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Subject: Redux Machina - A review of Omen: Edge of the Aegean rss

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Scott Sexton
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Silver Lake
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Omen: A Reign of War is one of my favorite 2 player "ccgs in a box" style dueling game. These (typically) 2 player games are something of a dime a dozen. You can usually log onto Kickstarter and find a few projects for this kind of game any day of the year. Omen has always stood out for me because of its rich tactical depth, combotastic card interaction, and a real sense of polish that is lacking from most games of this ilk. Add in the phenomenally evocative dark/surreal art and you have a truly compelling game. What I like best about Omen though is that it takes the most enjoyable part of playing competitive CCGs (playing a close and competitive game against an able opponent) and cuts out the most frustrating parts (huge financial investment, mismatched decks, the stress of competitive deck construction).

Omen started out as a relatively simple game, and through a series of successful expansions, Omen became quite robust and offered considerable customization of ones game to keep things from getting samey. All in all, I have been extremely happy with the "final" version of Omen that was released a few years back through kickstarter. Yes, there were a couple of rougher expansion bits that could easily be ignored, but for the most part, the game works perfectly. Or so I thought.

Omen: Edge of the Aegean is a bit of an odd duck. It just sort of showed up on Kickstarter one day without any real fanfare. Being a fan of the original Omen, I backed the game without even reading through the campaign pledge. Small Box Games has long since earned my trust. I have no insider information on why this game was created, and I'm not aware of any real explanations about the back story behind why this game was made. The original Omen felt like a finished product, and I sort of assumed that we would never see anything more on this game. The new Omen is technically a stand alone game, although it can be integrated as an expansion to the original Omen (by adding the new unit cards as a second unit deck and the new rewards can be randomly added to the original rewards) but I do not suggest doing so because it begins to bloat the original game a bit too much (kind of like when you mix all the Ascension sets together). The new Omen, feels in some ways like a reinvention or "do over" of the original Omen system. Most of the original unit classes are back, and they work almost exactly the same, with a few new tweaks. All of the new units in this set replace units from the original game, but with slight mechanical tweaks. The big exception to this are the Keres units that have mid ranged stats, allow you to generate a resource every turn, and also have an ability that allows you to score VP by meeting a game condition and removing the card from the game. The Keres are a clever improvement over the Feats cards from the original game and they simplify the playing area by eliminating the need to clog up the table with your 6 feat cards.

All in all, the "tweaked" mechanics to the core of Omen all work very well and feel like a further refinement. At its heart, Omen has always been a highly tactical card game where you are constantly building combos in your hand and on the game "board". By reworking the unit cards, the new Omen feels much more cohesive then the core of the old Omen. Old Omen feels a bit like a game that grew into itself, while the new Omen feels like the designer has taken the old Omen and distilled it down into only the best mechanisms from the old game. In that way, the new Omen "feels" kind of like it takes the old Omen and has crafted a "best of" album from all the old expansions. Nothing about Omen: Edge of the Aegean feels like it is unnecessary. Every single card and design choice fits perfectly with everything else inside the game box. Small Box Games understands exactly what makes Omen such a fun game and they've managed to capture the same fun again here, while managing to make this new Omen feel fresh and new. Regardless of any of the changes made, Omen still manages to give you all the tools to pull off fun combos and leaves you feeling like a tactical genius every time you pull off a win.

I think there are a lot of fans who are going to be excited by taking this highly refined version of Omen out for a spin. I would also bet there are folks that are going to look at this new Omen and feel like they've are getting short changed somehow. Lets look at the biggest questions I can imagine.

1- Does the new Omen make my deluxe old Omen obsolete? No. The new Omen is a small game. It lacks the variety of cards the old Omen has. The new Omen (for now) feels like a demo deck that will work as a very easy way to teach somebody how to play the old Omen. The core rules are largely unchanged, so the new Omen is a pretty slick way to teach a newbie how to play the far meatier old Omen.

2- What if SBG starts making expansions for the new Omen, does that change my answer? Even if Small Box Games were to develop the new Omen with expansions (so that it has a larger card pool) I don't think it really changes anything. Quick show of hands. How many folks out there have bought a stand alone expansion? Dead of Winter, the Long Night? Star Realms: Colony Wars? Any Ascension expansion? That is what I feel (hope) is happening with the new Omen. I don't think the new Omen replaces the old Omen, but it does make for a nice stand alone expansion that I can rotate into my game collection to spice things up.

3- Are there going to be expansions for the new Omen? Who knows, but I'd bet yes if Small Box Games' past actions are any indication.

4- I don't own the old Omen, should I get that before I buy a copy of new Omen? No! Buy a (probably) cheaper copy of the new Omen to see if you even like the game. If you enjoy the new Omen, you will likely enjoy the old Omen because it is a much meatier experience, yet runs on the same basic game engine.

Final Thoughts.

Its probably too late to ask Santa, so let me just direct this at Small Box Games. If you ever wanted to make Omen into a big box game, I would buy it in a heart beat. Give me a big box Omen packed with 200 cards of insanity and you'll have made me a very happy man. Omen is such a delightful 2 player tactical dueling game. It feels so much like a traditional CCG but without any of the BS where the player with the deepest pocketbooks wins. There is no need for deck construction either (sorry, no net-decking for you!). Omen: Edge of the Aegean is a wonderful starting point for newbies who want to learn how to play the neo-classic Omen: A Reign of War. For you grizzled veterans of the old Omen, Omen: Edge of the Aegean is also proof of concept that Small Box Games is capable of making Omen into something more of a franchise like Star Realms or Ascension. At the very least, the new Omen is an exceptionally affordable game that more then delivers on its price tag in sheer fun alone. Bar none, Omen: Edge of the Aegean is the best game to come out of Small Box Game, since the original Omen was completed. If we see further expansions for Omen, I may well argue that Omen: Edge of the Aegean is the best game Small Box Games has ever made, including the original Omen. Because of the high quality of this game and the relatively small print run, you can be assured that if you want to buy a copy without seeing any significant mark up on the secondary market, you'd best consider buying a copy soon.
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Aaron Morgan
United States
Sacramento
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scottatlaw wrote:
Every single card and design choice fits perfectly with everything else inside the game box.


Except for the rulebook. /rimshot

I know that the box that was sold in the $15 pledge fits the new cards (sleeved) and the instructions, but for those of us who want one box per game, it's too wide for the original Omen game box and too long for the Omega Edition box. I got this and Neolithic: Advanced Cultures, which came in a box that's MUCH too large for the original game and the expansion.

Small complaints, sure, but with all the care Small Box Games puts into production, I am disappointed that these two choices were made.
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Stuart Hollister
United Kingdom
Isleworth
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Aye , mine arrived today and had the same problem. I also bought neolithic advanced cultures.

The instruction book for Omen Edge of Aegean fits in the box for Neolithic AC but not in my Omen reign of war omega edition, by at least 6mm. Doh!!!
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