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Subject: Oooh- look at the pretty colors! rss

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Michael Debije
The Netherlands
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Oraklos is a game by Tamara Jannink and Joris Wiersinga, and was published by Splotter Spellen . It plays in about half an hour by 2-5 players, and includes rules to allow 6-year-olds to play.

What You Get

The small box has an abstract illustration of visually distorted colored cubes on the cover, that unfortunately gives you no idea as to the contents of the game, and I’m afraid is not overly striking, either. Inside are 70 sturdy cards with illustrations of cube patterns, 54 small cubes in four colors, with a hole drilled in each one, 3 numbered tokens with plastic stands, and a piece of string. The string will be threaded through two of the blocks and made into a measurement cord. As stated before, the cards are tough. It would have been nice if the number tokens had been printed on both sides, and my plastic stand snapped the first time I tried to insert the number markers. In all, the box looks a little empty, but the components are serviceable.

What You Do

Oraklos is a game of speedy pattern-recognition. The game starts with each player getting a number of colored cubes (the number depending on the number of players) and 3 pattern cards. The cards show square patterns involving four colored cubes in particular positions. Players then, in order, choose which cubes they wish to place in a shaker cup to be tossed down on the table. Choice of cubes involves looking at one’s own cards to see which colors could be best to see thrown, as well as judging by the type of colored cubes that have been placed in the cup before you.

One player then shakes the shaker and throws all the dice on the table. Players then need to match their card patterns with the cube patterns on the table. But it is not so simple: each cube has 2 holes in it: if the holes come up, this die cannot be used to form the pattern. Worse, the patterns must be formed that no leg of the ‘square’ sits inside another leg, and that no extra cubes sit inside the squares being formed- contentions are rules by using the measurement string. Whoever sees a pattern that matches one of their cards first grabs the #1 scoring tile. Whoever finds a second match grabs the #2 tile, leaving the #3 tile if anyone finds a third square. Any more matches? Too bad: you were too late.

Players must immediately indicate their match: if they hesitate, then they have ‘missed their chance’, and forfeit the claim, losing points. The first tile is worth 3 points, the second 2, and the third, predictably, is worth one point. These are also the number of penalty points for incorrect or tardy identifications.

All cards identified that round are discarded, and the high-scorer will take four cubes from the table into their hand, and this goes around the table. The four remaining cubes on the table go in the cup, to be joined by additional cubes placed in the receptacle by the other players in order. The game continues until someone scores 10 points. There are some modifications for the youngest players, but basically that’s the game.

What I Think

Well, I’m not a speedy guy. I get really flustered, and start to panic as other players start grabbing matching tiles. However, I found the game reasonably fun, and enjoyed screening the patterns which were much more difficult to identify than I had expected. I must say my fellow players disliked the game a lot, which makes it unlikely I will get to play it very often. They did not like the race aspects, and complained that it was so very abstract, and some of the decisions whether a pattern should count were a bit arbitrary, and that seeing the holes on the cubes were difficult, and sometimes hesitated too long remembering where the pattern they saw was, which technically should cost you the find.

This would be tough, then, for me to recommend without giving it a trial with your group. If you have already played ‘timed’ games, then perhaps your group would enjoy this. If you have difficulty seeing ‘patterns’ in objects, this may not be the game for you. It is a game to bring out every once in awhile, but not as a closer because of the mental effort required; maybe as your light opener to get everyone up to speed. It does play fast. Tread carefully before committing a group to this one.
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