CLOUT FANTASY (Hidden City Games, 2 to 4 players or more, ages 8 to adult, 10 to 30+ minutes; 30 chip starter sets $14.95; 2 chip booster pack $2.50)

   Occasionally as a gamer one finds games a little off the beaten path. This is one of those games. Clout Fantasy, designed by Jesper Myfors and Paul Peterson, is sort of a cross between Pogs and Magic, the Gathering (Winter 1994 GA REPORT).  I played this recently at The Great Canadian Baycon. Clout Fantasy Starter

   Clout Fantasy is officially a collectible chip throwing game (a CCTG).  The game has a fantasy theme with nice artwork recycled from Magic, the Gathering cards The Magic influence is not surprising as Peter Adkison, one of the forces of Hidden City, was the founder of Wizards of the Coast while Jesper Myrfors was Chief Creative Officer and original art director for Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering and Paul Peterson, currently HCG’s Vice President of Research and Development, was on the R&D team for Magic.

   The game comes in starter boxes with enough chips for two people to play (15 per player). There are two starter box sets: Elves and Undead and Centaurs vs. Goblins.  Each chip is worth different "clout" points and the object of the game is to have chips a higher value of points than the opposing player at the end of the game. 

   Each player starts with fifteen chips of which at least two must be bases (specially marked).  The chips are nice heavy plastic poker style chips with a stuck on illustration of the various creatures, bases (places of power/homelands) and spells in your army.  Each character/place/spell has a range number and a defense number , how many “clout” points it is worth (from 0 to 6) and special abilities (text in parentheses indicates which kinds of attacks it is immune to).  

   Players alternately in turn toss the chip onto a playing surface (the throw must be in an arc and at least 35cm above the playing surface)) and after each throw the player checks to see if one is close enough to the opposing player to attack it based on the range.  You measure from the edge of the chip to the opposing player's chips.  If it touches you can attack it.  If your attack exceeds the chips defense it is removed.  This goes on until all chips are thrown with the last chip only counting for points.

  The interesting part is the special abilities of each race and chip.  Some abilities, for example, allow you to add defense to other chips within range or allow you to move the chip (if it lands where you expected it be) a certain amount. Most of the strategy apart from perfecting your tossing skills is whether to play your powerful but higher scoring chips early in order to eliminate more of the opponents chips or wait until late in the game where you might only have a few chips left and your high value chips are more vulnerable to attack.. Additional chips can be purchased in three chip expansion packs and they provide more specialized powers with which to customize your Fifteen Chip deck. 

   The game plays relatively quickly (a typical game might last ten to fifteen minutes if played between two players and perhaps up to thirty minutes if playing with four or more) and is very well produced. Furthermore, it can be played on any open surface though I would recommend a carpeted surface since the chips do have a tendency to bounce and roll.  The down side is the collectible aspect to the game (the booster packs are very unbalanced and only give you three additional chips) and I did notice on a few of the chips the illustrations beginning to come off the chips which might shorten the games lifespan.

   Overall this is an OK filler which will most probably appeal more to the teenage rather than adult gamer.  If you enjoyed Magic or other fantasy CCGs, this game might also appeal to you.   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Chris Kovac

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