Clustered is a dead-simple 2-4 player strategy game where you must place geometric shapes according to some basic rules. You'll score points for lines and rectangular shapes in your color. Sounds simple, but is it worth digging into further?
Stand Out Features
Dead Simple Rules: The game is very simple, and can be learned in about 5 minutes, and taught in about half that time. Place a square card. In order to place the card, the shapes depicted on the card must match at least two out of three of the following categories: Shape, Pattern, Number.
Freeform Gameplay: The game leaves it completely up to you whether you want to play a "take that" style of play, or just build the best shape you can on your side of the board. Be warned, if you do end up avoiding attacking each other that the scores will come out very close in score at the end of the game, possibly resulting in a tie.
What We Liked
This is a simple abstract game that reminds me of one of the games you might find in Pyramid Arcade. The strategy is mostly derived from placement of patterns, the trickiest part is keeping patterns aligned so you can form a large rectangular block. If you have two tiles in a corner and you both corner pieces need to share two attributes in order to allow a third card fill in the corner. (Unless you use a wild card on that.)
Despite its simplicity, the game can surprise you with a move or a combo every once in awhile. You definitely have to think each time you place a tile in order to maximize your score.
What Could Be Improved
Is the game too simple? I'd say it definitely is. This game is missing something. I'm not sure if its an additional player action, more mixed wild cards (perhaps pattern wilds?), or maybe ways in which to interact with the other opponents tiles. The base-game as-is feels like it needs something else to make this a game you'd want to come back to.
Additionally, going completely abstract is a legitimate choice, but I don't think it's an excuse for the ultra-basic art featured in this game. I think ultimately the lack of theme hurts this game and makes it much less appealing to bring to the table.
Additionally, the solo game (Tabletopia has a solo setup, and the rules mention 1-4 players) is abysmal. I'm assuming it's simply a score attack since its not mentioned in the rules or on the Kickstarter. Without other players interfering with your patterns, there's very little holding you back from maximizing your score each time you play. It's easy to tell if a card you need is going to come to complete a rectangle, and it's simply a waiting game for it to come up in the deck.
Notes on the Tabletopia Version
There is a bug in the Tabletopia version where you can't draw out cards from your deck. Once your deck gets down to five or so cards, it becomes impossible to play. You can avoid this by drawing one card off the top, putting it towards the middle of the table, then drawing the entire deck of cards and putting them on top of that card (then shuffle!)
Time To Learn: 5 minutes of reading the manual. It takes one game to grasp all the scoring concepts.
Price: Free on Tabletopia. The game costs $15 on Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter: http://kck.st/2N6j1xH
Thom: (5/10) Mediocre - take it or leave it
Jinko: (6.5/10) OK - will play if in the mood.
Kickstarter Verdict: Clustered is too simplistic to have a spot in our collection. We decided to pass.
I hope you enjoyed our review. We do a Kickstarter roundup, review games on Tabletopia and recently-arrived Kickstarters that we backed. If you'd like to subscribe to our reviews, you can do so here: http://newsletters.sgl.la
You can also find SGL on Facebook and @SGLIncorporated on Twitter.