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Click Clack Lumberjack Review

Michael

What does this rating mean?

Posted by Michael on Mar 2, 2016

One of the things that having small children makes you realize is the value of simple games where the fun is easy to get to without a bunch of hobby-work. You start to seek out games that don’t require a significant investment of time or effort beyond the reach of your young ones. My children are six and four so they are not exactly anywhere in age range of playing Blood Rage or A Study in Emerald with dad. I try to find them games that I think will immediately grab them, entertain them for 15 to 20 minutes, and leave us all smiling. But I also want games that I can appreciate as an adult game player. Dexterity games- at least some of the simpler, action-oriented ones are often a good common ground. Recently I picked up a couple of Korean action titles published in the US by Mayday Games. One of them was the monkey masterpiece Coconuts, the other Click Clack Lumberjack

Click Clack Lumberjack has been around for a couple of years under a couple of different names and in a few different boxes. The latest edition comes in a pretty spartan package that feels cheap, but it’s a low-cost crowd-pleaser that offers a fun wood-choppin’ experience both kids and adults can enjoy. If you can understand whacking at a plastic tree with a toy axe, you can play Click Clack Lumberjack.

The title of course- regardless of whatever version- is an onomatopoeia of what playing this game sounds like. The tree is composed of a base trunk and nine light brown “core” pieces stacked on top of it. Each has four slots, into which you stick these darker brown bark pieces that effectively encase each slice of the tree. You get two strikes on the tree, and you want to hit a slice in such a way that it slides slightly off an edge, enough for one or more bark pieces to drop down off the tree. You collect these for a point a piece, but if you knock off one of the core pieces by hitting the tree too hard, you’re hit with a whopping -5 point penalty. It’s subtly smart piece of design that each slice-four bark pieces and the core- is actually worth -1 point in aggregate.

That’s really it, the only other rule is optional- you can put four bug stickers on as many pieces of bark and whoever knocks them off gets an extra turn and an extra point. My kids both got it immediately; literally as soon as I had the tree set up and hit it once to show them what to do. No explanation was really needed, but they didn’t really understand that the core pieces were a penalty. I sort of built a narrative around the game, that we were actually looking for the bugs under the bark and but we didn’t want to hurt the tree and that sold the concept to them.

So with kids, it’s quite literally a hit. They’ve asked to play it every day. I played it with some adults as well, and like all of the best dexterity games it was met with a lighthearted “WTF is this” followed by laughs and “let’s play again!” From a wizened, veteran gamer perspective, I think it’s really a smart piece of product design. The first time I hit the tree and watched the slice slide and drop the bark I just thought it was super neat.

My kids did have a little difficulty with figuring out how to hit the tree with the right force. So of course, we had a few turns where the whole tree was left in shambles and others where nothing was moved at all. River does this thing where he tries to double-tap the tree to get a third strike in before he passes the axe. I just let him do it. It ain’t that serious. Laughing and taking another whack at it is the winning strategy.


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