Friday, January 20, 2017

Nachos Grande's Friday Game Review: ONIRIM

Welcome to another edition of Nachos Grande's Friday Game Review.  As I said before, I highly doubt I can keep the reviews coming every Friday for the year, but I do hope to do a bunch of these.  That said, starting the year three-for-three is something, right?

Today's game is a card game called Onirim that is published by Z-Man games.  The game is designed to be played either solo or with one other player.  This is the first game of its type that I own (that is, a card game designed to be played by yourself).  My edition of the game that I own also came packaged with seven (!) expansions (plus an appendix token).  In total, the stack of cards for the seven expansions is greater than the stack of cards for the base game.  In other words, the expansions actually add quite a bit to the game!

Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to play the various expansions enough to be able to provide any meaningful feedback on them.  Perhaps that review will be at a future date.  Instead, I'm simply going to talk about and review the base (standard) game of Onirim.

Immediately upon opening the box, the first thing I noticed was how intriguing the packaging was.  The instruction booklets (two, one for the base game and one for all the expansions) were eye catching, as was the actual packaging of the came cards (and the incubus token used with the appendix).

The game itself is a cooperative game (if playing with a partner) or a solo game where you play against the deck of cards.  In the game, you are a Dreamwalker, lost in a mysterious labyrinth.  Your goal is to find the eight doors (if you do you win) and you lose if you run out of cards in the deck.

There are two ways to obtain a door cards.  You can either play three location cards (of the same color) in a row or you can discard a key card when you draw a door card of the same color.

The basic idea of the game is that you play cards from your hand trying to get three in a row of a single color in order to get the respective door.  The catch is that each card has a symbol on it - and you can't play cards back-to-back that share the same symbol (sun, moon, or key).  Adding further difficulty, the suns are common, the moons less common, and the keys are quite rare.  In addition, the keys have three other abilities that are often more useful.  One is to get a door automatically when you draw it (assuming the colors match) and another is to "block" a nightmare when it is drawn by discarding a key. The final key ability is to discard the card in order to look at the top five cards of the deck, discard one, and put the rest back in any order.  Doing this is the only way to get rid of a nightmare before it is drawn.

Speaking of nightmares, they are super annoying!  In the base game, the nightmares are the only type of dream card.  And when you draw one you must do one of the following:
1.  Discard a key card from your hand
2.  Place one of your gained doors in the "limbo pile" (essentially you lose the hard earned door and shuffle it back into the deck)
3.  Reveal the top 5 cards of the deck and discard all of them (ignoring any dream or door cards)
4.  Discard your entire hand and draw 5 new cards

In a game where you lose when you run out of cards, you can see how the nightmares are bad news indeed!

The Bottom Line:

  • Can be played solo or cooperatively
  • Interesting artwork, great box presentation
  • A fun game when you want to play but not be competitive with/against someone else
  • Way less complicated than most other co-op games I've played


  • Seems much too luck based
  • Most decisions seem to be meaningless (or no-brainers in the case of drawing nightmare cards)

Overall score (out of 100):

Editor's Note:  I originally scored this game a 72/100 but after contemplation (and the fact that I don't have much of a desire to replay it given the chance), I've lowered my score to the current 52/100.  

While I like the fact that this is a game you can play by yourself (or with a friend), the base game still feels like luck has way too much to do with whether you succeed or fail.  I played this game with my brother over Christmas break and we ended up playing quite a few rounds of the game (losing more often than winning) but only once in all those playthroughs did we decide that our loss was the direct result of a bad decision we made.  The rest of the time, whether we won or lost seemed to depend more on luck than anything else.  We also got in the habit of "card counting" the various symbols (and the colors themselves are all different rarities as well)...and if card counting isn't your thing then you may find the game even more luck intensive than we did.

All that said, remember that I only reviewed the base game.  I imagine when I add in the other expansions that my score (and overall impression of the game) will improve.  However, since I haven't yet played all the expansions, I can't comment any further than that so far.


Matt Stupienski said...

Pretty cool. I recently acquired an Omniverse game of my own called Castellion. Same type of thing. Solo play or low player count co-op. Castellion seemed to have quite a bit more strategic depth than this one. I still don't know that I'd recommend it though. It certainly gets a bit bland rather quickly.

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