Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ORC - cursed by being average

Ah, back to Pack O Games. While I have been taking them to events and such, I’ve been just playing ones I already know. However, I’ve had a chance to get learn a couple of them.

ORC is the shortest and possibly the simplest of the second set, despite being officially more complex than DIG. It also clearly comes from the same school as Lost Cities, Battle Line in particular.

Like all the Pack O Game games, ORC consists of thirty skinny cards. In ORC’s case, each card is divided into two sides, each each side being one of six different colored orcs and each card has a one-pip side and a two-pip side.

Randomly place three cards in a line in between the players, making sure that each color shows up once. Six battlefields. You then place draw piles of four by each color, so six piles. The first player gets one of the three remaining cards and the second player gets the other two.

On your turn, you play a card so one end faces of the the six battlefields. The color you play can’t be the same as the battlefield or the same as the color your opponent has played on that same battlefield. (Of course, if you started the battle, that’s not a concern) If you played a one pip end, draw two cards from any draw pile. Play two pips, draw one.

When draw pile runs out, determine who has more pips and they win that battle, leaving one flipped over card on their side to show it. (And, yes, there are rules for ties) When every battle is resolved, you score points based on winning battles and having cards in your hand that match the fields you won. Most points win.

First of all, let me say things I seriously liked about ORC. While I’m colorblind, each color has distinct art. That is a really great choice. I also like how the cards in your hand matter. It not only means that you have another element to consider, you don’t feel like your leftover cards are wasted.

Okay. So what’s wrong with ORC? Well, basically, why would I play ORC instead of Battle alone, which is the better game? There’s nothing wrong with ORC but there’s a deeper, richer alternative. In a broader scope, it’s competing in a big pool of two-player games, even when you’re looking at little, portable ones.

Honestly, ORC’s greatest virtue is that it takes up basically no storage space and has a minimal footprint when you play. Seriously. 

If I was going somewhere and I knew I was going to be playing two-player games, I’d pack something like Battle Line. If I just wanted to pack games for just-in-case (restaurants, plane trips, vacations), ORC would get included. Maybe as a game to play while watching TV.

Honestly, that’s kind of been my experience with the Pack O Game library in general. It’s a diverse game library that always fits in the bag. But there are some games, like GEM, that stand out as games period.

ORC isn’t a bad game. It just isn’t a standout game. I’m sure I’ll still play it and, maybe after a few more games, I’ll find that it’s decisions per minute ratio makes it a hidden gem.

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