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Subject: [Review]Almost a Great Game rss

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Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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OVERVIEW
Oh My Goods is a card game where players use resources (many of them publically available) to produce goods on their production buildings, moving up a production chain and trying to build lots of buildings while producing the most valuable goods.

COMPONENTS IN BRIEF
Just multi-purpose cards of reasonable quality.

GAMEPLAY IN BRIEF
Each player starts with a Charburner with 7 goods on it, and a hand of 5 cards.

Turns have 4 phases:
1) DRAW - Players may opt to discard their entire hand to redraw that many cards, or hold their cards and discard nothing. Either way, after this decision is made and enacted, players each draw 2 cards.

2) SUNRISE - Resource cards are flipped from the deck until 2 sun symbols are revealed. The flipped resource cards compose part of the available resources this turn. Players must then assign their worker to a building, choosing whether to produce efficient (+1 good produced) or sloppy (-1 resource required). Players may also play a building face-down to build at end of turn.

3) SUNSET - More resource cards are flipped until 2 more sun symbols are revealed. These compose the remainder of the resource pool.

4) PRODUCTION - Workers at a building produce if sufficient resources are present in the pool. Missing resources may be played from hand. If a building is activated, the right-side production chain may also be used any number of times by discarding the appropriate resources from your personal cards. Buildings chosen in step 2 may be built at cost by paying goods, or an Assistant worker may be purchased if requirements are met.

The 8th building of any player triggers a final round, during which all production chains may be activated regardless of whether workers produced. After the final round, each $5 in goods is worth one VP, buildings/assistants are worth their printed VP, and highest score wins.



NOT WHAT YOU THINK
Before I get into my usual Good/Bad/Conclusion lists, I want to share with you a sequence of incorrect assumptions I made about this game.


*It's a tiny card game, I presume this is light fluff that's easy to learn?

--Nope, it's actually an interesting little resource management game with multi-purpose cards that almost feels more like a boardgame than a card game, and was not as intuitive to players as I'd hoped.

*Oh, so given that, and cards that are resources, buildings, and money, this is probably a really complicated game?
--Nope, once you start playing, it actually flows along pretty easily. Just takes a bit to grok.

*So, because buildings use goods from cheaper buildings as inputs for production chains, I'll be using production chains during the game, right?
--Nope, you may manage a single building which uses an output from another building of yours, but given how fast the game tends to end, it's rare that you actually get production chains going anywhere during the game.

*Oh, so I should just build whatever I can and ignore synergies, because production chains end up being irrelevant.
--Nope, because of the (revised) rules that all production chains can fire on the final turn, victories will often be decided based on who managed to have good production chains running on that last turn.

GOOD POINTS

*A lot of game in a tiny box. For a small deck of cards, OMG has a lot going on. Buildings that take resource input to produce goods, production chains using other produced goods, special buildings to offer resources and cards, workers that have different modes of production, assistant workers with special requirements... this is a boardgame's worth of stuff in a tiny card game, which is pretty neat.

*Clever multi-purpose usage of cards. I'm always a sucker for games that make good multiple uses of cards, and OMG does a fine job. The cards are all resources, they also have the suns to tell you when to stop flipping things, they also are all the buildings you need to build, they are also the goods you place on the buildings themselves. And if you are paying resources from hand for the production chains, those resource cards just plop face-down right on the building as goods. It's all cleverly put together so the cards do everything at once, or at least have the potential to do everything at any given time.

*Plays at a good clip. One expects a game about resources and production chains to be a drawn-out slog, but OMG moves along quite speedily; if anything, it tends to end sooner than anyone expects, at least in the 7-8 games I've played. The fact that there's almost no downtime certainly is a plus. Once players have the hang of the game, you're just making a few decisions each turn and those 7 buildings end up being built before you know it.

*A wide variety of buildings. While everyone starts with a Charburner in play, there's no telling what anyone will build next -- whether it will be the lowest possible building in one of the other colors (A sawmill, or wheat mill), a more valuable production building, or whether someone will immediately try to shore up their own resource availability with a grey building. After building a few buildings, the choices become even more varied -- do you stick with one color to try to get a production chain going, or diversify? Do you try for buildings that require a variety of inputs to hedge your bets, or do you try to focus on buildings that require a resource you plan to build a market for? Do you bother with infrastructure buildings at all, or just stack production?

