Re: G.O.G. Review – 2-Players
C.O.G. is the latest game to be released by Dr. Finn’s Games. C.O.G. is a change of pace from Dr. Finn’s other games and it is the largest game he’s published to date.
I’ve played 7 games of C.O.G. with my wife so far. We both enjoy it as a 2 player game and we are eager to play more.
Theme and Components
C.O.G. has a steampunk theme, however, it doesn’t really go beyond the artwork and graphic design. Even when a game is light on theme I can usually accept what it’s supposed to be and how it relates to what I'm doing, but in C.O.G. I just can’t make that connection. That being said, I really don’t care in this case and the lack of thematic connection doesn’t bother me one bit.
What we do have looks very nice. The brown and gold of the boards and cards fit well with the gears that decorate the components. The gears on the backs of the letter tiles is a nice touch and looks good on the board when you flip your tiles over to act as wilds.Main board after setup. I used bananagrams tiles
The components are very good quality. Everything is clear and visible. The main board and player boards both have easy to understand icons to help with setting up a round and reminding you about several rules.
I really like the spaces in the player boards which give you a place to insert your goal cards. Those cards also have holes in them next to the words where you insert a cube to show you’ve completed the word. While that isn’t required for game play by any means, I thought it was a nice touch and it helps keep things organized.
I’ve opted to replace the letter tiles with bananagram tiles because I like the weight and feel of them. There is nothing wrong with the punch board tiles you get in the game, just personal preference. I’d be just as happy using the cardboard tiles, especially since they look very nice when turned over to the gear side.
Don’t let the player board and letter tiles fool you. C.O.G. looks like a word game but it’s really worker placement at its heart.
At the start of the round you go around the table placing a marker on one of four different options available. You pick turn order, select letters and stars, take a die or take a card.
The stars you take will mainly be used for make a letter wild. However, they can also provide you several other bonuses.
Cards will either give you a word you can complete by only spending one or two letters rather than spelling the whole word out on your board or a special power. When you spend letters for a card you can either take credit for completing the word or get a bonus in the form of points, random letters and star tokens. Cards you complete will also count for points at the end of the game.
When you pick a die you move your pawn around the board and collect a bonus if that space is empty. In a 2-player game there will be two extra pawns that move around the board to block extra spaces. The die you pick can also activate some of your power cards.
The second half of each round is when you use your tiles to spell words on the board and complete item cards. Both player boards at the end of the game.
C.O.G. offers a different experience from any of my other games and I’m glad to have it in my collection. I was a bit concerned after reading the rules that the game would get repetitive and not have a very high replay value but that isn’t the case for my wife and I. We’ve played it seven times in the last two weeks and we still want to play more.
There isn’t a whole lot of player interaction which typical of these types of games. You’ll only see it in the first half of a round where you may take a space your opponent wanted.
The second half of each round offers a fair amount of strategy to get the highest score. The layout of the words you spell on your board is important because there are spaces which give you bonuses when you put a tile on them. You also want to be careful how you’re putting tiles down or you may find you are very limited on what you can spell and where you can place it in the last few rounds.
The decision on how you want to use your completed item cards is equally important. It’s nice to finish a word on your goal card and only have to spend a one or two tiles but then you don’t get to put the word on your board. You may want to just go for the quick points and bonus instead.
The game also moves at a very quick pace. I’ve only played it at 2 players but I’d imagine more players wouldn’t take much longer because all of the word building in the second half can be done simultaneously.
The puzzle you work on while playing C.O.G. feels very rewarding. It's nice to see that each new game my wife and I play, our final scores are still going up as we understand the game better. At this point our goal isn't as much to beat the other person, but to set the record for our new highest score.
The unique mix of puzzle solving and worker placement makes C.O.G. a game I'll want to keep coming back to.
C.O.G. would be a great addition to any collection that is looking for something different.Finally I'd like to make a short plea to my fellow geeks: If you see a Dr. Finn's game on Kickstarter that seems interesting to you please consider backing. As far as I know, you won't find these games at an online retailer at a greatly reduced price (there are certainly other games I don't back because they'll be cheaper later). C.O.G. only met it's funding goal by $30 and it's far too good a game to have not made it.