Table Top TableTopTakes

TableTopTakes: Claim & Claim 2

I have been lucky that I have gotten a few new to me board games to the table in the past week. First there was Ohanami which I played with family over Easter. Then on Tuesday I had a friend come over and we played some Super Fantasy Brawl but also played a number of games of Claim. Claim is a trick taking game that seemed really fun to me and was high up on a number of reviewers trick taking games that they like. But how does it play?

The Game

A game of Claim is split over two phases, or hands. In a normal trick taking, each hand scores, but that isn’t the case with Claim. The first hand builds your second hand. You play out cards in normal trick taking fashion, but you play for a card in the middle of the table. Whomever wins the trick takes that card and puts it into their hand for phase two the other player blindly gets a card from the top of the deck.

In phase two, you play out tricks again like normal. However, you play for the majority in a suit. So you want to win more of the five suits than you lose at the end of the game. This is all done with a fantasy theme. So most of the suits have specific rules that go with them. This adds even more of a twist to the game. In the end, the more tricks you can win and the more of the suits you can win, that wins you the game.

What Didn’t I Like?

There can be blow outs in Claim. And honestly, this is fairly true for any trick taking game. Claim actually offers more to mitigate then most of them do. Because you build your phase two hand, you can try and throw the bad cards, low numbered, to your opponent if one is flipped up. But since there is a random element of building that second phase hand half blindly between the two players, someone could get lucky and pull high number cards and dominate. This is a negative, but a small one because the game is extremely fast.

What Did I Like?

Claim Cards
Image Source: Board Game Geek (@llse23)
Speed

The speed of the game is amazing. I taught the game and we played four times in the span of maybe an hour to an hour and fifteen. When you know the game, you can get through both phases in 10 minutes. I have seen other games that add in twists to trick taking that make it much longer, Claim is extremely fast. Major selling point for me. This also helps with the luck factor negative. I could get a bad pull, but in 10 minutes I can reset and play again, it doesn’t matter as much.

Suit Powers

I also like the powers in the game. Each race has it’s own power and they can really change things up. In the base game, Undead get added to scoring in Phase 1. Dwarves go to the loser of the trick. Knights always beat Goblins if they are played after them. It creates a ton of weird situations. Claim 2 adds more races/suits to the game. You pick and choose which ones you play with, so you can create a ton of possibilities. It reminds me of how Silver does the game thing. I even own three more expansions that give even more variety that we didn’t play with.

Tactics

My negative was that the game can be random and it can be. But you pick some of that randomness. Phase one allows you to pick and choose what cards you get. At least you pick to some extent. So the decisions you make are important. Especially when you decide what cards to throw away. If a zero goblin is flipped up, I want to lose that one. So how do I throw it away? Sometimes, though, all the good cards play out in phase one, so every card you bid for is a low value. That can mess things up for the players.

Final Thoughts

I like trick taking games. And I like games with a lot of variety. Claim with it’s expansions, give tons of variety. Some games give a lot of variety but take a long time to play so you never see it all. Claim is very fast, so I can create a ton of different combos of races/suits in one sitting. And the two phases work extremely well. It cuts down on randomness and gives the game a unique feel. I think that Claim can work well for most people who like trick taking games. The concept is simple but offers something new, which is rare for a type of game that has so many different iterations.

Overall Grade: B
Casual Grade: B
Gamer Grade: B

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