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Omen: Edge of the Aegean» Forums » General

Subject: A quick rundown of what Omen: Edge of the Aegean is all about rss

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Daniel Thurot
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Omen: A Reign of War is one of my favorite fast-playing two-person card games. It emphasizes smart drafting, clever hand and resource management, and a host of overpowered unit abilities that wreck your opponent's plans and make their face do that droopy thing where they lose muscle control and just stare at the table. That's always fun to see.

So when John announced Omen: Edge of the Aegean, I was enthusiastic to see what he would be putting out this time. I suspected it would be another printing of the original game, à la the Olympus or Omega editions. Much to my surprise, what I ended up getting when he was kind enough to forward me the print-and-play files, was an entirely new game — albeit one that uses and repurposes a whole lot of the features from the original system.

So here's the deal: in a big way, this is basically Omen: The Microgame. Gone are the original trio of unit types, the soldiers, oracles, and beasts that dominated the field of battle. Gone too are the spirits and heroes that were added later on. And everything associated with these guys is gone too. Without oracles to act as your primary economic engine, there's no portent stage for drawing cards or picking up coins. Even feats have been stripped out.

If you're anything like me, this is the point where you're going, "Feats are gone? Then what's left?" Well, let's talk.

Yes, the phase order is pared down. There's Wealth, unchanged from the original. Draw some cards or coins, maybe get a bonus if you've planned ahead, and there you go. Surge is where you play your units, War still awards reward cards to whichever player ponied up the greatest strength in a city, and then Offering lets you sacrifice a unit for more stuff. All familiar.

There are four unit types in Edge of the Aegean. And, as in the original game(s), they set the tempo of the entire game.

The most immediately recognizable are the Myrmidons, which are basically soldiers in that they activate their ability whenever they enter a city. Unlike soldiers, however, they must also meet an additional requirement, like paying a couple of coins or discarding another unit from your hand. Meeting dynamic and ever-shifting requirements in order to succeed is a big part of Edge of the Aegean, so while these guys wind up feeling a little less powerful than the original soldiers, they do set up this new game as one where you won't be able to bounce around your guys quite so easily. This makes for slightly less swingy games — though whether that's an upside or downside depends a whole lot on what you thought of Omen's tendency to jerk the rug out from under you.

Automatons are this version's beasts, at least in the sense that they pack some punch and take up two slots when they're placed onto your side of a city. Unlike beasts, they don't discard to gain benefits. Instead, if you sacrifice them during your Offering step, they're worth some sort of mega-bonus. The Bronze Colossus, for instance, forces your opponent to lose a coin and card, while you gain the same. The question dominating this unit type is therefore changed from "Should I play this unit or use its ability?" to "Should I play this unit or sacrifice it?" It's an interesting change, though in practice I generally just tossed them out during mandatory discards or used them in battle, since their offering value is always low.

In place of feats are the new Keres units. They provide benefits at the end of your Surge step, sort of like less-persnickety oracles. But their real feature is that if you meet a particular prerequisite, they "exalt" off the board and into your reward area, giving you a pair of points. This highlights Edge's new approach to play. Instead of fulfilling static feats, now you're meant to pick up Keres and figure out whether you can exalt them or not. Of everything new, these are my favorite addition, especially when they force you to shake up your strategy mid-stream in order to earn those points.

Lastly, there's the Moirai, the least-common unit. These are the hand-cloggers of the game, either worth a ton during the Offering step or worth a point if they're stinking up your hand at the end of the game. They also provide pretty nice bonuses if they're in play at the right time, like letting you draw two cards and keep one during the Wealth step or making a unit cheaper to play during Surge. So, yeah, they're modified heroes.

All in all, I really enjoyed some of these alterations, especially the elements that center around pivoting strategies. Drawing a Keres who will exalt if your opponent runs out of coins is great, especially if you're holding one or two units who can help that happen. As with the previous Omen, the game gets seriously tense once both players know what they can expect from the draw deck. Though in a way, I wish John had just overhauled Omen to replace feats with this new Keres system, which might make other unit types more valuable. When playing my Omen: Olympus Edition, it's always frustrating that I can't earn points by stacking spirits on all cities. By tying nearly all scoring opportunities directly to the draw deck, Edge of the Aegean certainly feels more fluid than my usual procession of accomplished feats.

At any rate, I'm backing this one, though I don't think I'll be mixing the sets together. This is a nice quick microgame version of Omen, and feels quite different with its tiny deck and focus on changing strategies.
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Michael Johnson

Athens
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The rules for combining the sets basically boil down to playing both games simultaneously with a single hand, right?

I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. My heart says "yes" but my brain says "ehhh." Still a for-sure back though. Thanks for the rundown!
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j clowdus
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You're still just playing a single game, you just have 2 different decks to choose from, more ways to score points, and more variety for rewards.
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Michael Johnson

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justjohn wrote:
You're still just playing a single game, you just have 2 different decks to choose from, more ways to score points, and more variety for rewards.


Yes, yes. I wasn't meaning to sound dismissive! It's more like an expansion module where a game will add an extra board, extra deck of cards, etc. It's an interesting twist for a battling card-style game.
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Serious? Lee
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Coppell
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Lost in thought.
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Whether played as a stand alone micro game or mixed in with the original game, more Omen is a good thing!
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