Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
5 Posts

Oasis» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Oasis review after 2 games and some thought rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My copy (well, copies) of Oasis came in last week, and I opened one up, read the rules, and bagged the components. Thursday rolled around and I took the game with me to my gaming group for a test drive. From just reading the rules I thought the game would be interesting, if a little dry. One thing I thought I might not like about the game... I thought "why the hell are the bids blind?" But I didn't want to judge the game without having played it.

If this were a Tom Vassel review, then I'd get into the components at this point, and descibe how the tiles and board are all very thick and sturdy, the camel-meeples are very nice, and the whole production is very high quality. Then I'd summarize the rules, and eventually give you my opinion of the game - whether I liked it or not, and who I think would like it. But this is not a Tom Vassel review, so if you are not familiar with the rules (and want to be), I suggest you look here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/77441

Oasis is a game of balance. The whole game you are balancing the number of tiles you control with the number of matching scoring markers you've collected, in each of 4 colors. The way that you get these tiles is through a clever mechanic called the Offering in which each player "offers up" some combination of stuff, then players choose which offering to take. This is done in turn order, and that turn order changes each round - you actually give a turn order marker to the player whos offer you take, so the idea is to offer enough, or good enough stuff that layer 1 will choose your offering. Then next round YOU'LL be player 1, you'll get first choice of the offerings, and on top of all that, whichever player receives the Player 1 marker each round gets to place a free tile on the board.

Offerings are made with cards. Players have a stock of face down cards - you're not allowed to look at them. When it's your turn to make an offering, you flip up a card, then either you stop, or you flip up another card to add to your offering. These cards have the different colored tiles and scoring tiles on them. After you've flipped up a maximum of 3 cards, you draw 3-x cards (where x is the number of cards in your offering). These cards are also face down, and go on the bottom of your stack of cards.

In the end, your score is determined by multiplying the number of tiles controlled by the number of scoring tiles in each of the 4 colors, so 7 tiles controlled with only 1 scoring tile is only 7 points, while 5 tiles controlled with 3 scoring tiles is 15 points. This is what I mean by balancing the two.

In the end, I like the game about as much as I thought I would It IS interesting to try and collect the right balance of stuff to outscore my opponents, and there is a spatial aspect to the board and tile placement which comes into play as well. I played with 3 players once and with 4 players once. I suspect 5 players would be best, as people would start running out of room and bumping into each other much more often and sooner. Here are my specific comments:

The Offering: The mechanic is very clever, as I said. Some things I noticed about it... you don't want to offer up all your cards such that you have little to no options in the next 2 or 3 turns while you build some cards up again. You'll need to do that once in a while, and if it gets you the Player 1 marker then it might be worth it.

I found my initial assessment of the blind bid to be pretty accurate. The effect of your decision to flip up another card seems to pale in comparison to the effect of the relative value of your cards (which you don't know) and the order they happen to be in (which you also don't know). It seems like the game would be more interesting if players could decide which cards to offer, in which combinations, and when. I suppose the reason for the blind offering might be a fear of Analysis Paralysis while people try and decide which cards to offer. I'd like to try it to see if that actually becomes an issue. I posted more about this in a thread in the Variants section, here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekforum.php3?action=viewthrea...

Choosing Offerings: Choosing which offering to take is one of the main decision points of the game. Should I place these tiles on the board? Or take that scoring marker? Should draw 3 cards so I can make better offers in the next couple turs, or should I go for points instead? These decisions are interesting, and they determine how well you do in tha game. This brings me to my second criticism of the game... in the 3 player game (less so in 4 player, and I imagine even less so in 5 player) this decision was only made by 1 player. After Player 1 made their choice, the other players usually simply took the only thing that was available. It was pretty anticlimactic. In the Variant post above, I mention a "dummy hand" which might help return value to this interesting decision point, giving all players some option as to which offering to take.

Blocking: I've found blocking in tile placement to be an effective tactic, when possible. It can severely limit opponents' scoring potential if you're able to block their area into a small section of the board and limit their growth. On the contrary, I don't see blocking camel groups as being very effective. Unless all players are playing camels to the camel trail, and there are at least 4 players, then it's particularly difficult to effectively block a player from growing their camel group. If possible at all, it probably means sacrificing your own group size to do it, which doesn't make any sense to do. Basically, the "largest contiguous camel group" is effectively the same as "total number of camels on the board" - which isn't as interesting as I thought it would be. If the rule is cited as "largest contiguous group," then it would be nice it that were somehow different than simply putting camels on the board... I wrote more about this in that Variant post, about starting the game by placing some camels on the board a certain way to encourage actually having to work for a large contiguous group and to allow fore more effective blocking on the camel trail.

Merging groups: I noticed a tactic that is pretty neat, though not necessarily easy to pull off. In one game I started 2 different green tile groups, with my control moarker on each. They grew toward each other, and at one point I took an offering which included both green tiles and other tiles. As I had all four control markers on the baord already, I first placed the other tiles, vacating one of my green groups to mark it as mine, then I placed the green tiles to merge my remaining green group with the one I just vacated. I think this can e reasonably persued as a decent way to build up a big group of one color and then get into another one.

Overall: Please don't take my criticisms too hard - I do like the game despite these observations. I also felt the theme was plenty thematic, as opposed to dry and abstract. While the theme IS dry, it's not any moreso than other games of this type - and in fact I'd say the game is a lot more thematic than the similar Through the Desert for example. While I'd like to try the three suggestions I've made to improve the game, I think it's a decent game as is for people who are interested in a lightergame like Ticket to Ride. This game is often compared to TtR for the obvious reason that it's by the same designer. I think the comparisons are valid in that they relate more to the level of effort required to learn and play the game - the gameplay itself is nothing like TtR.

For now, I'll give the game a rating of 5 or 6, but after playing a few more times (possibly with the changes I suggested) that may increase.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Shaffer
United States
San Francisco
CA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Oasis is a game that gets better as you add players. The 5 player game is best. As a 3 (or even 4) player game, it's sub-par. As a 5 player game, I rate it an 8. Most of the tension of the offering is removed with less than 5 players, as you noted. With a full complement of players, there is competition for the second-best offering. Players 1, 2 and 3 usually have significant choices to make when picking offerings.

At any rate, try it again with 5 and see if your rating rises. Personally, I almost never play it with less than 5 players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review. Despite your criticisms, you've renewed my interest in actually trying this game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Jaffee
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I AM looking forward to trying the game with 5 (and with the official rules), and I DO think it will be better than 3 or 4 player. I will let you know how it goes. If I end up playing the game with any variants for fewer players, I'll let you know how that goes too.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Reiners
United States
New York
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
TheCat wrote:
Oasis is a game that gets better as you add players. The 5 player game is best. As a 3 (or even 4) player game, it's sub-par


Haven't played this yet but based on the rules reading I had the same idea. The bidding seems like its broken with anything less than the full number of players. With 5 it seems like a cool mechanic that probably works very well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.