Thursday, July 28, 2011

Onirim

ONIRIM by Z-Man Games
Published in 2010

Onirim is a 15 minute adventure in a dreamworld. The player is a Dreamwalker, who finds themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth. They only have some precious little time to escape the dream, or they will remain trapped in there forever!









Onirim is a solitaire card game, with simple rules and short playing time. Most of the cards represent the locations that the Dreamwalker searches through, while some other cards are dreams that may either help, or hinder the adventurer.

The goal of the game is to find and open 8 oneiric doors, which will allow the Dreamwalker to escape from their situation and wake up.

The base game comes with three optional mini-expansions, one of which is used in the following game. This expansion; "Happy dreams and Dark premonitions", brings good dreams to counter the bad ones, but also introduces the Dark premonitions, which will trigger ill effects as the game progresses.







THE GAME BEGINS:



I begin my search from the aquarium...






...but I am instantly interrupted by the first Nightmare.

This bad dream costs me some time, and it also causes me to lose my grip of some keys, that I otherwise would have been finding soon.







And right after this, another Nightmare appears. A bad start for this bad dream...

However, lingering in the aquarium pays off, as I discover the first door!

I get a hold of a key, which I use to gain a prophecy.

The prophecy shows that I should continue my adventure in the library...
It also allows me to avoid the next Nightmare.








So into the library I go, and quickly find a door from there.


After library, I move on to the observatory.








My progress in there is slow, so I decide to take another prophecy.

This prophecy shows a nice diversity in locations, and it helps me to find the first observatory door.

I also avoid another Nightmare!





I head into the garden. While there, I am able to get a third prophecy. This time no bad dreams are seen, and the prophecy offers nothing special for me.

A garden door is discovered.
Now I have one of each door, which means my quest is about half way through.


On the other hand, the fulfillment of the dark premonitions is also drawing closer.






I find my way back to the aquarium. There I find dreams, both evil and happy. The bad dream is avoided once more...

...while the happy dream helps me greatly, by chasing away one of the dark premonitions.










I search for the other door in aquarium, but I can't seem to find it. After a while I decide to go back to the garden.

I manage to find the other garden door, but while opening it, I get attacked by a nightmare! This nightmare surprises me and it costs me some of my precious time to get rid of it.

While garden is now solved, I still have three doors to be found. I move back to the observatory. There I find a happy dream, which removes another dark premonition.

I almost get stuck in the observatory, but luckily I had one of the garden keys still with me.

This key is no longer needed, so I use it for another prophecy. With this prophecy, I am able to find a third happy dream, as well as the way for the second observatory door!

The happy dreams continue to fight against the dark premonitions, cancelling them before they ever come true.


Quickly after this, the fourth and last happy dream is found. This dream helps me to exorcise the rest of the nightmares from my way. Seeing how I still have some time left, my escape from the dream looks likely.

With no nightmares to distract me, I easily discover the last doors...

The last Dark premonition happens, and destroys two keys from the dream labyrinth... but his doesn't concern be, as all the doors are open now!
I can just walk out.



And so I escape this strange dream, leaving the corridors and nightmares behind me. I wake up to have another dream some other night...

CONCLUSION:

This game went pretty well, maybe even too well... No real challenge was to be found. The nightmares didn't cause me too much trouble, and the premonitions didn't trigger.
But Onirim has a great potential for challenge. The base game is easy, but once you start adding the expansions in, the difficulty rises up quickly.

Onirim has a surprisingly high strategic value in it. Eventhough the rules are simple, there is many ways and tactics to play the game, and while luck definitely plays a part in Onirim, skill is needed to become a good player.

Artwork is very surreal and messy, but what should be expected from a game that sets in a dreamworld. I would've personally liked to see more diversity in the pictures, now there is only a handful of different scenes to be seen.

SOLO RATING:  8 /10

There is a two-player variant included in the Onirim rules, but I have never tried it. I'm sure that it would be quite enjoyable as well, but Onirim is great especially for quick solo experiences.

Easy to learn, quick to play, small in size, and cheap to buy, Onirim is a very good choice for almost everyone interested in card games.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Yggdrasil

YGGDRASIL by Z-Man Games
Published in 2011

Yggdrasil is a plunge into the scandinavian mythology, with its numerous gods, giants, monsters and the World Tree "Yggdrasil".
This game is a fully cooperative strategy game, where players control "good" Gods of Asgard, and the game mechanics control the evil Enemies that are attacking Asgard.

