It combines almost a chess like strategy with resource management and worker placement.
Publisher: Kolossal Games
Designer: John Clowdus
Artist: JJ Ariosa
Artist: Justin Hernandez
Artist: Mike Riiven
Artist: Sandro Rybak
Game Type: Area Control
Game Type: Hand Management
Game Type: Card Drafting
Game Type: Variable Player Powers
Initial Year of Release: 2011
Age Range: 12+
Number of Players: 2
Theme and What is it?
Omen: Reign of War is a game of Greek sibling rivalry. You and your opponent are both the illegitimate children of Zeus, the Thunder God himself, and are vying for the admiration of all Olympus. Through conquest and varying feats, you gain each god’s favor and at the end of the day, the one with the most favor is the victor. Release the kra…. figures from the world of Ancient Greece by spending gold and dominating the old world and earn your claim as a child of Zeus.
Omen has a few different mechanics from resource management to unit placement and even a very well instituted balancing mechanism for after battle to prevent one person from just dominating the whole time.
Resource management comes in 2 forms. The first is gold(money) management. You need money to buy and deploy units and you can only gain gold in a few ways. The second and closely tied into it is hand management where at the end of your turn you can have a max of 5 cards in your hand.
The very first action lets you draw cards and gain money three times but what combination of cards and money must be decided before taking the action. 2 cards and 1 gold or 2 gold and 1 card with a bonus if you take all 3 as gold or cards you get a fourth as a bonus. The very last action of your turn allows you to discard a card for varying number of gold and card gain actions, again the split must be decided before taking the action. Gold is a limited resource and if the center is out of gold you cannot gain anymore.
The main board has 3 cities in which you can deploy units each city has a maximum of 5 units per side and some units count as 2. You can never go over that number. Deploying most units has a 1-time effect but a few have ongoing effects and other units have the option as being used as a unit or using their effect and being discarded.
If your opponent has 3 units on one side or there’s a total of 5 units, the city is war-torn and the battle will commence at the war step. After the war step, the winning side must lose all but 1 unit and the losing side all but 2 units this leads to a very well-balanced gameplay and gives both sides a chance for victory.
There is also a feat feature where if you accomplish a task such as having 5 units in 1 city or drawing 5 cards before the feat step you get 2 victory points. This makes for a lot of varying tactics on how to play.
I was pretty excited about the theme and the overall simplistic goal with several viable strategies to get there. That all being said, there are a lot of unique cards each with there own set of abilities and playing it the first time can be a little daunting.
If you can just go in and play cards, you can wait to see what’s what. Then every future play through is going to be fascinating to see exactly how every card combos with other cards. If you try too hard to get the most out of all of your resources, you may miss out on victory points or not have enough time to actually see your plan come to fruition.
There is very little counterplay; not zero, but still very little. Once a battle starts, it is likely to finish with what is just in play. There is enough take-that in the game that can be punishing if you are too patient, but the same can be said about war.
Game Build Quality
The cards are a little thin but have a plastic coating giving them some durability and they do shuffle nice. The cardboard components are fairly thick and will hold up quite well.
The upgraded metal coins were really awesome. Shown above are the default punchboard coins next to the premium metal ones. Shell out for upgrades. You won’t regret it and the game will get played enough to justify it.
The one caveat is that the enraged tokens have a deep jagged pattern that did not always punch out cleanly. The components were built to be played a decent amount but if it were to be played extensively card sleeves would be a worthy investment and the game is good enough to be played enough to warrant a few extra dollars for sleeves.
The illustrations on every card are unique and have a hand-drawn sketch quality that’s in the same vein as a comic book. They are very appealing and make for a decent way to pass time in between turns. Leonidas himself would be proud of the image that his Spartans are given.
Omen is a fantastic game well made and is incredibly fun. The number of little steps and the fact that every card is unique may make for a longer first couple of games. I feel it did not take away from the game at all. It combines almost a chess-like strategy with resource management and worker placement, and they aren’t clunky, which allows it to be enjoyable.
Age Range & Weight
The suggested age is 12 and up and with all the reading that goes on a moderate reading level would also be required to play. 14 might be a better starting off place just because of the randomness and having to be able to alter plans at a moment’s notice. This is a game that starts off looking more daunting that it really is once you go through a round or two and see how everything functions it’s really easy to play.
Omen is a really well crafted, designed, and balanced game. The simplistic goal combined with the more complex strategy just make for an excellent 2 player game. The only drawback for me is the cards are a tad flimsy for my personal preference. At the end of the day, I feel as though other gamers will look upon this game with the same enthusiasm as we look at the stories that influenced it.
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