Previewing: Creative Clash

Why did we just hire another graphic designer when we have three already? Is that the same intern as last week? Where did this gumball machine come from? And, seriously, is there anyone working here not a consultant at this point?

It’s just another day in the creative industry. You struggle to deal with your boss’s eccentricities as much as you can, but sometimes it’s just too much. You love what you do, which explains why you’re short on cash, sleep, and a social life, but you stick it out because when your latest project is complete, it could be a very rewarding experience. Still, the moment you have the opportunity to strike out on your own, you’re going to do it. Because you can certainly run a place better than Hipster Ted over there.


Feed The Ego

In Creative Clash, each player becomes the head honcho of their brand new agency. Players compete with one another in a race to show who can make the best, most alluring agency amongst themselves, complete with equal parts hard work and ridiculous antics. Time is money, as the saying goes, so we best get started. Plus, if we’re out of here by 5 you’ll be able to catch up with your weekly Game of Thrones viewing party.

creative clash ad exec

She can make something out of nothing.
Prototype Shown

You begin the game with a 3 money – think of it as your startup capital. Each player is also randomly assigned an identity card that specifies their role for the game, be that as an Ad Executive or The Rookie. Each role card has a unique ability that will help you in your quest to grow your company and feed the insatiable beast that is your character’s Ego. And Ego is essentially half of what Creative Clash is about.

Each character has a stated Ego number, which is what you need to raise your Ego to in order to win the game, and while it seems like it would be imbalanced for one player to be shooting for 18 points while another needs 25, the abilities of your characters do appear to reflect their relative power levels. For example, the Hot Shot requires 24 Ego to win, but his ability lets you draw an extra card every turn, and, as in most card games, extra card draw is always good.

Even if the creative world isn’t that straightforward, at least turns are remarkably simple in Creative Clash. On your turn, you first collect income from any cards you have that give you money. Next, you draw 2 cards. Then, you may play and/or discard as many cards as you wish. (You may also skip playing cards entirely and draw a new hand.) Discarding a card gets you 1 money. And money is nice, for it’s used to pay for important cards for your agency. Cards come in a number of types:

  • Employees: They’re unskilled and don’t give you much at first, but employees are essential. And these employees work for cheap.
  • Skills: Skill cards represent various training and potential abilities your Employee may have. Skill cards are played on Employees and stay with them for the game. Many Skills also generate money for you reach turn, since your Employees help your agency have something to offer – once they themselves have something to offer.
  • You'll need an Illustrator and a Designer for a book, which sort of makes sense. Prototype Shown

    You’ll need an Illustrator and a Designer for a book, which sort of makes sense.
    Prototype Shown

    Stuff: Whether it’s to decorate the office or show off how amazing you are, Stuff cards are bought simply to increase your Ego. (Why else would anyone wear a power suit?)

  • Person: Not to be confused with Employees (who apparently aren’t people), Persons are named individuals who may or may not be helpful to you. If they aren’t, be sure to send them to a competing agency.
  • Events: Event cards depict a litany of different notable scenarios that happen during the time at your agency. (But don’t worry; we removed the one about the punch bowl incident for you. Maybe.)
  • Projects: Projects are what players ultimately work towards in Creative Clash. Projects require a number of Employees and Skills to be played, but they are the primary way to generate money and Ego.

Once you’re done playing and/or discarding, it’s the next big shot’s turn. Maybe they’ll hire some new people, or throw a party, or show off their new collection of refurbished typewriters. Whatever it takes to get them across the finish line, really.


This Job’s A Joke

If the straightforward pursuit of Ego is one half of what makes Creative Clash function, the game’s irreverence for its subject matter is the other half. It lampoons a whole spectrum of tropes within the marketing, advertising and publishing worlds. This makes sense considering that the game’s designers have a professional background in said material. Yet they wisely designed it for widespread appeal; Creative Clash isn’t a game that rests its laurels on inside jokes and funny situations that only an actual marketer would find amusing.

Linus is pretty bearable though. Prototype Shown

Linus is pretty bearable though.
Prototype Shown

Instead, its lighthearted humor inherently acknowledges that such institutions can be wacky, unpredictable, and have, shall we say, colorful personalities. There are numerous cards reflecting that aspect alone, but every card also has entertaining bits of flavor text that further add to the game’s tongue-in-cheek nature. The game also has a mild level of screw-your-neighbor style cards, where you can steal someone’s Employee or sick a Honey Badger loose in another player’s agency, for example, and this adds some gameplay depth to an otherwise lightweight card game. And that’s not a bad thing.

When coupled with the fact that playthroughs of the game last only about a half hour, Creative Clash bears a lot of the hallmarks of a game that’s approachable for gamers and non-gamers alike. Creative Clash is designed to be a quick and light card game in the vein of something like Chez Geek. Except, in Chez Geek, you’re rewarded for being lazy.

Creative Clash doesn’t have time for laziness. There’s workish stuff to be done…at least when the boss is looking. They have an Ego to feed, and you’ll want to stock up on that. Ultimately, Creative Clash is an entertaining and easygoing exercise in satire, and it invites you along for the ride. If you’d like to fill out an application, you can find the requisite forms over on their Kickstarter.