Monday, May 11, 2020

Claim It - not fancy but gets the job done

Have I really not already written about Claim It? I guess I haven’t. Well, it’s a game that got off to a shaky start for me but it’s one that has been in regular rotation with my Yucata crew.

While it’s themed around looking for good in the American Wild West, Claim It is actually an extremely abstract dice game. The board is a six by six grid and each player has six tokens marked one to six. On your turn, you get to roll three dice. You use two of the dice as coordinates and you place the token that matches the third die. You can roll as much as you like but you lose all the progress you made if you can’t place a token. If you end without busting, you swap out your numbers with tokens in your color.

If you can place where you already have a token, it’s marked with a black token as well and it’s claimed. You can steal other people’s spots but not if they’re claimed. Game ends when a player reaches a critical number of claims and the winner is whoever has the largest contiguous group of tokens. 

If I’ve done a bad job describing Claim It, trust me when I say you’d get it after one round of play.

When we first played Claim It last year, I wondered why it had taken someone so long to create the game. What? It was originally published in 2006? Well, why did it take someone so long to develop it? Claim It is effectively Can’t Stop on a grid and that came out in 1980.

My initial response to Claim It was meh. It seemed, well, so basic. But, as the months went by, we kept on going back to it. Claim It is very intuitive and it’s very ‘structurally’ sound. It has an nice mix of reasonable decisions and risk taking. Truth to tell, this might be an example of abstraction as a strength. Claim It is built entirely on its mechanics and those are good enough to stand on their own.

Claim It doesn’t really sparkle. But two of my Yucata buddies have gotten physical copies and I’d be tempted if I saw one. It isn’t my new favorite dice game or abstract game. But I will keep on playing it.

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