A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.
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Onirim: A game that wasn't my style at all but I liked anyway

Lowell Kempf
United States
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Microbadge: Icehouse fanMicrobadge: Solitaire GamerMicrobadge: Golden ReviewerMicrobadge: Doctor Who fanMicrobadge: PnP / DIY fan
I am not really much of a solitaire player. For me, part of playing games is playing them with someone else. I don’t get that much enjoyment out of playing Klondike with a regular deck of cards or playing a cooperative by myself (although that is sometimes the best way to learn one so you can teach it to someone else)

So why is it that I like Onirim so much?

Onirim is a little card game that has been on my radar ever since I first saw it. It’s designed as a solitaire game with a two-player cooperative option. Neither of those are things I really look for. I like playing against other people. Competition is fun

However, the strange artwork that combined a child-like element with an almost graffiti art sensibility, as well as the concept of being lost in a world of dreams, trying to find your way out, a concept that the art managed to do a very good job conveying, those were things that kept on drawing me back to the game.

To be honest, I’m someone who tends to evaluate a game based on mechanics, not theme or components. However, there was just something about Onirim that hooked me.

In the end, I told myself “Well, it doesn’t cost very much and won’t take up much space on the shelf” and I got it. And I played it. And I liked it enough to play it some more times.

Despite being the kind of game I don’t go looking for, Onirim definitely worked for me.

First of all is the theme. While theme isn’t a priority for me, the theme honestly seems to work here. You are wandering through a maze, looking for a way out. Each card is either a room or a part of a room. If you have a key or explore a room thoroughly enough, you will find that door. However, in the world of dreams, there are nightmares and those nightmares will destroy the progress you are making, possibly putting you into a downward spiral that you cannot escape. Maybe all those Sandman comic books I read in high school and college are coming back to haunt me but I like the theme.

Second, Onirim works for me due to the ease and accessibility of play. It’s not hard to learn how to play and it doesn’t take too long to play. For that matter, it doesn’t take that much space to play it in. It’s easy to get out and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Of course, neither of these things would really matter if the game wasn’t any good. Fortunately, Onirim is.

The game, in a nutshell, is all about laying out cards and trying to get sets of the same color, allowing you to collect eight door cards. If the deck runs out before you have all the doors, you lose. Nightmare force you to pay a penalty and, no matter which penalty you decide to pay, it will speed up the game.

What makes the game shine and what makes it a game instead of randomly dealing out cards is that you actually have meaningful choices. Yes, sometimes the luck of the draw will crush you but a lot of time, it is the choices that you make that determine if you’re going to win or not.

In particular, the use of the key cards seems like one of the most important aspects of the game to me. Keys can be used to claim doors and they can be used to block nightmares. However, you can also use them to rearrange the top of the deck. Knowing how and when to use a key is the crucial and driving decision of the game.

The game comes with three expansions that add more rules, challenges and decisions. I haven’t actually played any of them yet. So far, when I feel like playing a solitaire game, the base game has proved fulfilling enough for me. However, I like the fact that, when I get bored with ordinary dreams, there are more dreams to come.
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