Full disclosure: A review copy of ClipCut Parks was provided by Renegade Game Studios.
Another five this week! I was originally going to do only Halloween games, and then I pivoted to a bunch of games that I needed to review because reviewing games based on thematic consistency is a luxury that I can’t currently afford. Alas. Either way, I get to review a bunch of cool games, so it’s not so bad. One of these games is ClipCut Parks, the latest from the pretty-constantly-releasing-games Renegade Games Studio. It’s always exciting to see what they put out next, so let’s dig into this game and see what’s going on with it!
In ClipCut Parks, you’ve been asked by the mayor to create parks across the city that make it an unrivaled spectacle to visit. Beautiful vistas, fantastic pavilions, and, of course, water features are required for this kind of wonderful park construction, but you’ve got it in you. I’m not sure how the scissors factor into the narrative; maybe all you have to show people your blueprints is a magazine? Some ludonarrative dissonance? Who can say. Anyways, you’ve got scissors now and you need to cut out the perfect park for the town. Will you be able to make your park dreams come true? Or will you get cut down to size?
Pretty much none, which is awesome. Give each player a sheet:
Then, shuffle the cards:
Deal each player 3 in a face-down stack, and then reveal 2 more. For a longer game, give players additional cards. For a more challenging game, use 1 or 2 Advanced Cards instead (they start face-up):
Set out the die:
And, oh, give everyone an included pair of scissors:
Set the tokens in the center, within reach of all players:
That’s new. Once you’ve done all that, you’re ready to start!
ClipCut Parks is … sort of a roll-and-write. It’s more of a roll-and-cut, which is a new genre as of precisely this game. In ClipCut, you strive to build the best parks to satisfy the demands of your growing community by cutting them out from your sheet. But be careful! Too much cutting leads to waste, and waste leads to crumpling. Finish your parks to win!
So, there’s no real “turns” in this game. You basically roll the die and it tells you how many cuts to make on your board. You then cut into your sheet following a few rules:
- You may make the cuts in any order. We’re not monsters.
- You may continue perpendicularly from an already made cut on a turn, but you may not extend a cut you made this turn with another cut. Basically, right or left turns are okay, but you can’t add a 1 cut and a 2 cut to make a 3 cut. That’s against the rules.
- If you separate a piece from the sheet, take the smaller piece and place it on a card. If you cannot, crumple it (physically crush it, sorry) and set it aside in a pile. It hurts, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
- Cards have requirements for the squares that can go on them. Generally:
- If there’s nothing on the square, you can place any single square you want on it, or use a group of squares to cover multiple empty tiles.
- If it has an icon on it matching either Recycling or Wildlife, you must place a square with that icon on it (or use a token, more on that later).
- If the square is a certain color, you must match that color when you place a square (or use a Gardener token).
- If one or more squares are connected by bridges, the group of squares you place on those spaces must also all be connected.
- Squares may not cover already placed squares or overlap.
- If you complete a card, announce that, claim its bonus, and reveal a new card. The bonuses usually give you a token such as Recycling or Wildlife (that can be used to add that symbol to a square) or Gardener (that can be used to ignore a square’s color requirement). Other bonuses are a free 1 cut or 2 cut that should be used immediately.
The game ends immediately once a round ends and a player has completed their fifth card. That player wins! If there is a tie, the player with the fewest crumpled sections wins!
Player Count Differences
No real difference in player count; players don’t really interact at all, so the more players you have, the more scissors you need. I figure the only reason it’s not 1+ on the box is that there aren’t that many unique park cards and if you ship anybody a box of scissors they’re going to start getting suspicious. That said, I absolutely love this as a quick two-player game and I’d definitely recommend trying it at that count; there’s occasionally a bit of downtime from players agonizing over what bit to cut but that’s happening in parallel, so it resolves pretty quickly.
- Make crosses. That, I think, is the easiest way to extract segments. Essentially you cut along a corner such that your second cut detaches the piece that you want removed. Just one horizontal cut and one vertical cut. It’s super efficient. Just make sure you’re not cutting the sheet in half or burning a significant segment that you have to crumple.
- Try to give yourself options at any cut count. Usually cutting just one square isn’t bad, but it’s not terribly efficient, either. Ideally, setting yourself up for big moves down the line isn’t bad, but it does make you very dependent on the whim of the dice rolls, which aren’t known for being particularly favorable to any one player (on a long enough time scale).
- Avoid setting yourself up for a very costly failure. I saw someone accidentally split their sheet almost in half during one game. Since the smaller part couldn’t fit on a card, he had to crumple it. Basically almost ran out of Recycling / Wildlife icons. At that point, that’s basically a forfeit. You need to make sure that you know where you’re cutting and what that will do to the paper once your turn is over. Otherwise you risk making a cut that’s, as you might guess, remarkably hard to un-cut.
- Honestly, avoid crumpling at basically any cost. Even if you don’t mess yourself up, you’re still burning valuable pieces and getting stuck with a potential tiebreak against you at the end of the game. Crumpling is an efficiency penalty; make sure you’re treating it like one.
