponent plays that Nine of Goblins with a giant smirk on their face. You're out of goblins, which is normally a bummer, but you have a Two Knight--Knights always beat Goblins no matter what. Bully for you. Or, we can even go back into phase 1 for a cool example: Say a 6 Knight is turned up. Not an awful card, but you want to play for more than just the card in front of you, so you play an 8 Undead. Your opponent must follow suit, and they play a 2 Undead. Instead of going to the discard, you get those 10 points worth of cards into your scoring area right then, AND you get the Knight for later. Dwarves always go to the losing player, so the trick-taking with them involved is backwards, and Doppelgangers can be anything--they're a completely wild faction.

Actually playing Claim turns into a fast-and-loose affair of trying to keep track of where each of the high-value cards are, and playing around what you know about your opponent's hand with the limited resources of your own. There are times, unfortunately, when the game is pre-determined against you (or for you)--due to the fact that you have to follow suit. There will be times in this game where it feels like your opponent knows your hand backwards and forwards, and is carefully playing around your power cards. There will also be times when you get to do that to them. Fortunately, the game plays quickly, so the badfeels of that situation won't last long. These times aren't the norm, however, and what's left on the table is a really delightful take on trick-taking that is as fun and light as the art- which is truly outstanding.

Artwork and Components: Dimitrievski's art brings out a world of adorable fantasy creatures all vying for their say in who gets to be the next king. While the theme is slightly tacked-on, you won't care while looking at the cards. There's so much attention to detail being paid here that I buy into it completely. Full art prints of some of these cards (most of the doppelgangers, really) would be a welcome addition to my collection.


  


The only component here is the deck of 52 cards. They're of decent quality, and will likely last a long time even without sleeves.

The Good: The art. Gameplay feels as tuned as it can be, given the 2-player limitation. Quick and furious little card game.

The Bad: Very little decision making. Sometimes you're stuck into a bad play, and there's nothing you can do about it. 

Score: While Claim comes in feeling like a light filler, that's not always a bad thing. I often want a lighter game, and the art here is going to be very compelling for me to bring it to the table between larger dishes. The gameplay itself is fun as well, with little to get in the way. Overall, I'm giving Claim a score of Long Live the King.




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Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
Claim Review Claim Review Reviewed by The Madjai on February 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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