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LAND of CLANS, from TACTIC (from the leading games creator in Finland) is a 2-4 player, 30 plus minutes land management game. It's mechanics are easy enough for 8 year olds to be able to understand, and the rules are very well explained over just three pages, brief on text high on illustrations. It is also possible to play this with 4 or 6 players in 2 teams of 2 players or 3 players each.

It's not so good with just 3 players because that brings a 'king maker' element into play, allowing 2 players to 'pick on' the third player and then continue as a regular 2 player game. We prefer it as a 4 player game with each player having their own set of 4 wooden Castles and 15 wooden Tokens.

Each player is dealt two Sorcerer cards and 5 random game cards, these five cards make up their starting hand whilst the Sorcerer cards are positioned face-up in full view of every player. 

The cards, Tokens, Castles, the cross-shaped playing board and the various shaped Terrain tiles are all of top quality card or wood. There are no dice involved. 

The map (playing area/board) is overlaid with a grid of squares that form parcels of land, each marked with a numerical value and a coloured shape - each individual shape has its own colour; the shapes and numbers match those on the cards held by the players.

 

To 'conquer' an empty space on the board a player has to play a card that matches the value (shape/colour/number) of that space. They then place one of their wooden counters onto that space. By placing the counters the players are attempting to make and match the terrain shapes shown on one of the four 'Win' tiles positioned around the board (at the beginning of the game and then replaced after each one is claimed).

 

When a player's counters create a shape that match a terrain tile (Win tile) shape they can claim one of the pieces of the same shape from the supply and then place it on the board, returning the counters to their owner. Then they place one of their Castles onto that shape to show they own it, but it is not safe. Opposing players can position their counters around the Castle/shape in what is basically a siege position and an attack can proceed.

Both sides can play cards (cross-swords for attack, shields for defence) to bolster their numbers. If the defence wins then nothing happens, if the offence wins then the current Castle is replaced by one from the attacking force; either way all cards used are discarded.

 

There are a couple of additional plays that can be made during the game. For instance, certain squares have a Celtic knot symbol on them. These are No Man's Land spaces and can only be gained by a player, put a counter on it, when it is the final square of a Win tile shape. If it can be shown to be the last space required then it can be gained by discarding any card, it doesn't have to be a matching shape/colour/number.

The second additional play is about the Sorcerer cards. These are basically 'Jokers' that can be used as any card to place a counter on the board, with the major exception that the No Man's Land square has an unbeatable defence against Sorcerers.

 

The game mechanics aren't new, they can be found in several games. They are good, solid mechanics that work well. LAND of CLANS uses these mechanics extremely well; so good in fact that this is a very good game for teaching new players some of the classic and necessary strategies in land management games. I believe it has high value as a family game, plus I would put it on the lower scale of a core players chart for playability.

 

Very nicely produced, basic but solid wooden pieces, good quality card for all of the Tiles and the board. Super easy to follow rules, though I would suggest that the age suggestion of 8+ only counts if the children are regular and competent board game players, otherwise an experienced teen to adult player should be involved - if only in an advisory capacity (ie two 8 years olds playing one vs one with an older player explaining moves and other 'Turn' actions available).

Although it is called LAND of the CLANS and shows, on the box cover, a Scottish scene which appears to be set in or around the mid-16th Century (Kilts were allegedly not known to be regulary worn prior to 1538), there is nothing otherwise to suggest a Scottish flavour, in fact the Celtic knot used to distinguish the 'No Man's Land' squares on the board has its ties (pun intended) in Ireland rather than Scotland. Essentially, what I am saying is don't buy the game expecting Scottish connections, buy it because it's a good, enjoyable, light-strategy game.

Personally, as already mentioned, I am not happy with it as a 3 player game because of the 'man in the middle' possibility. The average price online and from bricks & mortar stores is £22.50 but at the time of writing Zatu have it an amazing £15.79 (just under $20.00). Ebay has it 'out of stock' at $51.49 (£42.13) which in my opinion is about £20.00 too much.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021