The Enemies are too powerful to be killed, as are the Gods, so the game is about holding the Enemies back as long as possible. In order to do this, the Gods will need all the help they can get... Luckily the nine worlds of Yggdrasil offer all kinds of actions that the Gods may take.







The game board depicts the World Tree Yggdrasil with its nine worlds.

The most "important" worlds are the two in the middle: Asgard, where the Enemies are fought, and below Asgard, Midgard (the World of Humans).
In Midgard, brave vikings are fighting against powerful fire giants, and from this battlefield the Gods may gather souls of the fallen vikings to help them in their own fights up in Asgard.

The other worlds around the Tree offer their own unique actions.


The Enemies begin their journey here. If too many of them get too far inside Asgard, all is lost. And to make things worse, the deeper they get inside Asgard, the more powerful they become.






My two gods to stand against the Enemies and their minions are Tyr and Heimdall.

Brave Tyr, the God of single combat, was the leader of Asgard before Odin. He has the ability to get better outcomes in situations where luck is needed.

Heimdall, watchman of the Gods, has extremely acute senses. He may search for more souls of vikings than any other God.




But these two Gods are not the only ones to stand against the evil forces. Vikings of Midgard and Elves from the world of Alfheim are ready to join the fight. Dwarves can help the Gods by crafting amazing weapons and artifacts, and Vanir divinities from Vanaheim may assist the Gods with their mystical powers.

Gods also have a possibility to use mighty Runes. These powers are gained via slaying the ice giants, which are claimed as trophies. When enough trophies of the same color are acquired, the Runes start activating.

Let the Ragnarök begin!

THE RAGNARÖK BEGINS:

Surt, the leader of the fire giants begins his journey. Tyr assists the white, icy island in Midgard by banishing three fire giants from there. He also visits Helheim to resurrect some dead vikings into that island.

Loki, the traitor, brings an ice giant called Thiazy to harass the gods. Thiazy should be killed fast, as he hinders the Gods' combat abilities.







Heimdall recruits and elf, and also finds a viking to help him. The dwarves provide Heimdall with his axe, the Hofund.

The mighty dragon Nidhögg advances, bringing the sea serpent Jörmungand with it.
When Nidhögg moves, it always drags along it the Enemy that is farthest behind.








Tyr slays Thiazy with the help of his brave vikings. The Gods' powers are restored.

Fenrir, the wolf-monster is set loose. Heimdall quickly calms the beast down. Heimdall then sends the Valkyries to find some vikings' souls from the verdant green island.

Tyr visists Nidavellir, the dwarven forge. There he gains the fiery Mimming-sword.

With the help of this weapon, Tyr fights Surt back from the wall of Asgard.







Surt gets enraged, and rushes through the wall. Two of his fire giant minions arrive to the white island in Midgard.

The other Enemies are still farther behind.





The dwarves provide Heimdall with Gleipnir, the chain that used to bind the wolf Fenrir down. With the help of this chain he manages to fight Fenrir back. An elf and some vikings also assist Heimdall in this combat.

Surt continues his rampage, almost reaching the door to Valhalla. Tyr attempts to fight back, but fails.

The world serpent Jörmungand suddenly sprints after Surt. This causes the Valkyries to flee from Midgard, back to their rainbow island.

Jörmungand is so immense, that it may cirlce itself around the whole Midgard and bite its own tail. It may also sink the islands in Midgard.




Tyr enters Muspellheim, the Kingdom of Fire ruled by Surt. There he forces many of the fire giants to come back from the blue lagoon-island of Midgard. After this, he sends the Valkyries to collect vikings from the blue island. With the help of these vikings, Tyr pushes Surt back from the door of Valhalla.



Nidhögg joins Surt and Jörmungand behind the wall of Asgard. Half of the Enemies are now inside...







Heimdall acquires some reinforcements: He goes to Alfheim, the World of the Elves, to recruit an elf. Dwarves also upgrade the Gleipnir chain for him.

Tyr brings some vikings back from the World of the Dead. He also receives Thor's mighty hammer, the Mjöllnir!

Each of the artifacts are only good against one of the Enemies. Mjöllnir works against Jörmungand.






Hel, ruler of Helheim moves ahead, slaying a viking from the green island. Heimdall pushes her back.

