Mar 23

Creative Clash: Description and Review

Creative Clash, by Ryan Smoker and Ryan Martin, is a game in which players take on the role of an owner of their own creative agency and compete to be the first to fulfill their ego goal by completing projects and acquiring cool stuff.  They accomplish this goal by hiring employees, growing revenue, overcoming sabotage by their rivals, and maybe even engaging in a little sabotage of their own!  With their egos on the line, these project managers and advertising agents will stop at nothing to come out on top in the Creative Clash!

Please note that Creative Clash is an Active Kickstarter project.  As such, the components are of prototype quality and that their may be some changes made to the images and or rules.  This review/preview is based only on the copy that I received.

Creative Clash begins with players being randomly assigned the “Principal” the will be playing for the game.  Each Principal has an innate ability and a different ego goal required for victory.  These Principals available are as follows:

  1. The Grunt:  May earn no more than 2 ego from any project.  Requires 16 ego to win.
  2. The Rookie:  May only play one project per round.  Requires 17 ego to win.
  3. The Illustrator:  Permanently has the illustration skill for completing projects.  Requires 18 ego to win.
  4. The Web Guru:  Earns two extra coins for a project requiring design and/or development.  Requires 18 ego to win.
  5. The Talent Scout:  Draw three cards every round.  Keep only two as normal and discard the third.  Requires 20 ego to win.
  6. The Wonder Twins:  Earn one extra ego for every stuff card you have in play.  Requires 21 ego to win.
  7. The Ad Executive:  Earn one extra ego for any project you have in play that earns less than two.  Requires 22 ego to win.
  8. The Hot Shot:  Draw one extra card every round.  Requires 25 ego to win.

After players have received their Principal, each then takes a game board, ego marker, coin token, and eight cards.  The players then pick three of the eight cards to discard and move their coin marker to the space marked three on their game board.  The player who has most recently won an award goes first, or randomly determine starting player by whatever means you wish.

A player’s turn may follow one of two paths:

Option A

  1. Collect Income:  Move your coin token forward a number spaces equal to your “gain coins each turn symbols” in your play area.
  2. Draw Two Cards:  Just as it says, unless your principal’s ability affects this somehow.
  3. Play Any Number of Cards:  These may be played in your own area, into those of other players, or discarded for one coin each.

Option B

  1. Discard and Draw:  A player choosing this option forgoes all of Option A and ignores any effects in his play area. The player may discard any number of cards from his hand, including zero, and draw back up to five in hand.

After resolving the chosen option, if the player has accumulated his required amount of ego the game ends.  If the player has not gained sufficient ego to win the game, play continues to the next player in clockwise position.  This process is repeated until someone finally reaches their goal.

Most of the game will be spent with players taking Option A and playing cards on their turns.  Therefore, here is an explanation of the various card types:



Each player is dealt a Principal at the beginning of the game. The Principal has special abilities—several of them have an ability that limits them—and becomes your persona during the game. He or she also defines your Ego goal. You never lose or change your Principal during the game.



Employees are played in your Studio to help you complete Projects. Employees may also be upgraded with Skill cards to help you complete the best Projects. Each Employee has a cost that you must pay in order to play it. NOTE: Employees are not considered Person cards.



Skill cards are played on your Employees to help you complete Projects, earn Coins and earn Ego. When a Skill is played on an Employee, it becomes permanently attached to that Employee unless specifically discarded or taken by another player. If an Event card causes an Employee to change Studios, any attached Skill cards go with the Employee as well. Skills are always discarded with an Employee if the Employee is discarded from play. Each Skill has a cost that you must pay in order to play it. Each Skill card also has an icon that corresponds to requirements on Project cards. A single Employee can have multiple Skills, but only one type of each Skill may be played on a single Employee.



Projects represent the bread and butter of your Studio.

The easiest ones can be completed by your Principal (0)

Employees), but you’ll need the right combination of skilled Employees to complete the biggest ones. Projects earn you a mix of Coins and Ego. You can only play a Project if you’re able to meet its requirements, which is typically a mix of Skills and a number of Employees. You simply need to have the required number of Employees and Skills in your Studio to play the Project. For example, the Children’s Book Project requires the Design and Illustration Skills as well as 4 Employees. You could have 3 Employees with no Skills and 1 Employee with both the Design and Illustration Skill to complete it (or any combination you like). You always keep a Project card once played in your Studio, even if at some point you lose the Employees and/or Skills that were necessary to complete it.



Plain and simple, Stuff is all about Ego. Spend your Coins on Stuff to quickly reach your Ego goal. Each Stuff card has a cost that you must pay in order to play it.



