Base price: $24.
Play time: ~20 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Logged plays: 3
Alright, so we’re back with more Oink Games titles, continuing the legacy of Oink Games Month, which is always one of the best months of the year. We’ll return to our regularly-scheduled doujin games in 2020, in all likelihood. Either way, this next one’s a doozie, and we’re not even at the “chicken that lays gems deduction bidding game” yet. So look forward to next week. Apparently this is based off a game featured in the movie adaptation of a Square Enix manga that Oink specifically consulted on? Not even sure what to do with that, but that’s multilayered. Actually, being realistic, it’s pretty similar in scope to Illimat, another game that I love that was based on some props used in a song by The Decemberists, so, keep finding weird premises for your games, friends. I’m excited for you.
In Dual Clash Poker, there’s not really much of a plot to the game, specificially. You’re on a team against your opponents’ team, and you’re here to win. Play cards, and play high, but don’t ever play the same thing as someone else! Can you successfully navigate these treacherous waters? Or will the person you clash most often with end up just being your partner?
Setup is incredibly simple. There are four sets of cards: spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds. Give each player one set:
The spades and clubs players are on a team, as are the hearts and diamonds players. Set the tokens aside:
That’s it; you’re ready to start!
If you thought setup was easy, you’re going to love gameplay. Your goal is to win the best of 7 rounds. First team to win 4 rounds wins, or team with the most rounds won after 7 rounds wins. Do that, you get a coin. First team to 2 coins wins the game!
So how do you win?
All players play simultaneously. Feel free to scheme, plan, or strategize; the only thing is that you must do so, out loud, where every player can hear you. Including the other team. Don’t try any fancy language tricks. Once you’re ready, reveal the four cards.
Now, remove all matching cards. They don’t count. The highest card wins! If there’s a Joker in play, the player who played it can choose for it to be any value, including a value that would knock another card out of play! By these rules, it’s totally possible for no player to have the highest card. If that happens, the round is a draw!
Once you’ve resolved that, set the four cards in view and place a silver coin on the winning card. Keep going until either team has won 4 rounds or until 7 rounds have been played; at that point, the team who has won more rounds wins a gold coin! First to 2 coins wins!
For intense players, you can always play with no communication! How’s your telepathy?
Player Count Differences
None! This one only plays four players.
- If you’re communicating, don’t say too much of your strategy out loud. Or do; I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, being honest. With communication, there’s an element of subterfuge required; you need to bait your opponents into making a mistake based on what you want them to do. Plus, you can also tell lies about what cards you still have or whatever. Are they obviously displayed? Yes. Does that mean you can still lie as much as you want? Of course. See what works for you! Everything is a bluffing game if you believe in yourself.
- If you’re not communicating, play a bit predictably. I find that this helps a lot, as it allows your partner to start planning a bit around you. Do you always lead 7s? Keep doing that. Do you tend to throw low? Maybe try to stay consistent. Just watch out! If you’re not being subtle, your opponents will learn to read you, too. And that’s never good for you.
- Either way, you’re going to need to read at least two people in the game. It really helps if you can read all three, but barring that, you can try to read your opponents and hope for the best. Just try to make sure that your partner doesn’t play the same number as you!
- Try to block your opponents, if possible. The best thing is if your opponents try to defer to each other and play 7 – 1 and you play 7 with your partner’s 2. 7s cancel and 2 beats 1, so you win the round! It’s going to irritate your opponents, but that’s kind of the point of the game, I’d reckon.
- Blocking your teammate is obviously not ideal, but it can really mess you up if you knock out each other’s 7s. This is the worst possible outcome. Now you’re down two of your highest cards and your opponents know it. Unless you get really creative with Jokers, you’ve just lost two more rounds. And that’s out of the four that they need to win!
- Remember that each card is only ever used once. There’s no point holding on to certain cards for too long; you might even be able to tell when you’re effectively guaranteed a win. Did your opponents use their Jokers and 7s too quickly? A 7 will definitely win, then. At the very least, forcing a draw might be within the realm of possibility.
- Draws aren’t the worst thing, especially if your team is already in the lead. Your goal with draws should be to force the round to end with you having taken more of the hands. If you can shoot for that, great; that said, it’s incredibly hard to just force a draw.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Very portable. As is to be expected from all Oink games, basically. I write this every time, and it remains true every time, but I’m always pleased about it. Even the biggest games are still tiny.
- The metal coins are nice. I’m definitely a sucker for metal coins, and I’m learning to become okay with that. The text and lettering on it is weird, but I chalk that up to the adaptation or whatever.
- Very easy to teach, too. It really is just “high card wins”.
- A solid game for just sitting around and playing something that’s a bit mindless. I wouldn’t say that this is the thinkiest game I’ve played; you can play randomly if you want to mess with people (though I’d imagine playing randomly will likely mess up your partner as much as it will help you win, provided you assume that your chances of choosing the worst card are less than 1 in 7 if you use your brain). It’s also solidly fun, though! Lots of exciting reversals and turnabouts, and some interesting strategy.
- Plays pretty quickly. You can finish the whole thing in less than 20 minutes, I’d figure. It just takes a while to get four players, for me. What kind of person has more than one friend?
- It’s a different shade of red than Insider, but I like the color of the box a lot. It’s just a very bold red, and it looks great on the shelf. I still get it confused with Insider occasionally, though.
- Humorously, this seems like the kind of game that would have been better served by one of the half-boxes. It’s a remarkably light game; a few cards and, what, ten tokens? Doesn’t seem like it needed the full box treatment. That said, it also doesn’t seem like they push out the half-boxes anymore, so, perhaps that’s the reason.
- You can put poker in the name of any game that you want, but, this isn’t really poker in the way that most players are going to expect it to be poker based on the name. That’s actually one of the reasons it took me so long to play it; I was worried it was going to be a much more challenging game to learn and play, but it’s very much not. It’s just high card wins but in teams of two. I imagine using this to gamble would be interesting, at least.
- Exact player count of 4 players really restricts the gameplay options. Again, what kind of person has more than one friend? That said, 4 is one of the golden standards of groups, so it’s not the biggest deal in the world to limit it to that player count, but it would certainly be nice if there were other variants available in theory. In practice, though, this game wouldn’t really work with more or fewer than four, so, you just kinda have to take it for what it is.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Dual Clash Poker! Like I said, for American audiences, at least, we’re gonna assume that this is distinctly poker-based (even, maybe, Hold ‘Em, which is the general “poker” archtype in my brain). And it kind of has some of those elements in that you’re trying to play the best “hand” while bluffing your opponents, so I can see where it gets it from. It’s just … not actually poker, at all. What it is is a bluffing game of high cards where playing the same thing as anyone else knocks you both out. So are you going to try to go after your opponents, or try to win on the high card yourself? Well, that’s usually up to your partner. Including a no-communication variant really elevates this game from a simple “hey let’s just play this game” to a pretty interesting experience for four players. I’m kind of interested to see what situations this game works well in, so I may be bringing it around with me to various things over the course of the next year or so. You know, see what contexts it works in. One thing is for sure, you cannot play it at any player count but four, so, make sure you have a group for that if you’re going to play this one. If that sounds appealing to you, though, I think Dual Clash Poker is pretty solid! I’d recommend checking it out.