Loki calls in another ice giant. Hrym answers his call, blocking the entrance to Helheim, preventing the gods from resurrecting dead vikings.

Tyr travels to the Ice Fortress of Jötunheim and kills the giant off right away.







Heimdall finds a lot of vikings to help him. He also attacks Loki, but is unable to drive him away.

Tyr finds another giant, Angerboda, from the Ice Fortress and slays her.

Surt reaches Valhalla! He is drawing dangerously close to Odin's residence, gaining power with every step. A horde of his followers attack the lagoon island in Midgard, causing chaos among the world of men.

Heimdall has the Gleipnir upgraded to its maximum strength.

With this incredible artifact he attacks Fenrir, easily pushing the beast back from the wall of Asgard.







Jörmungand drives the Valkyries off again, and sinks the green island of Midgard.

Tyr draws his mighty Mimming, and engages Surt in a furious combat. Surt is forced to flee from Valhalla.

The Enemies are now in two rows; Nidhögg, Surt and Jörmungand behind the door to Valhalla, and Fenrir, Hel and Loki behind the wall of Asgard.

Situation is getting dire.








Surt enters Valhalla again, and Tyr, using all his might, fights the Giant back once more. These two are fighting a long battle...

Heimdall enters the sacred land of Vanaheim and calls for help. In Vanaheim, the mighty Vanir had been gathering strength, and now they enter the Ice Fortress, find its ruler Utgardloki, and slay him.

This act not only rids Yggdrasil of one its most dangerous giants, but also brings the completion of Sigel Rune closer...

When completed, the Sigel Rune would bring an army of dead vikings back from the World of the Dead.

Fenrir rages on, and Tyr has to calm it down. Tyr sends the Valkyries to find vikings from the blue island, but Surt's minions are numerous; no vikings are found.

Hel moves past the other Enemies and enters Valhalla. She kills off the rest of the vikings from the green island, leaving it at the mercy of Surt's fire giants.



Heimdall meets Tyr at Niflheim, the World of Darkness. There he gives Tyr some vikings and an elf to help him.




Fenrir finally manages to enter Asgard. The wolf is the fifth Enemy inside, which means that all is lost unless one of them can be repelled back. Tyr has to ask the Vanir for help... The Vanir brings two vikings from dead to assist Tyr. Tyr manages to fight Fenrir back, but only just... Tyr is once again devoid of all reinforcements.

Things are not looking good in Yggdrasil! The Enemies are pushing hard.



Now Loki gets past the walls and deploys two ice giants, Fafner and Suttung. These giants are not especially dangerous, but they would still be better off dead.

And again, the number of Enemies is too great inside Asgard.



Heimdall gathers some vikings, and pushes Loki back. But now both of the gods are on their own, without vikings to help them in their fights...

Nidhögg follows Hel to Valhalla, and brings Fenrir forward as well... Tyr is exhausted and unable to hold the wolf back any longer...

The number of enemies inside Asgard is too great, and the gods lose the fight!




Yggdrasil is lost to the evil forces!


CONCLUSION:

A clear defeat. This game is brand new, so I haven't been playing it that many times yet, and my so called strategy is still a bit shaky. Yggdrasil offers adjustable difficulty, and one considerably high was used with this run. Actually I have only been able to beat the game once with this difficulty... and that game was with Frey, a god that seems by far the most powerful. So there definitely is enough challenge!

So I didn't get a chance to use the Runes in this game. Those would have greatly helped me and maybe even bought me a chance to win the game, although I was doing poorly anyway...

Yggdrasil has some pretty nice mechanics and interesting choices to be made. I escpecially like the viking-giant-valkyrie aspect, where the players must tend to the islands of Midgard in order to gain the much needed reinforcements. This makes the World of Humans in some way even more important than the World of Gods... and all this just seems as such a cool idea.

The artwork of the game deserves a special mentioning! The board is absolutely gorgeous, and for example the artifact cards have a really nice feel to them.

RATING: 9 /10

SOLO RATING: 8 /10

As a cooperative game, Yggdrasil can just as well be played solo. And when soloing, it is just as easy to use multiple gods, or just one, how ever you prefer. However, the game time may stretch surprisingly long, and for this, the solo game _may_ get a little boring, as you don't have anybody to discuss your strategies with.

But that being said, Yggdrasil is still a very good game, with innovative mechanics and an exceptionally interesting theme.