So Clover! by François Romain, published Repos Production in 2021.
I received a review copy from Asmodee Nordics.
Elevator pitch: Come up with clues for four two-word pairs and hope your friends can figure out your clues in this cooperative word puzzling game.
What’s in the box? This game sure has eye-catching components. Each player gets a bright green plastic clover board and a dry-erase marker. There’s also a big stack of small square cards with a square hole in the middle and four words, one on each side.
What do you do in the game? Everybody gets a board and four cards that are randomly placed in the four notches on the board. The way the cards line up forms four two-word pairs on each edge of the board. You need to invent a one-word clue for each pair and write it down on the board with the dry-erase marker.
Once you’re done, remove the cards from your board and draw an extra card from the deck. Then everybody’s board is resolved, one by one. The other players see the five cards and must figure out where the cards go on the board. After the first attempt, the incorrect cards are removed, and there’s another go, and in the end, you all score one point for each correct card and extra two points if you get it right on the first go. Repeat this for all boards, and you’re done.
Lucky or skilful? There’s a dose of luck in how the cards get placed on the board. Some word combinations are more challenging, some easier (BODY + SMELL, anybody?). After that, it’s a question of how good clues you give and whether or not your teammates can figure out what you mean with them.
Abstract or thematic? The game has no theme in it; it’s all just generic words.
Solitaire or interactive? First, everybody comes up with clues alone, then there’s a discussion over what those clues mean. This is a cooperative game that can’t be played alone.
Players: 2–6. The official minimum player count is three, but you can play with two. However, three is better because then you get to discuss the clues. Five or six is a bit much, in my opinion; it’s harder for everybody to voice their opinion if there are too many solvers. With six, I’d be tempted to play a “three vs three” game.
Who can play? The age recommendation is 10+, but I’m sure there are smart kids under that age that can play this game. The rules are straightforward; you can learn the bulk of them from the back of the box. The game does require a good grasp of English; that’s the biggest hurdle.
What’s to like? If you like cryptic crossword puzzles and other wordplays, So Clover! is a fantastic game that will tickle your fancy. Coming up with clues that combine two completely unrelated words is a lovely challenge, and then hoping your teammates figure out your line of thinking is exciting. The clue-giving is done simultaneously, so the game doesn’t have much waiting, even with larger player counts.
What’s not to like? On the activity-game spectrum, So Clover! leans heavily to the activity end. The scoring is mostly meaningless, so if you want a proper game, this isn’t one. Some people also seem to find this dull compared to Just One or Codenames and prefer those games. (I currently prefer this to Just One, and expect I’ll always pick this instead of Codenames.)
My verdict: I was excited from the first moment I heard this. My biggest disappointment with So Clover! is that it isn’t coming out in Finnish. We can play this in English, but it would always be better to get a native edition of a word game. The language barrier isn’t too high, though. Because I love crossword puzzles, So Clover! is a hit for me.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, So Clover! gets Suggest.