*Uncertainty in resource-production is an interesting twist. Unlike most resource-refinement games where you always know what you have before deciding what to do with it, OMG gives you only half of the information you need before you make your decision on which building to send your worker to, and whether to work efficiently or sloppily. The fact that another X resource cards will be flipped allows players either to play it safe (by producing only on buildings they can cover with what's revealed and extra hand cards, using sloppy production to cover the difference), or to gamble and swing for the fences (by playing efficient workers on buildings which cannot produce unless they get lucky with the Sunset Resource Flip).



BAD POINTS

*High luck. While the wrinkle of uncertain production will certainly be a plus for some, it will inevitably be a minus for others -- especially those for whom the resources they need to run their buildings never quite seem to flip up all at once in the center in sufficient quantity.

*Low interaction. If two players want to buy the same Assistant in the same round, then turn order matters, and whoever has priority may purchase the assistant, and the other player is out of luck. This is literally the only player interaction in the entire game; all public resources are not depleted when a player uses them, and all private resources/buildings/goods are yours alone and have no interaction with the other players.

*Game ends just before it gets going. Yet another good point (The game moves so fast!) that will be a bad point for others. While OMG is a fast little card game, I'm sure others will have the instinctual reaction to a goods production game where they are settling in to build up an engine and form a production chain. The cards tantalize with the promise of building up a multi-step production empire, but in 7-8 games I've still yet to see a single person make a 3-step production chain. The cards certainly have the potential to make it happen, but somehow it never does.



CONCLUSION

Oh My Goods sounds a lot like Almost Good, although it might be fairer to say the game is Almost Great. I think the game is pretty fun -- I'm still happy to play it more if anyone suggests it -- but it falls short of greatness for me thanks to that final bad point about the game ending just before it gets going. There are so many wonderfully neat things going on with this game, it feels absolutely brimming with potential, but doesn't quite manage to convert enough of that potential to kinetic. Certainly the revised rules allowing production chains to all fire on the final turn is a vast improvement, but it still doesn't go far enough for me. While this may be a light little high-luck card game, OMG purports to be all about production chains, and for me that means a disappointment that the big production chains tend to happen only once when the game is over. (Maybe at some point we'll play to 12 buildings and see what happens.)

That being said, I can't think of another production game that plays nearly so fast or is in nearly so small a box (or is so inexpensive!), so OMG still certainly has it's place. It does so much with so little, I don't imagine I'll ever want to drop the game from my collection. I'll just always wish it did a little more.

IS IT FOR YOU?

Do you demand complex production engines and need big resource chains to be satisfied? Do you need to be able to spite your opponents and get in their way to enjoy playing a game with them? Well, if so, look elsewhere.

But if you want a surprisingly meaty card game, a very solid value not only in money but in shelf space for the amount of fun and gameplay inside this tiny box, OMG is a fast-paced goods-production game, a pair of adjectives that so rarely intersect.

*Review copy provided by publisher
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Armand
United States
Los Angeles
California
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Osirus wrote:
I'll just always wish it did a little more.


Then you're in luck. Alex Pfister has announced an expansion.

Btw, I like to play to 9. That gives you enough time to run your buildings if you're mulliganing effectively at the top of your turns. I haven't felt the need to try automatic production at the end yet.
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Christopher Corrigan
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Simple solutions: Play to 9 or even ten. Make assistances one card cheaper.
Or play by the rules and know what to expect and therefore not be "disappointed".
Or whine as a game snob petit (gamer elitist is an oxymoron BTW)
 
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Seth Brown
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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doctoryes0 wrote:
Osirus wrote:
I'll just always wish it did a little more.


Then you're in luck. Alex Pfister has announced an expansion.

Btw, I like to play to 9. That gives you enough time to run your buildings if you're mulliganing effectively at the top of your turns. I haven't felt the need to try automatic production at the end yet.

I've only played with the rules as written so far, but as mentioned in the review, at some future point I definitely want to try playing to more buildings to see if that spruces things up. Admittedly I haven't tried it with the "original recipe" rules, but the production at the end definitely adds some satisfaction to the game, so I certainly recommend it.
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Alexander Pfister
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Thanks for your review, Seth! Yes, if you want to lengthen the game, just add some more turns.
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