Clockmaster is a game about drawing a clock face. As far as elevator pitches go, it leaves me cold (and I couldn’t wait to try Bohnanza sixteen years ago!) And yet, when I actually played the game, it had an immediate ‘let’s do that again’ effect.
The whole thing, rules and all, fits on one sheet of paper, which is why I tried it in the first place. (It’s a PnP, R&W solitaire. No, jargon doesn’t get in the way of communication :P) The actual play area consists of a blank clock face, a list of special actions and an hourglass with 24 circles.
You play with a pool of four dice. Roll all of them and then you assign two dice to the clock, one to action (which is different than special actions) and one to sand. An action die of 1-3 means you just use one of the clock dice while 4-6 means you use both.
You use the clock dice to fill in the numbers of the clock. If you’re using just one die, you write one of the numbers down in the right place. With two dice, you can add, subtract, multiply or divide the number. You can also use the turn to draw in the minute or hour hand regardless of what the dice say.
There are also four special actions. You can use each one once and you cross them out when you use them. The include things like rerolling a die or flipping a die.
You use the sand die to fill in that many circles in the hourglass. If you fill in the hour glass before you finish the clock face, you lose.
As I already mentioned, the theme doesn’t do much for me and I like games about bean farming or trading in the Mediterranean. However, there’s a lot of interesting dice manipulation for such a small space.
It’s not perfect. I find the most 1-3 action of just writing in a die’s number seems pretty dull compared to doing arithmetic with two dice. And, while the odds are against it, ‘bad’ die rolls can fill in the hourglass super fast and it takes fourteen turns to complete the clock face. It’s dice so it’s luck but it can still be annoying.
Apparently the designer is with me on the theme since they took the core mechanic and used it for a game about secret agents deactivating a bomb :D
Clockmaster isn’t my new favorite Roll and Write but it is a solid one-page work with more interesting choices than I expected. It went from ‘meh, it’s one page so I’ll try it’ to ‘oooh!’