Tabletop games are great fun, but it usually takes a group of people to get one going. Now that my children are moving out of the house (oh happy day) there are times when it would be nice to have a tabletop game that is as fun for two people as it is for a larger group. This is exactly what I found in Crazy Clubs which is a variation of Clubs, a new game from North Star Games I found at the 2013 PAX Prime show.
The North Star Games team is already one of my favorites because of games like Wits & Wagers along with Say Anything, both of which are great party games. I was already looking forward to trying some of their other offerings when I saw Clubs in a little box on their PAX table. Luke Warren from the North Star team gave me a quick rundown on how to play and gave me a copy to try out.
Clubs is a fun little game that has some overlap with Hearts and Spades, but there are several things that set Clubs apart. Similar to Hearts and Spades, the goal is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible each round and to win Tricks containing the named suite. Clubs however includes bonus cards and has variations that are fun for fewer players. The result is a great game for two to six people whereas Hearts and Spades really need four players to be fun.
The setup and game-play are easy to pick up, but of course the strategy becomes apparent after playing a couple hands. To start, place the appropriate number of bonus cards (based on number of players) face up on the table then choose a first dealer who shuffles the deck and deals 10 cards to each player. The first person on the dealers left plays a Meld-Type (run or matching cards) and players continue along with that meld type or pass in clockwise order. Once someone plays a Meld-Type with a 15 or if everyone passes, the last person to play wins the trick.
When the first player gets rid of all their cards they take the highest available Bonus Card and play continues. The next person to “go out” takes the next Bonus Card until someone wins the 0 Bonus Card. Players get points for the clubs they won and for their Bonus Card. The person who wins the 0 Bonus Card does not get any points for their clubs in that round. The game ends when a player earns 50 or more points and then the player with the most points wins.
Crazy Clubs is a variation which is ideal for two to four players whereas the sweet spot for Clubs is four to six players. Crazy Clubs also encourages more trash talk and crazy unexpected results. The trick goes on until all other players pass consecutively. You have to stay with a meld type but any run can be beaten by any run of more cards and any single card or pair can be beaten by any set with more cards. This means that a trick with a 15 is no longer guaranteed to win the trick and it frequently leads to more points per trick. Needless to say, the momentum can shift on a dime.
Clubs and Crazy Clubs are great games for two or more people and are now among my go-to games. If you are looking for a quick and fun little game that will shift your competitive spirit into high gear, either Clubs or Crazy Clubs is the solution. For more information on this and other North Star Games, check out their website and like them on their Facebook page to share the love.
Written by Brian Cady