Sometimes helpful and sometimes not, Person cards offer special bonuses to your Studio or hurt your opponents. Some Person cards are immediately put into play, others are free to play but cost Coins each time you want to use them, and still others require a cost to put them into play. Read the directions on the cards carefully to understand how each one works.



Event cards represent the odd and often bizarre things that occur in the typical creative studio. Read the directions on the cards carefully to understand how each one works. Most Events are played and immediately discarded after resolving their effects.

Managing the use of these cards, your income, and your hand are the primary keys to victory in Creative Clash.

My Review

I found Creative Clash to be exactly what it was striving to be:  A light, family friendly, and somewhat comical game that manages to gently satirize the world of creative organizations.  It is able to do this through the cards that capture the feel of these companies and a simple set of rules that make it accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike.  While I personally prefer heavier and more strategic fare, I had a positive experience playing Creative Clash and my wife thoroughly enjoyed itl.  She works for a non-profit company, that while not a creative organization per se, does run charity functions and projects from time to time and she definitely felt that it accurately captured the theme.  She and I both agreed that our overall rating for Creative Clash was a 6.5, but she felt that it was particularly good as a lighthearted family game and in that category would consider it a 7.5.  All in all, it is a fun little game that plays quick, that we both enjoyed.

There were a number of things about Creative Clash that I would put in the positive column.  First and foremost, I really like the different Principal cards and how the cause players to pursue diverse strategies.  I tend to like variable player powers as a game mechanic, and I feel that Creative Clash effectively implements it while maintaining game balance.  Some of the abilities may seem overpowered, but the additional ego required to win makes it fairly even while still giving each character a different feel.  I also think that the very basic economy of hiring employees, adding skills, and growing an income to pay for stuff and more staff is nicely done.  It manages to give the feel of growing a business, without bogging down in all of the mundane details.  While I am aware that the art may be subject to change as this is an ongoing project, I hope that it keeps the same aesthetic.  The art, like the Creative Clash in general, captures the nature of the creative agency world with a humorous, but never mean-spirited portrayal that is just right!

While my overall impression of Creative Clash was positive, there were some issues worth pointing out.  This is a very light game!  This can be a positive for some, but if you are a hardcore gamer only, this game is not for you.  This is primarily because of the randomness of the card flow throughout the game.  The biggest area that I found this to be a problem in was with the drawing of skills for employees and matching them to the right projects.  It can be very difficult to move ahead with projects if you cannot get the needed skills and there is little that you can do about it.  Yes, you may cycle your hand by choosing Option B, but it costs you a turn.  If your opponent(s) simply drew into what was needed via luck, you are going to be in a difficult position.  I would recommend, either adding skills directly to employees so that you don’t need to draw both, or add skills directly to employees and keep the skill cards in the deck as well.  This may necessitate raising the cost to hire employees, but I think it would reduce the randomness to some degree.  Creative Clash also has various cards with a “Take That” element to them that some players will consider a negative.  I personally feel it is not overdone, like many games, but with the randomness of drawing employees and skills, it can be quite painful if you only have one employee with many skills and it gets stolen.  Obviously, no one wants to put all of their eggs in one basket like that, but if you have to kickstart some income or fall too far behind you may have no choice.  This fragility, due to randomness, can be a turn off to some for sure.  Creative Clash is a good game, but be sure to consider how you feel about these issues before picking up a copy.  If you don’t believe any of these things to be a problem, then I think you will quite happy with Creative Clash.

In Conclusion

Creative Clash succeeds, because it is a light game with enough room for skillful play, and a unique theme that it captures perfectly.  It is easy to learn and quick to play while keeping it interesting and re-playable with the use of the Principal Cards.  Yes, it is somewhat random, but this is mitigated by its quick play time.  If things just don’t go your way, at least you are not languishing for hours waiting for the game to end.  If you are looking for nice little game to play with the family or a group of casual gamers, then Creative Clash is sure to be a hit with your group!


For a second opinion about Creative Clash, please checkout the (p)review by Life in Games’ friend, Christopher Brimmer on his great site!


Creative Clash Preview

Published on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 12:00
Written by Christopher Brimmer

  Overall, everyone felt that Creative Clash was an entertaining, albeit high-level, way to experience life in an ad agency without the long hours and high demands. With rules that are quick to learn, random events to shake things up and multiple ways to achieve each goal, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Creative Clash is a great game that you can play a couple of times over the course of an hour during Family Game Night or while waiting for the latecomers to arrive at your next tabletop RPG session.


If you are interested in learning more about Creative Clash, or perhaps in funding it.  Follow the widget below to their Kickstarter page.

Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review.  No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.


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