When I started investigating the game “Claim It”, I was a little confused. You see, this is a game from Wattsalpoag, the same company that brought us Jet Set, Last Call, and many others. Their games are strategic and thoughtful. But “Claim It” is a “press your luck” dice game, this simply didn’t sound like them. However, as I played I found that while this game is a “press your luck” dice game, it isn’t as big of a departure from their usual fare as I had originally perceived.
The game has a prospecting theme. You are trying to claim the largest continuous piece of land by the end of the game. There are two stages to claiming a piece of land, firstly you have to “squat” on it, and then you can rightfully claim it as your own. Once you have claimed a piece of land, it’s yours, and no one can do a thing about it. However, squatting is temporary. You can be bumped off and someone can claim it right out from under you.
All of the squatting and claiming in this game is done by dice rolls. It is this heavy influence of dice in the game that originally made me take pause. On your turn you get three dice, you roll all of them, and then you must claim or squat on a spot on the board corresponding with those dice if you are capable. Then you decide if you want to try to claim or squat on another piece of land this turn, thus pressing your luck that there will be another available space. If you find that you can not squat or claim a piece of land, then you have pressed your luck too far, and lose all of the pieces of land that you had gained this turn.
The dice correspond with the board when deciding on where to squat. The board is comprised of a grid that is six squares by six squares. You are rolling six sided dice, so it’s not too hard to see the correlation. But what do you do with the third die? At the beginning of each turn you receive six white squatter chips. Each one is numbered, one through six. The third dice corresponds with the number of the chip you want to place. So lets say you roll a 2, 3, and 5. If you want to put a squatting chip on row two, column three, then you would be forced to place chip number five. If chip number five has already been used this turn, then you are out of luck. Then you look at row 5, column 2 with squatting chip number three or row 3, column 5, with chip number two – you get the idea.
Once you have a squatting chip placed, if you roll that combination again (on this turn or on a subsequent turn), you can claim it. To claim it you add a black claim chip to the stack. Once this happens, it is yours forever. However, until then, another player can knock off your squatting chip and replace it with their own.
This is a “push your luck” game with a lot more options. By trying to get to certain spaces on the board, a whole new dynamic is added to traditonal games in this genre. The result is a far more strategic game. Yes, you might be able to place a chip on the board, but is it worthwhile? Also is it more valuable to place a chip on an unsquatted spot? Or would it be better to use that roll to knock someone off of where they are squatting? This game offers a vast array of decisions.
This game makes for a nice filler. It’s not exceptionally long, about a half hour is typical, so we have played it while waiting for others to arrive for gaming. It’s pretty easy to teach, so we didn’t have a hard time getting new players rolling with it, and by the end of the game a simple dice rolling game had actually become pretty competitive. If you are part of a group that likes “press your luck” games, but you like a little more strategy, this one is a great compromise.
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