- Trying to make big connected segments is a really unnecessary flex. It’s just going to gum up your works when you need to be making impact by completing Park Cards. If you’re playing with the higher-difficulty cards, naturally, this point is moot, but for the standard game there’s no need to do this, really, unless you want to be needlessly impressive for some reason.
- Don’t forget that you can combo off your completed Park Cards. The extra +1 and +2 cut bonuses are really useful if you’re trying to end the game quickly, but even then you can potentially try to leverage them towards cutting out a big chunk if you feel like you absolutely have to flex.
- If you need to cut without crumpling, just make random cuts into other parts of your player sheet. This is very helpful at the end of the game, since you always need to finish using your cuts. Just make random incisions into the sheet that don’t discard any pieces and you’re golden. If you can’t do that, well, then hope nobody is going to tie you for the win, because you’re about to start crumpling. And that’s never good.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- This is super novel. It seems like a nice break from roll-and-write games while still preserving the things I like about them. It’s also got the polyomino-style placement tricks and a fun spin on them. It’s easily moving up to be one of my favorites in the space, though I’ll continually have a soft spot for Cartographers. Maybe they should team up; Cutographers? Yes. That’s the stuff.
- Plays pretty quickly. Even with some slight analysis paralysis tendencies, games rarely take longer than 30 minutes. Your moves on your turn are complex in strategy but simple in nature. Just a few cuts here and there and you’re basically done!
- Sorta portable. Nice small box that’s filled pretty well, so it’s easy to take places. Benefit for me is that it fits nicely in my preview copy of The Search for Planet X, so I can workshop both of them around to all of my friends or take them to conferences. It’s all very good, is the thing.
- Pretty easy to learn, as well. You roll. You cut. You cover. There’s not much else to it.
- Big fan of an engraved die. I vastly prefer them to screen-printed dice. They just … feel nicer. I think it’s a personal preference, yes, but it’s a very strong one, so that counts, right?
- I’ll be interested to see if they do anything with this in the future. I would love to see an expansion or an upgrade of some kind. Hopefully that happens! I’ll be pulling for it, at least.
- I appreciate that you can make the game arbitrarily long by just adding more cards. For more than, say, 7 or 8 cards, though, I’d rather just play two games. Such is the way of doing 10×10 challenges; you’d really rather play more games than make the games you play longer, you know?
- The Grand Park cards are tough. They are a great additional challenge! I like them a lot. Just, be prepped; they’re pretty aggressive, and you’re going to have to cut some weird shapes.
- Uh, if you’re traveling with this one, don’t put it in your carry-on without removing the scissors. If you put it in your main bag, you’re also going to get searched by the TSA. Just be prepared for that. To be fair to them, it’s weird that you brought so many pairs of scissors with you, and that’s a fair hit. It is weird that you brought so many pairs of scissors with you. Just make sure you don’t try to bring it in your carry-on, otherwise it’s going to end up in the garbage, which is a sad thing for a fun game.
- I feel like this might actually be the game I run out of sheets for. I think I’m already like, 25% of the way through them? I can barely believe it. Especially given how much I like this game, I wonder if they’re going to make additional sheets and put them online?
- I mean, be careful with scissors. I worry about that given how people hold the sheets, but so far we are 10 games with no injuries.
- Also, it’s like playing a roll-and-write with a pen, but even harder to correct mistakes. You better be absolutely sure that you want to make the cut you’re about to make, otherwise you’re going to regret it. This causes a lot of analysis paralysis / stress; turns out, players get about the same feeling they get when they make permanent damages and changes in Legacy games. Who could have expected that? (Everyone.)
- If I hadn’t already played, like, 10+ EXIT games, this would have stressed me out. Even then, the first game was very stressful. Cutting things with scissors feels very permanent, as I mentioned, and doing so as part of a game just feels wrong. It’s like making a game about writing in your textbooks with a highlighter. I get that some people do it; I just never could. It was too upsetting. Good news is that after 10 games, I’m over it.
Overall: 9 / 10
Overall, yeah, I’m a huge fan of ClipCut Parks! This one is particularly interesting because when I first played it, I thought it was good, yeah, but I wasn’t as excited about it as I am now. The thing is, I just kind of … kept playing it. Over and over. It kept being the perfect thing to show X friend or Y friend and I really didn’t have any reason not to play it with a new person, so I ended up showing it to almost everyone I play with regularly and they all had a blast. It’s sort of like NMBR 9; the first time I played it I thought it was pretty good, but then I never stopped playing it and it kept improving! Now it’s just a mainstay of my “I Came Here To Play Games And I’m Not Bringing Games I Haven’t Reviewed” bag (a rare bag but a bag I occasionally break out). I think it’s simple enough that I can explain it quickly to most players but every game I play I end up with a new combination of cards; I mean, I’ve already played 10 full games of it, so, I can say with certainty this is one that I feel like I’m going to be playing for a while. Huge fan of it. If you’re into roll-and-write games but you’re looking for an interesting spin on them, I think ClipCut Parks is a cut above the rest! I’d also recommend checking it out; I just wanted to make the pun.